Hariri Center Director Michele Dunne and Senior Fellow Amy Hawthorne reflect on US policy toward the Middle East and North Africa in the two years since President Barack Obama promised to make it a top priority to support democracy and human rights in the region.
J. Peter Pham, director the Atlantic Council’s Michael S. Ansari Africa Center, was one of four experts invited to address a high-level international conference on the crisis in the Sahel region convened today in The Hague.
Rudolph Atallah, senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Michael S. Ansari Africa Center, testified at a House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs hearing on “The Growing Crisis in Africa’s Sahel Region.”
On the heels of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s visit to the United States, Energy & Environment Program Associate Director Mihaela Carstei joins CTV to discuss the Keystone Pipeline project that would transport tar sands oil from Canada and the northern United States to refineries in the Gulf coast of Texas.
It’s the EU Muppet Show tonight…and it's official! Der Spiegel, a German political magazine reputedly close to Chancellor Merkel, suggested that Angela has likened PR-Meister David Cameron and the British to the Muppet Show's Statler and Waldorf. These are the two old blokes who heckle the Muppets from a theater box who think the show is rubbish and are forever complaining about Fonzo the bad comedian.
Angela’s alleged irritable dig at the British got me thinking. If Cameron is Waldorf or Statler (it is not clear) who are the other Muppets? Kermit the Frog is easy. That has to be France’s President Hollande, the insanely optimistic kind little frog who yesterday said that this would be the last EU summit with an agenda dominated by the Eurozone crisis, before going on to accuse Angela of being too parochially German because she does not want Germany to pay off everybody else’s debts, particularly French debts.
Fonzo, the bad comedian unsure himself whether anything he ever says is even vaguely funny can only be Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission and one of the EU’s leading federalist Muppets. Fonzo is a close friend on Brussels’ Sesame Street with EU ‘President’ Hermann ‘The Beat’ van Rompuy who is perfectly cast as Animal, the fanatical drummer who is forever making a lot of noise but little music. Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker is Dr Teeth and together they formed Dr Teeth and the Electric Mayhem, an anarchic federalist Muppet band that plays crazy music that no-one ever wants to listen to other than themselves.
Carl Bildt is of course the Swedish Chef because he speaks a language no-one can understand and is always trying to cook something up from an alternative recipe that no-one can swallow. Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank must be Beaker the mad scientist who is forever undertaking mad experiments in his mad laboratory none of which ever work, but which cost an awful lot of money. Gonzo the Great must be Muppet stuntman and Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy because he is always performing insane political and economic stunts and will soon be, well, gonzo. If there was a Dutch prime minister he would be Zoot, the fifty-something burnt out musician in Dr Teeth and the Electric Mayhem who never speaks, occasionally makes a sound, probably smokes something dodgy, gets stoned and then is never heard from again.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti must be Sam the Eagle the tall, erect, Euro-patriotic self-appointed and utterly unelected leader of the EU Muppets. Sam gives unwanted self-important lectures on the need to better integrate the Muppets and regards the whole show as beneath him, forever trying to impart some dignity and gravitas and forever failing.
The rest? They are the Frackles, a race of little monsters that come in many different colors, shapes and sizes that make tweeting noises from the margins and which Angela is forever trying to herd in her direction. It is like herding cats. New on the scene and keen soon to become a Frackle is Alec Salmond, or the Scottish Argyle Gargoyle as he is known in the EU Muppet Show. Argyle can gargle Gershwin perfectly but otherwise no-one understands a word he says. And then there is Foo-Foo, Miss Piggy’s dog, which probably barks Belgian.
Today, the same cast of characters gather in Brussels for yet another EU Muppet Show. This is the twenty-second time the EU Muppets have met NOT to manage the Eurozone crisis since it broke in 2010. Expect the French and others to push for a full banking union in an attempt to drive down the borrowing costs of the Italian and Spanish Muppets (and their own of course) and the German Muppets to offer only a Kommissar Muppet to ‘oversee’ the whole fiasco. The Berlin Muppets are ever fearful of losing control of their regional banks which provide cheap loans to their municipalities in the landes (German states). The British Muppet will grumble impotently from the margins and then return home to tell the Muppets in London that he successfully defended the British interest and all that he now has to do is decide just what that interest is.
And, of course, tonight another fantasy Muppet breakthrough will of course be heralded in the fantasy land that is the EU Muppet Show. Let’s see if this one lasts longer than a Brussels Cappuccino. Yawn!
In the words of the Muppet Show song, “Why do we always come here; I guess we'll never know; It's like a kind of torture; to have to watch the show.”
And finally, there is one character missing. She is large, domineering and always gets her way. Who could that be? I will leave that to your imagination. One thing though Angela. In the Muppet Show it is always Statler and Waldorf who have the last word!
Watch the EU Muppet Show tonight folks!
Julian Lindley-French is Eisenhower Professor of Defence Strategy at the Netherlands Defence Academy, Fellow of Respublica in London, Associate Fellow of the Austrian Institute for European and Security Studies and a member of the Strategic Advisory Group of the Atlantic Council. He is also a member of the Academic Advisory Board of the NATO Defence College in Rome. This essay first appeared on his personal blog, Lindley-French's Blog Blast.
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