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President Traian Băsescu's foreign policy
Ana-Maria TĂNASEPolitical science experts have identified, in the analysis of post-Communist states in Central and Eastern Europe-, a very close relationship between social-economic issues (measured in price rises, inflation, unemployment, poverty, future of the children) and the voters' penchant for authoritarian leaders, with an authoritarian rhetoric.
Electoral profiles Revision of the European Union's social model has had an overwhelming impact on the economic policy of Western states (e.g. the 2010 Agenda in Germany, the pension reform in France, the austerity programme in Austria), which generated a trend of discontent, translating into strikes and social protests of unprecedented scope in this part of Europe. The steep fall in opinion polls of the Raffarrin Cabinet and of President Jacques Chirac, the loss of regional elections by the Social Democratic Party and Gerhard Schroeder were signals that the "radicalism" of the social model is rather "risky" for those in power. It is not unlikely for Jacques Chirac to have seen, in the proposal to ratify the European Constitution through a referendum, a means to at least temporarily rescue his own position by sacrificing the Raffarrin Government. On the one hand, rejection of the European Constitution in France and The Netherlands was in part triggered by the citizens' discontent with the direct impact that the shift to the European single currency had on their living standards. On the other hand, the Western-European electorate (in France, Germany, The Netherlands, Italy, Austria) feels ever more "overwhelmed" by the wave of Eastern-European immigrants (the "Polish plumber" syndrome) which threatens their economic security, given the high demand for cheap and skilled labour. In this respect, Western-Europeans' reluctance to the European enlargement process is understandable, and so is their appetite for the anti-immigration, anti-integration rhetoric of nationalist parties. The United Kingdom, the USA repre-sentative in Europe-, has its specific features. The alliance between Tony Blair and George W. Bush seems to have operated in the spirit of a "historic legacy" of the successful partnership forged by Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt, during World War II. Tony Blair's success in the elections this spring proved that the British electorate has "rallied" to the American model proposed by Tony Blair in his foreign policy message: less social protection, more security against the terrorist threat. Mention should be made however that UK has not adopted the Euro, and that the social-economic policy of the Tony Blair Cabinet was in stark contrast with the ones practiced in the Union-. Consequently, social-economic issues did not affect the British people's personal security to such an extent as to censure Tony Blair in poll stations. Unlike Western voters, the electorate in Europe-'s poorer countries, recently accepted as EU Members, but in particular in accession states Romania and Bulgaria, is not so much concerned with the terrorist threat and/or cross-border criminality issues, but rather with the direct effects that the European integration has or will have on their personal incomes. Rhetoric themes and differences From these perspectives, related to the policies and the specifics of the public opinion in European states (Eastern or Western), on the one hand, and in the United States, on the other hand, I will venture into drawing a number of distinctions between the two types of rhetoric: the European and the American one. As far as the types and weight of the tackled themes are concerned, the rhetoric differences reside in: I. The social-economic area - In the European rhetoric, an important part is granted to the State, which, through governmental officials, represents the main authority which takes responsibility for generating individual welfare. - In the American discourse, on the contrary, the social-economic area focuses on the individual and on promotion of his financial autonomy: an individual is in the best position to ensure his own wellbeing and, at the same time, to provide revenues to the State Budget. II. The international security area is shaped by distinct approaches on big-stick policies. - The European rhetoric, one of compromise and/or consensus, focuses on negotiations and reward policies, while the relationships with the USA are partnership relations. Issues related to the foreign security policy are mostly handled in relational terms, and heavily rely on references to inter-governmental organisations and trans-Atlantic alliances. In other words, the respective European state does not unilaterally undertake the responsibility of ensuring its citizens' protection and/or of unilaterally guaranteeing the security of a country located within its proximity areas. - Unlike the European one, the American rhetoric tackles the foreign security issue in a responsible and unilateralist manner, and is built on dichotomist categories. The premises of the rhetoric construction focus either on direct threat, or on negotiations whose goal is not to provide mutual advantages to parties, but to apply sanctions. Throughout its history, the American moralist rhetoric has undergone two types of influences: l On the one hand, there is the Wilson view on the exceptional nature of the American nation, as the "most privileged nation." By virtue of this exceptionalism, the American foreign policy has always been based on a missionary approach, namely that of promoting and imposing at a global scale its own values, principles and functional-institutional patterns (such as the democratic regime type, human right protection policies, minorities' rights, etc.), as unique, generally-valid reference entities. l On the other hand, there is the influence of the American isolationism, according to which the USA define themselves as an active agent in a world which is either indifferent, or hostile to the moral requirements represented and promoted by the USA, as a sign of its specificity with respect to any other international political community in the world. - Beyond "historical influences," the American rhetoric is an individualist, engaged one, with missionary touches. In this case, not only is the USA the only one in a position to ensure American citizens' security and defence against terrorism, but it also has the necessary and sufficient capabilities to promote its model and interventionist policy at a global level. Rhetoric and image in President Băsescu's foreign policy vision These are the analysis categories and the theoretical background I will use below, working on President's Băsescu two most recent speeches, one of them delivered in the meeting in Cotroceni with the Romanian Diplomatic Corps on August 30, and the other in the conference on "New Europe. Who's afraid of democratisation?" at the National School of Political and Administrative Sciences, Bucharest. In the following paragraphs, I will analyse the weight and the approach on the two areas, the social-economic and the international security one respectively, and the "European and American" elements that make up Traian Băsescu's presidential rhetoric. The present analysis will be conducted from three different standpoints: in political terms, communicational terms, and in terms of image. In political terms I. The social-economic area At a theoretical level, a presidential discourse should refer to Romania's national interest as a would-be European Union Member State, namely: - Which are the concrete steps Romania is making, in terms of meeting the commitments undertaken before the European Union (reform in justice and administration, competition and State-aid policy, etc.); - Which are the Romanian and foreign officials' positions as to the Country Report; - What is the safeguard clause and what effects would its activation trigger at a micro and macro level; which are the sensitive areas and what has the Romanian Government done so far to prevent a prospective activation of the safeguard clause and a more distant accession prospect than year 2008; - To what extent are strategies being searched for, in view of stimulating investments, attracting European funds, and increasing fund absorption capability; - Which are the social-economic costs of integration (price rises, closing down companies which fail to meet European standards, redundancies in non-profitable sectors, etc.). And it is with great surprise that we find the presidential rhetoric to be extremely poor in such elements. The President's rhetoric is limited to general terms and an absolutely superficial approach on the 2007 or 2008 accession date. The fact that President Băsescu states that we will join the EU in 2007 and there is no back-up plan for 2008 is an exclusively politicising statement, and lacks any political substance. To rule out the 2008 hypothesis is in fact to refuse to openly discuss the problems Romania is facing or may be facing as far as the European integration topic is concerned. Moreover, for both President Băsescu and Foreign Minister Ungureanu to admit with such casualness that there is no plan B, is not only an utterly defiant attitude as to the Romanian society, but also an immature and irresponsible attitude with respect to European institutions. One can hardly tell where precisely, in the presidential rhetoric, is the social-economic area to be found, and it is even more difficult to identify the public and national interest. There is one certainty as far as the public stake of such tactics goes: - The public which is poorly informed on the European Union is deliberately denied access to any type of information on the stage of Romania's preparations, the concrete steps to be made, etc.; - The public which is well informed (naturally, from sources other than the presidential rhetoric) either becomes "accomplice" to this lack of information, or simply is not "represented" in the President's rhetoric. II. The international security area At a theoretical level, the presidential rhetoric should refer to Romania's commitments as a
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Revolutia din decembrie 89: Pacatul originar, sacrificiul fondator este prima carte dintr-o serie de sapte volume dedicate ultimelor doua decenii din istoria României. Nu am pretentia ca sunt detinatorul unui adevar politic, juridic sau istoric incontestabil, si sunt gata sa discut si sa accept orice documente, fapte sau marturii care pot lumina mai bine sau chiar altfel realitatea. Educatia mea stiintifica si religioasa m-a ajutat sa cercetez faptele în mod obiectiv, eliberat de ura sau intoleranta. Recunosc însa o anume încrâncenare în ceea ce am scris venita din durerea unui om care a trait în miezul evenimentelor si se simte lovit de acceptarea cinica a crimelor, abuzurilor, coruptiei si minciunii, sau de indiferenta la fel de cinica cu care sunt înca privite de catre o mare parte a societatii românesti.... Am scris aceste carti de pe pozitia victimelor mintite sau speriate, care nu-si cunosc sau nu-si pot apara drepturile. Le-am scris de pe pozitia milioanelor de români cinstiti care cred în adevar, în dreptate si în demnitate. Emil Constantinescu (text preluat din Introducerea cartii).
MINTEA CEA SOCOTITOARE
de academician Mircea Malita, Editura Academiei Române, 2009 În volumul de eseuri Mintea cea socotitoare, aparut la Editura Academiei Române, acad. Mircea Malita formuleaza în crescendo o serie de întrebari grave ale timpului nostru: Daca omul este rational, de ce se fac atâtea greseli în economie
sau în politica?; Daca rationalitatea nu e de ajuns, care ar fi rolul întelepciunii?; Din viitorul imprevizibil putem smulge portiuni, daca nu certe, cel putin probabile?; Ce si cum învatam pregatindu-ne pentru viitorul nostru?; Este în stare omenirea sa îsi vindece crizele?; Ne asteapta oare un dezastru final? s.a. De-a lungul anilor, acad. Mircea Malita a staruit asupra acestor teme în lucrari recunoscute, însa acum o face raportându-se la dinamica realitatii imediate, inspirat de cuvintele lui Dimitrie Cantemir: socoteala mintii mele, lumina dinlauntrul capului. Eseurile sunt structurate pe patru parti - Mintea senina, Metaforele mintii, Mintea învolburata si Privind înainte. Finalul este de un optimism lucid care tine seama de potentialul de rationalitate si imaginatie al mintii umane si, fireste, de generatiile tinere care îl pot valoriza benefic.
Această carte de poezie este seismograful de mare sensibilitate care înregistrează cele două întâlniri ale sufletului, deopotrivă cu URÂTUL care ne schilodește ca ființă, ca neam, dar și cu FRUMUSEȚEA sufletească nepoluată ce stă ca o fântână cu apă curată pe un câmp plin cu peturi și gunoaie nedegradabile. Ce poate fi mai dureros decât să surprinzi această fibră distrusă de aluviunile istorice încărcate de lașități, inerții, apatii, compromisuri devenite congenitale ale românului? Vibrația versurilor, directețea lor, simplitatea dusă până în marginea cotidianului paradoxal n-au efect distructiv asupra tonusului moral al cititorului, ci produc neliniștea cea bună, cum ar spune Sfinții Părinți. Citești în revolta și durerea poetei un mănunchi admirabil de calități: o demnitate neînfrântă, o fiziologie a verticalității și, mai ales, o inimă creștină, o inimă din ceruri, cum ar spune poetul latin. Căci, în această inimă din ceruri, există lacrimi deopotrivă pentru românul umilit, distrus până și-n visele lui, dar și pentru copilul din Gaza, cu sufletul și trupul chircite sub șenilele tancurilor unui război ce tinde să devină mai lung decât viața lui, ale unui război-viață, lacrimi pentru copilul evreu ce nu a putut fi salvat de la deportarea bestială, lacrimi pentru Tibetul sfâșiat. Și toate acestea fără impostura unui ecumenism sentimental, ci izvorâte din acel suspin curat românesc ce face esența lacrimii creștine. (Dan Puric)
ISLAMUL SI SOARTA LUMII - Fundamentalismul islamic ca ideologie politica de Virginia Mircea "Islamul si soarta lumii - Fundamendamentalismul ca ideologie politca invita la o reflectie mai adanca asupra porceselor lumii contemporane. Judecata critica si independenta a autoarei a produs o lucrare de o veritabila investigatie stiintifica, exact la momentul in care tema tratata deseori fara solutii si perspective ocupa scena din fata a politicii si problemelor mondiale. Cititorii o pot aseza cu satisfactie in bliblioteca lor de referinta. Vor fi mult ajutati in intelegerea evenimentelor care ne sesizeaza in prezent si intr-un viitor in care tema nu se va desprinde de mersul lumii contemporane." (academician Mircea Malita)