Barack Obama is the new President of the United States who was elected on this position not that long ago. At the very beginning of his president campaign he was very popular, and he still has a lot of people among ordinary citizens and inside his cabinet who support him. However, some of his actions and laws have already caused a lot of debates and reduced his popularity among people.
Nicolas Sarkozy – the sixth President of the French Republic was also very popular in 2007, and easily managed to defeat his main opponent Segolene Royal. An ambitious and charismatic leader, Sarkozy has done a lot to save his country during the economic recession. This still did not protect him against criticism and so-called “anti-Sarko” movements.
One of them is considered to be a man who started a new page in the American history. No matter what they say, the 44th President of the United States is an African American, and, from my point of view, it is one of the greatest democratic achievements.
Another one is the first French president from an immigrant family (Kesselman, Krieger, Joseph 127). In his country, he is called a “hyper-president”, Napoleon Bonaparte, or Louis XIV because of his will to control everything and make changes even if other reputable politicians do not support them.
So, do Barack Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy really have something in common? Are they partners and allies as many tend to think or some major differences in their views and policies make it just an illusion?
In this essay, I want to compare domestic and foreign policies of both Barack Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy, and define what kind of relations they have.
Once Barack Obama became the President, he had no time to relax. Urgent measures to handle the effects of the world financial crisis had to be taken. One of such measures became an economic stimulus bill suggested by Barack Obama even before his presidency. The law was signed on January 2009, but in October, it turned out that the law did not work well, since unemployment rates reached 10.2%. Since 1983, it was the highest rate (Bureau of Labor Statistics).
One of the President Obama’s primary concerns was the health care reform, which caused heated debates. Democrats and Republicans were trying to answer such questions as whether the right to health care is fundamental, whether all American citizens should have access to health care no matter some circumstances, whether it is the federal government that should make such changes, etc (Dinan 1).
On March 23, 2010 the initiative of the President Obama to perform a health care reform was supported by the Congress. At this moment, it is hard to predict what effects it might have, whether it will be a failure or no. Yet, what is obvious from the two examples above is that the President Obama has own views on what may be better for the country in these hard times, he can set up goals, and develop plans on how to achieve them.
On the international level, Barack Obama has also demonstrated some achievements as well as several failures from my point of view.
For instance, the recent Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), which was signed by the American and Russian Presidents on April 8, 2010, can be called one of the most significant international documents signed by the President Obama since his presidency. Two countries with the biggest nuclear potentials have taken the responsibility and agreed to reduce their arms.
Another example of the “right” international policy is the President’s decision to withdraw American troops from Iraq. Although this plan is only going to be implemented, it is a step that I think all Americans will support. However, what I do not agree with is the President’s focus on Afghanistan. It is also time to stop wasting money there and endanger our soldiers.
The French President Nicolas Sarkozy is a very charismatic leader, sometimes a bit rude, too active, too demanding. Yet, what I think is that Sarkozy is one of the best French presidents who really acts in the interests of his country and people. Anita Hausser, who wrote his biography, calls Nicolas Sarkozy a heavy worker, a workaholic who never rests (BBC News).
His presidency is also marked by the world economic crisis. However, France is in the list of the countries that suffered the least from the global economic recession.
In 2007, Sarkozy and his government developed own economy stimulus package, which included a lot of reforms such as cutting taxes, reducing the public sector, and others. On November 2008, Sarkozy established special fund that possessed 20 billion Euros and was aimed to help banks and companies to overcome the crisis.
Immigration policy turned into one of the main focuses for Mr. Sarkozy, and even split opinions in France. Once, Nicolas Sarkozy called the young people from the Paris suburbs “rabble”, which definitely caused an ambiguous reaction in the society and criticism (BBC News).
Yet, Mr. Sarkozy is not actually against immigrants. He just wants them to be skillful workers and appreciate values in the country where they want to work and live, and come to France legally. Not a bad policy!
What specific achievements of the President Sarkozy on the international scene should be discussed?
First, it should be mentioned that Nicolas Sarkozy is considered to be a pro-Atlantic politician. In 2008, the President Sarkozy announced his decision about French reintegration with NATO. For some politicians and even ordinary people, it was rather a shocking claim, because France in these terms was a special country. It was a long time ago when according to De Gaulle’s decision France left this military block (Kesselman, Krieger, Joseph 128).
These days, France has some special relations with Russia, which is not supported in the United States, but it seems like this does not make the President Sarkozy worried too much. First, Sarkozy played rather an important role in the conflict between Russia and Georgia in 2008.
Since those times, relations between two countries flourished even more. One of the recent examples that can prove this was a helicopter carrier Mistral, which France sold Russians.
By the way, reaction of the United States to this event was definitely negative, but it seems like France did not care much. Generally, such a position is clear. Both countries, and France in particular, gained their benefit, and not only from the economic point of view.
What about Sarkozy’s policies in Iraq and Afghanistan? From the very first days and till the present time, Nicolas Sarkozy is against the war in Iraq. However, in 2008 he agreed to send French troops to Afghanistan so that to demonstrate France is still the NATO’s ally.
To sum everything up, President Sarkozy acts according with French interests most of the times, no matter what his international partners may think.
Now, let me answer the main question of this essay. Do the presidents of the United States and France have something in common? Are they partners?
I believe that both presidents, although may be not very popular in their countries, try to do a lot in order to support economies, people, ideals, and interests of their countries.
The President Obama has just started his presidency (Dinan 1). The President Sarkozy has two more years to finish what he has started and to do more for France. In both countries, two presidents have opponents as well as those who support their initiatives and help achieve goals.
Yet, I should say that relations between two presidents are not always defined as “partnership”. For example, Nicolas Sarkozy’s views on the reduction of nuclear weapons are very different from those that the President Obama has. Nicolas Sarkozy has a very strong position on this issue and claimed that France is not going to reduce its strategic weapons.
On the one hand, it may sound quite irresponsibly. On the other hand, the President Sarkozy again acts according to the interests of his country. He realizes that even if the United States gets rid of the part of their nukes, they will still have enough to protect themselves.
I should still mention that both presidents have strong opinions about Iran and its nuclear policy. Nicolas Sarkozy is one of the biggest advocates as well as the President Obama for special sanctions that should be imposed on Iran.
Dinan, Stephen. “Obama’s Budget Doubles Deficit in 10 Years”. Washington Times 20 Mar. 2009: 1+.
“Employment Situation Summary”. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Official Website. Mar. 2010.
Kesselman, Mark, Krieger, Joel, Joseph, William A. Introduction to Comparative Politics: Political Challenges and Changing Agendas. Boston: Wodsworth, 2007-201.
“Profile: Nicolas Sarkozy”. BBC News, Official Website. 26 Jul. 2009.