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We Need to Talk About Racial Violence

France and the United States are unfortunate contenders when it comes to urban violence. The clashes between the police and young people from minority groups — Afro-American and Hispanic in the U.S.A., and Arab and African in France — are following the same pattern in both countries, but their respective government’s attitudes differ. The environment for this violence — the banlieues in France...

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The French Source of Trumpism

Steve Bannon is Donald Trump’s closest advisor — some even refer to him as his Rasputin — and his supposed role as the administration’s ideologist terrifies his opponents. Bannon used to work as an investment banker and media mogul, and is in theory not a renowned intellectual. He seems intent on leading a Manichean battle against the non-Christian world, but...

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Money in France and the United States

In the United States, being a billionaire paves the way to the White House. In France, presidential candidates are expected to be poor (or at least appear so). The majority of Trump’s predecessors, with the exception of Clinton, were very wealthy. Their prosperity was, and is, seen as proof of success and a shield against corruption. The opposite is true...

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Trump: A User’s Guide

The whole world is pondering how Donald Trump works. His unwaveringly enthusiastic supporters feel he is staying true to his program, which in itself is quite original; faced with post-campaign reality, leaders tend to water down their previous promises and aim for a consensus. We should therefore expect Trump to stay in campaign mode, instead of trying to build bridges...

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The Immigration Outcry

Donald Trump’s inauguration took place at the White House last Friday, and the new president has already introduced stricter penalties for undocumented immigrants, refused to welcome Syrian refugees to the United States, and authorized the construction of a fortified wall along the American border with Mexico. The situation in France is not much brighter, with presidential candidate Marine Le Pen...

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Was Obama a Great President?

Barack Obama prepares to leave the White House after two consecutive term. "His eight years in office, writes Guy Sorman, can be summed up in one success: Obamacare." A great head of state defines their era and shapes events. At least, this is the general definition. Napoleon I is much admired by the French, despised by the rest of Europe, and...

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Immigrants, the Lot of Us!

The Americans do not descend from the Native Americans any more than the French descend from the Gauls. Both nations are in fact melting pots, and throughout our parallel histories, immigration has been, and remains, an essential part of who we are. What goes in the United States, making up part of the national saga, is far less accepted —...

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The End of Anti-Americanism

The spontaneous solidarity shown by the French to the Americans after the 9/11 attacks, and the support offered by the Americans to the French after the 2015 and 2016 attacks, proves that anti-Americanism in France was never more than a political or literary tool, an ideology which replaced knowledge. Much has been written on the history of French anti-Americanism, particularly...

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2016, a Decisive Year?

Was 2016 a historical turning point, or merely a year like so many others? No one knows yet. The rioters who stormed the Bastille in Paris on July 14, 1789, had no idea they were launching one of the most formidable revolutions in contemporary history. Wine and the summer heat, so they say, sparked their actions as much as their...

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Mass Trumpization?

The claim that the United States has become “populist” and that democracy and the constitution are under threat is excessive. As the American political satirist Jon Stewart put it, “We're still the same country." Commentators who often hold the same opinions and who read each other’s work across borders, are all currently condemning the overwhelming rise of “populism.” They are all too quick...[Subscriber]

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False Friends

The United States and France are both electing new presidents. Aside from the coincidence of calendars and the similarity of terms, is a president in France the equivalent of a president in the United States? The answer is not obvious, as words do not necessarily have the same meaning in both countries. We are familiar with the faux amis (false...[Subscriber]

Norman Rockwell, "Freedom from Want", 1943.
In the Promised Land

Having become an American citizen a year ago, after ten years of administrative procedures, I find myself confronted with the final step: celebrating Thanksgiving. Failing to honor the fourth Thursday of November would not be very American, or even entirely un-American. Forget the green cards, the passports and the right to vote. Surely Thanksgiving is the one, true consecration of...

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The Global Warming Cool-Down

Donald Trump already appears to be bogged down in U.S. bureaucracy. His hands are tied by multiple counter-powers, starting with his own Republican Party. The President-elect is now backtracking from his discourse on illegal immigrants, Obamacare and sanctions on Chinese imports. He even went to ask Barack Obama for advice. Almost overnight, Trump has come to realize the gaping void...[Subscriber]

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France Reacts to Donald Trump’s Election Victory

The official result came in around 2am EST on November 9, 2016: Donald J. Trump had been elected 45th President of the United States. The reactions from French politicians and the media were quick to follow. In a speech given live from the Palais de l’Elysée, François Hollande offered cold congratulations to the elected candidate, “as is natural between two...

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President Trump, but Nothing More

If the United States are a laboratory for our future, what has the presidential election of November 8 taught us? The distinctions between left and right, and Republican and Democrats, are increasingly blurred. And caught between the two coasts, forgotten by both parties, Middle America is in crisis. The seemingly universal distinction between left and right has broken down. The...[Subscriber]

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Democracy and its Discontents

Donald Trump’s foray into American democracy could very well be compared with a computer being hacked; a virus navigating its way through social media on a mission to corrupt the Constitution. But the recent phenomenon of trumpism is not the result of a one-man effort. It is hard to not be astonished by the number of heads of state and...[Subscriber]

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Are We Heading for Deglobalization?

The free-trade agreement set to be signed today, October 27, 2016, by the European Union and Canada will certainly fail. Some critics see this refusal to negotiate as a sign of a more general movement towards deglobalization. The French government buckled under pressure from the anti-globalization extreme left- and right-wing parties last September, and vetoed the conclusion of the TAFTA...[Subscriber]

A nativist cartoon from 1891.
Trump, Made in the USA

Which presidential candidate in the United States supposedly described their opponent as “pot-bellied, mutton-headed and cucumber-soled”? It was not Donald Trump, but in fact Zachary Taylor in 1848. Before that, John Quincy Adams accused his adversary Andrew Jackson of being the son of “a common prostitute brought to this country by the British soldiers”, and James K. Polk suspected Henry Clay...[Subscriber]

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We Are All Romans

The current presidential campaigns in France and the United States are bizarrely focused on national identity, as if this were the most important issue in play. But not all French people descend from the Gauls, just as not all Americans descend from the Mayflower pilgrims. Among the French candidates, Nicolas Sarkozy is the staunchest proponent of excluding all those who...[Subscriber]

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The Most Powerful Man on Earth

The answer to the question “Who is the most powerful man on earth” is generally “The president of the United States”. In two months’ time, it will most probably be Hillary Clinton’s turn to become “the most powerful woman on earth”. Despite the general consensus on this title, the actual award should go to a 61-year-old Harvard graduate and legal...[Subscriber]

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The Obsolete Distinction Between Right and Left

While following the American and French presidential elections, it is hard to use the right-wing/left-wing distinction as a framework. The European-style division between classic liberals and socialists does not work in the United States, as socialism is not represented and all candidates support a more-or-less regulated form of capitalism. Perhaps instead we should adopt a new form of political mapping,...[Subscriber]