The speed with which the French president has reacted to events in Georgia is impressive. New Labour has always had a blind-spot for foreign affairs (its main players speak no foreign languages and have little knowledge of, or interest in, "abroad").
It is deeply embarrassing that Sarkozy has spoken to Merkel, Berlusconi and "colleagues of Mr Brown". What is going on? David Miliband issued a statement on Monday condemning Russia's actions, but he is hardly striding the international stage. No surprise, perhaps, considering the fury that greeted his Guardian article on the future of the Labour government last week.
But if Brown is not allowing Miliband to show his mettle (he was impressive in his swift condemnation of Russian aggression when he took over as Foreign Secretary last year) then why is Brown not doing something himself. Is he afraid that any move he makes will be interpreted as an attempt to distract from his domestic woes? Whatever the reasons, we are left with a government utterly paralysed by its own internal problems when it should be acting to assert Britain's position in this most dangerous of situations.
And if that's not enough for you, here's my old sparring partner Mary Dejevsky on the Indy's Open House blog...
It's a strange thing, isn't it? One week your foreign secretary is all over the media discussing everything under the sun – even grinning cheekily when collared by a television reporter - and the next week, when a full-blown international crisis erupts, he has vanished from the global map...
The closest we came to a sighting was word from Mr Murphy on Newsnight that he "and David Miliband" would be attending a Nato ministerial meeting on Wednesday (i.e. tomorrow). The word is that Mr Miliband is holidaying on one or other of Spain's Balearic islands. Now everyone deserves a holiday, but when a foreign crisis of this order blow up, the foreign secretary is the minister you most expect to hear from.
Can it be that, with his sights set on higher things, he has already "moved on" - as Blairspeak might have it - from his foreign affairs portfolio?
Ouch. And following it all up with a brilliant post is Iain Martin on Three Line Whip. He says...
It is inconceivable that under Blair, Major or Thatcher particularly, 24 hours would have passed without them appearing on television to condemn this and stake out HMG's position so that it was clearly understood by the British public, the Russians and a global audience.
Thatcher would have summoned a TV crew and made a robust, but not inflammatory, statement urging the relevant multilateral organisations to take this seriously and commence talks on finding a resolution straight away. The impact would have been positive all round.
But now we seem bedeviled by an assumption in the FCO that much of this is the kind of business we can farm out happily to the EU and whoever happens to have the Presidency. Perhaps we had better get used to much more of this in life after Lisbon.
Contrast all that with David Cameron's clear exposition of the Conservative position. Just because the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary were on holdiday does not mean that government stops. They should have learnt from history that in August shit happens. The First World War broke out. The Soviet coup took place. Iraq invaded Kuwait.
Perhaps if Harriet Harman had been minding the shop we might have been served better. What did you say? She was? Ah, that explains it.