The Prime Minister visited the Kennedy School of Governement - Introduction of the Professor Stanley Hoffmann
PROFESSOR STANLEY HOFFMANN:
And the second reason why I am extremely fond of him - fond is the word - is that if you read his speeches, you will find that the most eloquent and the most moving speeches about the benefits of cultural diversity, the need for different cultures and different continents to preserve their values and their traditions, and the need for the countries that consider themselves either more advanced economically, or more ancient, or what have you, are not only to respect that diversity, but to find out as much about others so as to avoid humiliating, ignoring, or simply misconceiving what goes on in those countries. This is not a virtue one finds everyday. No comment. [laughs]
The third reason why I want to salute Monsieur de Villepin here today is that at the beginning of the disaster of Iraq, he gave at the United Nations Security Council a speech which I think many of us remember, with great emotion. It was a beautiful speech. It was a prophetic speech, in many ways. But it was above all an act, in my opinion, of friendship for the United States, which the Washington Administration, in its obtuseness, misinterpreted completely. And allow me this occasion to pay tribute also to the man who had to go through this experience without ever losing his temper, the Ambassador of France, Monsieur Jean-David Levitte, who is here today [applause], and who was the perfect diplomat. And also -where is he? - the Consul General of France - yes, here you are - Monsieur François Gauthier [applause]. Monsieur Gauthier is not only Consul General, but he is now an habitué of Harvard: he was a Weatherhead Fellow for a while. And I didn’t want to neglect those two.
But it is Monsieur de Villepin’s afternoon. He is a man who, as you know, is not only a statesman, but also - in France it’s not so totally surprising; in America it’s more rare, which is not a criticism - he’s also an intellectual. [laughs] One of the things he does best, actually, is to write books. And he has written books about poetry, about the state of France, and about history, including a book about Napoleon, which now allows all the people who haven’t read the book to call him a Bonapartist. That’s what happens to you if you write. There is a French expression which is “N’écrivez jamais”, “Never write” - this is the best way to avoid being misunderstood.
But it’s a great, great pleasure to have him here at Harvard. That’s a goal that some of us have had for many years, to bring him here. And I think, as the students chanted in 1968, I hope that “ce n’est qu’un début”, “it’s only a beginning”. Thank you very much for coming so numerous, and let us now listen to Monsieur de Villepin./.