Friday, March 13, 2009

"No View of the Middle-Term"

Today's Le Monde features an editorial suggesting that Sarko, after flirting with substituting Britain for Germany as France's key European partner, has rediscovered the virtues of the "Paris-Berlin axis." The return to NATO is presented as a gift to Angela Merkel, who did not want France to strike out on its own in bilateral cooperation on specific issues with the US and/or Britain. In this perspective, NATO is thus a step toward Europe rather than toward "Atlanticism."

Perhaps. But it may well be simply the velleity of the moment. What has been striking about Sarkozy's tenure thus far is the investment in initiatives that make headlines for a few weeks and then vanish. Is there any steady direction to his policy, foreign or domestic? If so, it's not easy to discern. Over coffee yesterday a distinguished French visitor suggested to me that what Sarkozy lacks is any vision "even of the medium term, let alone the long term. He flies by the seat of the pants. He is the very incarnation of the pure politician." To which I remarked that the irony was that Sarko, who defined himself as the anti-Chirac, has lately been doing a tolerably good imitation of the late Chiracian style: a foray here, a foray there, a discreet retreat here, a wholesale abandonment of previous commitments there (whatever happened to the Attali Commission report, for instance?), occasional bursts of energy followed by spells of apparent torpor (disguised in Sarko's case by the appearance of perpetual motion).

Only the total absence of coherent opposition keeps these defects from becoming more troublesomely apparent.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

But it may well be simply the velleity of the moment. What has been striking about Sarkozy's tenure thus far is the investment in initiatives that make headlines for a few weeks and then vanish. Is there any steady direction to his policy, foreign or domestic? If so, it's not easy to discern. Over coffee yesterday a distinguished French visitor suggested to me that what Sarkozy lacks is any vision "even of the medium term, let alone the long term.

Unknown said...

Well, indeed. I couldn't have said it better myself. In fact, I did say it myself. The comment is just a quote. Did something happen to cut off the remainder of your remark?