I agree with Paul Krugman on this:
On point analysis of the European migrant tragedies from Chris Bertram:
All European states are signatories to the Refugee Convention and that places obligations on them to offer sanctuary to people who arrive on their shores and who have a “well-founded fear” of persecution (on various grounds). Although politicians like to claim that their countries have a proud history of taking in the persecuted — as Cameron claimed in a speech last year — they now do everything in their power to make it as hard as possible for those seeking asylum to arrive on their territory. Devices such as heavy financial penalties on airlines and other carriers and ever tighter visa restrictions mean that people fleeing countries such as Syria and Eritrea simply cannot arrive in Europe by safe routes, and if they do so by using false documents they are often prosecuted and imprisoned. People from these countries make up a significant proportion of those trying to cross from Libya to Italy. Because people cannot travel via safe routes, they travel via dangerous ones, just as they do in other parts of the world. They put themselves in the hands of people smugglers and they take the risk of crossing the Mediterranean in flimsy boats. But the people smugglers, though no doubt unscrupulous criminals on the whole, are simply responding to a demand that European politicians and their electorates have created.
The history of Europe can often be read as a constant, failed attempt at border control -- consider the many successful attempts at crossing one of the most heavily fortified borders of all time, the Berlin Wall -- and few such efforts seem quite as quixotic as controlling the flow of people and boats across the Mediterranean.
Over 100 Danish jihadists have gone to Syria and Iraq, one of the highest rates per person in Europe.
Sugary excerpt of Monday from Eduardo Sabrovsky:
The exploration of the idea—of the sole legitimate Kantian idea, the idea of Europe—has led us to this conclusion: albeit peculiar, this idea is a religion. We often react with scandal at the Islamic notion of Sharia, Islamic law. This is because we are blind to our own Sharia. In the best of possible worlds, we should be able to understand that our ways and mores may be, for the Islamic world, as scandalous an unacceptable as theirs usually are to us. They have their strict prohibitions, their strange bodily practices; though we may not perceive them, we surely do have ours; when we look at our bodies in the mirror, we see a human body as such; we do not perceive it as formed—and thus, de-formed—by our particular culture. So, in the best of possible worlds, we would live in our particularity and let live others live in theirs. Why don’t we?
Because 'we' disagree...
A good question from Marco d'Eramo:
The question is, how has it come about that young Europeans are no longer prepared to sacrifice themselves for humanitarian, patriotic or socialist reasons, but are for religious ones? What have we done to them to bring them to this point? What’s infuriating about the dominant discourse on Islamic fundamentalism, especially in Europe, is that it glides over structural causes and social alienation, and reduces everything to the implausible and useless category of ‘insanity and fanaticism’.
That Isis are far from insane is demonstrated by the fact that, with two public beheadings, this motley crew managed to get itself recognised as the main enemy of the world’s biggest superpower.
(...) the fact is that the first world war was a time when Muslims were generally used as pawns in European imperial games—whether they were Indians who fought for Britain, Senegalese or Algerians who fought for France or Turks who fought on the German side. Fighting on any side in the first world war was a pretty miserable experience, and that certainly deserves to be remembered. But Islam's collective memory of that period is probably a bit different from the European one.
The battle for Alstom is seen by some as a turning point for the French industry, mighty in its day but much of it struggling now for scale and scope. It is about much more than price. It is about how companies such as Alstom can best take on the challenges of globalisation.
I hope hat it means the death of the stupid idea that was démondialisation!
A Haha from Gideon Rachman:
(...)it needs to be pointed out that the idea that the European electorate has just risen up – en masse – and demanded that should be their leader is laughable nonsense.
Well, why put up Jean-Claude Juncker when there is Michel Barnier!
ACCORDING to one American stereotype, Europe is somewhere on the road between lazy godlessness and mass conversion to Islam. Does it have any kernel of truth? This much is true: in most European countries there is no obvious equivalent of the American religious right in which a large standing constituency spoils for a fight over hard ethical issues. Those kinds of issues arise in Europe of course, but it is hard for European politicians to build a career by claiming the traditionalist ground; they would generally lose more votes than they would gain.
What does exist in Europe is the politics of identity, including religious identity. In this area Europe's parties and politicians always think carefully about the signals they send and getting it right or wrong has consequences.
(...)The trick in European politics is to appeal to some religious and cultural constituencies without alienating others.
Interesting but incomplete stuff from James Meek:
The truth is that Russia and Ukraine have been reunited for a long time, in a corrupt mosaic dominated by Moscow. Putin didn’t begin invading Ukraine to bring it back into the fold but to stop it escaping. He established a patriarchal-oligarchic police state in Russia; the now universally despised Ukrainian president-in-exile, Viktor Yanukovich, was well on his way to establishing one in Ukraine; the leaders of Belarus and the Central Asian republics have established similar repressive polities. Russophone Ukrainians have real fears about Ukraine’s new leaders. Putin’s great fear is that the people of a future better Ukraine might inspire an entirely different unification with their East Slav brethren on his side of the border – a common cause of popular revolt against him and other leaders like him. The revolution on Maidan Nezalezhnosti – Independence Square in Ukrainian – is the closest yet to a script for his own downfall. In that sense the invasion is a counter-revolution by Putin and his government against Russians and Ukrainians alike – against East Slav resistance as a whole.
The EU is now now in the curious position of trying to save lives by barring non-Europeans not only from the rights it cloaks in universal values yet confines to residents only, but also from the 1951 Refugee Convention, which has no local delimitation and qualifies the sovereign control of borders in minor but crucial ways that favour asylum seekers.
Whatever Obama was before, today he is an unsentimental practitioner of realpolitik, which has ruled in America for some time. One could be more specific: Obama's foreign policy lacks any emotional dimension. The president is led by pragmatism and interests, with limits being set, if need be, by international law. (...) Obama twists and turns and examines a foreign policy problem. After he has weighed all of the arguments, he then decides. That leads to a rational, and sometimes hesitant, but not empathetic foreign policy. (...) Paradoxically, Europeans, especially the Germans, have their problems with both presidents. They despise Bush as a supposedly dim-witted cowboy. But in the meantime, they have become leery of the coldly analytical Obama, who kills suspected terrorists with drones and lets his government monitor the Internet.
Ah the death of fine romances is always slow, painful, and crippling...
More from Art Goldhammer on l'exception culturelle:
The cultural exception is one of those French eccentricities that baffle and exasperate even well-disposed foreigners. It is an "identitarian" anxiety that, altogether too explicably, plays well with the normally anti-identitarian Left because it is directed primarily against the great neoliberal Satan, the United States. It is also a convenient alibi for the Socialist government, a sop to be thrown to protectionist critics of its generally liberal approach to trade issues.
I find the principles behind the exception culturelle cute and touching, but also absurd and dangerous. Oh well, shit, as porn, is better and almost palatable and artistic in French.
Sentences of the day from Paul Krugman:
So Europe in 2013 is doing barely better than Europe in 1935 — and all indications are that by next year recovery will be lagging behind what was achieved in the Great Depression.
The sky is falling...may be not...
It is an absurd exaggeration to say that French industrial workers spend only three hours a day doing anything productive. Yet it is also the case that the 35-hour working week, combined with an entrenched role for unions within companies and intrusive labour rules, gives little flexibility for bosses. (...) Yet the damage to France’s image may be harder to shake off. At a time when the country has lost competitiveness to Germany, the economy is sliding into recession, taxes are at a record high, and the government has conceded that it will miss its deficit-reduction target for 2013, genuine concerns about the prospects of turning things around are wide-spread. Clara Gaymard, the French head of GE, an American conglomerate which successfully manufactures high-tech industrial stuff in France, put it well in her response to Mr Taylor’s letter. Yes, she said, “France’s image abroad is poor”. But “we are both a wonderful country and a very irritating one.
Sugary excerpt of the day from Slavoj Žižek:
What is new today is that, with the financial crisis that began in 2008, this same distrust of democracy – once constrained to the third world or post-communist developing countries – is gaining ground in the developed west itself: what was a decade or two ago patronising advice to others now concerns ourselves.The least one can say is that this crisis offers proof that it is not the people but experts themselves who do not know what they are doing. In western Europe we are effectively witnessing a growing inability of the ruling elite – they know less and less how to rule.
From Danilo Breschi:
In America, the matrix of individual freedom is "republican," and it is older than equality. It creates, within American democracy, devices of self-government decentralizing the exercise of sovereignty: freedom of speech and of the press, "jury," the idea of law as a duty to partake in public affairs.
In Europe, equality is imposed before individuals develop awareness of their own freedom and independently of any practice of the latter. The matrix of the continental idea of equality is absolutist and is ensured by the royal gaze. In The Old Regime and the Revolution, he wrote that "this kind of love for independence grows out of certain particular temporary mischiefs wrought by despotism, and is never durable; it passes away with the accident which gave it birth. What seemed to be love for liberty turns out to be mere hatred of a despot." For Tocqueville a "habit of despotism" was ingrained in the French people, becoming a sort of widespread popular culture.
Another reason to read Tocqueville.
From the great Pankaj Mishra:
The European idea of the nation-state, realized after much horrific bloodshed in Europe itself, was always a poor fit for Asia’s diverse mosaic.
Joseph Roth, who grew up in the multinational Hapsburg empire, was appalled by the imperatives of modern nationalism, according to which “every person must belong to a definite nationality or race” in order to be treated as an individual citizen. Roth, a Jew, suspected that members of minority groups, like himself, would be relegated to third-class citizenship, and vicious prejudice against them would be made respectable in the new nation-states built on the ruins of multinational empires.
The ethnic cleansers of 20th century Europe proved him right. It required a monstrous crime and a repentant political imagination to institute peace between warring European nations and soften attitudes toward minorities.
The battle against bigotry is far from over; Europe’s long and violent past today looms over its inevitably multicultural future.
Ah I have always found fascinating the idea that some things are inevitable especially when it is based on the assumption that ethnicity is destiny and identity!
From Samuel Gregg:
Yes, the president’s reelection is reflective of enormous and disturbing cultural and economic trends in America. Millions of Americans do, for instance, seem committed to the expansion of government, either because they have intellectually rejected the free-enterprise system or, to be frank, because they personally benefit from interventionist arrangements. Why, for example, bother going through the hard work of turning around a company (which might involve telling unions that we’re not living in 1974 anymore) in order to compete in the global market, when you can get piles of taxpayer money to produce cars that no one apparently wants to buy? Incentives matter, including the perverse ones.
Nor can we deny the clear parallels between particular developments in America and Europe. Whether it is the welfare state’s growth via Obamacare, the ongoing acceleration of public-sector debt, the demonizing of the economically successful, our declining competitiveness vis-à-vis the rest of the world, the spread of crony capitalism, the obsessive living for me-myself-and-now, or our intellectually corrupt universities (which will surely be the next financial bubble to explode, and good riddance) — all the data suggest that, in important ways, we are on the path to becoming Europe.
Assuming that Gregg is absolutely right, which is hard to do, what is so awful about becoming Europe beside that ignorant and ideological notion that Europe is just not exceptional enough or rather to normal to be a model for America?
Sentence du jour from Jacob Funk Kierkegaard :
American youth have fewer education and training opportunities than in Europe — especially following the dramatic cuts to U.S. state and local government education budgets during the crisis.
Words I munched on last weekend from Norman Davies via the Financial Times:
There is a peculiar absence of dynamic politicians in Europe today. Ten or 15 years ago, I said that Europe would need a really serious crisis for things to be put on the right track. I don’t know how bad it’s got to get before people are driven into changing things. (...) If nothing is done, then disintegration could follow. But I suspect that things will deteriorate, and then some sort of solution will be thought of, and then the European momentum will begin to grow again – after a crisis of several years
From Daniel Drezner on the Nobel Peace Prize of the European Union:
[...]Since the start of the 21st century, the following organizations have won a Nobel Peace Prize besides the EU: The United Nations, the International Atomic Energy Agency, Grameen Bank, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. So... maybe not winning a Nobel Peace Prize is better. Still, I would like to thank the Nobel committee for a very humorous start to this Friday.
I share Drezner's reaction. I have to admit that I still haven't found a way to stop laughing! Please, someone help, I'm about to die of laughter.
Just a question: isn't there a little girl in Pakistan or people in Syria or around that area that are more deserving of that pompous recognition?
One of the dumbest things I have heard this fall from Fergus Downie:
Europe does not have enough of the inherited religious value fat required to sustain an ideological front against Islamism in the way that America occasionally looks like it might – and a scrupulous Weberian legalism is probably the best option available for a continent allergic to the cultivation of strong passions and the fanaticism of principle.
Sugary excerpt of the late night from Jean-Claude Trichet on the relationship between The European Union and the UK:
(...)I really think that the UK profoundly belongs to Europe and Europe needs the UK. And there is presently a paradox because General de Gaulle was saying, ‘I don’t want the UK.’ Now all of Europe says, ‘We want the UK.’ And it’s the UK that says, ‘We don’t know.’ In any case, its future in the EU depends only on the UK itself, and that is remarkable.”
Falsely provocative thought: it may be possible that Europe needs Turkey now more than it needs the UK!
Alain Badiou on France, its present and its future or rather lack of one:
Identities here are more frozen. It’s a country in latent crisis, a former planetary great power, with a particular universality, which does not know what to do with its lost greatness. From this point of view, France is at least as much a world being unmade as a world being made. My proposition is that we have to put an end to France. (...)I’ve thought for a long time that France should merge with Germany. I’m very happy, moreover, that other people, such as Michel Serres, now share my opinion. There is no future for France alone. The European combination is teetering, as we’ve seen with Greece, and everyone understands that France and Germany form the hard core of Europe. A merger would make it possible to stand up to the other economic great powers, which neither France nor Germany, nor Europe, is capable of doing today. The French and German economies are already intertwined, so let’s have this hard core realized politically! That could be in the form of a federal state, as is already the case with Germany.
It's good to see that some things never change and that Badiou is still a bold idealist at his best and an unadapted and stubborn ideologue at his worst.
Brendan O'Neill's interesting take on Euro 2012 and the popular meme that both Poland and Ukraine are essentially racist countries:
What the great Ukraine racism panic reveals is the extent to which official anti-racism has replaced racism as the means through which the elite asserts its authority over allegedly backward peoples. Where once the ideology of racism was used to depict Slavs as inferior, now the ideology of ‘anti-racism’ is used to do something frighteningly similar. The only difference is that where earlier generations of Western elitists argued that Slavs were racially inferior, today’s elitists claim they are culturally inferior, that there is an endemic cultural problem rather than a hereditary problem. Yet all that this reveals is that, in an era when racial thinking has been well and truly discredited, talk of problematic ‘cultural traits’ has replaced talk of backward ‘racial traits’ as the preferred method of asserting one’s moral authority over strange, uneducated tribes Over There. Today, weirdly, a people like the Ukrainians is branded inferior not because of its racial traits but because of its alleged racialist thinking.(...)One possible end result of this relentless cultural assault on Eastern Europeans, the depiction of them as racist lowlifes and savages, is that they will respond in kind, kicking against their Western haters by causing some trouble for Euro 2012.
I don't disagree with O'Neill for too often or rater usually it assumed that racism and other forms of bigotry have to do solely with ignorance and stupidity when it doesn't and when experience sows that it is possible to be cultured and bigoted and to be an anti-racist/non racist and stupid or ignorant. It is too easy to blame culture or rather inculture and stupidity for racism because it simplifies the issue by making it being one of morality, of good vs. evil when the reality is more complex which explains why prejudices and stereotypes can survive erudition.
Most times in today’s Europe, the guys beating, burning and killing Jews will be Muslims. Once in a while, it will be somebody else killing the schoolkids. But is it so hard to acknowledge that rapid, transformative, mass Muslim immigration might not be the most obvious aid to social tranquility? That it might possibly pose challenges that would otherwise not have existed — for uncovered women in Oslo, for gays in Amsterdam, for Jews everywhere? Is it so difficult to wonder if, for these and other groups living in a long-shot social experiment devised by their rulers, the price of putting an Islamic crescent in the diversity quilt might be too high? What’s left of Jewish life in Europe is being extinguished remorselessly, one vandalized cemetery, one subway attack at a time. How many Jewish children will be at that school in Toulouse a decade hence? A society that becomes more Muslim eventually becomes less everything else. What is happening on the Continent is tragic, in part because it was entirely unnecessary.
To quote André Breton, l'homme fait un état risible de ce qu'il croit savoir.
Steyn seems not to know(he probably doesn't for reality is meaningless to him) that France has had a president, Sarkozy, for the last five years, who would agree with him and has been ruled by the right since 2002. Of course, as with all fear-mongers and fanatics, the goal is to keep the fear alive because it enables them to remain irrational and hateful.
No comment necessary after this bit from Charlemagne:
On Wednesday 26th, when the euro zone holds the second session of its two-part summit, the EU’s 27 leaders will make a point of gathering beforehand. The meeting will last just an hour, and will sign off on the plan to recapitalise Europe’s banks. But because the financial sector is part of the single market, which is an issue for all EU states, and Mr Cameron wanted to make sure that the 27 were seen to take the decision, not the 17.
For now, Mr Cameron does not appear to have a very strong hand. Most of the other euro-outs are committed, legally and politically, eventually to joining the single currency. Mr Sarkozy’s harsh words to Mr Cameron were strikingly spiteful: “We are sick of you criticising us and telling us what to do. You say that you hate the euro and now you want to interfere in our meetings.”
British officials shrug off Mr Sarkozy’s legendary rudeness as a personality flaw. “He never pursues it. He is not interested in texts,” says one diplomat.
Just because the Red Sox broke my heart , I'm using this sugary excerpt from a German's newspaper reaction to Obama's words on Europe and its euro crisis as a bandage for my deep wound:
The fact that Barack Obama, who is a brilliant thinker, knows full well that things are much more complicated in reality does not help. Indeed, it does the opposite. In the desperate battle for his re-election he'd rather construct myths, such as claiming that the Europeans alone are responsible for the American mess. Not only is this fundamentally wrong, but -- coming as it does from a friend -- it's downright pitiful and sad.
I agree with this:
The Europe and America we live in are powerful and prosperous confederations built out of a series of successive legislative and institutional compromises that don't always make obvious textual sense, but that did what political leaders needed to do at the time. We should have arguments about whether or not expansions of centralised authorities are bad for the polity. But they should be argued on their own terms, not in terms of what was in the hearts of the people who signed the original treaty a long time ago.
I have never seen Europe's policymakers as scared as I saw them in Washington last week.
I wonder whether fear mixed condescending elitism can lead policymakers to make right or at the very least decent decisions. I doubt it.
The sentence of the day is from a must-read oped by Henrik Müller :
If the euro fails, the Germans will be seen in the end as having been the primary culprits. And rightfully so.
For some reason, I can get myself to be riled up about the state of the euro, but that's because I think that it will continue to work in spite of the failings of the EU because there are, in the short term, only catastrophic alternatives and because the weakness of the dollar, makes the euro too important to the world economy.
Thus, the euro isn't going to fail because its survival is about much more than Germany and the EU. It is, too use a cliché, too big/important to fail.
On point analysis from Charlemagne:
It is not just the fate of Libyans that is in the balance in the war against Muammar Qaddafi, but the commitment of Europeans to maintain - and, when necessary, deploy - serious military forces. Responsibility to protect requires, first and foremost, the means to protect.
The Europeans failed the Libyan test because they didn't give themselves the means to succeed; they were obsessed with the fear that Libya might become their 'Iraq' or 'Afghanistan.' In short, one of the EU's major problems is that it knows that it has a parent, the US, who may have many children and who may sometimes be irritated by it, but who feels closest to it, most of the time(that closeness will change with time).
Gideon Rachman gets this right as he does more often than not:
It does look as if the Europeans, backed by the Americans, will manage to push Christine Lagarde into the job. But the groundswell of protest against the idea of a Western fix – and the accompanying commentary highlighting the shift in economic and political power from West to East and from North to South – will probably ensure that this will be the last time that a European appointment can simply be bulldozed through.
So President Obama is right when he insists “the time for leadership is now.” But Madame Lagarde might add – “Apres moi, le deluge.”
As a true non-believer in the division of the world between the West and the rest, I have to say that it would be more than a disappointment if the new head of the IMF came from Europe, it would be scandalous. Such an outcome would be indicated of the existence of more than a Western fix, but of a problematic bias within that organization that must be influencing its policies. Furthermore, I baffled by the fact that Christine Lagarde is a credible choice to be head of the IMF not because she isn't competent, but because she just isn't a good choice for so many reasons, the least important of which is that France isn't entitled to get a second chance at the position after it supported Strauss-Kahn knowing full of the risks that something could happen.
Bernard-Henri Lévy on Germany's stand on the Libyan intervention (it abstained on the UN security council's vote of resolution 1973 establishing a No fly zone):
We lost a great deal of time because of the Germans, which is a disaster, mainly for the Libyans, but also for the Germans, who will pay bitterly for abstaining. What happened here will leave a lasting impression in Europe. And Germany will run into problems in its legitimate effort to secure a permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. (German Chancellor) Angela Merkel jettisoned all principles of German foreign policy since the end of World War II: There was the principle that something like National Socialism should never happen again. Never again crimes against humanity. Merkel and (German Foreign Minister Guido) Westerwelle violated this pact. This is a serious incident, not a minor detail. (...) Angela Merkel has the worst foreign minister Germany has had in a long time. Guido Westerwelle is a disaster. Immediately after the German abstention, he told your magazine: "Gadhafi has to go." It's really Westerwelle who ought to go, but he doesn't even seem to be ashamed of his decision, of this valley of shame.
I have stopped taking BHL seriously on those matters (it took me a long time because often I agree with his conclusions, but never with his argumentation) because even when he is right, he can't get out of his own way and resist the temptation of self-righteousness. The fact that he was so involved on Sarkozy's decision to take the lead in Libya worries me not because BHL is an unsavory and unserious character, but because he doesn't understand foreign policy when it becomes about more than postures, grand gestures, and cinematographic heroism.
Interesting point from Nathalie Rothschild,which I admit makes all warm and fuzzy:
In fact, the EU’s fear of unregulated migration has been a trump card for Gaddafi. Assuaging this EU fear has been a way for the Libyan leader to rehabilitate himself in the eyes of the West after years of ostracisation. At the same time, threats to close and open borders have become a way for Gaddafi to hold the West to ransom, as he threatens to block trade deals or relax border controls unless Europe meets his demands. So it is not surprising that Gaddafi gave European nations the ultimatum of distancing themselves from the pro-democracy protesters or facing the supposed opening of the immigration floodgates from Africa. This is a real worry for the EU, which preaches about the virtues of democracy and human rights yet which has no interest in defending freedom of movement.
As we have seen with recent events in Tunisia, Egypt and elsewhere, when people get a taste for freedom there’s no telling what they’ll do to achieve it.
When I was young, I thought at least that Gaddafi (Gadhafi, Khadafi) had presence, now he is just a caricature of the man he once was, even though it was always a bastard, but bastards with presence can be inspiring leaders to the blind.
I agree with Brendan O'Neill on this:
(...)The great irony of the French government’s restrictions on the burqa in public places, and to a certain extent the Belgian government’s restrictions, is that they have been presented as being in the tradition of the Enlightenment. This is about liberating women from oppression, they say, and therefore it is a good, Enlightened, Voltairish thing to do.
In fact, banning a religious garment is counter to the spirit of the Enlightenment. What these authoritarians forget is that the Enlightenment sprang from a defence of religious liberty. The Enlightenment has its origins, not in any attempt to censor certain minority religious symbols, but in a belief that minority religions, even ones we consider ‘heretical’, should be protected from state intervention, censorship and oppression.
So in calling for the state to restrict a certain form of religious expression, these pseudo-Enlightened censors are doing something that the original men of the Enlightenment would have considered pretty outrageous.
I agree with Paul Sagar on this:
When Merkel declares that multiculturalism has been a “failure”, she is not only playing to a xenophobic and reactionary gallery, she is also being profoundly short-sighted. Firstly, because she mistakenly focuses only on the day-to-day tensions between different groups that multiculturalism inevitable throws up.
It's incredibly disappointing to realize that Merkel has some Sarkozy within her, which says a lot about the state of the European left for it cannot address issues such as the ones of immigration or law and order without repeating either the errors of Blairism or of Jospinism.
Via Gideon Rachman, the funniest thing I've read on Ed Milliband's fratricide on his climb to the top of the Labour Party:
I wish Ed Miliband, the new Labour leader, would stop emphasising how much he “loves” the brother whose career he has just destroyed. It’s all very schmalzy and unBritish.
On the other hand, if Ed insists on taking this line, he should really go for it in tomorrow’s leader’s speech. Here is a suggested line - “I love David. I adore him. (Dramatic pause). But that is why I had to destroy him. (Thumps lectern, tear trickles down his cheek). I hope you understand.”Meanwhile if Ed really is getting a taste for putting family ties under maximum political strain, the obvious next move is to offer the shadow chancellor job to Yvette Cooper, who is married to the much more obviously-qualified Ed Balls. That should make for some lively breakfasts in the Balls-Cooper household.
In our times, we sentimentalize politics or whatever else to avoid explaining the unexplainable or the unpalatable. Let's hope that all of this brotherly love stuff doesn't hide a lack of substance or isn't a camouflage for Obama-like feel good, but misleading and irrelevant fluff.
I disagree strongly with Yascha Monk on this:
In America, the rise of neoconservatism, in both its cultural and foreign policy guises, has masked this crisis of the traditional Right. But in Europe, neoconservatism never won much traction. Neoconservatives, whether their branding is Tory or Labour, have been able to land a few punches in British debates about foreign policy. (The Guardian recently described Tony Blair’s appearance at the latest inquiry into the Iraq War as “a seminar on neoconservatism for slow learners.”) But when it comes to other issues that arouse the passions of their American brethren—like religious education, the (un)truth of evolution, homosexuality, and abortion—the tiny set of true British neocons couldn’t be more out of step with their compatriots. The same holds true all over Western Europe. No major right-wing party is inclined to declare the European version of the culture wars. If it did, the Left would surely be overjoyed. On the contrary, Merkel, Cameron, and Sarkozy got elected because under their leadership the Right has fully endorsed left-liberal views on family, lifestyle, and procreation.
It is easier in Europe or in America to get elected in the Right because the Left doesn't know what it is, but solely what it despises. Moreover, when Mounk asserts that Merkel, Cameron, and Sarkozy have endorsed left-liberal views on family, lifestyle and procreation, I wonder if he knows anything about French politics. The culture wars are well and alive in France. This summer has shown that Sarkozy knows full well that in France you get elected by going right on certain issues and by making them a matter of identity and culture. In short, the Right in Europe is well alive politically and no so much disoriented as it is led by figures who have great frailties.The fact that they found themselves in power in spite of those frailties is in fact a proof of the good health of the Right or rather that it is the Left that is disoriented.
Alexander Osang on the Mannschaft, German football team at the South African World Cup and why its players were the ambassadors of a new Germany:
There was something soothing and liberating about watching this team play, and it was even more soothing and liberating to see the expressions of joy on the players' faces. They embraced each other when Klose, who had been out of form all season at Bayern Munich, finally scored a goal again in the first World Cup match, and the team hugged him as if he had just recovered from a long, serious illness. Klose later said that Podolski wouldn't let him go -- and that it was a nice feeling. They all seemed like boys having a fantastic time on a school outing. Löw thanked the players he substituted, and they thanked him, an act that was not a gesture but an expression of need. Everyone trusted everyone else. The most German of feelings that this team triggered was romanticism.
Having read and listened everything that was written and said about les Bleus, French football team and its South African debacle, I have realized that it is always easy to made footballers representatives/scapegoat of their country's successes or its ills because it is easy and because in both cases, the analogy and the analysis are convenient and so pleasurable for the ones making it weather their intent is to praise or to criticize violently and too often unfairly.
To come back to the Mannschaft, it is undoubtedly that its image is new and young, but I wonder whether that visible change is indicative of lasting and profound social transformations within Germany, in other words, if the Mannschaft different because Germany is different or just because it had to change and to adapt to the realities of football to remain the Mannshaft, that is a consistently good national football team.
Interesting assertions from Václav Klaus, the Czech president in an Oped in the Wall Street Journal:
It is evident that the euro—the European single currency—and the currently proposed measures to save the euro do not represent any "salvation" for the European economy. In the long run, it can be saved only by a radical restructuring of the European economic and social system. My country had a velvet revolution and made a radical transformation of its political, economic and social structures. Fifteen years ago, I sometimes joked that after entering the EU we should start a velvet revolution there as well. Unfortunately, this ceases to be a joke now.
The Czech Republic has not made a mistake by avoiding the membership in the euro zone.
Klaus's view about the euro not being a salvation is going to become the predominant view for European countries, which are yet to join the euro (and those whose economy will have to go through austerity measures) and will now take into account the Greek example. I'm just wondering how long this trend is going to last. My guess is that it doesn't depend on the EU, but on the health of other currencies, particularly the dollar
I agree with Václav Klaus, the Czech president on this:
To summarize, the European monetary union is not at risk of being abolished. The price of maintaining it will, however, continue to grow
The statement of the early morning is Gavin Hewitt's commenting on the measures, which European governments are taking to solve the euro crisis:
What is being forced on Europe is a cultural revolution. It marks an end to an ever-expanding welfare state that some defined as the European way of life.
At the beginning and in the middle of each crisis faced by a European country or by the whole continent, there is always the pronouncement made with gusto and with Fidel Castro like flashy manliness that the welfare state is either going to die or being curtailed drastically. That only lasts until governments realize that Europeans, with the possible exception of the Brits,aren't Americas and actually like their welfare state even if it is cumbersome, expansive, and expensive.
This bit from Charlemagne about the Germans' increasing frustration with the eurozone isn't surprising:
Germany is fed up of paying more than any other country into the EU budget, and being taken for granted. Germany feels unfairly attacked in this euro crisis. Mrs Merkel's government thinks it is outrageous that it is taxed with euroscepticism for insisting on tough conditions before bailing out members of the euro who caused their own problems. Germany is just trying to defend the law, monetary stability and taxpayers across the union, we keep hearing.
The Germans' relationship with the eurozone's countries resembles the one of a parent with an adult child who is still living at home and not doing enough to help because s/he doesn't have to and believes rightly that the parent will never kick her/him to the curve. The relationship doesn't usually change until the parent gives an ultimatum and follows through if nothing happens. To put things less creatively, the trouble of the Germans is that they are persuaded that they need the euro and therefore that state of mind of believed dependence German impotent or at least limits its choices.
Quote of the morning from Claire Berlinski:
No one talks much about the victims of Communism. No one erects memorials to the throngs of people murdered by the Soviet state. (In his widely ignored book, A Century of Violence in Soviet Russia, Alexander Yakovlev, the architect of perestroika under Gorbachev, puts the number at 30 to 35 million.)
Indeed, many still subscribe to the essential tenets of Communist ideology. Politicians, academics, students, even the occasional autodidact taxi driver still stand opposed to private property. Many remain enthralled by schemes for central economic planning. Stalin, according to polls, is one of Russia’s most popular historical figures. No small number of young people in Istanbul, where I live, proudly describe themselves as Communists; I have met such people around the world, from Seattle to Calcutta.
We rightly insisted upon total denazification; we rightly excoriate those who now attempt to revive the Nazis’ ideology. But the world exhibits a perilous failure to acknowledge the monstrous history of Communism.
I almost agree completely with Henry Ferrell on this:
Germany would like to see an economic government which mostly consisted of other countries adopting harsh fiscal retrenchment combined with extensive oversight.
This isn’t going to happen, much as some German economists might like it to. Germany simply doesn’t have the bargaining power to pull it off. Its threats to expel recalcitrant countries from EMU are now very obviously non-credible. Furthermore, Germany has just demonstrated that it is willing, however reluctantly, to bail others out if the crisis hits. So Germany is left with the unenviable realization that (a) its future economic and political fortunes are linked to EMU, but (b) it doesn’t have the leverage to force others to take measures that it sees as necessary to avoid crisis. This means that it needs carrots as well as sticks to persuade other countries to become less profligate. The only policy tool that I think Germany has is more money – and more specifically, spending money along with other rich member states in countries like Italy and Greece as a quid-pro-quo for reform of taxes, revenue-raising, labour markets and educational systems, which would make these countries more economically prosperous over the longer run, and less likely to pull Germany along with them into further crises.
The one caveat here that there may come a time when it might not be worth it for the Germans to keep on bailing other eurozone's members, which may lead them to start questioning whether the euro is a plus for them if it doesn't provide their country with any economical stability and if its costs outweigh its benefits. To put it more succinctly, Germany has no choices as long as the euro doesn't become an hindrance to the growth of its economy and as long as it considers it the only alternative to its goals to be a power in Europe and elsewhere without its recent history becoming a potent obstacle.
Another reason to read Charlemagne:
You have to admire French consistency. Whether the right or the left is in charge, they have been pushing for exactly the same thing for years and years: a two speed Europe, and a mechanism that would force other members of the EU to raise their taxes and social costs so they no longer undercut those of France.
Well, the reason for this consistency may be that French national interest doesn't change when it comes to Europe whether the left or the right is governing.