Bernard-Henri Lévy and Franco-American Relations

Bernard-Henri Lévy is a French philosopher and the author of over 30 books, including works of philosophy, fiction, and biography. He began his career as a war reporter for Combat - the legendary newspaper founded by Albert Camus during the Nazi occupation of France - for which he covered the war between Pakistan and India over Bangladesh, and gained international renowned in 1994 for his documentary, Bosnia! Lévy is also the founder of the New Philosophers group. His 1977 book Barbarism with a Human Face launched an unprecedented controversy over the European left's complicity with totalitarianism. Lévy's cultural commentary, novels and journalism have continued to stir up such excitement that The Guardian noted he is "accorded the kind of adulation in France that most countries reserve for their rock stars."

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TRANSCRIPT

Question: Bernard-Henri Levy and Franco-American relations

Bernard-Henri Levy: The love affair, number one, it has always been a complicated love affair, a love-hate affair between America and France, unfortunately, because I am myself is a strong advocate and a militant of the friendship between our two countries, but the relationship has always been a love-hate affair on the two sides. Anti-Americanism is absurdly strong in France and, more than strong, I even believe that it has a structural play, a structural role. Anti-Americanism really shapes, gives its pattern to part of our ideology. Anti-Americanism is really that… And in America, Franco phobia, France being assimilated to a lot of things which are supposed to have to be despised here, and you know what it is. And I know myself how many times did I hear in this last weeks, when I said, when I praised Barack Obama, for example, when I said how proud I am to have been one of the first European to predict that Obama could be a president of the United States, how many times did I hear, “Please, don’t say it too loud. Please, please, please. Shhh! Silence! You are French? If you endorse too heavily Barack Obama, you are going to lose him. You are going to harm him.” So this says something, maybe they exaggerate, but it says something about your Franco phobia in America. So it is a love-hate affair anyway for many reasons. Maybe in the very birth of America, the way in which America stemmed out Europe, America, at the end of the day, sought off, at the origin, sought off [IB] sort of product of Europe. People escaping the slavery, the tyrannies of Europe, trying to build here a new society with the best of the Europe. This was the American [way]. We’d take the best seeds of Europe, we replant them in this earth and we will one day bring them back to Europe. What you did when you saved Europe, you American, twice, and maybe [IB]. First World War, Second World War and fall of the communism. So, when you are a country like this which has this origin, taking the best of Europe, replanting and rebringing, it creates a very ambiguous relationship. We should be grateful, us Europeans, but you are not always grateful to those who take the best part of yourself and to those who do too much good to you. There is a famous quote of an English writer saying, “I don't know why these guy hates me so much. I never did so much good to him.” This is so true also in foreign affairs relationship, in international relationship. So, it is a love-hate affair. Now, is it the crisis and Sarah Palin which accelerated the hate in the chemical mix of love and hate? No. I think that the 8 years of Bush administration did a lot for that. They did a lot and anti-Americanism has reached really a critical stage in Europe and all over the world, which has something to do with what your administration was in the last 8 years. Thank God, it might be only [parenthesis].


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