When Francois Hollande, the newly elected president of France, arrives today in Berlin for his first meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, it will kindle memories of the long history of Franco-German partnership in leading the European Union. In France, it may even trigger the traditional condescension Parisian politicians feel towards their neighbors: the lumbering German economic giant that relies on French diplomatic, military, and nuclear savoir faire to achieve political clout. Increasingly, however, such sentiments are mere nostalgia.
François Hollande And The EU's Alternatives
May 07, 2012
Major political change is afoot in France, where a presidential election has brought anti-austerity politician François Hollande to power. In the face of the EU’s economic crisis, incumbent president Nicolas Sarkozy has cooperated closely with German chancellor Angela Merkel to push for tough austerity measures. Now, France’s leadership is poised to go in a different direction.
Europe’s Other Crisis
May 04, 2012
Europe’s Angry Muslims: The Revolt of the Second Generation By Robert S. Leiken (Oxford University Press, 354 pp., $27.95) After the Fall: The End of the European Dream and the Decline of a Continent By Walter Laqueur (Thomas Dunne Books, 322 pp., $26.99) In two separate incidents in March, Mohammed Merah, a French-born French citizen who thought he was waging jihad, ambushed four soldiers around Toulouse, killing three of them. A week later, he shot dead three children arriving for morning classes at a nearby Jewish school, along with a young rabbi who was father to two of them.
Sarkozy's Electoral Problem And France's Far Right
April 23, 2012
After a weak showing in Sunday’s first-round vote, French president Nicolas Sarkozy is scrambling for a bigger share of the electorate—and to get it, he’s making an appeal to France’s far right. That’s because the National Front party, led since last year by Marine Le Pen (daughter of the notorious Jean-Marie Le Pen), took almost 18 percent of the vote, compared to Sarkozy’s 27 percent and Socialist challenger Francois Hollande’s 29 percent.
If the latest polls—and the accompanying press coverage—are to be believed, Nicolas Sarkozy's time as president of France will soon come to an end. In the all-important run-off election scheduled for May 6, most believe the incumbent will lose to his Socialist challenger, François Hollande. This is a prospect that no doubt worries Sarkozy and his supporters in France. But it should also worry people elsewhere in Europe, as well as here in the United States. To be sure, Sarkozy’s unmaking has been a long time in coming.
Genocide and the Fine Arts
April 20, 2012
The Patagonian Hare: A Memoir By Claude Lanzmann Translated by Frank Wynne (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 528 pp., $35) I. The film called Shoah runs for more than nine and a half hours. Its subject is the extermination of Europe’s Jews by the Nazis. It features Jewish survivors of the death camps, Poles who lived near the camps, and Germans who organized and ran them—and also its director, Claude Lanzmann, in the background, with his various interpreters. The languages in which these people speak include Yiddish, Hebrew, English, German, Polish, and French: a sound file of Europe.
To put it mildly, the latest round of redistricting has not been the most edifying experience. Over the past year, politicians have assembled throughout the country to carve districts that are equal in population, but that otherwise serve their own interests rather than the public’s. Protracted litigation has determined, on a case-by-case basis, which districts will be represented by minority groups. And the courts have been intimately involved not just with minority representation but also with every other aspect of the process.
Masters and Boys
March 14, 2012
The Kid with a Bike Michael A mistake. A few weeks ago, reviewing the distinguished film Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, I said it had won the Grand Prix at the Cannes Festival last year. In fact, it shared the prize with another film, The Kid with a Bike, which is of equal distinction. What an occasion. The second film is by the Dardenne brothers, Jean-Pierre and Luc, who in 1996, after some twenty years of making documentaries in their native Belgium and in France, ventured into fiction.
March 14, 2012
On a blustery evening last autumn, Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh visited Capitol Hill to deliver a lecture. Latecomers filed into the dim Coolidge Auditorium at the Library of Congress, looking harried.
Can Domestic Policy Affect Income Distribution?
March 13, 2012
On March 9, Carnegie Mellon economist Allan Meltzer argued in the Wall Street Journal ("A Look At The Global One Percent") that income inequality is a global phenomenon and therefore not a problem that can be solved through changes in U.S. domestic policy. He's right about the first proposition and wrong about the second. Actually, he isn't even entirely right about the first. Yes, income inequality is occurring globally. But it isn't happening uniformly. Until recently it was declining in France, Ireland, and Spain. Now it's declining in Turkey and Greece, and it's basically flat in France.