Bernard Henri-Lévy, famous for wearing crisp white shirts open to the sternum, is a penseur mondain, a celebrity intellectual who serves as the ambassador of Left Bank literary cool. BHL, as he is known, is also a self-mandated foreign policy broker, who in 2011 almost single-handedly coaxed France, and later Britain and the United States, to intervene in the Libyan civil war, and an ardent defender of the Kurds. This week Lévy is in the United States to present a retrospective of four documentary films he made about the conflicts he covered and the causes he championed. Air Mail had a few questions for the man who says he models himself on André Malraux and T. E. Lawrence.

Alessandra Stanley: You have come to New York and Los Angeles to share your films about Iraq, Libya, Kurdistan, and Bosnia, and, given what’s happening in the Middle East, your timing couldn’t be more à propos. So first off: what do you think about the assassination of General Soleimani, and how should the International Community respond?