Thursday, June 7, 2007
Super Sarko Goes Continental
Nicolas Sarkozy attended his first G8 as France's president, and if his first press conference is any indication, it looks like he's been reading the site regularly and decided to make me look like a clairvoyant genius.
First off, he asked himself how best to illustrate my "Sarkozy the Activist" prediction. 'I know,' he said. 'How about getting Tony Blair on board for my streamlined institutional treaty for the EU? Then afterwards, tell the press, Don't worry, me and Tony straightened everything out.' (OK, I'm paraphrasing, but not by much. The direct quote was, "Tony Blair and I just agreed on what could be the framework for a simplified treaty.")
It was a good start, but he soon realized that it might not be enough, since France and England are supposed to be influential in EU politics, and I'd predicted that he'd find ways to surprise people with his ability to wield French influence in areas where they might not expect it.
'Wait a minute,' he said to himself. 'Here I am meeting one on one with Vladimir Putin, right when this whole Return of the Cold War business is getting out of hand. If I suggested that France could serve as an intermediary and help resolve the entire crisis, why, that would make Monsieur Grunstein look like he reads a crystal ball.'
So that's exactly what he did, telling Vlad, "Have your people call my people and we'll get this whole thing squared away." (OK, I'm paraphrasing, but not by much. He actually suggested "...that French and Russian military experts meet to see where things stand.")
'Zees ees verrry good,' he thought to himself. 'But M. Grunstein also once described in detail my negotiating strategy. If I outline an approach to resolving Kosovo's final status agreement in terms that basically paraphrase his, it will make him look like a mindreader.'
"You have to avoid going straight to conflict." He therefore proposed that "...President Putin recognize the inescapable perspective of Kosovo's independence..." and "...that we let Belgrade and Pristina dialogue together..." for six months. In the absence of an agreement after six months, the UN plan would take effect.
Sarkozy is careful to never identify what he wants (mini-treaty, minimum service) without at the same time dangling the cost to his negotiating partner (Turkey veto, unilateral legislation) should he not get it. More importantly, he's perfectly willing to postpone confrontation, as long as he can leave the room with a child in his arms.
For an encore, I predict that the next time President Bush goes to Crawford, Sarkozy will be one of his first guests. They'll engage in manly activities like clearing brush together, and get into a minor altercation when Bush has a Secret Service agent trip Sarkozy up in order to win the mountain bike race he's challenged him to. They'll shake hands afterwards and joke about it for the cameras, but things will never be the same between them again.