março 29, 2009

Há um ano atrás, na cimeira da NATO de Bucareste: ‘com aliados como estes‘... in The Economist

The NATO summit in Bucharest was meant to be a celebration of France's full return to the fold and a show of long-term commitment to stabilising Afghanistan. Instead it turned into a particularly rancorous dispute about matters closer to home: how far and how fast NATO should continue to expand, and how it should deal with a more aggressive Russia.

The meeting became a battle of wills between Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, cast in a naysaying role that is usually reserved for French leaders, and George Bush, attending his last NATO summit and hoping to be remembered for extending “the circle of freedom”.

On the face of it, the issue was arcane: whether Ukraine and Georgia should be upgraded from “intensified dialogue” with NATO to a “membership action plan” (MAP), essentially a promise to join NATO after meeting a set of political and military benchmarks. But to many, particularly America and ex-communist states, this was a question of principle: NATO had to keep its vow to welcome fragile democracies, and should give no veto to Russia, especially in its current aggressive mood.

Germany says Russia's president-elect, Dmitry Medvedev, should get time to settle in without being forced into a spat with NATO. “What is the rush?” asked one senior official. Earlier the French prime minister, François Fillon, said his country opposed granting MAP “because we think it is not the right response to the balance of power in Europe”. Britain, too, was sceptical. But observers reckoned that, should Germany yield to American pressure, other resistance would melt.

At a bad-tempered foreign ministers' meeting on the opening night, Germany's foreign minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, told colleagues Georgia would not be fit to join until it had resolved the “frozen conflicts” over two Russian-backed statelets on its soil. Condoleezza Rice, his American opposite number, retorted that these conflicts were “not Georgia's problem, but Russia's”. She added that Germany's own NATO membership in 1955 had come at a time when that country was divided.

After much haggling, the allies declared that the two countries “will become members of NATO” eventually—but that a decision on MAP would only be taken by foreign ministers in December. Even that could be a humiliation for the Georgians, whose volatile president, Mikheil Saakashvili, privately compared anything short of MAP to appeasement of the Nazis.

Even the enlargement that was supposed to be straightforward—expanding membership of NATO (and later of the European Union) to the Balkans—turned ugly because of an old row over Macedonia's name, shared by a Greek province. Macedonia had agreed to the formulation “Republic of Macedonia (Skopje)”; Greece wanted a compound formula such as “Upper Macedonia” or “New Macedonia” and blocked the invitation. The allies said Macedonia would join once the issue of the name had been settled.

NATO invited Croatia and Albania, boosted ties with Montenegro and Bosnia, and offered Serbia a friendly hand. Franco-American friendship took a big step forward as France offered more troops to fight the Taliban and signalled its intention to return in 2009 to NATO's integrated military structure. Mr Bush compared Mr Sarkozy's arrival with the “latest incarnation of Elvis” and endorsed an EU plan to develop stronger defences.

With Vladimir Putin due to join the summit on April 4th, and then to host Mr Bush the next day in the resort of Sochi, the American president was balancing the need to maintain working relations with the Kremlin while not being seen to yield to threats. “The cold war is over. Russia is not our enemy,” said Mr Bush, restating his assurance that America's plan to set up its missile-defence shield in Poland and the Czech Republic was not aimed at Russia.

To America's delight, its allies embraced missile defence, recognising its “substantial contribution” to their security, and agreeing to seek ways to extend a shield to countries like Turkey. American sweeteners—offering to accept Russian liaison officers, promising not to switch on the system until a threat (from Iran) emerges, and holding out for Russian participation—impressed European sceptics.

Yet at its core, the dispute within NATO is about the renewed threat from Russia. Members of “old Europe” may hope to avoid a clash with the Kremlin, but many countries of “new” Europe say the struggle has already begun. For them security lies in expanding the frontiers of what was once the transatlantic alliance to the Black Sea and ultimately to the Caspian.

Even its strongest advocates recognise that such expansion raises questions about the purpose of the alliance: should it be mainly a military organisation, or a political club of democracies? Radek Sikorski, the Polish foreign minister, questioned whether the promise of mutual defence from armed attack enshrined in Article 5 of NATO's charter was becoming “diluted”.

Mr Sikorski wants NATO to move military infrastructure east. He complains that NATO hesitates even to make intelligence assessments of perils from Russia. Others want more attention to non-conventional threats, given last year's cyber-attack on Estonia, blamed on Russia. “We do a disservice to Russia by not taking it seriously,” said Toomas Ilves, Estonia's president.
JPTF 2009/03/29

março 26, 2009

Presidência checa da UE diz que medidas de Obama para combater a crise são um ‘caminho para o inferno‘ in Financial Times

European Union hopes for a new era in relations with the US were thrown into chaos on Wednesday when the holder of the EU presidency condemned American remedies for the global recession as “the road to hell”.

Barely a week before Barack Obama is due to arrive in Europe on his first official visit as US president, Mirek Topolanek, the Czech Republic’s prime minister, put the 27-nation EU on a collision course with Washington.

His attack compounded the confusion that has engulfed EU policy after the Czech leader lost a no-confidence vote in the country’s parliament on Tuesday, forcing him to offer his government’s resignation midway through its six-month EU presidency.

Mr Topolanek said EU leaders had been disturbed at a summit in Brussels last week to hear calls from Tim Geithner, the US Treasury secretary, for more aggressive policies to fight the global downturn.

“The US Treasury secretary talks about permanent action and we, at our spring council, were quite alarmed at that . . . The US is repeating mistakes from the 1930s, such as wide-ranging stimuluses, protectionist tendencies and appeals, the Buy American campaign, and so on,” he told a European parliament session in Strasbourg. “All these steps, their combination and their permanency, are the road to hell.”

US officials made no comment on the remarks. But the Obama administration says it took great pains to ensure that the Buy American provisions in the $787bn (€579bn) stimulus that the president signed into law last month were consistent with World Trade Organisation rules. It followed, therefore, that any attempt to make them permanent would continue to be consistent with WTO rules.

EU diplomats said it was the most extraordinary outburst from a political leader in charge of running the EU’s affairs since Silvio Berlusconi, Italy’s prime minister, caused uproar in 2003 when he likened a German socialist member of the European parliament to a Nazi concentration camp guard.

Other leaders of EU member states, including Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, disagree with US calls for big fiscal stimuli to battle the recession. But they have couched their opposition in more diplomatic language than Mr Topolanek’s.

The Czech leader was speaking eight days before Mr Obama was due to arrive in London for a G20 summit of the world’s developed and emerging economies.

After the summit and a Nato meeting in France and Germany, the US president is due to fly to Prague for an EU-US summit, at which the Czech Republic will represent all 27 member states.

Relations between the Obama administration and Mr Topolanek’s government have been delicate in recent weeks because of signals from Washington that Mr Obama may reassess plans to deploy parts of a US anti-missile shield in the Czech Republic, a project to which the Topolanek government has been committed.

Mr Obama has vigorously opposed the view that the Great Depression was caused by too much spending, rather than too little, a view held by a small handful of rightwing economists.

JPTF 2009/03/26

março 22, 2009

‘Como a China vê o mundo‘ in The Economist

It is an ill wind that blows no one any good. For many in China even the buffeting by the gale that has hit the global economy has a bracing message. The rise of China over the past three decades has been astonishing. But it has lacked the one feature it needed fully to satisfy the ultranationalist fringe: an accompanying decline of the West. Now capitalism is in a funk in its heartlands. Europe and Japan, embroiled in the deepest post-war recession, are barely worth consideration as rivals. America, the superpower, has passed its peak. Although in public China’s leaders eschew triumphalism, there is a sense in Beijing that the reassertion of the Middle Kingdom’s global ascendancy is at hand.

China’s prime minister, Wen Jiabao, no longer sticks to the script that China is a humble player in world affairs that wants to focus on its own economic development. He talks of China as a “great power” and worries about America’s profligate spending endangering his $1 trillion nest egg there. Incautious remarks by the new American treasury secretary about China manipulating its currency were dismissed as ridiculous; a duly penitent Hillary Clinton was welcomed in Beijing, but as an equal. This month saw an apparent attempt to engineer a low-level naval confrontation with an American spy ship in the South China Sea. Yet at least the Americans get noticed. Europe, that speck on the horizon, is ignored: an EU summit was cancelled and France is still blacklisted because Nicolas Sarkozy dared to meet the Dalai Lama.

Already a big idea has spread far beyond China: that geopolitics is now a bipolar affair, with America and China the only two that matter. Thus in London next month the real business will not be the G20 meeting but the “G2” summit between Presidents Barack Obama and Hu Jintao. This not only worries the Europeans, who, having got rid of George Bush’s unipolar politics, have no wish to see it replaced by a Pacific duopoly, and the Japanese, who have long been paranoid about their rivals in Asia. It also seems to be having an effect in Washington, where Congress’s fascination with America’s nearest rival risks acquiring a protectionist edge.

Reds under the bed
Before panic spreads, it is worth noting that China’s new assertiveness reflects weakness as well as strength. This remains a poor country facing, in Mr Wen’s words, its most difficult year of the new century. The latest wild guess at how many jobs have already been lost—20m—hints at the scale of the problem. The World Bank has cut its forecast for China’s growth this year to 6.5%. That is robust compared with almost anywhere else, but to many Chinese, used to double-digit rates, it will feel like a recession. Already there are tens of thousands of protests each year: from those robbed of their land for development; from laid-off workers; from those suffering the side-effects of environmental despoliation. Even if China magically achieves its official 8% target, the grievances will worsen.

Far from oozing self-confidence, China is witnessing a fierce debate both about its economic system and the sort of great power it wants to be—and it is a debate the government does not like. This year the regime curtailed even the perfunctory annual meeting of its parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC), preferring to confine discussion to back-rooms and obscure internet forums. Liberals calling for greater openness are being dealt with in the time-honoured repressive fashion. But China’s leaders also face rumblings of discontent from leftist nationalists, who see the downturn as a chance to halt market-oriented reforms at home, and for China to assert itself more stridently abroad. An angry China can veer into xenophobia, but not all the nationalist left’s causes are so dangerous: one is for the better public services and social-safety net the country sorely needs.

So China is in a more precarious situation than many Westerners think. The world is not bipolar and may never become so. The EU, for all its faults, is the world’s biggest economy. India’s population will overtake China’s. But that does not obscure the fact that China’s relative power is plainly growing—and both the West and China itself need to adjust to this.

For Mr Obama, this means pulling off a difficult balancing act. In the longer term, if he has not managed to seduce China (and for that matter India and Brazil) more firmly into the liberal multilateral system by the time he leaves office, then historians may judge him a failure. In the short term he needs to hold China to its promises and to scold it for its lapses: Mrs Clinton should have taken it to task over Tibet and human rights when she was there. The Bush administration made much of the idea of welcoming China as a “responsible stakeholder” in the international system. The G20 is a chance to give China a bigger stake in global decision-making than was available in the small clubs of the G7 and G8. But it is also a chance for China to show it can exercise its new influence responsibly.

The bill for the great Chinese takeaway
China’s record as a citizen of the world is strikingly threadbare. On a host of issues from Iran to Sudan, it has used its main geopolitical asset, its permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, to obstruct progress, hiding behind the excuse that it does not want to intervene in other countries’ affairs. That, sadly, will take time to change. But on the more immediate issue at hand, the world economy, there is room for action.

Over the past quarter-century no country has gained more from globalisation than China. Hundreds of millions of its people have been dragged out of subsistence into the middle class. China has been a grumpy taker in this process. It helped derail the latest round of world trade talks. The G20 meeting offers it a chance to show a change of heart. In particular, it is being asked to bolster the IMF’s resources so that the fund can rescue crisis-hit countries in places like eastern Europe. Some in Beijing would prefer to ignore the IMF, since it might help ex-communist countries that have developed “an anti-China mentality”. Rising above such cavilling and paying up would be a small step in itself. But it would be a sign that the Middle Kingdom has understood what it is to be a great power.
JPTF 2009/03/22

março 19, 2009

A crise e os seus reflexos na emigração laboral na Europa in Der Spiegel, 18 de Março de 2009

With unemployment soaring, many European Union countries want the migrant workers they once attracted to go home as quickly as possible. They are sparing no expense or effort to encourage them to leave.

Chultem Choijusuren was watching television in Ulan Bator when he decided to climb aboard the globalization bandwagon. According to an ad he had seen, companies in the Czech Republic were paying young mechanics "€1,000 a month." Most people in the Mongolian steppes were already familiar with the small Eastern European country. After all, many young people from here had studied in Prague during the two countries' Socialist pasts.

Choijusuren borrowed the equivalent of €3,000 ($3,900) from local banks. Part of the money was to pay the €1,500 fee that the Mongolian employment agency was charging for securing him a job. He would also need some money to start life abroad, and the one-way train ticket from the Mongolian capital Ulan Bator to Prague, via Moscow, cost €700 ($910). His wife and eight-year-old daughter waved goodbye as the train left the station.

The Mongolian planned to stay in Europe for perhaps half a year, save a few thousand euros, and return home to open his own car repair shop.

Choijusuren is part of the army of migrants that has moved westward from developing countries in recent years, with one in three chosing Europe as their destination. After the European Union's eastward expansion in 2004, tens of thousands of Asians found jobs in Polish, Czech and Slovak factories, where they were welcomed with open arms to fill the jobs that one million Poles and hundreds of thousands of Czechs, Balts, Slovaks and Hungarians had left behind when they in turn migrated to the wealthier EU countries. Ireland, Great Britain and Sweden, unlike Germany and Austria, had immediately opened their borders to citizens of the new member states, and Spain followed suit two years later.

Construction companies and restaurants in these countries were only too pleased to employ the cheap labor from the East. More and more families hired Polish women to clean their houses or nannies with Slavic accents to put their children to bed. The migrants' wages were modest, and yet in some cases three times as high as they were at home. The newcomers sent as much of their earnings home as possible, injecting capital that helped their hometowns gain unprecedented prosperity.

Once the global economic crisis erupted those days were over. Unemployment has risen twice as fast in Great Britain and Spain as elsewhere in Europe. Now the citizens of Western European countries need the jobs themselves, and their governments are resorting to all kinds of tricks and incentives to get rid of the wiling hands they once needed so badly.

Globalization has turned 200 million people into migrant workers in the last few decades. One fifth of them are Europeans, less than one tenth are Africans and 3 percent are from Latin America. Now the trend is reversing itself, a shift that generally affects those who came from Europe's poorest regions and from emerging and developing nations. Officials at the United Nations International Labor Organization (ILO) fear that 30 million people around the globe could lose their livelihoods by the end of the year.

No More Promised Land

There is considerable temptation to cope with the crisis by taking protectionist steps. In many places, guest workers are now only perceived as competitors. In Great Britain, domestic labor union members recently prevented Italian and Portuguese mechanics working for a Sicilian company from modernizing an oil refinery. British blue-collar workers also protested against the use of Spanish and Polish workers in the construction of a power plant in Nottinghamshire. In London, the Minister of State for Borders and Immigration announced that restrictions would be necessary "to protect British jobs."

"Great Britain was the Promised Land for me," says Andrzej Wlezinski, a Pole, "but that is now over." The 40-year-old plumber plans to return to Lodz, a city in central Poland, at the end of March. He came to London, he says, immediately after the EU's eastward expansion. The British public, who had had to put up with the shoddy work of expensive local tradesmen for decades, welcomed Wlezinski and others like him with plenty of work and good pay. The then Home Secretary Charles Clarke called men like Wlezinski "jewels of our nation."

That is now history. Since last fall, Wlezinski has been constantly searching the Internet for temporary jobs. He used to earn £90 (€114 or $148) a day, but now he counts himself lucky to be making half as much -- if he can find work at all, that is. But he needs to earn £200 ($284) a week to pay for his small dark room, his subway tickets and a few hamburgers. Lodz, he says, is cheaper and a city with "less stress." If he travels home now, after five years in England, he will be carrying hardly anything of value in his two suitcases. Saving money was not an option.

Elsewhere in Europe, migrants willing to return to their native countries can qualify for substantial assistance. Spanish aid organizations, for example, pay travel costs and €450 ($590) in spending money. The country is especially eager to part ways as smoothly as possible with its more than 700,000 Romanians, the largest group of registered immigrants in the country.

The government in Madrid has even taken things a step further by advertising its "Voluntary Return Program" in ads on subway trains and buses. José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, the Socialist prime minister, hopes that the program will help oust 100,000 of the 2.8 million non-Europeans living legally in Spain.

By last December, 240,000 of them had already filed for unemployment benefits, and that number is likely to have increased since then. If migrant workers agree not to return to Spain for three years, they are repaid their contributions to the unemployment insurance system: 40 percent upfront, and the balance upon return to their native countries.

However, the offer has not been very successful so far, with only 2,000 foreigners signing up in the first three months. Most of them were Ecuadorians who, after Moroccans, are the largest non-European immigrant group.
Those who have worked in Spain legally for an extended period of time are not permitted to take more than €12,000 ($15,600) with them when they leave. This is barely enough to open a small shop or taxi company at home. Dora Aguirre, president of Rumiñahui, an Ecuadorian association in Madrid, has given advice many of her compatriots. "Those who are leaving now," she says, "wanted to do so anyway. These are people at retirement age."

Men who have lost their construction jobs in recent months are often unable to leave. They have brought their wives and children to Spain and are usually stuck in a credit trap. They have bought cars that no one wants now, and some took out mortgages on condominiums with four or five other people. Because no one is willing to take over their share, they have to continue making their payments. "Most of them believe that this is a better place to sit out the economic crisis than Latin America," says Aguirre.

No European country has attracted as many guest workers in recent years as Spain. Since Madrid joined the EU in 1986, the economy has enjoyed consistently high growth rates, and recently was even above the average of the countries that use the euro as their currency. There was more construction in Spain than anywhere else, and there was plenty to do for the country's 5.3 million foreigners, who now make up more than 10 percent of the population.

The Rise of Xenophobia

When the Socialists came into power in 2004, they introduced an amnesty, giving papers to 700,000 illegal non-Europeans with jobs, so as to collect their contributions to the social security system. In addition, Spanish companies recruited workers in Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Mauritania, Poland and Bulgaria to pick fruit and vegetables, or to work in hotels, restaurants or the construction sector.

Now the labor market can no longer absorb any additional immigrants, says Labor Minister Celestino Corbacho. Tens of thousands of Spanish citizens are now applying for seasonal jobs picking olives and strawberries in Andalusian villages, thereby displacing the foreign workers. This has inevitably poisoned the climate for migrant workers.

In the Madrid region, governed by the conservative People's Party of Spain, the police force was instructed to crack down on foreigners during I.D. checks and arrest a predetermined number of foreigners without residency or work permits every week. Xenophobia is also growing in France, where President Nicolas Sarkozy, during his election campaign in 2007 had already elevated the "fight against tax and social fraud" to the status of a national responsibility. The deportation quota has been increased considerably since then.

The mood has now shifted to one of overt xenophobia in Italy, which, like Spain, only became a country of immigration in the last decade. Illegal immigrants cannot be "handled with kid gloves," Interior Minister Roberto Maroni said, and the government of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi promptly unveiled a new security law. It calls for a fee for residency permits and proof of a minimum level of income. Under the law, the homeless will be fingerprinted, doctors will be required to report patients without papers and citizens' patrols are to be authorized to pick up illegal immigrants. Anyone working in the country illegally will be deported, and those who refuse to leave can be sent to prison for up to four years.

The EU has long had plans to uniformly regulate immigration. But in light of the economic crisis, some governments are looking for a back door. They want to delay new rules that would allow Romanian and Bulgarian workers free access to the entire Western European labor market this year, and 11 EU countries want to hold on to existing restrictions. This, in turn, aggravates the situation in the EU's poorest countries. Authorities in Bucharest, for example, expect to see at least half of the roughly three million Romanians working abroad return home.

Aneliya, 38, and her husband Georgiy, 40, have already returned from Manta Rota, a sunny vacation spot in Portugal's southern Algarve region, to Dolno Ossenovo in southwestern Bulgaria. The construction company where the Bulgarian had worked for eight years notified workers in the summer that it expected a decline in contracts. At home, in her village in the Rila Mountains, Aneliya plans to pick tobacco for €150 ($195) a month, assuming she gets the job. Her wages will have to be enough to support the couple's two sons, 12 and 15, and of course her husband, until he can find work again. The only problem is that 300 of the village's 1,500 residents had moved to Portugal, and 200 are now back.

'My Debts Are Growing'

The struggle for the few available jobs will be relentless. A disaster is taking shape in the job market throughout Bulgaria. Investors are staying away. In December alone, 15,000 workers were laid off, mainly in the metal industry, mining and the textile sector. The government hopes to find jobs in construction projects for the unemployed workers now returning home.

Chultem Choijusuren, the Mongolian mechanic, is also packing his bags. There is no doubt that by the time he arrived in Europe, he had already missed the boat. Choijusuren is now sitting in the unheated office of the Czech-Mongolian Society in Plzen, one of 13,000 Mongolians in the country. A hanging on the wall behind him depicts Genghis Khan, and only a few meters away is a portrait of former Czech President Václav Havel. He never managed to find a job, he says, "but my debts are growing from one day to the next."

When Choijusuren stepped off the train in Prague after a weeklong journey, he was greeted by the Mongolian contact person, but with the news that "there is no more work in the Czech Republic." He found a place to stay with fellow Mongolians, rationed his savings and set out on his own in search of the €1,000 job he had expected. But his efforts were in vain. "There is nothing for me here anymore," he says.

The Czech government will pay his return ticket. It anticipates that there will be well over 30,000 unemployed foreigners in the country in the coming months. Czech authorities are deeply concerned that some of the Vietnamese, Chinese and Mongolian migrant workers could turn to crime.

Prague prefers to dispose of these victims of globalization before that happens.,1518,druck-614065,00.html
JPTF 2009/03/19

março 14, 2009

‘A WEB fez 20 anos: hoje passávamos sem ela?‘ in La Tribune, 14 de Março de 2004

Imaginé par l'informaticien britannique Tim Berners-Lee, le réseau mondial Internet (WWW) a soufflé ce vendredi à Genève sa 20ème bougie. Pourriez-vous aujourd'hui vous passer d'Internet

Mars 1989. Un document intitulé "Gestion de l'information: une proposition" arrive sur le bureau d'un responsable de l'Organisation européenne de recherche nucléaire (Cern). Son auteur, Tim Berners-Lee, jeune ingénieur-programmeur informatique, est en contrat temporaire au Cern. A ce moment-là, l'idée est de permettre aux milliers de scientifiques du monde entier, collaborant aux travaux de l'organisation, de rester en contact et de partager à distance les résultats de leurs recherches."Vague, mais passionnant", qualifie son supérieur en prenant connaissance du projet, tout en y donnant son aval.

Tilm Berners-Lee et toute une équipe d'ingénieurs mettent alors au point le langage hypertexte (ce qui se cache derrière les initiales "http" des adresses internet) et, en octobre 1990, le premier navigateur internet, qui ressemble étonnamment à ceux qui sont utilisés aujourd'hui, voit le jour. Et d'ailleurs, "tout ce qu'on dit maintenant, les blogs, etc. c'était ce qu'on faisait en 1990. Il n'y avait aucune différence. C'est comme ça qu'on a demarré", a déclaré Robert Cailliau, l'un des créateurs de la Toile, à la radio suisse RSR.

Puis, le grand public verra cet outil technologique mis à sa disposition à partir de 1991 lorsque le Cern parvint à la conclusion qu'il n'avait pas les capacités pour en assurer le développement. L'organisation renonça deux ans plus tard à percevoir des royalties sur cette invention qui a révolutionné le monde des communications.

Vingt ans plus tard, Robert Cailliau s'enthousiasme pour des applications telles que Wikipédia, qui permet de partager des connaissances de manière ouverte, mais n'avait jamais imaginé que les moteurs de recherche prendraient une telle importance.

En revanche, l'aspect commercial du développement du Web l'irrite. "Il y a des choses que je n'aime pas du tout: le fait que les gens doivent vivre de la pub, tandis que j'avais preconisé plutôt un modèle de paiement automatique avec de la monnaie numérisée pour payer directement le fournisseur d'informations".

"Il y a aussi, bien sûr, le grand problème de l'identité, la confiance entre celui qui regarde et celui qui met la page à disposition, et la protection des enfants...", énumère-t-il encore.

Tim Berners-Lee, qui dirige le World Wide Web Consortium (3WC) chargé de coordonner le développement de son invention, s'inquiète pour sa part de l'intrusion dans la sphère privée et du profilage automatique des internautes à des fins commerciales ou publicitaires.

Et vous, que vous inspire cet anniversaire ? Pourriez-vous vous passer du web aujourd'hui ? Vous en méfiez-vous tout de même, en raison des dérives possibles à la "big brother"(traçages des sites visités, suivi des profils...) ? Donnez votre avis ci-dessous dans l'espace "commentaire".
JPTF 2009/03/14

março 12, 2009

A França regressa à NATO: ‘Sarkozy quebra com o gaulismo e a tradição‘ in Der Spiegel, 12 de Março 2009

France wants to give up its special role after 43 years and reintegrate into all structures of NATO. The decision by President Nicolas Sarkozy represents a break from his predecessors, but it has drawn heavy criticism across partisan lines in Paris.

It was a chronicle of a return foretold. Academics, members of parliament and diplomats, as well as current and former cabinet ministers had gathered, against the impressive backdrop of the École Militaire in Paris, to attend a conference titled "France, European Defense and NATO in the 21st Century." The event made it seem as if the decision of the day had not been made yet. That afternoon, French President Nicolas Sarkozy had used the ceremonial backdrop of the Foch Amphitheater to announce his country's reintegration into all structures of the Atlantic alliance.

Citing his "responsibility for the nation's strategic decisions" and noting that strategic conditions in the world have changed considerably, Sarkozy pledged France's "full commitment" at the side of its partners -- 43 years after former President and General Charles de Gaulle withdrew France from the Atlantic alliance.

France's reintegration into NATO creates a largely symbolic orientation, with which Sarkozy, a committed friend of the United States (and Israel), seeks to liberate himself from the doubts of his European friends. But with this one-sided diplomatic move, Sarkozy was merely promoting France's interests.

Nevertheless, Sarko's turnaround represents a "break " with tradition. NATO, created after World War II, on April 4, 1949, was an allied organization designed to defend the West against the Soviet Union and serve as a counterweight against the Warsaw Pact. France was a founding member of the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance.

The French withdrawal from NATO's integrated military and leadership structures took place in March 1966, because de Gaulle refused to allow the French armed forces to submit to US command. It was the middle of the Cold War, and the fact that La Grande Nation, which had just become a nuclear power, was going it alone was perceived as a destabilizing maneuver.

But the separation was not destined to last forever. In fact, France's subsequent rapprochement with NATO took place in stages. By 1992, France had joined the NATO operations in Kosovo, and French troops later participated in military campaigns in Afghanistan. In 1996, Paris said that it would re-establish a permanent military mission to NATO, and in 2004 French military officials were once again part of the NATO command. Since then, the French flag has fluttered in front of NATO headquarters once again, and today more than 4,000 French soldiers are deployed on NATO missions worldwide.

The End of the French Exception

Now Paris has put an end to the "French exception" and is turning its back on an "anti-American" reflex. France's change of heart is likely to be celebrated symbolically in early April a the NATO summit meeting in Strasbourg, France, and across the Rhine River in Kehl, Germany. In practice, however, the changes will have few consequences. France's return will provide 900 officers with NATO jobs and, most of all, Paris will be rewarded by being given command of two structures. This, at least, is the apparent upshot of a behind-the-scenes agreement between Elysée Palace and the White House.

The new French members of the General Staff will supervise the Allied Command Transformation project in Virginia. In addition, French military officials will take over regional command headquarters in Lisbon, the location of NATO's Rapid Reaction Force and its satellite reconnaissance system.

The amount of power that a land Sarkozy refers to as "a major power like France" is regaining with its return to the NATO structures is a matter of controversy among experts and even within the ranks of Sarkozy's party. In particular, there is growing dissatisfaction among old-guard Gaullists, who interpret Sarkozy's policy of a "break" with the old simply as a betrayal of de Gaulle's legacy. And it's not just the Socialists and their former prime ministers, Lionel Jospin and Laurent Fabius, who reject the president's about face -- even Sarkozy's former colleagues from the conservative governing party, Alain Juppé and Dominique de Villepin, have publicly criticized the change of heart on NATO.

Solidarity with Berlin

All of this was reason enough for Sarkozy to underscore, in his address, the notion that the return to the command structure of NATO is "in the interest of France and Europe" and would represent a "strengthening of our sovereignty." "We cannot risk the lives of our soldiers without taking part in the planning," the president said, insisting that Paris would continue to reserve the right to a "freedom of assessment" before deploying its troops on NATO missions.

Of course, to ensure that the NATO debate would not turn into a fiasco in the National Assembly in Paris, Sarkozy asked his prime minister to hold a vote of confidence after the debate, which is hardly likely to permit opposition. This gives Prime Minister Francois Fillon a tool to pressure the dissidents within his party and bring them back on course with the administration.

Sarkozy can also celebrate another triumph. The president's decision has met with far less criticism from the public. In fact, 58 percent of the French support their country's return to the NATO command structures.

Sarkozy received congratulatory notes on his speech from Brussels and applause from Berlin -- even before he had given it. In a perfect show of solidarity between President Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the two politicians sang the praises of the defense alliance leading up to the Munich Security Conference. "As a response to crises and conflicts, the alliances that are based on shared values -- the European Union and NATO -- are becoming increasingly important," the wrote in a joint newspaper contribution.,1518,druck-612840,00.html
JPTF 2009/03/12

março 10, 2009

‘Sequelas na política externa‘ por Robert Kagan in Washington Post, 9 de Fevereiro de 2009

President Obama's foreign policy team has been working hard to present its policies to the world as constituting a radical break from the Bush years. In the broadest sense, this has been absurdly easy: Obama had the world at hello.

When it comes to actual policies, however, selling the pretense of radical change has required some sleight of hand -- and a helpful press corps. Thus the New York Times reports a dramatic "shift" in China policy to "rigorous and persistent engagement," as if the previous two administrations had been doing something else for the past decade and a half. Another Times headline trumpeted a new "softer tone on North Korea," based on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's suggestion that the United States would have a "great openness to working with" Pyongyang -- as soon as it agrees to "verifiable and complete dismantling and denuclearization." Startling.

The media have also reported a dramatic shift in the Obama administration's approach to conducting the Activity Formerly Known as the War on Terror. "Bush's 'War' on Terror Comes to Sudden End," The Post announced on Jan. 23, and subsequent stories have proclaimed a transformation from "hard power" to "soft power," from military action to diplomacy -- even as the Obama administration sends 17,000 troops to Afghanistan, significantly expands Predator drone attacks in Pakistan and agrees to a timetable for drawing down troops in Iraq scarcely distinguishable from what a third Bush administration (with the same defense secretary) might have ordered.

So, too, the administration's insistence on linking proposed missile defense installations in Europe to the "threat" posed by Iran, or its offer to negotiate Russia's acquiescence to this plan and even to share missile defense technology. All this is widely celebrated as new. But Defense Secretary Robert Gates began these negotiations with Moscow more than a year ago. On Iran, the emphasis on carrots, in the form of a global political and economic embrace if Tehran stops pursuing nuclear weapons, and sticks, in the form of international sanctions and isolation if it doesn't, is not exactly novel. Add to this the administration's justifiable hesitancy, campaign rhetoric notwithstanding, to jump into direct, high-level negotiations but to focus instead on mid-level contacts or multilateral meetings on other subjects such as Afghanistan and Iraq, and it's no surprise if Iranian officials wonder what's the big deal.

This is all to the good. So far, President Obama has made generally sound decisions on Afghanistan, Iraq, missile defense and Iran. Along with the language of unclenched fists and reset buttons, the basic goals and premises of U.S. policy have not shifted. If the world views this as a revolution, so much the better. Whatever works.

Yet there is another area where the administration claims to depart from the Bush legacy but really hasn't, and I wish that it would. That is the issue of democracy and human rights. Ever since Clinton's confirmation hearing, where she talked about three D's -- defense, diplomacy and development -- but not a fourth -- democracy -- the press has made much of this allegedly sharp departure from the Bush administration's "freedom agenda." (Vice President Biden's prominent remarks about the fourth D in Munich last month have been ignored because they didn't fit the storyline.) Thus the Times's Peter Baker writes that "Obama appears poised to return to a more traditional American policy of dealing with the world as it is rather than as it might be." Set aside what a funny sentence that is to anyone with even scant knowledge of American history and its traditions -- remember Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton? The more interesting question is whether the Bush administration ever seriously pursued a "freedom agenda."

As my Carnegie colleague and preeminent democracy expert Thomas Carothers points out, the idea that the Bush administration engaged in a massive effort to promote democracy around the world is mostly myth. While every U.S. president for the past three decades has engaged in some degree of democracy promotion, he writes, "the place of democracy in Bush foreign policy was no greater, and in some ways was less, than in the foreign policies of his predecessors." It did provide important support to struggling democracies in Ukraine, Georgia and Lebanon. But Bush ignored the systematic dismantling of democracy in Russia. Like Secretary Clinton, he did not let human rights get in the way of dealing with China. The Bush administration supported Pakistani strongman Pervez Musharraf until the bitter end. It backed away from challenging Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to hold freer and fairer elections in 2005, and whatever ardor it had about pushing for democracy in the Middle East cooled significantly after the 2006 election of Hamas. Meanwhile, it worked closely with dictators in Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. Aside from Iraq and Afghanistan, where its stalwart support for democratic progress was undermined for many years by failed military strategy, it is hard to point to many places where the "freedom agenda" was ever seriously implemented.

The world would be a better and safer place if the Bush administration's policies had more closely matched its rhetoric. But in any case, as Carothers notes, the idea that "a major post-Bush realist corrective is needed represents a serious misreading of the past eight years." It would be ironic, to say the least, if in its desire to distinguish itself from Bush on this issue, the Obama administration wound up replicating Bush. Viva la revolución!
JPTF 2009/03/10

março 04, 2009

Mapa interactivo do ‘NRC Handelsblad‘ com os números da crise na União Europeia

O jornal holandês NRC Handelsblad tem um aqui um interessante mapa interactivo (em inglês) sobre o números da crise económica e financeira nos diversos Estados-membros da União Europeia (crescimento do PIB, dívida pública, défice orçamental, desemprego, etc.). Este recurso permite, por exemplo, aferir rapidamente a situação portuguesa face a outros países europeus num conjunto de indicadores chave.

JPTF 2009/03/04