Skip to main content

Angry DSK touts his wasted talents, but is anyone still listening?

By Agnes Poirier, Special to CNN
July 10, 2013 -- Updated 2208 GMT (0608 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Dominique Strauss-Kahn gives first English-language interview since arrest, on CNN
  • DSK says he still feels "very angry" at U.S. justice system for having paraded him
  • Hard to feel sorry for him, Agnes Poirier says, after his admission he attended orgies
  • French know of his skills, Poirier argues; they just didn't want to hear him anymore

Editor's note: Agnes Poirier is a French journalist and political analyst who contributes regularly to newspapers, magazines and TV in the UK, U.S., France, Italy.

Former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn spoke exclusively to CNN's Richard Quest, who you can follow on Twitter. Watch Quest Means Business, Monday to Friday 6pm GMT.

(CNN) -- It may feel to us, in France, as if Dominique Strauss-Kahn has constantly been in the news since that fateful afternoon of May 14, 2011, when NYPD officers arrested him on board an Air France flight bound to Berlin. The then-head of the International Monetary Fund was due to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel to try to solve the euro crisis.

The man the French like to call DSK has only spoken twice about the day he fell from grace, the day he risked a brilliant international career, like many others to play Russian roulette. The first time he talked publicly was in September 2011 on French television. Now, almost two years later, he has given his first English language interview, on CNN.

Agnes Poirier
Agnes Poirier

The French weren't very tender with him the first time he spoke out; they will undoubtedly be as severe the second time. DSK says how he still feels "very angry" at the U.S. justice system for having paraded him, handcuffed, for the whole world to see, "at the precise time when a man should be considered innocent."

Two years later, DSK still smarting over 'perp walk'

Those images were, and indeed remain, shocking. It is illegal in France to show the face of people arrested by the police until they are proved guilty. It is, however, difficult to feel sorry for him now, especially after all that we have learnt since: his admission that he attended orgies in France with prostitutes paid for by friends, although he assures us he could not have possibly realized they were prostitutes because he only ever saw them naked.

This man was going to be France's next president after five years of Sarkozy rule. I would have voted for him, as no doubt millions of my compatriots would have done too, convinced as we were of his dazzling intelligence and that he was the man to resolve the euro crisis. We vaguely knew of his womanizing, certainly not a crime in French books, except we weren't aware it was pathological.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn on austerity
Strauss-Kahn talks hotel incident
Strauss-Kahn: European banking is 'sick'
Strauss-Kahn still angry over perp walk

Strauss-Kahn doesn't however dwell too long on his Sofitel demise and swiftly moves on to explain how Europe is suffering a crisis of leadership. Quoting an Arabic proverb, he says that an army of lions led by a sheep will always be defeated by an army of sheep lead by a lion.

Does he unconsciously imply that he was the lion Europe could have had and badly needed to dig itself out of its financial quagmire, if only fate hadn't decided otherwise? Possibly.

Meanwhile, the former head of the IMF blames the European institutions for failing to implement hard decisions and for dithering. He says that some European leaders are "perfectly up-to-date" and capable but that they are victims of deficient decision-making mechanisms at a supra-national level.

Would he give, as France has tried to convince a reluctant Germany since 2008, more power to the European Central Bank and its director Mario Draghi? Probably.

As Martin Schultz, president of the European Parliament tweeted this week: "The U.S. have one currency, one central bank and one government. Europe has one currency, one central bank and... 17 governments! It cannot go on like this," before adding: "We cannot live with 17 individual policies on the euro. We need one single euro governance."

According to Strauss-Kahn, cohesion in decision making in Europe is not the only stumbling block. The European banking system is also at fault, "sick," and needs reforming before growth can settle back in. Reforming traders' pay and bonuses is just but a small part of the problem, Strauss-Kahn says, what is even more important is to purge the whole system.

When Strauss-Kahn first spoke to the French in September 2011, he also dived into European economics to give a mini-lecture on how to go about the financial crisis. The French public reacted angrily: what was he doing, distilling his knowledge, when he was in no position to actually help the country any longer? The French perfectly knew of his skills, so lamentably wasted; they just didn't want to hear him anymore.

The world will probably feel the same watching his interview with CNN. Strauss-Kahn's voice doesn't resonate anymore; it was lost, once and for all, in a hotel suite in Manhattan.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Agnes Poirier.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 21, 2014 -- Updated 1746 GMT (0146 HKT)
The tragic killing of two cops could not have happened at a worse time for a city embroiled in a bitter public battle over police-community relations, Errol Louis says.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 0320 GMT (1120 HKT)
North Korea warns the United States that U.S. "citadels" will be attacked, dwarfing the hacking attack on Sony that led to the cancellation of a comedy film's release.
December 22, 2014 -- Updated 0251 GMT (1051 HKT)
The gateway to Japan's capital, Tokyo Station, is celebrating its centennial this month -- and it's never looked better.
December 20, 2014 -- Updated 1621 GMT (0021 HKT)
More than 1.7 million children in conflict-torn areas of eastern Ukraine face an "extremely serious" situation, Unicef has warned.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1322 GMT (2122 HKT)
Boko Haram's latest abductions may meet a weary global reaction, Nigerian journalist Tolu Ogunlesi says.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1034 GMT (1834 HKT)
Drops, smudges, pools of blood are everywhere -- but in the computer room CNN's Nic Robertson reels from the true horror of the Peshawar school attack.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0243 GMT (1043 HKT)
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0948 GMT (1748 HKT)
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 0212 GMT (1012 HKT)
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
December 19, 2014 -- Updated 1431 GMT (2231 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT