Europe in Wonderland

BERLIN – Europe and its national governments are basking in their new capacity to act – and not without reason. Who would have dared, even a few weeks ago, to predict that in the end it would be the divided Europeans, not the United States, who determined how to contain the global financial crisis?

Serious crises are defining moments in history. To be sure, the US is in an interregnum until the election of a new president. Moreover, George W. Bush seems to be far weaker than any normal “lame duck” president, creating a global power vacuum that has been filled vigorously by French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who is also the current president of the European Council. Sarkozy already took on this role in the Georgia crisis; now he has reinforced it.