November 9, 2011
By David Pryce-Jones
So Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy have got rid of the prime ministers of Greece and Italy within a few days of each other. It’s very remarkable that two politicians can take it upon themselves to throw out of office the democratically elected prime ministers in other countries where they themselves have no vote. They sacked George Papandreou and Silvio Berlusconi in exactly the way that the man in the Kremlin used to dismiss first secretaries or Party bosses in satellite republics. The moment Papandreou proposed to call a referendum he was doomed. Ask the people what they want? The very idea of it! Greece and Italy are now German protectorates.
At a press conference, in full view of the public, Merkel and Sarkozy gave amused grimaces at the mention of Berlusconi. Actually the latter is still quite popular at home. He fits a national stereotype immortalised in Donizetti’s masterpiece Don Pasquale of an elderly rich man deceived by the wiles of young ladies until in the end everyone contrives to live happily ever after. That he could fall asleep during an international gathering of politicians out to finish him off brings these proceedings down to their proper level of comic opera.
Greece has already defaulted, and Italy looks like doing so in the face of debt that cannot be repaid. Merkel and Sarkozy can’t remedy this, they haven’t access to funds on the scale required, and their electorates wouldn’t allow them to make fiscal transfers even if they could. Their unilateral and undemocratic decisions to prop up the euro will finish by destroying it, and the European Union into the bargain. The capitalisation of French banks is already under question, and here is Sarkozy begging China for money, in other words so desperate than he is ready for any humiliation. In another form of begging, namely anxiety to please, he didn’t realise journalists could hear him telling Obama, “I cannot bear Netanyahu any more, he is a liar.” (And if the Israeli prime minister had been a European no doubt he too would be pushed out of office.) To which Obama replies, “You’re fed up with him, but I have to deal with him every day.” This happens just when the Atomic Energy Agency provides the information that Iran’s nuclear program has military purposes. And these two are going to take care of that? The fate of millions is in their hands?
The Eurocrats in Brussels have just decreed that all jars of honey must carry a label specifying that there might be pollen in the contents. Let nobody say that those people can’t recognise a crisis when they see one.