Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Sarko Hearts Draghi

France will support Mario Draghi to replace Jean-Claude Trichet as head of the European Central Bank. Draghi's prior service at Goldman Sachs, for which he worked from 2002 to 2005, was thought to have been a handicap, since Goldman was involved in a derivatives transaction with Greece that has been widely criticized in Europe, but Draghi says he was not directly involved.

Mars and Venus

Sarkozy's rush to take the lead in promoting European intervention in Libya has already had one unintended consequence: American doubts about European military capabilities and the wisdom of multilateral military operations have been revived with a vengeance. Lawrence Kaplan's piece no doubt overstates the case in terms reminiscent of Robert Kagan's famous "Americans are from Mars, Europeans are from Venus" around the time of the war in Iraq, but it does capture the (rather despairing) mood of the moment:

If it reveals anything, the war in Libya shows that Obama’s predecessors didn’t spin their proclivities for unilateral action out of whole cloth. “The Libyan crisis has strikingly exposed the lack of a European defense policy: no ability to achieve a common political vision and no capacity to take on an operation of this kind,” said French defense analyst Bruno Tertrais, while a European diplomat predicted to the German news agency Deutsche Press Agentur that a common European defense policy “died in Libya—we just have to pick a sand dune under which we can bury it.” Indeed, the Germans have remained strenuously neutral during the conflict, other than to snipe at the French and the British, while the latter, according to The Washington Post, have nearly run out of bombs to drop.

Far from caviling about the American hyperpuissance, the Europeans have been reduced to pleading for an escalation of U.S. involvement (such as it is). To which the American response has been swift, unequivocal, and wholly beside the point: “Unilateral, open-ended military action to pursue regime change isn’t good strategy, and wouldn’t advance American credibility anywhere,” National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor insisted, even though what was on the table was a request for multilateral, limited action to pursue a humanitarian end. Perhaps sensing that if America wills the ends, America really ought to will the means, the administration has now dispatched Predator drones to the skies above Libya. Animate pilots, according to the Beltway buzz, may soon follow.

Quiggin and Farrell on the Politics of the Euro Crisis

A must read, here.

Poll Puzzles

Polling in a variety of presidential scenarios is reported this morning. You can read the results yourself, because poll blogging bores me. Definitely the degree zero of the genre. There is one paragraph in the story that puzzles me, however:

Dans un hypothétique duel face à DSK, notons que la présidente du FN ferait un score presque comparable : 25 %. Elle obtiendrait 28 % face à Hollande, 31 % contre Aubry. Nicolas Sarkozy, lui, est donné battu dans les duels face un candidat PS : avec un score différent suivant qu'il fait face à DSK (39 %), Hollande (44 %), Aubry (45 %) ou Royal (49 %).

In other words, the candidate of the extreme right does worst against the most centrist of the potential PS candidates (DSK), and the farther left the opponent, the greater the shift of votes to the extreme right (thanks to Tex for correcting a previous misstatement of mine). This suggests that whichever segment of the electorate is being picked up here, it is responding to something other than perceived political position on a left-right spectrum. What might that be? Machismo (the two Socialist women do worst against Marine Le Pen)? Name recognition? Supposed competence? Your guess is as good as mine.