Irwin Stelzer - October 19, 2008
Politics may make strange bedfellows, but economic crises make even stranger ones. Gordon Brown, a free trader, now finds that Nicolas Sarkozy, an arch-protectionist, has virtues he had not previously noticed. It seems that they are united by three things. First, they believe, or at least are pretending that they believe, that the current ills originated in the United States. You might remember: these are the same United States whose entrepreneurship Chancellor Brown lauded to all who would listen, before becoming prime minister and slipping easily into the anti-American mode that now dominates his public and private discourse.
Second, Brown and Sarkozy, along with their EU partners, believe that now is the time to put the former hegemon in its place. America, they believe, is paralysed by the lame-duck status of its president. It will, they reason, be forced to go along with any European proposals for what is variously called a “new financial architecture” and a “new world order”. The joy on the faces of EU leaders as they gather for their conferences can be seen in news photos. Never mind that the banking systems of their countries are on the verge of collapse, or that they are headed for a recession deeper and longer than the one the United States will suffer. Now is their chance to do things that the Americans might not like, but can’t stop.