Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Nuclear Disaster at the AN

The Assemblée Nationale yesterday discussed the Japanese nuclear disaster. NKM painted a stark picture of the crisis. Anne Lauvergeon, the head of Areva, whose job is coveted by Sarkofavorite Henry Proglio, took a dig at her rival:

La patronne d’Areva ne manque pas de tâcler Henri Proglio, assis à côté d’elle : « Certains jugeaient le réacteur EPR trop sûr. Sureté et sécurité ne se négocient pas . Il faudra rebâtir la confiance dans nos industries. » Proglio plonge dans ses notes… Selon le directeur de l’IRSN, Jacques Repussard : « Le nuage radioactif fait plusieurs dizaines de kilomètres. Dans quelques jours il fera plusieurs centaines de kilomètres.  Nous allons examiner les avions, les équipages et la passagers d’Air France en provenance du Japon» Pas de panique pour autant : « la radioactivité » sera inférieure à celle constatée après les essais nucléaires dans la Pacifique… »  

France la téméraire

The use of France as a repoussoir in American foreign policy debates would make an interesting study. The latest to invoke French behavior as an object lesson is Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina:

"One test in foreign policy - at least be as bold as the French," Graham, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a release Wednesday. "Unfortunately, when it comes to Libya we're failing that test."


The implication, of course, is that since even the notoriously wimpish French are paying lip service to action, President Obama's reluctance to engage American forces is simply incomprehensible. The potential negative consequences of military intervention are not discussed.


Sen. Graham's memory is short: the Suez War of 1956 is not exactly ancient history, and at the time France's "boldness" had to be restrained by "wimpish" Dwight Eisenhower. As for Graham, his boldness seems to end with a no-fly zone, as if that would be enough to decide the outcome. France la hardie ou France la téméraire? 

Sign of the Times?

20 Minutes appends the following notice to an article about Claude Guéant and the upcoming debate about laïcité:

En raison de débordements systématiques sur ce type d'articles, nous sommes contraints de le fermer aux commentaires. Merci de votre compréhension.

And there, perhaps, is a reason why the debate should not be taking place.

Juppé Nearly Resigned?

This story--unfortunately totally unsourced--claims first that Juppé nearly resigned as foreign minister over the incident in which Sarkozy, via the mouth of BHL, recognized the Libyan rebels without alerting his foreign minister, and, second, that Sarkozy did this deliberately to insult and humiliate Juppé, who had been stealing the limelight and was emerging as the new strong man of a sinking regime. Trop beau pour être vrai? The story is of course perfectly plausible, but that only makes one wish all the more that there were a few attributed quotes in it. I mean, anybody can make this stuff up, right? But reporters who get paid for a living are supposed to wear out their shoe leather, unlike us bloggers, who just wear out our underwear as we sit around fantasizing about the high and mighty.

Ghettoization

The numbers make what everyone knows already stand out with stark clarity:

En préambule, le rapport collectionne quelques faits têtus. Par exemple, le quartier des Bosquets à Montfermeil compte 44 % de jeunes de moins de 20 ans. En moyenne, ces quartiers connaissent un taux de chômage de plus de 40 % et 29 % de leurs habitants vivent en dessous du seuil de pauvreté. À Clichy-sous-Bois, selon la démographe Michèle Tribalat, citée par Fabienne Keller, la proportion des jeunes de moins de 18 ans d'origine étrangère (1) est passée de 22 % en 1968 à 76 % en 2005.


The UMP deputy Fabienne Keller deserves credit for recognizing that there is a problem implicit in these numbers, a problem that too many on her side of the political divide, and on the other side as well, do not always recognize: the schools are hampered in their mission of socialization and assimilation by the lack of common historical and cultural references.  Keller proposes to remedy this by changing textbooks to reflect what she believes is the "common history" of the children of immigrants and Français de souche. There is a precedent: a Franco-German history to which both French and German historians contributed. Benjamin Stora, a historian of the war in Algeria, doubts that this can be done for France and Africa, however, because the views of historians on either side of the Mediterranean are far from converging in the ways that the views of European historians have converged about the European past:


"Un récit unique, non, ça, vraiment, je ne vois pas, déclare Benjamin Stora. Les conceptions sont trop diamétralement divergentes, et à ma connaissance, les intellectuels africains ne sont pas prêts au compromis. Ils ont une vision totalement négative de la colonisation, et la tendance est au ressourcement identitaire contre l'ancienne puissance coloniale. Évidemment, je comprends cette proposition et je la préfère au discours de repli sur l'histoire nationale et au refus des étrangers. Mais elle me paraît irréaliste."
An interesting debate: à suivre.