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Mitterrand's Legacies

Courtesy Reuters

THE DE GAULLE OF THE LEFT

François Mitterrand is entering his final months as French president after a long and full run. Some believe him to be a statesman; others call him a lucky careerist. By turn, Mitterrand is described as either a past-master Machiavellian and France's most detested politician or one of contemporary Europe's most durable, original, and successful leaders.

On the evidence, both judgments are valid reflections of the man and his legacy. In French politics, 14 years as a Gaullist "republican monarch" is plenty of time to make enemies, and Mitterrand already had more than his share when elected president in 1981. Internationally, his anti-Soviet stand and role in the Euromissile crisis marked East-West relations in the 1980s; so did his subsequent hesitations on German unification and the collapse of the U.S.S.R. as the wheel advanced from Cold War verities into post-Cold War uncertainties. When

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