Friday, April 24, 2009

For the Record


Jospin listens to my question.

Saez Wins Clark Medal


Emmanuel Saez, who is French, has won the John Bates Clark Medal, which is awarded to the "most promising economist under 40." He is best known for his joint work with Thomas Piketty on high incomes.

Kouchner's About-Face on Turkey

Ron Tiersky calls my attention to a story I had missed: Bernard Kouchner has changed his position on Turkish membership of the EU. Apparently, Kouchner was "shocked" by Turkish opposition to the appointment of Anders Rasmussen to the post of NATO secretary general. The Turks objected to Rasmussen because he is Danish, on the grounds that the publication by a Danish newspaper of cartoons deemed offensive by some Muslims should be reason enough to exclude a Dane from the top NATO post.

Indeed, the Turkish amalgame is an excellent example of how foreign policy should not be made. It was petulant, illiberal, and profoundly irrelevant to both NATO's mission and the question of Rasmussen's competence to serve. But I'm not sure that Kouchner's response is an exemplary countermeasure, either. It seems equally petulant and equally irrelevant to the deeper arguments both for and against Turkish membership.

Unless of course Kouchner is extrapolating from this incident of symbolic politics to draw deeper conclusions about the nature of Turkish society and the character of the Turkish government. If so, he ought to spell out his thinking, given the importance of the change. I grant, however, that an improvised response to an unanticipated question prompted by an off-the-cuff use of the imperfect tense was probably not the ideal occasion to embark on such a reflection.

Disaffected Dati

Rachida Dati is not terribly impressed by the European responsibilities she aspires (or, rather, has been assigned) to take on:


An Interesting Témoignage

Hear Manuel Valls's account of the job offer that Sarkozy made him in 2007:

No-Fly Zone

An Air France flight from Paris to Mexico was forced to alter its flight plan en route when US authorities denied permission to enter US airspace because the passenger list included a Franco-Colombian journalist who is on the US "no-fly list." I find this cavalier use of sovereign authority shocking and wonder if American authorities considered the risk to passengers of obliging the aircraft to make an unscheduled stop at an airport in Martinique at which the pilots had not prepared to land. Paranoïa in a great power can lead to dangerously stupid actions.