The French Enigma and Germany's dithering

In response to my post Why is Europe dithering? George Krimpas sent me the following. It may well be he is right. But what does everyone else think?

George Krimpas: I am particularly pleased that you have now explicitly used your game-theoretic expertise to reframe the geopolitical dialectic – which I had tried to approximate in historical political economy terms in my Wither Europe piece.  I think your formalism improves the approximation by clarifying the types of alternative these particular players must objectively face.  However, I find the argument persuasive but not thoroughly convincing.  This is because historical political economy suggests that, for those hands-on players as distinct from ‘us’ independents but powerless, there is also immense confusion.

If that were not the case, the French would call the Germans’ bluff [for that is what is] right now, when France still has the option to engineer a gang-up against the Germans. And the Germans would know this, now.  With both confused, as I presume, it is possible for the Germans to be silent whilst the French effect to steer them, allowing meanwhile all the little people, e.g. the Commission and even the ECB, to produce all the right sounding hopeful noises.

Pity you missed Michel Barnier’s talk last week, a Gaullist swan song amounting to a suicide pact, l’essentiel est de preparer l’Europe pour une place a la table, the table being the grand new concert of powers which the French see emerging out of their individual reach, hence the marriage of necessity – way beyond convenience and in all likelihood unachievable – with any possibly Germany.  I see the present situation as a grinding of teeth.  Besides, there are elections everywhere soon to come.


  • I’m here to learn about the European political economy. However, I will ask: does it matter which of you is correct? Euro-zone policy makers have proven that they have never been “ahead of the game.” I can’t think of a single proactive response to the crisis that is well thought-out like the Modest Proposal. They are either dithering or confused – same outcome.

    Is it possible that euro-zone policy makers will remain reactive and simply tailor their actions to short-term expediency? In this scenario, it is practically impossible to model political risk unless you assume certain constants, such as the desire to maintain the EMU at all costs.

    • Does it matter whether they are guilty or merely idiotic? I think it does. For if they are merely confused, the escalation of the crisis may concentrate their mind, thus lifting the confusion. But if, instead, what we observe is part of the strategy of allowing the crisis to progress, albeit at a controlled rate, for the purposes of extracting maximum political gain, then we are in greater trouble. Two are the reasons: First, because controlling a motivated crisis is an extremely dangerous game. Secondly, because even if they succeed, the victim will be European democracy; the notion of a common European polity that operates on the one-person-one-vote principle. I think I better expound this view in a future, fully-feldged, post. (Only this must wait until I finish my book: I am working against a 31st January deadline!!!)

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