*Some 52% of Israelis are skeptical that Israel’s new rightwing government put together by Ariel Sharon will achieve peace and prosperity. 33% do not believe it will improve the security situation at all. 31% think it might, a bit. In other words, the Israelis are pretty realistic. But question: If they know this, why put Sharon in?
*Jacques Chirac has become the first French president to visit independent Algeria (a French colony 1830-1962) since 1975. His visit signals new cooperation between the two governments. Chirac’s opposition to the American rush to war positions France for new and extended diplomatic influence in the Arab world, and perhaps this is the first sign of the new alignment. How things have changed since Eisenhower made the French get back out of Suez in 1956 and then pressured them to let Algeria go in the late ’50s. (Ike was afraid that too great a repression of the populace in order to keep them in the French empire would push Algeria into the arms of the Soviet Union). Now it is France that is trying to keep the US from adventurism in the region, fearful not of the spread of communism now but of radical Islamism, which is a significant menace to Paris and Algiers.