PARIS - There it was, magically empty, on a discreet corner, never spotted by the tourist magma; my favorite little table since the 1980s at the Cafe de Flore in St Germain. I took possession, ordered a Welsh rarebit and a glass of Chablis, and was back in business, reading and watching the world go by for the first time since the fall of King Sarko.
First impression; where the hell is my bookshop? The venerable La Hune, right across from my point of view, looked like it had been hit by a Hellfire; thank Zeus it had moved nearby. Second, and more auspicious impression; the Flore was BHL-free; that is, French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy, aka BHL, was busy promoting his next war somewhere else.
BHL is not merely a philosopher/writer/film maker; he's first and foremost the CEO of a gigantic PR operation erected to the perennial glory of BHL. He virtually rules the French cultural arena, the way Christopher Hitchens thought he ruled in the US and Britain.
Colonel Gaddafi used to pitch tents in Rome and have the hem of his gorgeous gowns kissed by Western potentates. Libyan NATO rebels, for their part, were dazed and confused by the explosive Cannes red-carpet experience.
Crucially, alongside his pet Libyans, who carped about the "unity of the revolution," BHL also brought -- what else -- pet Syrians; two Kurds and two shady characters in dark glasses and with their heads covered by Syrian flags, described as "combatants who had left Syria in hiding only a few hours ago to discover The Oath of Tobruk."
Le guerre, c'est moi
As for the movie, now showing in France, and already sold to the US market, it might aspire to qualify as a surrealist piece worthy of Alfred Jarry. But as hyperactive peacock, BHL totally lacks any self-deprecation traits, what's left is BHL the film director filming himself as the director of history in the making. This is how a centuries-old French literary/philosophical tradition ends: The Intellectual as Warmonger.
The whole thing is edited with -- what else? -- a non-stop BHL voice over; a neo-Proustian monologue cataract flirting with Sun Tzu. BHL roams the streets of Benghazi looking for a post-modern rebel hero; and he finds it personified by Abdul NATO Jalil.
The stage is then set for BHL of Arabia to enact his liberation epic, perennially clad in black jacket, white Charvet shirt meticulously opened to show off white skin, and satellite phone glued to one ear, from deserts and mountains to the salons of the Elysee Palace and -- of course -- the Cafe de Flore, which reveals itself to a dazzled Libyan delegation.
Everyone from King Sarko to Queen Hillary "We came, we saw, he died" Clinton and David of Arabia Cameron is manipulated as extras in a BHL-concocted liberation war. Who cares about what really happened in Libya, as reported for months by Asia Times Online?
Now BHL is busy reminding new French President Francois Hollande whether "France will do for Houla and Homs what it did for Benghazi and Misrata." Well, the coalition of the willing is already in place; France, Britain, the US, Turkey and the Gulf Cooperation Council-controlled Arab League. They call themselves "Friends of Syria" and will be deciding their next regime change steps in Paris in early July.
BHL concedes, "to save the euro is an imperious obligation," but the Greek drama may not prevent Hollande from making a phone call, just like BHL did with his predecessor King Sarko, and convince Russia and China that Syria's state terror is history. BHL, of course, would not recognize Israeli state terror against Palestinians even if he were about to be smashed by an IDF tank. Anyway, if Hollande stalls, BHL will target David of Arabia Cameron.