By Bardia Vaseghi
On the morning of Saturday, May 14th, Dominque Strauss-Kahn submitted his official announcement to run for five years of office in France’s Presidental Elysée building. By Monday the 16th, Strauss-Kahn had been marched violently off a plane, arrested, charged with attempted rape and six other charges, given his rights and a phone call, and placed on suicide watch.
As the world holds its breath, Dominique holds firm against the charges and the relentless media barrage, attacks that could lead to at least seven years imprisonment. Never have I seen a downfall so self-destructive and abusive, that even if the charges are dropped, his life in the public eye is indubitably over. Despite his relevance in the international economy and France’s presidential election, the choices Strauss-Kahn made will affect millions and have a permanent impact.
Although clouded in a conglomeration of ambiguity and fallacies, the situation is well known. In his hotel room, Strauss-Kahn was accused of attempting sexual advances on a maid that had recently finished cleaning his hotel room. Soon, he was arrested on seven charges, the most imminent and surprising being the charge of attempted rape, which holds a minimum 5-year sentence. A few hours later, Mr. Strauss-Kahn announced his resignation as the Managing Director of the International Monetary Defense but maintained his innocence, claiming, “The charges against me hold nothing but the finest brand of fallacy.” Now, Strauss-Kahn’s future personal dealings and perhaps the tiniest sliver of professional potential he still possesses lie in the hands of a New York jury.
Whatever his personal failures, Strauss-Kahn was undoubtedly an outstanding head of the International Monetary Fund. With the onset of the global recession in 2008, investors were turning away from the auxiliary and unenforceable IMF, deeming it irrelevant for economic stability. However, through innovative litigation and cooperation with America, Germany, and other economic superpowers, the Fund played an integral role in global recovery and rebound through firm international regulation. Strauss-Kahn was one of the more public officials of the IMF – he gave a face to the institution. His political tactics, inherent instincts, and likeable personality quickly propelled him towards a bid for the French presidency, a door that is now closed as a result of his personal affairs. Without a doubt, Strauss-Kahn’s professional life has crashed and burned, regardless of the decision of the New York Court. It’s a shame to see a man known for integrity denigrate into abuse.
As the head executive cools his heels in a New York jail on sexual assault charges, there is widespread speculation on who will replace the forsaken manager. Protests from countries such as the United States and Mexico on the “traditionally European head of the IMF” have opened up possibilities for a representative outside of the United States. This new leader could bring the global recession to American perspectives, and help us play a bigger role. However, subsequent cries from the Eurozone claim that European leadership is necessary due to continued bailouts and bankruptcies from Portugal, Spain, Greece, and Ireland. If we want to see a quicker international recovery, there is a need to keep the leadership in Europe. Still, the odds lie with the Europeans, who need a leader who can coordinate and guide euro-area bailouts. Only time will tell if this new leader can live up to expectations, and fill the shoes of a remarkable leader.
The downfall of Domique Strauss-Kahn was appalling, and moreover, devastating. The world cannot deny the importance of the International Monetary Fund and even Strauss-Kahn’s leadership, but it is safe to say that the IMF requires new reforms and must be prepared for changes if it wants to survive into a new generation. Strauss-Kahn may be gone, but the IMF’s increasing role in the regulation of international economic output will continue.