François Hollande

time 100 2016 Francois Hollande
Marco Grob for TIME

The defiant European

President François Hollande is the anti-Obama. One man leads from behind, the other from ahead. Hollande has been at the fore of international issues such as the war in Syria, the spread of terrorism in Africa and the containment of Putin in Eastern Europe and Ukraine.

I cannot forget Aug. 29, 2013, when French planes were ready to tell Bashar Assad that he had crossed the line. If Obama hadn’t stopped everything, if Hollande had prevailed, maybe the world would be different. Assad’s army might have retreated to its barracks; Daesh might have been killed in its infancy.

At a time when Europe seems on the brink of collapse, Hollande is one of the very last European leaders to believe in Europe—that without it, we will go back to the Dark Ages. He strongly believes that, and acts in kind.

Hollande’s legacy will be that he was one of the first to have understood the ideological, political and strategic world threat that is jihadist terrorism.

Whatever we may think of Hollande on the domestic front, for four years he has acted as a great world leader. That’s not an opinion. That’s a fact.

Lévy is a French author and philosopher

Tap to read full story

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at