Going for the Twofer

by Henry on October 9, 2009

The _Financial Times_ has an “excellent article”:http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/0abb8eca-b45b-11de-bec8-00144feab49a.html summarizing the institutional issues facing the EU if, as expected, Lisbon passes. Read it for the substance. But enjoy it for this suggestion, which I haven’t seen floated before:

However, as became clear this week, many smaller EU member states do not want a high-profile president. Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands circulated a document contending that the first president should be “someone who has demonstrated his commitment to the European project and has developed a global vision of the Union’s policies, who listens to the member states and the institutions, and who is sensitive to the institutional balance that corresponds to the Community method”. Translated from Eurospeak, this means a person with a lower profile than Mr Blair and from a country more deeply committed than the UK to the European ideal. Across Europe there is a recognition that the EU would do its image a favour if it awarded the job to a woman, one possibility being Mary Robinson, Ireland’s former head of state.

Depending on how Vaclav Klaus’s “brinkmanship”:http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/f5193342-b4eb-11de-8b17-00144feab49a.html plays out, the new president will have to be chosen pretty soon. It would be very, _very_ sad to see wingnuts’ heads exploding again in just a few weeks time …

Centrism as tribalism

by Henry on October 9, 2009

I’ve been doing my best to resist getting pulled back in by Clive Crook. I really have. I nearly succumbed when I read “his Monday FT column”:http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/2ca5e1e4-b112-11de-b06b-00144feabdc0.html, in which otiose self-congratulation dukes it out with utter lack of self-knowledge for seven hundred words but pulled myself back from the brink (self-congratulation wins, but it’s a very close call). But his “follow-up blog post”:http://clivecrook.theatlantic.com/archives/2009/10/history_legitimacy_and_reason.php has propelled me into the abyss.

Mr. Crook has a theory of what is wrong with American politics. It involves partisanship, of the kind not practiced by himself and his friends.
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Peace, dude

by Maria on October 9, 2009

Wow, that was fast! President Obama has won the Nobel Peace Prize.

I am sure many Americans (and others) will be thinking “It’s too soon. He hasn’t done anything yet!” Or even “Dude can’t even pass health care already, but he’s been elevated to international sainthood?”.

But this isn’t about domestic politics, or about what he’s done yet. President Obama has changed how the world feels about America. He’s lifted the planet’s mood. This guy is global Prozac.

There’s more to it than just the Bush presidency being a total downer for everyone in the world who cares about multi-lateralism or just wants to do business with the US. The tidal wave of bad faith Bush’s presidency created washed away any chance of progress in so many international initiatives.

Obama’s not a game changer per se, but he’s changed how people feel about playing the game, or whether they even want to.

Or, as the Nobel committee says;

“Obama has as president created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play”.

Of course that’s not the view of everyone outside of America. I’m at an informal meeting of donors, government reps and NGOs to talk about independent media and economic development. It’s a pretty international crowd, and opinions are about evenly split on whether Obama’s peace prize is sublime or ridiculous. [click to continue…]