Monday, August 30, 2010

Justin Vaisse on Eurabia/"Eurabia"

Brookings Institution scholar Justin Vaïsse adds his say to the debate on Islam in Europe. Read on for the real thrust of his argument (which is not what's directly below).
"By 2050, Europe will be unrecognizable. Instead of romantic cafes, Paris's Boulevard Saint-Germain will be lined with halal butcheries and hookah bars; the street signs in Berlin will be written in Turkish. School-children from Oslo to Naples will read Quranic verses in class, and women will be veiled.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Douthat on Moderate Islam, Eurabia

Just dug up this thought-provoking pair of posts from Ross Douthat on moderate Islam and Eurabia, or the concept of European Islamification. Consider these part of the level-headed, rarefied side of conservative criticism in the Ground Zero mosque controversy. 

Friday, August 27, 2010

Who is Frédéric Bastiat, and Why Would Libertarians Care?

... Apparently he's 'kind of a big deal' (see Burgundy, Ron) as "one of the nineteenth century’s great apostles of the free trade gospel," writes Michael C. Behrent in the French philosophy magazine La Vie des Idées. And he's got a lot to do with the modern American libertarian movement: (...)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Sarkozy Calls for Expanded G20 Powers, Secretariat

In an annual ambassadors' meeting in Paris yesterday, Sarkozy set the tone for the G20 meeting in Seoul set for November, and for the upcoming French presidency of the G20 starting January 2011. (Full text, in French, here.) 

The French president urged closer exchange rate integration among developed nations, and moving for a G20 secretariat to better coordinate the bloc's goals. He also suggested the group expand its ambitions toward tackling broader issues such as climate change and development.

These objectives stem in part from Sarkozy's earlier decision not to call for a new Bretton Woods, as he had originally sought.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Two-Speed Recovery Feared in EU

See this addendum to my Aug. 22 mention of post-crisis market inequalities within the eurozone, excerpted below, or in full here.

"... And that's saying nothing of the woeful and untenable "two-speed economies" in Europe and in the U.S. These dual economies risk being perpetuated both horizontally in the private sector, and vertically, on a EU-wide political level (eg. growth differences between the Big Three and EU member states that are smaller players)." (...)

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Obama to Attend November Summit with EU -- For Real This Time

Mark your calendars, y'all: Obama will meet EU leaders in November in Lisbon, Portugal. 

The summit will take place alongside a NATO conference, which from the US President's signals would seem more important than the stand-alone EU-US summit he said he would skip in February. Following the announcement, the Europeans were unsure they would even convene at all. The White House's reasons for passing on the earlier meeting with the EU included potential "lack [of] substance," writes the European Voice news service. 

Sounds a lot like the American euroskepticism reported by NY Times' Steven Erlanger in March, when Europeans "wooed" the American administration, "promising relevance" after being snubbed by Obama.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Wane of Danish "Flexicurity" and European Safety Nets

Liz Alderman, economist and blogger on the NY Times' Economix blog, has some compelling things to say about the down-scaling of Denmark's welfare programs in light of the global recession, and how the northern country serves as a cautionary study on social safety nets and "two-speed markets" in Europe and the U.S. (...)

Sarkozy Joins Lellouche's Call for All-EU Emergency Response Team

French President Nicolas Sarkozy joined the call last week to create an all-EU crisis response team to stem the destruction of disasters all over the world. 

The recent series of emergencies, from floods in Pakistan, the forest fires in Russia, to January's earthquake in Haiti -- and now the predicted flooding in the China-North Korea border region -- has attracted increasingly global attention on disasters. The international community is generating widespread discussion on the appropriate role for non-local governments in disaster relief. (...)

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Lellouche Calls for EU National Guard, Belies Economic Backstory with Russia

In the wake of Russia's devastating forest fires, Pierre Lellouche, French minister for the EU, called this week for an EU-wide "crisis response force" to better deal with potential catastrophes. This begs a comparison to the National Guard, as the most similar body is known in the United States. 

The minister cited the Haiti earthquake disaster and last summer's fires in Greece as proof of the necessity in creating a federal EU crisis response detail to handle natural and other disasters as they erupt. (...)

Monday, August 9, 2010

Just What Is "Culture"? UNESCO and American Sensibilities

The Netherlands' NRC Handelsbad printed this op-ed on the early August anointing of Amsterdam's 17th-century canal ring zone by that European (yet curiously, global) behemoth: UNESCO. Arts consultant Michiel Van Irsel editorializes in characteristically Dutch euroskepticism, as the world already saw over the European Constitution referendum in 2005

Irsel advises readers to"pretend UNESCO does not exist," lest the specialness of the organization's sites devolve to become "more common than Starbucks."

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Christianity, Diversity and the Academy: An Echo

Not much commentary from my end on this one, just a pair of posts that deserve to be shared: Ross Douthat takes on the incongruities of modern diversity notions at elite American universities, most recently here, and here from late July. Very much related to the Supreme Court ruling on the Christian Legal Society vs. Martinez, described by the Pew Research Center in this somewhat outdated, but at least objective, piece.

A quick Google search revealed this article from the Brown Spectator on the Christians-as-peculiar notion prevalent on many college campuses. 

Comments welcome. 

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Islam, Immigration and Official Response in France and the US

This just in from blogger and Figaro journalist Valérie Samson: a report from Deaborn, Michigan, on the US' largest concentration on Muslims and their feelings vis-à-vis their adopted (or for the younger generations, home) country. Available here in either French or English.

Art Goldhammer weighs in on Sarkozy's recent moves on immigration. For an example and first-person perspective, watch the police break-up of a protest by illegal immigrants (see video here). Today's Guardian (UK) describes Sarkozy's administration as "characterized by increasingly widespread social disorder."

Italy and the Dimming of Old-World Artisanship

The sensibilities of old-world artisans and 21st-century economic forecasters collide in this NY Times article on the sinking industry of Italian textile manufacturing. Veteran clothier Luciano Barbera claims "this tradition is finita," lamenting the demise of his label with its "spa for yarn" where the Barbera line alchemizes its top-end menswear -- and tries to sell $4,000 suits in a global recession. 

Meanwhile, American outsourcers such as Jos. A. Bank are doing just fine, with the Maryland-based brand reporting $770.3 million in profits over the last fiscal year. Is this another death knell for Old Europe traditions, precipitated by globalization?

For Italy in and of itself, economist Francesco Giavazzi deplores the white-knuckle grip of the "associazioni di categoria" and other guilds and unions on the Italian economy. The article describes:

"... Economists said that worrying about [the decline of artisanship] was like fretting about the head cold of a patient with Stage 3 cancer. They see a country with a service sector dominated by guilds, which don’t just overcharge but also raise the barriers to entry for the millions in ill-fated manufacturing jobs who might otherwise find work as, for instance, taxi drivers. They see a timid entrepreneur class. They see a political system in the thrall of the older voters who want to keep what they have, even if it dooms the nation to years of stasis. 

They see a society whose best and brightest are leaving and not being replaced by immigrants, because Italy has so little upward mobility to offer. 

To Professor Giavazzi, the future here doesn’t look like Greece. It looks like Argentina. 

“Before World War II, Argentina was rich,” he says. “Even in 1960, the country was twice as rich as Italy.” Today, he says, you can compare the per capita income of Argentina to that of Romania. “Because it didn’t grow. A country could get rich in 1900 just by producing corn and meat, but that is not true today. But it took them 100 years to realize they were becoming poor. And that is what worries me about Italy. We’re not going to starve next week. We are just going to decline, slowly, slowly, and I’m not sure what will turn that around.” (...)"

Monday, August 2, 2010

Correction On Sen. Kyl's Words

My sincere apologies go to any readers who read what I posted earlier today from a Huffington Post front-page article claiming that Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) called explicitly to repeal the 14th Amendment, which guarantees US citizenship to anyone born within US borders. See the following correction from the original CBS News article, to which the HuffPost article linked:

"EDITOR'S NOTE: An earlier edit of this story suggested that Sen. Kyl supported repealing the 14th Amendment's guarantee of citizenship. While the senator has proposed hearings on the Constitution's guarantees on citizenship and what he terms a "reward" for parents who are in the country illegally, Kyl's communications director Andrew Wilder said that "he did not call for the 'repeal' of the 14th Amendment." "

Again, I regret and am sorry the spread of misinformation took place on EurAmerican. Special thanks to follower GF for calling me on this. Make sure to leave similar or separate comments on this or any other post. 

French Police Forcibly Break Up Demonstration -- Global Immigration Debate Boils Ever Hotter

In the Paris suburb of La Corneuve on Monday, police forcibly evicted a group of mostly African immigrant squatters who were protesting the demolition of the building where they lived. French online newsgroup Mediapart posted the above video of the chaos. Note: this video contains scenes of physical and emotional duress that may shock viewers.

Reports following the event varied wildly. Police from the local Seine-Saint-Denis precinct released a statement claiming the eviction was carried out in "relatively good conditions," reports CBS News' World Watch department. But local Socialist Party official Stéphane Troussel chose far more damning words.

"Faced with his failure in the suburbs, it is tempting for [French President] Nicolas Sarkozy and his government to abandon working-class neighborhoods or to try and rein them in through showy and highly publicized security operations," he said to news channel Somalia24.

The Corneuve eviction comes at a time of high-heat global immigration polemics, from the debate on Turkish accession into the EU to the highly controversial Arizona law that would seem to legalize racial profiling against Hispanic-looking people in the US. Tensions continue to mount, as the no. 2 Senate Republican, Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) calls for no less than a repeal of the 14th Amendment, which guarantees American citizenship to all those born in the US -- regardless of citizenship status of the newborn's parents.

1:40PM -- This just in: Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli OKs immigration status checks by police in his state (and my home state)... Will VA become a de facto Arizona on the immigration question? AND: The Huffingon Post puts up this editorial riff on anti-mosque sentiment in America. Reminds me of my piece on the minaret construction row in Switzerland from

Sunday, August 1, 2010

French vs. English and the EU

Blogger and Harvard professor Art Goldman has added this post about the wan status of French language in EU policy circles. The following is from a New York Times article on the announcement of European foreign policy chief Lady Catherine Ashton's plans to take French courses this summer.

"French was once the unchallenged lingua franca of European integration. Until 1995, French had the monopoly in the European Commission press room, where Anglophone journalists had to address their questions to English spokespeople in French. 

"That position became unsustainable when Sweden and Finland joined the bloc in the mid-1990s, followed by 10 East European countries in the last decade. In many of these countries, English is the second language, with French well down the list. 

"According to the European Commission, the number of documents it sent for translation with English as the original language was 72.5 percent in 2008, the same as the year before. The proportion of original texts in French dropped to 11.8 percent in 2008 from 12.2 percent in 2007. (...)"

These and other indicators suggest a clear decline of French in official spheres. In what seems a tellingly robust display of counter-measures, the Permanent Representation of France in the EU has an entire web page devoted to representing the strength of French language in Brussels and other European capitals. But just in case, Brussels policymakers can still sign up for free French courses geared specifically for them. And for the rest of us mortals, there's always the Alliance Française.