Sorry, today I’m not going to cover the G8 summit on Lake Geneva, at Evian. From the press coverage you indeed get the impression, as Elisabeth Bumiller of the New York Times (registration required) puts it, of “a messy family reunion,” where the main thing people are interested in is who avoids whom, who smiles at whom, who shakes whose hand and how enthusiastically, etc. This even in the German press, as in Die Welt’s Versöhnlicher Handschlag (“handshake of forgiveness”), or the FT Deutschland’s Bush schenkt Schröder drei Minuten (“Bush grants three minutes to Schröder”). Then, on the other side of the police barricades, you just have whatever credibility the arguments of the “anti-globalists” retain being trashed along with the cars and shop-windows that are the target of that minority of demonstrators who see the occasion as another chance to have some violent fun and quite likely get away with it, since the police can’t bash or arrest them all.
Apparently the summit continues on into today, so the press coverage will likely merit a better look later on. German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder didn’t even make it out to the lake until late last night, but he had a good excuse: He was busy at a special congress of his Social Democratic Party (SPD), gaining party approval for an ambitious program of retrenchment of Germany’s welfare state that he calls “Agenda 2010.” That, as even the Guardian points out in today’s leader, is the sort of major development that merits attention. (more…)