The Kouchner revolution

DIETER NAGL/AFP/Getty Images When Nicolas Sarkozy appointed Medecins-Sans-Frontieres founder and lefty human rights activist Bernard Kouchner as his foreign minister, it seemed to many like an odd fit. But the Times‘ Charles Bremmer’s report from an afternoon spent with the minister at the Quai d’Orsay makes it clear what the two men share: hyperactivity bordering ...

By , a former associate editor at Foreign Policy.
593673_080729_kouchner5.jpg
593673_080729_kouchner5.jpg

DIETER NAGL/AFP/Getty Images

When Nicolas Sarkozy appointed Medecins-Sans-Frontieres founder and lefty human rights activist Bernard Kouchner as his foreign minister, it seemed to many like an odd fit. But the Times' Charles Bremmer's report from an afternoon spent with the minister at the Quai d'Orsay makes it clear what the two men share: hyperactivity bordering on attention deficit disorder and a massively inflated sense of their own importance:

Ever passionate in his speech, Kouchner says working for Sarko is "exaltant" -- thrilling -- and fulfilling even if he does not always agree with him. He believes that he and Sarko have revolutionized French diplomacy. Gesturing across the lawn at the grand ministry, he said: "We have broken with the immobilisme -- the passivity -- of the past. We have imposed deep change on the state of mind of this great house... The era of diplomacy without policy is over."

DIETER NAGL/AFP/Getty Images

When Nicolas Sarkozy appointed Medecins-Sans-Frontieres founder and lefty human rights activist Bernard Kouchner as his foreign minister, it seemed to many like an odd fit. But the Times‘ Charles Bremmer’s report from an afternoon spent with the minister at the Quai d’Orsay makes it clear what the two men share: hyperactivity bordering on attention deficit disorder and a massively inflated sense of their own importance:

Ever passionate in his speech, Kouchner says working for Sarko is “exaltant” — thrilling — and fulfilling even if he does not always agree with him. He believes that he and Sarko have revolutionized French diplomacy. Gesturing across the lawn at the grand ministry, he said: “We have broken with the immobilisme — the passivity — of the past. We have imposed deep change on the state of mind of this great house… The era of diplomacy without policy is over.”

Joshua Keating was an associate editor at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @joshuakeating

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