Turkey and the European Union

by Henry on June 28, 2004

Jacques Chirac “lambasted”:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/3848045.stm George W. Bush today for suggesting that Turkey should become a member of the European Union. It’s no secret that the French government would prefer, all things considered, that Turkey not become a member of the European Union, or that a fair swathe of political opinion in other powerful EU member states (such as Germany) is at best luke-warm towards the prospect. Nonetheless, if I were a betting man, I’d lay strong odds on Turkey getting the official nod as a candidate for EU membership before Christmas, and becoming a full member seven or eight years after that.

In theory, any one member state can block Turkey’s membership – new entrants to the EU require unanimous consent from all existing members. In practice, even member states that are hostile to Turkey’s candidacy, such as France, have enormous difficulty in articulating their hostility in public. And for good reason – their objections to Turkey are rooted in some pretty offensive notions about what ‘Europe’ should be (Christian, white). Whenever anyone tries to voice these opinions, they’re liable to get “blasted from all sides”:http://www.euobserver.com/index.phtml?aid=8324. The result is that the opponents of Turkey’s candidacy find it difficult to justify their stance in public – therefore, they’re liable to find themselves being herded into giving their tacit assent to a decision that they would ideally prefer to oppose.

It’s an interesting case-study for international relations theory. As Frank Schimmelfennig observed in his case study of the EU’s earlier enlargement into Central and Eastern Europe, this sort of phenomenon demonstrates the limits of realist theory. Powerful states such as France may find it difficult, or even impossible, to act upon their preferences if they can’t justify their actions with reference to prevailing community norms. It could also have quite profound consequences for international politics. The prospect of EU membership has already demonstrably pushed Turkey into greater respect for civil rights, and a weakened political role for the military. Expect this to continue, and indeed accelerate if Turkey becomes a full member of the EU, just as it did in Spain, Portugal and Greece. And as “John Quiggin”:https://www.crookedtimber.org/archives/001356.html said a few months back, a prosperous, stable, fully democratic Turkey within the EU could do wonders for the prospects of democracy in other countries in the same region.

Rawlsian humility

by Chris Bertram on June 28, 2004

“Matthew Yglesias on John Rawls”:http://www.matthewyglesias.com/archives/week_2004_06_20.html#003637 :

bq. A Theory of Justice is a brilliant work in many ways, but it’s also — quite obviously — wrong in a number of ways and employs a variety of arguments that are pretty dubious. Any undergraduate can see this, and dozens — if not hundreds — do so every semester. Now it seems to me that a slightly more scrupulous philosopher might have looked at the manuscript and said to himself, “this is a very interesting argument I’m putting together here, but it doesn’t quite work. Better keep on revising.” But instead Rawls put his thought-provoking work out there in the press, attracting decades worth of criticisms, counter-criticisms, suggestions for improvement, and so forth, thus becoming the major figure in postwar political philosophy.

Someone who all accounts agree was a deeply serious, thinker who cared most of all about getting it right (“scrupulous”), is thus dismissed by a blogger as a careless promoter of his own reputation. Contrast John Rawls on reading the history of philosophy:

bq. I always too for granted that the writers we were studying were much smarter than I was. If they were not, why was I wasting my time and the students’ time by studying them? If I saw a mistake in their arguments, I supposed those writers saw it too and must have dealt with it. But where? I looked for their way out, not mine. Sometimes their way out was historical: in their day the question need not be raised, or wouldn’t arise and so couldn’t then be fruitfully discussed. Or there was a part of the text I had overlooked, or had not read. I assumed there were never plain mistakes, not ones that mattered anyway. (“Lectures on the History of Philosophy”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0674004426/junius-20 , p. xvi)

Since my own copy of the first edition of “A Theory of Justice”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0674000781/junius-20 is peppered with silly undergraduate marginal sneers, I shouldn’t be too hard on Yglesias. What of Brad DeLong, though, “who responds approvingly”:http://www.j-bradford-delong.net/movable_type/2004_archives/001093.html to Yglesias’s comments by suggesting that David Hume’s Of the Original Contract constitutes an _avant la lettre_ refutation of Rawls? DeLong reveals nothing but his own catastropic misunderstanding (as a number of his commenters point out).

Once again, we must turn to Fafblog for thoughtful political analysis. Giblets considers the various Democratic vice-presidential contenders:

Dick Gephardt. Gephardt would have an amazing pull with loser voters, voters who like losing the House to opposing parties, voters who have a long history of being supported by decrepit and dying labor institutions in failing political campaigns, just people who generally like to lose. He could swing loser states, such as Wyoming or Rhode Island, or put states with a large loser population, such as Nevada or Alabama, into play. The upside to having a Kerry-Gephardt ticket is it would take all those people who go into shock in the voting booth thinkin’ “Oh dear god we nominated Kerry?!” and push them just far enough over the edge with “Oh dear god we nominated Kerry and Gephardt?!” that it would sort of jar them into a feeling of complacent somnambulism that would render them susceptible to voting for Kerry-Gephardt anyway. The downside to this is that such a hypthetical waking sleepstate could also get them to vote for Nader.

This is so, so very true. I’m afraid we must all bow down before the superior nous of Giblets. Gephardt? Gephardt??!! Please, God, don’t let the Democratic party snatch certain defeat from the jaws of potential victory by choosing Dick Gephardt as the VP candidate. Pleasepleaseplease. Anybody but Gephardt. If the DP makes me cast a vote for a Kerry/Gephardt ticket I’m going to…well, crap, just put out like a straight-ticket ho. They could put a can of processed cheese food on the ballot against Bush, and I would vote for it. But I’m not going to enjoy it! And no ticket with Gephardt on it is going to win, ever in a million years! How can this blindingly obvious fact be so clear to Giblets yet obscure to Kerry? Maybe they are just toying with us. Maybe. Then when they pick Vilsack, instead of saying, “who the hell?” we will all just be so grateful they didn’t pick Gephardt that we’ll get all fired up, like, “Hey, that Vilsack, he sure does…have a lot of consonants in his name! Frickin’ awesome!”

Maybe Our Fat Chum Chet Could Help!

by Belle Waring on June 28, 2004

Courtesy of the now non-blogging (but suspiciously time-wasting-on-the-interweb) Chun the Unavoidable, I present you with the Mayday Mystery. These are a series of mysterious ads which have been running in an Arizona paper since May 1, 1985. It seems to be an erudite, mathematico-historical puzzle of some kind, containing specific Tuscon-area clues (?), but what is the point? Is there a prize? Some of the ads are rebus-like, while others tend to the Dr. Bronner’s label All-One-God-Faith style. Sample text from the May 1, 2004 edition:

1) “Quaerendo invenietis” [1747]}}!!+}The 473rd Anniversary of the Confessio Augustana will again be celebrated in the Riemann Room of the 5)Hotel Californias (non uni fidit antro) where the Founders will be entertained by an in situ demonstration of 17) l’art d’accommoder les restes. The Pigs will be less entertained by le dénoument–and the Hirelings least of all. 29) Alberich has programmed The Symmetry Generator as per I Corinthians 1:28 to serve as the propaedeutic for Ireton’s penetration of [$\omega_{p,n}= i log Ëœp^n$] on Trinity Sunday.

Perhaps the brainy CT readership will figure everything out? If there’s lots of money involved, the solver of the puzzle is respectfully encouraged to pass some along to your humble author. Perhaps I will use it to take a vacation in Thailand. I hear Koh Phi Phi is very nice this time of year.

UPDATE: Adam Kotsko has put out a call for posts for a Chun the Unavoidable Festschrift. Suggested topics include: Halitosis in Literature, Cunnilinguis and the Discursive Performance of Class, Richard Clarke, and The blogospheric reception of the verb “to chun.” You know what to do, people.