William Pfaff is the author of The Irony of Manifest Destiny, published in June 2010 by Walker and Company (New York) -- his tenth and culminating work on international politics and the American destiny. He describes the neglected sources and unforeseen consequences of the tragedy towards which the nation's current effort to remake the world to fit America's measure is leading. His previous books and his articles in The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, and his syndicated newspaper column, featured for a quarter century in the globally read International Herald Tribune, have made him one of America's most respected and internationally influential interpreters of world affairs.   [Read more...]
His latest article

Europe's Right: Sensational but Ineffectual


PARIS — The current transatlantic view of Europe is one of continental political decline, elegant at best but ominous at worst. Much of the European Union seems threatened by hostile if marginal (or not always so marginal) nationalist parties, above all in two leading nations, France and Britain. These parties attract great attention because of their dramatic character but are hard to take too seriously, given the weight and continuity of the party systems in nearly all of Western Europe.

Most dramatic, because of its disturbing re-enactment of Shakespeare’s “Lear,” is the National Front in France. In the past two weeks this drama has played out in the family of the party’s founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen, with principal roles assumed by the old patriarch, his eldest daughter, Marine, and his granddaughter Marion Marechal-Le Pen.

Marine is now running for the presidency of France, as her father has done before her. Yet, as she struggles to update the party’s image, she finds herself cast in the role of faithless daughter, betrayer of her father. Meanwhile, the 25-year old Marion, parliamentary deputy for Provence, Alps and Cote d’Azur, is the good daughter Cordelia, who would have saved the aged king.

Jean-Marie Le Pen founded the National Front in 1972, appealing to veterans of the post-Algeria military uprising against President Charles de Gaulle, old supporters of the collaborationist Petain regime, young neo-Nazi "pagans," and other elements in the nationalist and religious right. His appeal was anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-Gaullist and opposed to the supranational body that would become the European Union.

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