Thursday, September 4, 2008

Complexities of the RSA

Le Monde has a useful graphic and table for understanding some of the complexity associated with the phasing out of older forms of low-income assistance such as the RMI and the phasing in of the new RSA. The RSA's incentive to work becomes apparent only in the second year.

Neo-Gaullism

Is Nicolas Sarkozy in the process of demonstrating a neo-Gaullist independence of Washington? His trip to Damascus, following up his invitation of Assad to Paris, is yet another step in this direction. Boz, at Sarkozy the American, cites an Israeli source suggesting a certain American consternation at the move. Now, while in Damascus, Sarko will meet with representatives of Turkey and Qatar as well as Syria.

Indeed, it was the talks with the Turks in which the Americans were to have participated but from which they have now withdrawn, allegedly because the French "pushed their way in." But there is perhaps more going on here than a mere stepping on diplomatic toes. The Turks are the largest foreign investors in Georgia and deeply interested in what goes on there, as Le Figaro notes in an editorial this morning. Turkey is the western terminus of the pipeline that connects Caspian oil and gas fields to European consumers. Now, as the U.S. continues to antagonize Russia by dispatching Dick Cheney to Georgia and infusing $1 billion in cash for the reconstruction of the Georgian military, Sarkozy has displaced the Americans in talks with the country that has the most to lose from a revival of cold war between Russia and the United States, a cold war that will undermine Turkish investments and threaten Turkey's role as a middleman in the flow of energy to Europe.

How interesting, then, that Sarkozy, who has not exactly been the most popular westerner in Istanbul, has gone to Damascus, which has not exactly been Washington's favorite Middle Eastern capital, to discuss matters of common interest, while Qatar, a hitherto docile player in a volatile region, joins talks from which America has decamped. One awaits further developments with heightened interest. Sarkozy's foreign policy may some day deserve the epithet "neo-Gaullist."

More links from Boz on this theme.