In his Memoirs, Barack Obama scratches Nicolas Sarkozy and his “emotional...

In his Memoirs, Barack Obama scratches Nicolas Sarkozy and his “emotional...
In his Memoirs, Barack Obama scratches Nicolas Sarkozy and his “emotional...

The first volume of Barack Obama’s Memoirs “A Promised Land” comes out this Tuesday in 23 countries including France. Nearly 800 pages where the first black American President reveals anecdotes and his feelings about his life as a leader. It evokes a bit of France and its then President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Barack Obama publishes this November 17, 2020 the first volume of his Memoirs (here Barack Obama campaigning for Joe Biden) © AFP / CHANDAN KHANNA

This is not his first book. Barack Obama, 59, has already four tries to his credit. But A Promised Land (Ed.Fayard) is the book intended for posterity, the presidential book, which reveals the behind the scenes of his first mandate (while waiting for the second volume), but also his thoughts on the emergence of populism and Donald .

Release on November 17, 2020 of volume 1 of the Memoirs of Barack Obama © Radio France / Christian Chesnot

And in this river work, Nicolas Sarkozy, French President from May 2007 to May 2012, takes it for his rank.

Sometimes “exasperating” discussions

Barack Obama talks about his first G20 Summit in London, chaired by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown. Barack Obama sees himself “like a pupil in his new school (…)Afterwards, for the other summits, he will admit finding excuses to occupy his mind: “later, when I have a few summits under my belt, I would adopt the survival tactics of the more experienced participants.” Still, at the G20 Summit in March 2009, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, and German leader Angela Merkel are there. According to Barack Obama “Overall, they got along, even though their temperaments couldn’t have been more different.”

Sarkozy was all in emotional outbursts and hyperbolic words. With his dark skin, his expressive features, vaguely Mediterranean, and short (he was about 1.66 meters tall, but wore heels to grow taller, he looked like a character from a Toulouse-Lautrec painting) …

The former US president describes the talks with Sarkozy “alternately amusing and exasperating, his hands in perpetual motion, his chest bulging like that of a dwarf rooster“.

Barack Obama and Nicolas Sarkozy at the 2009 NATO Summit in Strasbourg © AFP / SAUL LOEB

When he makes the parallel between the French leader and the German leader, Barack Obama affirms: “it was not difficult to know which of my two European partners would prove to be the most reliable“. “What Sarkozy lacked in terms of ideological coherence, he made up for with daring, charm and frenzied energy”.

A changeable, unreliable and opportunistic character

Barack Obama also describes Nicolas Sarkozy as someone who, “as long as it was a matter of political strategy, he did not hesitate to make big differences, often driven by headlines or political opportunism.”

Nicolas Sarkozy appears in the eyes of Barack Obama as a turbulent child, poorly organized, with a changeable temperament, energized, capable of making remarks during his speeches, which he subsequently ignores. For example: during the Arab Spring and the intervention in Libya. Nicolas Sarkozy, reminds Barack Obama, “had been strongly criticized in France for having supported the Ben Ali regime in Tunisia to the end [et] suddenly embraced the cause of the Libyan people“.

The Coalition then attacked Libya, European planes took possession of the airspace (Sarkozy ensuring that the first aircraft to enter it was French) “.

Rare positive point, Barack Obama nevertheless admits having appreciated the support of his candidacy in 2008 from Nicolas Sarkozy.

Angela Merkel and “her impassive and analytical sensitivity”

For Barack Obama, the German leader is poles apart from Nicolas Sarkozy. But “I have come to consider them as usefully complementary” he writes. “Sarkozy respectful of Merkel’s innate prudence, but often pushing her to act. Merkel, ready to forget Sarkozy’s manias, but with great skill in channeling his most impulsive proposals”.

Angela Merkel and Barack Obama at a dinner at the G20 in London in 2009 © AFP / STEFFEN KUGLER / BPA / dpa Picture-Alliance

Barack Obama seems to have had deep respect for Angela Merkel:

The more I got to know Angela Merkel, the more I liked her.

“I found her serious, honest, intellectually demanding and instinctively benevolent.” He recalls despite everything “his conservative temperament” and the fact that it is “a seasoned politician who knew her constituents well”.

Benyamin Netanyahu knows how to be “charming when there is an advantage”

During his “big hearing on the international scene” in 2009 after taking office, he spent two “marathon” days in Israel and the West Bank.

“I tried to understand the logic but also the emotions at work behind a seemingly insoluble ancestral conflict”.

In 2009, the Israeli Ehud Barak has just been replaced in the government by Benyamin Netanyahu, “the Likud [parti de Nétanyahou] having succeeded in tinkering with a government coalition with the right-wing parties “.

Encouraged by his advisor Rahm Emanuel, Barack Obama wants to relaunch discussions between Israel and Palestine, “at least because it could prevent the situation from deteriorating.” But Rahm Emanuel was not very optimistic and “when I started to meet Netanyahu and his Palestinian counterpart Mahmoud Abbas, I understood why”.

Benyamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama on September 22, 2009 in New York © AFP / JIM WATSON

Because Barack Obama, from the Democratic Party, has to deal with a right-wing Israeli Prime Minister, whose “the philosophy agreed with that of the Republican Party in particular (…) “. Barack Obama recalls that they both “very different visions of the world”.

Barack Obama describes Netanyahu as a man “intelligent, clever, tough, from a family long linked to the Zionist movement … He had built his character around the idea that the Jews should be as tough as the region where they lived. He knew to be charming, or at least deferential, when it found an advantage “. The former US president acknowledges a deep disagreement over a settlement freeze and accuses Netanyahu of wasting time in discussions.

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