However for the Arab man-in-the-street to support such policies, and for the United States to be perceived not as anti-Arab but as a genuine force for change in the region, America must show that it is prepared to adopt a more even-handed policy and revisit its "unconditional" support for Israel (an unconditionality that hardly benefits the American people). Under the current circumstances, such a move would help America in its struggle against Hamas and Hizballah. In the eyes of the local populations, these are the only groups who fight against Israeli occupation, hence their legitimacy. In gaining the hearts and minds in the region through a tougher stance vis-à-vis Israel (without undermining its alliance with that country and compromising on its security), the United States would come out stronger in denouncing these groups, especially as they serve as proxies for Syria and Iran, with Lebanon and Palestine as playgrounds. But then they also fulfill important social and community functions, as their democratic successes testify, which is why bringing these groups to change their fundamental orientation requires changing America's attitude toward Israel too. Such an avenue has never been tried before and would also bring the United States and Europe closer together on the Middle East.
On the China front, notwithstanding the confusing divide between so-called "Panda-huggers" and Blue Sea hawks, Europe should better take into account America's concerns about China's rise. France should work more closely with the United States and take the lead in forging consultation mechanisms between the two sides of the Atlantic. There is a feeling, overall, that America is deeply tempted to retreat from world affairs, despite its current overstretch. Sadly, such tendency would justify comments on the inevitable divide between Europe and America. France is best placed to convey to the American people and policymakers the notion that the universal reach of our founding political principles still holds, and that it requires engaging the world. In the same vein, a more animated promotion of democratic values may possibly redesign the contours of French policy. However, expect no enthusiasm for regime change in France.
At this stage the game is wide open for France's presidential elections of 2007. For now, France's UMP Chairman is the most promising standard-bearer of this conservative evolution that has yet to develop more fully, given his unabashed challenge to liberal assertions and promotion of individual responsibility. In a country that has lost a sense of collective purpose and hardly shows signs of exuberant self-confidence, a shift in the political debate towards "back-to-basics" rhetoric would indicate a measure of neoconservatism's ascendancy. However, whether France will eventually succeed in recovering its dynamism at home and influence abroad remains to be seen.Essay Types: Essay