Academic journal article Energy Law Journal

Le Génie Français*/témoignage

Academic journal article Energy Law Journal

Le Génie Français*/témoignage

Article excerpt

LE GÉNIE FRANÇAIS,* by Michel Guénaire, B. Grasset, 2006, and TÉMOIGNAGE, by Nicolas Sarkozy, XO Publishing, 2006

Reviewed by Philip M. Marston"

Ideas are one of America's principal exports. When shipped as mathematical formulas or scientific jargon, or embedded in images contained in dubbed films, television shows or sporting events, they are largely independent of language. But most are packed for export in stout crates of English syntax that must be methodically disassembled-or at least parsed-by non-English speakers in order to extract the contents.

What happens, though, when the ideas are bound up in the packing cratesthat is to say when the ideas can't be separated from the fabric of language, history, culture, and values within which they arose and through which they are carried? How well do such ideas succeed in foreign cultures without significant modification?

"Not very well," is the conclusion one draws from Michel Guénaire's delightful little essay, Le génie français (Grasset 2006). A partner at Gide, Loyrette, Nouel in Paris, Maître Guénaire is known to the Energy Bar Association for his presentation on the European Union's (EU) liberalization and restructuring policies at the Association's meeting in December of 2003 (a brief account of which opens the chapter that addresses the U.S. role in the post September 11 world, discussed below). Le génie français is an intellectual's call for reform to address structural difficulties that stifle French innovation and creativity, in economic development to be sure, but also in the political and cultural arenas. At one level it is a plea for the continuing relevance of Latin models in a world increasingly dominated by Anglo-Saxon ideas, demography, and sheer economic clout. But it is also a call to arms in defense of a specifically French approach to the issues raised by globalization-which here refers largely to the centralization of power in Brussels as the capital of a federalizing Europe.

His analysis is intellectual and hardly partisan in any sense of the termand yet may have implications for both American political parties as well as for U.S. relations with the EU (and indeed for intra-Union relations among the EU Member States), especially when one sees the extent to which many of his ideas are echoed in the recent book by Nicolas Sarkozy, the current presidential candidate, which is discussed below.

Guénaire begins by recognizing the triumph of the American model at the end of the Cold War with the dissolution of the Soviet empire: "[p]olitical liberalism was joined with economic liberalism, that crucible of the historic Anglo-Saxon model, and triumphed over European statism. It alone guided men's minds and became the compass guiding the world."1 But for Maître Guénaire, this period of unquestioned superiority of the American model for free minds (political liberalism) and free markets (economic liberalism) came to an abrupt end following the dual shocks of the September 11, 2001, attacks and the excesses exemplified by the Arthur Andersen accounting scandal, the California energy fiasco, recurrent black-outs of the power grid and-crowning blow-the collapse of Enron and the de-legitimization of the unbridled free market model for trade and commerce.

This is the context of his critique of the unqualified adoption in France of the "Anglo-Saxon" model for economic development. The term "Anglo-Saxon model" is a common one in France (especially after the Thatcher and Reagan periods) for an unrestricted (or more precisely, insufficiently restricted) marketplace that is viewed by the French as characteristic of the Anglophone world. The term is used to refer to such disparate ideas as private retirement accounts (e.g. IRA's or 401(k)'s), medical savings accounts-or the openaccess, non-discriminatory transportation regime for natural gas or electricity. 2 The term is used here to refer principally to the economic and regulatory liberalization policies adopted by the European Union. …

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