Saturday, February 14, 2009

"Atavistic Instincts"

The New York Times this morning features an article on strains within the European Union, but the focus is almost entirely on criticism of France by other countries, most notably the Czechs. Karel Schwarzenberg, the Czech foreign minister, sees "atavistic instincts" emerging in the midst of economic crisis--and the only atavistic instincts on display are the protectionist gestures of Nicolas Sarkozy: his subsidies to the French auto industry and verbal pressure on French firms to repatriate jobs exported to the Czech Republic. The Czechs were already miffed, of course, by Sarkozy's attempt to exclude them from talks on Gaza. It seems that Angela Merkel was also put out by Sarkozy's attempt to do an end run on the official EU representation, so she offered Topolanek a ride to Jerusalem on her plane, a detail I'd not heard before.

Perhaps it's time for a little fence-mending.