Thursday, March 31, 2011

"Monsieur Lévy, are you satisfied with your war?"

Just when you thought that Bernard-Henri Lévy couldn't get more ridiculous, he claims responsibility for the French military intervention in Libya's uprising (hence the title of this post). That might be true, but it certainly doesn't ameliorate our sense that he's a raving narcissist. Nor will his recent interview with Der Spiegel, in which he largely responds to unwelcome questions with the answers to his preferred questions. I don't know how, but sometime between quoting Jean-Baptiste Botul in his work on Kant, freestyling on Eyjafjallajökull, or dissimulating about the siege of Gaza, he's become a psychiatrist. I'm taking over for Der Spiegel, and the rest is pure BHL.

BHL, with your new training could you please diagnose, from a distance, Gadhafi's mental state? Is he playing with a full deck of cards?  
Lévy: No. Everything was tried, but Gadhafi is a madman, autistic -- he refused to listen. In the night before the summit in Paris, I spent hours on the phone with friends in Benghazi. I tried to allay their fears. They were torn between the fear of Gadhafi's troops and the hope that coalition aircraft would arrive in time. It was a race against time.
I don't know, calling him autistic doesn't seem very sympathetic to others who might live with it. Perhaps you can get around this by suggesting that there is some kind of connection between National Socialism and the government of Angela Merkel:
Lévy: We lost a great deal of time because of the Germans, which is a disaster, mainly for the Libyans, but also for the Germans, who will pay bitterly for abstaining. What happened here will leave a lasting impression in Europe. [...] Angela Merkel jettisoned all principles of German foreign policy since the end of World War II: There was the principle that something like National Socialism should never happen again. Never again crimes against humanity. Merkel and (German Foreign Minister Guido) Westerwelle violated this pact. This is a serious incident, not a minor detail.
Interesting, I'm sure that there is some kind of fallacy concerning these kinds of connections, but please: a moment of wild and universalizing historical speculation:
Lévy: When the Arab League requested that we intervene in Libya, it was a decisive moment in the history of the modern age. The obligation to intervene in the affairs of other countries became universal as a result. Now no one can accuse the coalition of engaging in dark maneuvers or hidden colonialism. This is a radical shift.
BHL, are you up to the task of misusing the word 'radical' or one of its cognates twice in one interview? I mean, could you...
Lévy: The surprise, the incredulity and the gratefulness of the three Libyans when they understood what Sarkozy had just said to them. The great significance of what he proposed to them. The radicalism of his gesture. That moment of astonishment and of realization -- it was a beautiful moment.
This is exhausting. I'll turn this one over to Der Spiegel:
SPIEGEL: Can you imagine a world without Bernard-Henri Lévy?
Lévy: Yes, it would all work quite well without me.


Devin Z. Shaw said...

P.S. Thanks to Peter Gratton at Philosophy in the Time of Error for sending me this link.

J said...
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