Friday, August 24, 2012


Leaving for a short trip to Europe, I feel like someone condemned who has to choose between two equally painful choices. The United States in pre-convention mood feels like a journey in Sabbath and I expect Europe to remain a crossroads of repetitive meetings wherein  the stausquo is sold as a path forward.
On this side of the Atlantic, Obama and Romney are sinking in generalities.  On the other side of the ocean the situation looks almost hopeless. There are too many doctors in the European ER who know too well where to cut and intervene but retreat out of fear of being seen as the Brutus of the moment.
The Americans have a choice between two dysfunctional concepts. Obama wants to impose a view devoid of management, while Romney suggests management without consistency. Both candidates have the teammates they deserve: Biden who is supposed to entertain, and Ryan who has been asked to be the wizard of the insoluble. This being said, both presidential candidates also have their pluses. Obama too often plays the philosopher king and fakes proximity, an attitude which he shares with Romney. The Democrat is probably more focused on the world as it is while the Republican appears stuck in a worldview which was.  Romney's forte is the economy but his belligerent trade talk is counter-productive. Obama is better at social issues but looks sometimes pathetic in foreign affairs, where his right instincts have been unable to achieve the global governance which figured high in his agenda.
The EU has become fatherless, even if it has to be admitted that Angela Merkel tries to keep her self-control and confers with more leaders than Mary Poppins is able to achieve in three acts. The Europeans look insular and become tribal, if not irrelevant, in a world wherein the Chinese start to rule the waves and fill the gaps while the EU and, to a lesser degree, the US look on.
I don't see the end of the fiscal or monetary cliffs which are threatening both the Americans and the Europeans. They are in a stage of panic wherein the abstract overtakes the concrete. When the deficit numbers eventually go down in the US there will be a sigh of relief, independently of the consequences in such fields as education, clean energy, Medicare or military expenditures, and the list can continue. When the Greeks are out of the way, the Europeans will be tempted to run for Beethoven's Ninth and let loose the lies they carried for too long.
I always pleaded in favor of  a new Atlantic partnership.  Without such an aggiornamento we run the risk of becoming second-tier spectators of a world in flames by its own doing or depleted by the Chinese inroads. The United States might still try to play at being indispensable.  Europe on its own cannot. The mare nostrum has become a highway for dangers of any kind; a short-sided immigration or enlargement policy almost made a joke of what was a grand ambition after the Treaty of Rome. Rather than partying with Arab Springs and the Chinese "harmonious society," and  too often turning a blind eye to the Wal-Mart of nuclear waste in the Caucasus, we had better regroup, set our priorities right and act later. We are running out of time since the Iranian bluff might become a reality and since Syria risks inflaming the whole region.
It is to be hoped that the statesmen--if they are still around--amongst us stand up and show the politicians, who have taken the bureaucracy hostage here and there while being themselves manipulated by lobbyists and interest groups, the exit door.
Hamlet said it all:  More in sorrow than in anger.

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