Monday, November 12, 2007

Steinmeier-Kouchner Rock Video

The German and French foreign ministers team up to make a music video extolling the virtues of integration. Has to be seen to be believed.

Controlling Violence

David Dufresne has just published a timely book on how the police maintain order and control violence in France. Maintien de l'ordre looks at the evolution of police tactics in dealing with demonstrations and "difficult neighborhoods." As interior minister, Nicolas Sarkozy ordered that police in the cités be replaced by CRS specially trained in the control of violence and disorder. Helicopters and other military equipment were also brought in. Dufresne also details the elaborate negotiations between police and demonstrators and the means of communication used to control crowds in large demonstrations. And he considers police tactics for dealing with "uncooperative" demonstrators. In the video interview he suggests that the CRS have begun to tire of their new mission in the suburbs: routine policing was not the métier for which they thought they had trained. Finally, the author examines the 2005 riots as a contest between Villepin and Sarkozy, the latter haunted by fears of a police slip-up that might have discredited him (as the minister in charge of the police) and shifted the advantage to his arch-rival.

The Whirling Dervish

A map of Sarkozy's travels since his election. Whatever else you say about him, you have to admit that the man has incredible energy. Thanks to Scott Guye for the pointer.

Unemployment Down

The INSEE has revised its method of estimating unemployment to bring it into line with ILO and Eurostat norms. The figures just released show that unemployment by the new measure is 8.1 percent and has been declining for 7 quarters.

Message to Kouchner from Centcom

Admiral Fallon, the commander of the U. S. Central Command, had this to say (FT, registration req'd):

“None of this is helped by the continuing stories that just keep going around and around and around that any day now there will be another war which is just not where we want to go,” he said.

“Getting Iranian behaviour to change and finding ways to get them to come to their senses and do that is the real objective. Attacking them as a means to get to that spot strikes me as being not the first choice in my book.”

One hopes that Bernard Kouchner reads the Financial Times.

The PS on the Strikes

Where does the PS stand on the strikes? In the shadows, one might say. The party does not oppose the reforms of the special retirement regimes but is critical of the way the government has handled the negotiations. François Hollande accuses the regime of seeking "a test of strength, a conflict," while Julien Dray says that "responsibility for the [social protest] movement rests with the government." It is, of course, a nice example of the bind in which the Socialists find themselves on any number of issues: more or less in favor of reform yet hoping somehow that it will all go disastrously wrong and redound to their benefit. The UNEF, which is close to the PS, is in the same position with respect to the university strikes. Bruno Julliard's group took the lead in negotiating changes to the Pécresse Law last summer, but now it has joined the CCAU's strike call though apparently not backing the threat to block railroad stations. Again, the hope seems to be that a homeopathic dose of chaos will aid the cause. The dosage of chaos is hard to control, however.

ADDENDUM: Ségolène Royal encapsulates the ambivalence of the PS to perfection by announcing her belief that "the students are right to strike" while ignoring the strikers' stated goal of having the Pécresse law rescinded. For Royal, the goal of the strike should be to ensure that "the reform is revised."