Sarkozy’s challenge today is a stark one. If he has gauged things right, the French have quietly made up their minds that the time for change has come. As Margaret Thatcher faced down the coal miners, and as Ronald Reagan faced down the air traffic controllers, a Sarkozy who overcomes the transport unions will take a decisive step toward the modernization of France, and join the pantheon of great French leaders who have helped the country remain a world leader through good times and bad. If he fails, he may not have to run to London (like so many failed French rulers of the past), but risks beginning to look like a lame duck just six months into his five year presidential term. That is an outcome that France, Europe, and the broader West cannot afford.