Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Americans have moved on already - for them, the challenge to their vision is Berlin

The British papers are understandably obsessed with Cameron's EU veto, with the right-wing press thrilled, the LibDem press (BBC, Guardian and Indie) appalled and the financial press (FT and Economist) deeply concerned. (Labour's sole media representative, the Mirror, has ignored the EU crisis entirely and focused on X-Factor and Tories-in-a-Nazi-themed-stag-party-scandal!).

The Americans however have moved smartly on. For them it's all about Germany v the USA - Germany and US in Tactical fight, says the NYTimes.

According to the American version of events, Obama has prevented global financial meltdown by putting in a huge stimulus and empowering the Fed to print money and fire fight wherever it sees necessity, and they feel Merkel is putting the whole thing in jeopardy by trying to impose austerity on the EU.

They even accuse the Germans of wanting financial instability because it plays into their hands:

The Germans, for their part, seem almost to welcome the collapse of market confidence: without the rising pressure from markets, Silvio Berlusconi would not have resigned as prime minister of Italy. And without the incentive of fear, most European partners would have been more reluctant to give Brussels oversight authority over national budgets — and the right to impose sanctions for violators.

“The Germans had a strategic insight or advantage to let the crisis get to the threshold within the European Union necessary for France to be willing to hand over the kind of sovereignty the country has always resisted,” said Jacob Funk Kirkegaard of the Peter G. Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington. “You could say that the crisis has either been the wake-up call or the tool that Germany has used to beat them into submission.”

Obama sent his Treasury secretary Tim Geithner to Brussels ahead of the summit - and it's known he tried to contact Cameron too, but Cameron missed the call (or dodged it?)

The Reagan and Bush I administrations used close ties with the Tories to influence European policy, and the Clinton and Bush II administrations used close ties with Labour to do the same, (and Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State in Obama's administration had a very close relationship with David Miliband in Brown's administration).

But the Americans have no relationship at all with either Cameron's Tories or Clegg's LibDems. Further, by removing himself from the EU theatre, Cameron has removed himself as a useful friend to the Americans.

What now?

Well notice how the Americans are worrying about French sovereignty. Obama's relationship with Sarkozy is good, fuelled by his romantic appreciation of France as America's original ally (and pretty much one of two important countries the Americans have never been to war with, the other being India). In addition, to him Cameron is the equivalent of George III and he isn't going to shed many tears over losing him as an ally at the European table.

For the Americans the French are now their proxy in their 60-year strategic goal of keeping the Germans down and the Russians out. Expect maximum help from the Americans to the French in their attempts to ensure that Germany doesn't walk all over them and the rest of Europe.

FWIW, I think Obama is right and Merkel is wrong - wall-to-wall austerity is pretty much nuts - if everyone's consumption contracts, who will buy your products?

Britain needs to hope that the Americans via the French prevent the Germans from sending the entire EU into depression. We are no longer in control of our fate now that Dave-no-mates has found himself locked out of all the top tables in Europe and across the Atlantic. We are in the bizarre position of hoping the French (of all people) manage to prevent made-in-Germany eurogeddon.


Anonymous said...

No growth, mega disaster. VAT cut essential.

Twere Merk and Sark who vetoed Cameron's demands, why support the ego of the wannabe seigneur, he all out of droit.

DevonChap said...

Given your last post was spectacularly off (Papandreou out in a matter of days), is this the Snowflake kiss of death for Sarko?

Also loving the persecution complex (every paper except the Mirror is out to get us).

Anonymous said...

Sark and Merk vetoed Cameron's proposals, rather than the other way round. Whatever the 26 cobble together may not appeal to all of them, and some will not now be required to put the proposals to their voters.

I fear the City will suffer whatever eventuates now and a bog chunk of our economy and HMG's tax take is at risk.

Thanks to Cameron the UK will be regarded as priapic Albion.

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