We'll Always Have Paris

A Conversation With Ambassador Gérard Araud

Gérard Araud

  • Country: France
  • Title: Ambassador

“France is our oldest ally,” U.S. President Barack Obama reminded Americans on November 13, after ISIS terrorists launched coordinated attacks in Paris, killing 130. Indeed, the French sent an ambassador to the breakaway colony back in 1778, and Benjamin Franklin arrived in Paris the next year, establishing the United States’ first foreign mission. Gérard Araud, a career diplomat who began as a Middle East specialist, has served as French ambassador to the United States since September 2014; before that, he led France’s permanent mission to the UN. Araud spoke with Foreign Affairs deputy managing editor Stuart Reid at the French embassy in Washington, D.C., on December 16, 2015.

The attacks on Paris were disturbing not just because of the loss of life but also because they struck a city that symbolizes openness. Have the attackers succeeded in jeopardizing the liberal values that Paris represents?

The answer is no. But after such a terrorist attack, you are obliged to take some law-enforcement measures. Any liberal democracy has a delicate balance between civil liberties and law enforcement. After 9/11, you had the Patriot Act. After this attack, we have the state of emergency in France.

More serious is that the attackers want to create a rift between French Muslims and other French citizens. The French authorities are very keen on avoiding it, but you saw the result of the recent elections in France, where the far right did very well.

It's a bit like Trump. Trumpism is a transatlantic phenomenon. The problem of backlash against Muslim citizens that you have in this country after San Bernardino, we have in Europe.

Why have Muslim immigrants to France, and even their children and grandchildren, had trouble integrating?

May I ask you why African Americans have problems of integrating 10 generations after they arrived in the U.S.?

The fact is that in Europe, not only in France, most of the recent immigrants are Muslims. Thanks to the economic crisis exported by the U.S. in 2008, Europe is going through

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