The horror began on July 5 [ 1962], the last day of l'Algçrie française, when several hundred Europeans were kidnapped. Months of efforts by [ Jean- Pierre] Chevènement, at the time a consular official, and several démarches to Ben Bella, the new Chief of State, were in vain; only some 20 of the kidnapees were returned alive by the Algerians. From this episode, he drew a lesson: in a confrontation between two peoples, military superiority is not always the determining factor.
From a political profile on Jean-Pierre Chevènement1
This chapter is situated neither in 1962 nor in the present but forms a piece with the events evoked above--events that have to do with the interrelationship between the First (or Western) World and the Third World, events that reflect France's (and the West's) relationship with Islam.
In the 1990s, it has become clear that social integration, and particularly integration between the secular society of France and the culture of Islam, is not working well. But this is a problem that only tangentially affects French foreign policy, as the many Muslim immigrants in France are there of their own will, and the international image of France is scarcely affected. It was a whole other case some thirty years ago, when the relations between France and the Arab world were white hot with difficulties.
France, having now relinquished nearly all of its empire (albeit with less grace than the British), and most importantly those Islamic countries on the other side of the Mediterranean, has become again the French nation. As such it is a better carrier of its universalist message, with its emphasis on political liberties, human rights, and social justice, which is the basis of its aspiration for leadership in