Taking the lead in the conflict in Libya has paid off politically for President Sarkozy. Many French now see him as a dashing champion of freedom.
In France, it’s considered a question of honor to defend human rights and democracy – militarily, if need be. Even the opposition lends its support.
NATO has meanwhile officially assumed command of the Libya mission, but Nicolas Sarkozy is skilled at playing that down and his own role up. He has also distanced himself from the Germans and pacifism. France is trying to recover its historical influence in North Africa, on a new basis.