In Nicolas Sarkozy’s book Testimony, he writes in clear and simple terms about the changes France needs to implement in order to secure its place as a world player. It’s no surprise that very little of this succinct plan mentions military issues because perhaps France’s greatest enemy is despair. Remembering that Sarkozy wrote his book before being elected France’s president earlier this year (2007), such unresolved issues as high unemployment and the resulting malaise (riots of 2005), the increasing tax burden on middle class workers, and the brain drain of France’s youngest and brightest are the meat and potatoes of his plate. And now that he is president – his plate is full.
I wish that every candidate throughout the world (including the US) would be required to either write a book or, at the very least, an essay about his or her views and proposals for governance of a nation. It’s interesting to note that Nicolas Sarkozy, unlike many politicians, actually writes his own speeches. You can know a person by his or her words. Perhaps, if more people had read Adolf Hitler’s book, Mein Kamph, he may never have come to power
By the way, power, is one word that recurs in Testimony on a number of occasions. Sarkozy makes no excuses for his appreciation of power and, in particular, his insistence on maintaining power over destiny.
What he appears to abhor is an acceptance of inevitability. A close runner-up would be ‘conventional wisdom’.
The reader will also be surprised to discover that Nicolas Sarkozy believes that France’s parliament is too weak. Likewise, ministers need to have more autonomy to get their job done. (He also wrote that the ministerial posts should be limited in number to 15 – which has not yet happened).
He often refers to the Thomas Jefferson’s ‘balance of power’ between the legislative, judicial and executive branches as a good role model and he has plenty of good things to say about the US, as well as listing the qualities he feels set France apart from the US ( i.e. providing a real healthcare safety net for all citizens, particularly the unemployed and the aged). Some French senior citizens and veterans may not agree that the safety net is so solid.
Perhaps one of his most interesting ideas from a global perspective is the idea of creating a ‘nuclear bank’ which would provide nuclear energy on a global basis to nations needing nuclear energy for electricity. This could possibly provide a solution for ensuring that nuclear energy is not converted for military purposes. This is the first time I’ve read about this concept.
The English translation of Testimony is easily read – and one might even be tempted to say ‘simplistic’, but it’s often difficult to differentiate between simplistic and simplicity.
For example, you can read a thousand diet plans and reduce a lot of useless talk into one sentence: Eat less, and move more.
In France’s terms, Sarkozy appears to be saying: Stop crying. Get to work.
(As Parislogue readers may already know, my personal experiences are always a little bit different from the ‘conventional wisdom’. Most of the people I’ve met in France are already working very hard. Those that are retired may often work parttime to supplement a basic social security stipend.)
Whatever your personal views re French politics, Nicolas Sarkozy’s book should definitely be on your reading list. You will only be disappointed if you had hoped to learn more about the France’s first lady, Cecilia Sarkozy. She is briefly mentioned only in one chapter. In personal terms, Sarkozy can be as critical of his own faults as of those of his political opponents – he admits that he is impatient and outspoken(which can sometimes be a virtue as well as a fault when change is needed).