Munching a pain chocolat over my International Herald Tribune this morning, it hit me: regardless of the virtues or vices of squishy multilateralism, on a day-to-day basis it sure is about as exciting as watching an escargot race.

Spinning through today's stories:

* Europeans unsure about Turkey joining the EU!
* Greece no longer automatic veto against Turkey joining the EU!
* Turk: Europe underestimates internal Turkish debate over the EU!
* German: Turkey needs "Privileged Partnership," not EU membership!
* U.S., Europe disagree on the so-called "Geneva rule" informally limiting heads of international institutions to two terms!
* Organization of American States, which has no power, could nevertheless reprimand the U.S. over Kyoto Protocol!
* American ex-bureaucrat: Kyoto is important!

Granted, the Herald Tribune, my favorite paper in the world, has long been a sort of daily-newspaper version of Foreign Policy (especially since the New York Times took over sole management two years back), but the context of European geopolitics just screams process over outcomes, talk over action. Nowhere in today's paper is this on more humorous display than in a straight-to-the-round-file open letter to President Bush, co-written in true multilateralist style by former Italian prime minister Giuliano Amato, former London School of Economics director Ralf Dahrendorf, and former French president Valery Giscard d'Estaing. "There are five important points to make," they proclaim. These are?

Be multilateral and effective. […]
A strong Europe makes for a strong alliance. […]
Work jointly on the Middle East. […]
It's also the economy, Mr. President! […]
Think of a new strategic forum.

To quote Dave Barry, I swear I'm not making these up.