Whatever illusion it was that suggested the presence of a common global agreement (or even a semi-regional agreement) on the best way to approach the present crisis faded quickly after the first mutual caresses of the appendages of state resulted in multiple charges of sexual harassment. Doubtless, Gordon Brown, who is facing his own political crisis on top of the economic weight already crushing his skull day in and day out, hoped matters would glide smoothly over the many financial surfaces covered with new found Anglo-American lubricant. Not so fast. That stuff dries out fast.
A rift between Europe and America over the crux of the G20 summit was last night threatening Gordon Brown's hopes for a deal to rescue the world economy.
The size of the challenge facing the British Government in bringing together world powers was emphasised in a candid admission by Britain's most senior civil servant that it was proving "unbelievably difficult" to liaise with the Obama Administration to prepare for the meeting.
Sheesh, what's the problem? Is Larry Summers too busy preparing his keynote for Wellesley ("The Inadequacy and Irrelevancy of Female Scholarship in the Modern age: A Question of Intelligence?") to pick up the phone or return a text?
A simmering row about the whole point of the G20 meeting on April 2 burst into the open when Larry Summers, chief economic adviser to President Obama, called on other countries to follow America's lead in pumping even more money into stimulus plans to revive the world economic system.
A certain amount of complexity, and a measure of delay while group dynamics form was to be expected, so is the Times just stirring up silt as a bit of payback for some perceived slight inflicted on Gordon Brown's last state visit? They seem to be biting down pretty hard if so:
Sir Gus O'Donnell said that No 10 was finding it "unbelievably difficult" to prepare with the US. The Cabinet Secretary was speaking about the advantages of a permanent civil service and the difficulties of dealing with a Government with hundreds of appointees. "There is nobody there," Sir Gus said. "You cannot believe how difficult it is."
You know, if you drift back to some of Brown's comments during his last state visit, he was laying it on awfully thick. Are we just joining the tin-foil hat crowd, or was this sort of thing already starting to look like an issue? Consider:
Alliances can wither or be destroyed, but partnerships of purpose are indestructible. Friendships can be shaken, but our friendship is unshakeable. Treaties can be broken but our partnership is unbreakable.
And I know there is no power on earth than can drive us apart.
Well, clearly he hadn't spent much time with Summers yet when the speech was drafted.
'Difficult' Americans hamper G20 efforts to secure a global deal [Times Online]
Gordon Brown's speech to US Congress [The Guardian]