July 09, 2016
The article, written in response to the result of the referendum in Britain, ends with what is supposed to be a stirring call to readers, a bit like de Gaulle’s famous radio broadcast from London:
Everyone is invited to participate [in European integration]! Let us defend Europe together by making it better. It is only together that we will advance. That is why it is so important for 27 [countries of the European Union] to consult each other, to listen attentively to each other and then to act together.
I do not know Mr. Steinmeier and have no particular animus against him. He is probably a perfectly decent man, as politicians go. I do not know whether he wrote the article in French or whether it was translated. What intrigues me is the question of whether Mr. Steinmeier’s article corresponds to any thoughts that actually ran through his head. If they did, one can only pity him: How boring it must be to be Mr. Steinmeier.
In case I should be accused of selective quotation, I closed my eyes and let my finger alight at random on part of his article. Here is the sentence:
Its heart [that of “the process of European unification” mentioned in the previous sentence], namely the agreement on a political cadre that leads its member states to settle their relations and their conflicts in the offices of the Council in Brussels rather than on the battlefield, has lost none of its usefulness and importance.
So to combine soporific banality with cunning evasiveness takes, I suppose, talent of a kind, the kind of talent required to rule without appearing to want to do so. It is a dull talent that is key to advance in the world, and one that I cannot much admire.