My due diligence for a trip to southeast Asia has taken me down an obscure path. Exploring French efforts to regain their Indochinese colony after WWII has led me to Theodore White’s Fire in the Ashes: Europe in Mid Century. Teddy White went on to write the Making of the President series of books starting with the 1960 Kennedy election, books that made his career.
He started his book with a lengthy description of intercontinental air travel because then, few people had had that experience. He wrote, “in our years almost as many men cross the great ocean by wings as travel it by boat,” revealing not only a no longer acceptable sexism (“men” cross the ocean) but also that when the book came out in 1953, more people still traveled across the Atlantic by ship.
But the quote I mean to highlight comes a few pages later:
“It is obvious that new leadership in both America and Russia is now wrenching the whole course of world affairs into new patterns and perspectives. What is less obvious is that in this wrenching process Europe, forgotten through the postwar years as a factor in power, must contribute as greatly as either of the two new titans.”
The Americans have urged the Europeans to take more responsibility for their own defense for as long as I’ve been grown up. Here is an exhortation to Europe to rise up and carry its weight in world affairs that is sixty-six years old.
All this time I’ve taken it on faith that the United Kingdom’s “Europe” debate has primarily been an internal Tory affair, to which the ruling party has held the rest of the country hostage. But yesterday the wider parliament, acting as the collective decision-making body for the country and comprising all the parties, failed to muster even the minimal political dexterity to stave off crashing out of the EU without an agreement.
It looks as if the entire political class is unable to govern. It looks like a shambles.
“Therefore there has to be an argument, doesn’t there, that says instead of Dublin telling this country (The United Kingdom) that we have to stay in the single market etc within the customs union, why doesn’t Dublin, why doesn’t the Republic of Ireland leave the EU and throw in their lot with this country?”
– BBC Today program anchor John Humphrys suggesting that the best solution to the Brexit impasse might be for Ireland to join the UK and quit the EU.
Windy and gray on our side of the hill today. Looks like an indoor weekend in the southern Appalachians.
The theme of today’s weekend reading recommendations is big European countries in turmoil.
– The Divided Kingdom by Helen Dale
– Labour’s Brexit trilemma: in search of the least bad outcome by Laurie MacFarlane
– How Ireland Outmaneuvered Britain on Brexit by Dara Doyle
– Notes on the Yellow Jackets by Claire Berlinski
– Macron Fans the Flames of Illiberalism by Pankaj Mishra
– Two Roads for the New French Right by Mark Lilla
– What Will Follow Emmanuel Macron? by Sarah Jones
– From Sans Culottes to Gilets Jaunes: Macron’s Marie Antoinette Moment by Sylvain Cypel
– How Macron gave Italian populists a boost by Silvia Sciorilli Borrelli
– The Dangerous New Face of Salvini’s Italy by Walter Mayr
Enjoy your weekend. See you next week.
A fascinating document for Europhiles, with charts, graphs, survey results. It just goes on and on.
As authoritarianism tiptoes ever closer to your street, it’s very kind of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development to publish a tight, handy guide to which countries will let you buy a passport. There are several.
For example, the Malta Residency and Visa Programme gets you an EU passport if you have a €100,000 annual income.
“The atmosphere in Brussels has become, of late, reminiscent of the late Brezhnev era. We have a political system run by a bureaucratic apparatus which — just like the former USSR — serves to conceal important evidence. Especially when it comes to the health of its supreme leader, Jean-Claude Juncker.”
From the article Jean-Claude drunker – What’s ailing the President of the European Commission? by Jean Quatremer at the London Spectator.