Vladimir Putin’s description of the western military intervention in Libya as a sort of “crusade” has provoked much criticism, including here on the Tatler blog and including even criticism from Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. But, yesterday, French Interior Minister Claude Guéant talked about the intervention in precisely these terms. On the French online political talk show Talk Orange – Le Figaro, Guéant said literally that French President Nicolas Sarkozy was “leading a crusade” to stop Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi.
Asked about the intervention and its conformity with Security Council resolution 1973, Guéant took the opportunity to defend Sarkozy from his domestic critics. This is what he said:
Regarding the criticisms that have been made of the President…, now everyone realizes that we are fortunate that he [Sarkozy] was there. The whole world was getting ready to watch massacres committed by Gaddafi on the television. Fortunately, the President took the lead of the crusade, in order to mobilize the United Nations, and then also the Arab League, and the African Union.
The full interview is available here. The relevant passage is between 10:15 and 10:35 of the clip. Incidentally, as reported by France’s national wire service, the AFP, the African Union has called for an immediate stop to the joint Franco-British-American military action against Libya.