Britsh prime minister Gordon Brown
(c) Nancy Ohanian
It sometimes pays to be a nondescript politician, like
Sarkozy is not a man noted for charm but for his unchecked energies and the restless activity that seems to have been responsible for a fainting spell while jogging, and an overnight hospitalization.
He won the presidential office two years ago through tireless campaigning, ambitious if sometimes scattershot reform promises, and terrific force of personality. He ran against an exhausted and divided Socialist party with an attractive but unconvincing candidate,
He has done what he has promised, and made positive changes in the big state sector of the economy and in labor relations in the private sector. He met every problem head-on, yet was highly flexible in his dealings with business and labor. His presidency of
He took on reform of the state's huge, ideology-bound state education system, and its neglected and declining universities (unable to compete with the elite "grandes ecoles" system of higher education), issues on which every recent government has been defeated.
The left will never like him, and the right, while it supports him, has a socially condescending view of this political buccaneer of immigrant origin, who uses common language and has common manners.
The critical man on the street says that "he talks like a grocer" and lacks the dignity of his presidential office. His elegant Italian wife,
Italian observers sometimes say that the mass of ordinary Italians admire Berlusconi for his cynicism because they share it. Whether they respect him for it is another matter. If they elect him as an exaggerated version of the supposedly prototypical Italian, that does not, after all, give the world a very enthralling picture of Italians and
Now he is in trouble again. The newspapers have just published the prime minister's purported indiscretions to an escort, who says she was engaged to spend a night with him. Being a prudent young woman who had previously had unfortunate experiences with men, she recorded their conversations. The tape included not only what he had to say about his inclinations in intimate pleasures but supposedly his casual revelation of unreported Phoenician tombs found on his property in
It would be a serious crime to have taken the Phoenician relics and not reported them, and while he has managed to get legislation exempting him from prosecution for civil crimes during his presidency, it doesn't seem to cover offenses against
Obama, Solana Mean Business About Two-State Solution
by William Pfaff
The Israeli press reports with alarm that the United States has threatened to reduce by $1 billion the guarantee the U.S. Treasury customarily provides for Israel state borrowings, which assure them the best commercial terms. This is evidence that the Obama government is serious about halting Israel's colonization of the Palestinian territories -- and about imposing, rather than merely inviting, a two-state Middle East solution.
A once-fashionable subject in America's think tanks was futurology. It worked by projecting what were thought to be plausible developments in the situation of a given subject that would lead to a series of 'branching points,' expected eventually to lead the analyst to unforeseen conclusions about what could happen.
However, unexpected developments actually were fairly uncommon, since nearly everyone started with a bias toward one or another desirable outcome.
In Iraq, tension was reported to be increasing between the Americans and the Iraqi military and security forces, who were supposed to take over the Americans' responsibilities. Move to another front: Pakistan-Afghanistan. Here there was also supposed to be a straightforward job to do: drive the Taliban out of Afghanistan, into the Tribal Areas of the Pakistan border. There, the Pakistan army, with American urging and help, would defeat and disarm them.
America's Homeland Security Surplus
Janet Napolitano, Barack Obama's secretary of Homeland Security gave a talk at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York, meant to convince American civil libertarians and security specialists that the country can be kept safe, and neighborly as well.
(c) 2009 Tribune Media Services, Inc.