The news today is filled with allegations that Sarkozy has made a direct threat to abandon the Euro and to withdraw from the Euro zone confederation. Denials from the Germans, Spanish and “aides” to “Sarkozy have spewed forth in the media ether already. But the European markets and our own are reacting with alacrity to the putative pronouncement. If you know a bit of French history and European history it would come as no surprise whatsoever that the French would abandon their partners when crunch time comes.
It is another question altogether whether or not the EU and central bank there should offer such a bailout package for the Greeks. A very cogent and moral argument can be made that the Greeks should be made to suffer the consequences of their own folly. The debate is really not much different, if at all, than the one we endured during the fall of ’08 about whether we should bailout AIG, Fannie and Freddie, GM and Chrysler and then a group of large banks. Pundits, economists and great thinkers can and will debate the efficacy of that program for decades to come. Not allowing failure to fail is certainly not the format for a vigorous free market system. If they had all gone under there would have been lots of pain but most of it would have been borne by those who were running or working for those companies or doing business with them. Those were all choices made by those various groups. Depositors could have been protected for far less than the cost of the TARP program and the Stimulus bill only leaked away like sprinkling drops of water into the ocean. We still lost 2.5 million (or calculate your own number) since that time anyway. Except for a handful relatively speaking of construction jobs here and there who the heck has benefitted from any of that money? The Europeans can bailout whoever they wish, it is their deal not ours. We are NOT all in this together. Maybe the Europeans haven’t learned anything from our experiences so far.
I am not mad at the French for their position but find it typical of their view of partnering with anyone. Many individual Frenchmen are grateful people. You can go to the coast of Normandy today and talk with the older folks and many will heap praise on the Americans and British for the invasion and their liberation for the Nazis. But as a nation they are not grateful and always have the attitude of what is in it for them. Thus is has ever been so. Certainly since the days of Talleyrand and the end of the Napoleonic era they have always sought only what is in their interest in their dealings with all parties including those who are their allies. Loyalty is not their long suit. Talleyrand astutely observed that nations do not have friends but only interests to be protected.
In international relations and the diplomatic world that is a realistic policy and not necessarily to be condemned. It matches well with the Realpolitk of Bismarck from the 19th century and the diplomacy of Kissinger during the Cold War. It is not that they are looking out for their own interest that is bothersome it is the hypocrisy and arrogance they deploy in their messages to the world that boggles the mind. They have a history of bugging out when the going gets tough. They never gave much of a thanks for the British blood shed in Flanders fields for their protection during WWI nor did they heap praise on the American Expeditionary forces that closed the military deal against Germany. During WWII they quit when they still had millions of men under arms and made their peace with the Germans and split France into Vichy and occupied France. Those Vichy French killed the first American troops to storm the beaches in North Africa a couple of years later and Churchill had to send the British navy to sink a goodly portion of the French fleet at Oran because they didn’t have the guts to bring their ships to Allied ports. All those decisions they thought were best for them at the time made.
After the War and the creation of the United Nations and NATO then French looked for the first opportunity to dump their friends again. De Gaulle withdrew the French from the NATO alliance because he thought he could win better terms dealing with the Soviets without the encumbrance of allies. Maybe so, maybe not but you don’t abandon your friends and those who helped you when the bullets were flying. Now they face difficulties with their EU partners. Whatever decision they make you can rest assured will only be examined through the prism of what they believe is in their best interest alone without regard to any commitment made to others. Again they are loyal only to themselves. Sacrifice is not a word often used in their vocabulary. Vive la France!
“the mob, those political animals need organization, which means simple orders and chiefs.” De Gaulle. http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com