Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Politics in Hard Times

Le Monde Diplo has taken note of Peter Gourevitch's Politics in Hard Times, which I recommended the other day.

The Empty Chair or the Empty Threat?

As if things were not already bad enough, the G20 leaders now have to deal with a French tantrum on the eve of the summit (h/t Katia). The French have been putting out the word that Sarkozy will walk out if he doesn't get his way on a "moral refoundation" of capitalism, no less. Xavier Musca says that this means some sort of transnational regulator of regulators; Christine Lagarde says it has to do with new rules on tax havens, leading Dani Rodrik to wonder what tax havens have to do with the global crisis. British officials are saying that Sarko is merely staging a tantrum to appeal to the home market.

No doubt the president has in mind de Gaulle's deft use of la politique de la chaise vide (thanks Sophie! for the correction) but this affair risks being more of an empty threat than an empty chair, and it is beginning to make Sarko look like an empty suit to his foreign partners, who aren't in the mood for playing games.