Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

Predictions from a United States Political Historian

by Ben P Tue Nov 4th, 2008 at 11:41:31 AM EST

That is, in part, what I am trained in. So I thought I would tell you what I think.

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Does the English Language Press Properly Understand Sarkozy?

by Ben P Mon Apr 23rd, 2007 at 11:20:08 PM EST

My sense of Sarko is that he is not properly understood by the English speaking press who take some his pronouncements at face value without understnding anything about his past, his political affiliations, or even doing the simple thing of actually reading his platform.

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Shocking New Survey of America's Closest Allies

by Ben P Thu Nov 2nd, 2006 at 08:06:11 PM EST

This is front page of tomorrow's Guardian. And frankly, I'm a bit stunned at how deep hostility to Bush is. Basically, the results are of the British pollster ICM and its survey of public opinion of world events, especially relating to the United States in only 4 countries deemed to have particularly friendly relations to the United States - Mexico, Canada, Israel, Briatin. Indeed, outside of Australia, that is probably right. And the results were perhaps closer to what one might imagine getting in countries like Turkey, Greece, or Argentina (if not, say, Egypt or Jordan) with a much longer and more noted history of hostility to the United States.

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US Middle East Policy: A Primer

by Ben P Wed Sep 6th, 2006 at 01:22:22 AM EST

Considering the current situation in the world, I thought some here might appreciate a run down summarizing US Middle East policy as it has developed since 1945 (or thereabouts). In other words, a diary attempting to explain why we are where we are today and why I believe the Bush administration's current policies vis-a-vis the region to be inherently contradictory and doomed to failure - and why much of the Democratic strategic class is incapable of providing any kind of convincing alternative.

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Sarkozy feeling increasingly nervous, turns to Blair for advice (and other thoughts)***

by Ben P Thu Jun 29th, 2006 at 03:52:49 AM EST

From Sunday's Guardian/Observer: Sarkozy Seeks Help From Blair It appears that Sarko is feeling the heat from Sego, and attempting to turn to advice from Blair's experience about how to improve his image. Apparently, a new sondage from TNS-Sofres shows some rather troubling information for Sarko, showing that Sarko worries 55% of French voters ("il vous inquiete") while reassuring only 36% ("il vous rassure"). More below:

***From the front page ~ whataboutbob

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Europe and the United States, "Cultural Relativism" and Islamism

by Ben P Wed Mar 1st, 2006 at 07:38:03 PM EST

This diary started out as a comment on the Rushdie thread, but I thought it quite well encapsulated some of my thinking on the question of democracy and liberalism, univeralism and local self-determinism, to which I do not think (at least for myself) there are easy, cut and dried answers in a fundamentally imperfect world.

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PINR report: the US has "lost" the Iraq War

by Ben P Wed Mar 1st, 2006 at 03:08:24 AM EST

PINR, the acronym for Power and Interest News Report, an international intellegince/strategic forecasting agency that provides priceless analysis of all parts of the world, has just released its first report on Iraq in since late December and its first since last week's mosque bombing. (for early analysis of the Iraqi elections, see here) I have been waiting for PINR to weigh in, and this report puts the dots together for in a way I had not been able to do on my own. The upshot of the report is that the US's goals main goals are now largely unachievable and that the political/military conflicts in the country are now, for all intents and purposes, outside the United States's hands.

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More Denmark Backstory

by Ben P Wed Feb 8th, 2006 at 08:39:58 PM EST

I take this from a letter a reader in Denmark sent Juan Cole, which seems to parallel the story as I have been piecing it together. Two important points stand out. Basically, what happened was a couple of radical imams went on a "tour" of the Middle East last autumn with the original cartoons as well as a series of considerably more offensive ones, which led to the whipping up  of hysteria in the Middle East, largely on the false notion that some of the cartoons included things like Mohammed sodomizing someone and the like. Also, the cartoons were published in a climate of anti-immigrant and anti-Islam sentiment that has existed and been building in Denmark over the past several years, although Jyllens-Posten has not been involved in this campaign.

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Juan Cole provides important context to cartoon crisis

by Ben P Mon Feb 6th, 2006 at 04:05:55 AM EST

Juan Cole's latest two posts, which are quite extensive attempts - based on government documents and Arab media - to try to unravel the history of the controversy.

Three things stick out in particular:

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Danish Cartoons and Islam: Context and Backstory

by Ben P Sat Feb 4th, 2006 at 08:46:01 PM EST

The problem with a lot of the people taking the hardline pro-cartoon position is the inability to properly acknowledge or appreciate the larger cultural context within which this event is playing out. And also the exact history of the specific Danish cartoon controversy more specifically.

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Canadian Election Primer (Part 2)

by Ben P Wed Jan 18th, 2006 at 11:18:38 AM EST

from the diaries. There have been complaints that we write too much about America, but surely this is not true of Canada! Go read the earlier Part 1, the title of which has been used here.

I thought that, as a follow up to my earlier post on the landscape of the current Canadian election, I would provide some more background, with some more detailed information about the specific provinces.

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Canadian Elections Primer

by Ben P Mon Jan 16th, 2006 at 08:47:47 PM EST

Look for a Conservative Minority Government as a result of next Monday's federal elections.

My seat predictions, a week out from the voting.

Conservatives (center-right by European standards, although a combination of quite right wing American GOP types, traditional Christian Democrat types, and "fiscally conservative, socially liberal" types) : 130 to 140

Liberals (centrist by European standards, center-left by American standards, "natural party of government"): 80 to 90

Bloc Quebecois (leftish party primarily concerned with asserting and improving Quebec's position within the Canadian federation, possibly leading towards eventual national indenpendence): 55 to 60

NDP (traditional social democratic party, clearly left of center, would be considered center-left in a European context): 30 to 35

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Demography, Education, Poverty, and Religion: Some Data

by Ben P Fri Jan 13th, 2006 at 02:28:57 AM EST

A bit of a follow-up to the Mark Steyn diary. Not necessarily an effort to rebut Steyn, but I thought that discussion presented an opportunity for me to post some interesting demographic data - which looks at 2005 birthrates in nations across the world.

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My take on Russia

by Ben P Tue Jan 10th, 2006 at 02:12:37 AM EST

I've been reading these diaries with a good degree of interest over the past few days.

First off, none of the discussion about Putin's rise take into account the situation Russia found itself in the '90s, after the botched "shock therapy" transition away from Communism. I remember reading at the time numerous stories about the collapse of Russian civil society: soaring drug problems, organized crime, people not being paid wages for months, even years. In this context, I was expecting Russia to collapse, revert to Communism, or to some kind of nasty neo-fascism.

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A Primer on American History, Part I

by Ben P Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 07:09:57 PM EST

I envision this post as the first in a series that will detail American society and history for those with questions. There have been a number of such diaries on European countries, so I thought I would weigh in with a series on the US, likely followed by a series on Canada, that I hope might help everybody here understand the world in which we find ourselves a bit better. Especially for those in Europe who don't have a particularly detailed knowledge of American society. I will confess that following is actually a sample essay I wrote as a grading template for an exam I just helped administer in an introductory university course. But as I was writing it, I felt it could also serve as a useful primer for those looking to understand a bit more about recent US history. I will continue to post such entries in the future.

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A Proposal: ET should boycott all Murdoch media

by Ben P Wed Dec 14th, 2005 at 04:43:44 AM EST

from the diaries. What do you think? I have added a poll.-- Jérôme

I'm not naive enough to think this will make even a modest impact on the media baron's business, but I do think that it represents an important symbolic gesture - and also, in its own small way, a method of shutting out Murdoch's voice from one modest internet forum. What does this boycott entail?

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"France could learn from Canada:" an interesting article in Toronto's Globe and Mail

by Ben P Tue Nov 8th, 2005 at 06:36:33 PM EST

I don't have a lot to add to the following, because I largely agree with this author: Timothy Smith, a professor of French history at Canada's prestigious Queens University. I will largely excerpt, and provide a few comments. I'm more interested in the feedback from others.

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On the French societal malaise - a response to tyronen

by Ben P Fri Nov 4th, 2005 at 02:32:25 AM EST

This started out as simply a comment in tyronen's diary, but quickly developed into something I knew would require a diary itself. This is simply observation from a non-Frenchman who knows a fair bit about French society, although I'd be happy for others to correct me and challenge me. Indeed, part of this diary's purpose is to challenge and provoke. It also comes from someone who position on the American center-left is profoundly liberal (in the European, as well as the American sense). Call me a "social liberal," perhaps.

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Tony Blair - Right Winger

by Ben P Wed Sep 21st, 2005 at 01:05:44 PM EST

From the diaries, with a title edit ~ whataboutbob

Penned for today's Guardian by Jonathan Freedland. A quick note on Freedland: he is a genuinely centrist columnists, sympathetic to New Labour, if not a "true believer." Thus, this makes what Freedland has just written important: that Tony Blair is a right wing politician leading a center-left party. Many (falsely and disingenously in some cases) claim that people want Blair gone because they want to take the Labour Party back to the left, to Old Labour, to uncompromising socialism. Hardly. We want Gordon Brown to take office because we want to take Labour back to the center, back to New Labour. Hence the confusion some people have when they observe Brown is not a full-blooded socialism. Well exactly. But he's also not a right winger either, which is what Blair is.

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Questions about the "Gruen" Party

by Ben P Mon Sep 19th, 2005 at 08:28:53 PM EST

Now, my first instinct when it comes to the various Green Parties around the world is to view them through the lens of their American incarnation, but as I look more closely at their German version, I think I should probably question some of my aversion to Green Parties outside the US. What do I mean by this?

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