Is Bernard-Henri Lévy having the best week ever?

Last spring, it seemed like everyone was hating on French philosopher/public intellectual/serial chest-hair exhibitionist Bernard-Henri Lévy. It was bad enough that he had helped push President Nicolas Sarkozy's government into an intervention in Libya that appeared to be settling into an endless quagmire. Then in May, he was pilloried for going on record to defend his friend Dominique Strauss-Kahn from sexual assault charges that he compared to a lynching and the Dreyfus Affair. Some even went as far as to wonder whether the Libya invasion would have happened if the Strauss-Kahn affair, and the damage to BHL's reputation that ensued, had come first.

This week, Muammar al-Qaddafi's regime fell with relatively little blood and treasure expended by the countries that intervened (Lévy has already been out in front, communicating with both Sarkozy and the National Transitional Council), and tomorrow, the charges against Strauss-Kahn are likely to be dropped. What's next? An acquittal for Roman Polanski? A global button shortage?

Of course, this week's events don't necessarily mean Lévy was right about either issue: We'll never really know what happened in Strauss-Kahn's hotel room, and the future of Libya is obviously still far from settled. And his detractors may still feel justified in considering him a shameless self-promoter, overrated writer, and absurdly sloppy researcher. But he's still probably entitled to spike the ball this week.


Bad day for Zuma

South Africa's Foreign Ministry has spent the day trying to dispel rumors that it is working to facilitate the exit of Muammar al-Qaddafi. Though there doesn't seem to be much behind the earlier reports that planes had been sent from South Africa to bring the Libyan leader into exile, perhaps in Zimbabwe or Angola, the country's government hasn't exactly covered itself in glory.

"As far as we are concerned, if this government falls, there is no government," said Foreign Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane, effectively scuttling any chance to get off on the right foot with Libya's new rulers. Compare that to the Chinese Foreign Ministry's cautious statement that it respects "the Libyan people's choice."

Overall, it's hard to imagine how Jacob Zuma's government could have played the Libyan conflict worse. The South Africans broke with the BRICs to vote for the intervention, but then Zuma almost immediately called for a cease-fire when airstrikes began. Given that it was pretty clear to everyone at the time that the U.N. resolution empowered NATO to take on Qaddafi's ground units, Zuma's government appeared to have been either unsure of its stance, or badgered by Western allies.

Then Zuma, along with a delegation of African leaders, made two ineffectual trips to attempt to mediate the conflict, and raised eyebrows when he called Qaddafi "brother leader."

Today's news isn't all bad for Zuma. With Qaddafi and his pan-Africanist ambitions off the stage, Libya's government is likely to turn more toward other Arab governments, leaving South Africa as sub-Saharan Africa's undisputed superpower. On the other hand, the way that Zuma's government has handled the Libya crisis, combined with the not-so-productive role it has played in the Ivory Coast and Zimbabwe, doesn't exactly inspire confidence about South Africa's ability to lead.

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