Later today President Bush will welcome President Sarkozy to the White House. He is being awarded the rare honour of addressing the US Congress.
For Peter Brookes of the Heritage Foundation, 'Sarko' is a breath of fresh air. He lists some of the reasons in his New York Post column:
"In his first major foreign-policy speech, he called Iran's development of nuclear weapons "unacceptable" - and agreed that keeping the military option on the table was a good idea. But, choosing his words carefully, Sarko didn't advocate attacking Iran.
He supports punitive economic sanctions against Iran, even increasing them, but has yet to require French firms, such as energy giants Total or Gaz de France, to divest themselves of their Iranian holdings.
While not endorsing Coalition policy on Iraq, Sarkozy seems to understand the importance of success there. In fact, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner visited Iraq in August - an act that would have been treasonous under Chirac.
Sarkozy's also pretty good on Afghanistan. He originally advocated removing French troops from the NATO mission, but he's now in favor of staying, although French forces largely don't operate in the most dangerous parts of the country.
On Russia, Sarkozy has talked tough, saying the Kremlin is too hard-edged in its policies at home and abroad. He's also upbraided Russia about the use of the energy card, but produced little in early dealings with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Another plus: Sarkozy has pledged to make human rights a centerpiece, especially in Darfur, Russia and China. Kouchner - a founder of the humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders - is noted for his strong humanitarian streak. While Chirac was famously pro-Arab, Sarkozy isn't anti-Arab, but is warmer toward Israel. He gets it on terrorism, straying from French policy by describing Hezbollah as a terrorist group - even if he has yet to add it to France's terrorist-organization list."
Brookes' list is fair enough but it also points to the extent to which France's President has yet to really match his rhetoric with action.
Another Heritage Foundation analyst, Giuliani adviser Nile Gardiner, also acknowledges Sarkozy's "U-turn" from Chirac's worldview but warns - on National Review Online - that America would be wrong to rely on him too much:
"It is important though that the White House, National Security Council, State Department and Pentagon recognize the pitfalls in attaching too great an importance to the concept of a long-term U.S.-French alliance. In many ways, Sarkozy is a unique figure in modern French history, the son of a Hungarian immigrant, an outsider who is willing to challenge the status quo. Arrayed against him, however, is a powerful coalition of vested interests, from the communist-dominated trade unions to the entrenched elites who rule the civil service. His pragmatic pro-American approach may not outlast his administration or even always be implemented while he remains in power."
Nile concludes by saying that the UK-US relationship should remain central to US foreign policy.