News | Academics

Sarkozy talks power, regulation

Despite the rain, hordes of students turned out to see French President Nicolas Sarkozy speak at Columbia's World Leaders Forum.

Sarkozy, whose visit was announced last week, spoke to a packed house about rethinking market and governance models, and putting pressure on nations that may pose a threat.

"In following him, one has the sense that he is more inclined than most to express his views as they are, regardless of the political consequences that might follow," University President Lee Bollinger said of Sarkozy.

“And for all this, we are in ... need of a free uninhibited flow of information and ideas and yet we are experiencing a rise in censorship around the globe that threatens our ability to see and think clearly," Bollinger said.

He added that he would like Sarkozy, who is expected to have dinner with President Barack Obama this week, to "extend to him our very best regards from his alma mater."

Sarkozy spoke of the importance of keeping in mind the consequences of power. “In Europe, we are your friends, your European friends. We in Europe admire you. You need not worry about that. However, in Europe, what we want is to be heard, to be listened to by the United States of America, that we should put our heads together and think together. You belong to a country that is the world’s number one power. … And you have to think about this very carefully, because what does that mean, to be the world’s number one power?"

He also called for greater economic rules and regulations. "“World economic regulation can no longer stand still," he said, adding, "A few hundred irresponsible hotheads did mad things on the stock market, with derivatives, with other peoples money. Do you think we can defend capitalism … when there is so much injustice? I don’t think so because it is impossible to defend.”

Sarkozy also called for reform in world governance. In the United Nations, he said, "When it comes to paying up, pay up. When it comes to speaking up, stand down.”

“If we don’t change world governance, we don’t stand a chance of being able to manage tomorrow's conflicts—for Iran where we need to show total firmness that must not be allowed to get its hand of nuclear weapons, we need the support of China and Russia to have sanctions.”

Sarkozy commented on American domestic policy as well. "Health care is expensive. But you can't let people simply die,” he said. Sarkozy added: "When the decision was taken not to bail out Lehman Brothers, we would have liked to be sounded out. … That is solidarity.”

Alan Krill, a graduate student at SIPA, said he came to the event because "French and U.S. relations have been rocky over the past decade.” He added that he would like to see how the countries could form a mutually beneficial alliance.

Check out Spectrum for more updates.


Plain text

  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Your username will not be displayed if checked
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Joey Tranchina posted on

America the Number One World Power. That's a joke. America spends 44 cents of every tax dollar on a military that couldn't even steal Iraq, under the grand idiot Bush and his evil regime. America has bombers to fight a defunct Soviet Union but does not realize that we are in an economic war with China where we are squandering our advantages on global delusions and ill-conceived foreign adventures.

"US Number One", in a country where basic minimal health care legislation requires a political civil war, with threats of violence to overthrow the "tyrant," Obama. If we had invested our money in education at home and abroad we wouldn't need so many aircraft carriers and we certainly wouldn't need to sell bonds in order to pay for our own health insurance.

President Sarkozy, was very kind. He didn't really come out and say that America has betrayed her brand and that the world is no longer buying US credit on faith but rather out of desperate self-preservation, while looking for an exit strategy.. He knows that at home in France, Europeans watch with scorn as America continues to embarrass itself before the world, with puerile political games, from an hysterical fringe-right-wing, that preys on the ignorance of US citizens.

America the "Number One World Power." Like that old Roman who said: "I am a rich man unless I pay my creditors."

In this great university, can anyone name one military power in history that survived economic collapse?

I'm glad I live in France.

hbll posted on

Well, it's obvious someone's taken Sarkozy's comments on cooperation and constructive dialogue to heart.

Joey Tranchina posted on

The most valuable thing that an American can do to understand America's place in the world is to get a passport and a suitcase, if not a backpack, and meet the rest of the world. Americans suffer from the delusions of isolation. they need to face the shocking fact, not that people love or hate America but how little most people in most places think about America at all. If there is ever to be a broad base of support for rational international policies, far more Americans need to have international experience.

If I hated America, I would not have written at all. What disturbs me, and most of the Europeans I know, is the wide-spread ignorance of the consequences of major American errors, (eg. the Wall Street Ponzi scheme with unregulated derivatives and the disastrous war in Iraq). that continue to negatively impact people's lives around the world. I'm quite certain that most Europeans think that it is OK for you to allow your cowboy capitalist con-men to steal from you; this time they sold your worthless junk to bankers around the world. If you think Europeans will quickly forget that, you have no common sense.

President Sarkozy was very kind, but listen carefully to what he said: "Do you think we can defend capitalism … when there is so much injustice? I don’t think so because it is impossible to defend.” This man has done more to liberate capitalism in France, from the crushing weight of bureaucracy, than I believed possible, but the consequences of American fiscal irresponsibility have added to the attacks on his popularity and increased resistance to reform. How many Americans are aware of that?

There can be no "constructive dialogue," between people who can not be honest with one another. As I wrote, America has tarnished her brand. America has lost more than prestige; she has lost power. The sooner Americans realize that the more quickly you will come to a reasonable understanding among yourselves and with the world. If you are only willing to hear comforting voices that pamper your delusions of "American Exceptionalism," you can listen to the people who get paid to sell that tripe on TV.

timmmy posted on

I hate america too

Anonymous posted on

Actually, the French and Germans favor less strict regulations on the global marketplace, than the US is currently seeking. No doubt, too, we will eventually hear of John Paulson's European investor counterparts, in due time.