Nicolas Sarkozy
<em>Time</em> 100

"What made me who I am now is the sum of all the humiliations suffered during childhood." Of all the statements by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, this is the most compelling. It's why he doesn't accept victimization as an excuse for failure, criminality or self-pity. But at the same time, it explains why he has shown compassion to those who he truly believes have been humiliated and has raised them to platforms they have rarely held in Europe. As France's Minister of the Interior, Sarkozy empowered immigrant women. As President, he has given three appointments in his Cabinet to women from African-immigrant families. In an homage to Simone Veil, the former President of the European Parliament, Sarkozy said, "Every time a woman is martyred in the world, that woman should be recognized as a French citizen, and France will stand at her side." In his compassion for the weak and outrage against injustice, he may sometimes overpromise--but so do all politicians.

Sarkozy, 54, has withstood mounting public disapproval since taking office. He disregards his critics and sometimes seems to thrive on such criticism. Perhaps based on the wisdoms of his childhood, he lives by a philosophy that can be summed up as: Do not whine; move on. When his wife abandoned him after his presidential victory, he accepted it, found the most beautiful woman in France and married her.

This man finds himself in power at a time of dramatic change, when the world might be pushed at any moment into a nuclear disaster by a rogue regime like Iran's or by the fatal anarchy of Pakistan. Sarkozy has always been open about his pro-U.S. sentiment; given his power and political skills, he could be America's best ally in Europe. Can Sarkozy be Europe's Churchill, or is he just another Frenchman with a dramatic childhood?

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a resident fellow at AEI.

Photo credit: Downing Street/Flickr/Creative Commons

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Ayaan
Hirsi Ali

What's new on AEI

Holder will regret his refusal to obey the Constitution
image 'Flood Wall Street' climate protesters take aim at their corporate allies
image 3 opportunities for better US-India defense ties
image Is Nicolás Maduro Latin America's new man at the United Nations?
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 29
    MON
  • 30
    TUE
  • 01
    WED
  • 02
    THU
  • 03
    FRI
Thursday, October 02, 2014 | 9:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.
Campbell Brown talks teacher tenure

We welcome you to join us as Brown shares her perspective on the role of the courts in seeking educational justice and advocating for continued reform.

Event Registration is Closed
Friday, October 03, 2014 | 12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Harnessing the power of markets to tackle global poverty: A conversation with Jacqueline Novogratz

AEI welcomes you to this Philanthropic Freedom Project event, in which Novogratz will describe her work investing in early-stage enterprises, what she has learned at the helm of Acumen, and the role entrepreneurship can play in the fight against global poverty.

No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled today.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.