Daily Archives: November 20, 2009

By Gideon Rachman

If the answer is Herman Van Rompuy and Cathy Ashton, what the hell was the question? Europe’s choices for its new “president” and “foreign minister” are like the result of some sort of computer-dating programme that has gone badly wrong. If you fed in all the criteria for the jobs into your computer and it spat out the names – “Van Rompuy” and “Ashton”, you would ring the systems department and tell them that there had been some sort of catastrophic breakdown. Read more

By Alan Beattie, the FT’s world trade editor

Look, not my specialist subject, but here’s my eurocent’s-worth on the appointment of the Baroness High Representative and the Lord High Everything Else.

(Incidentally, I’d have stuck with the classic original song for this blog post title, but if there’s one thing Brussels isn’t short of, it’s lawyers.)

The biggest problem with these posts isn’t the final personnel decision, though that’s certainly in the top two. It’s that no matter who fills them, there’s no there there. Pick any important foreign policy question of the last twenty years – Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel/Palestine – and it’s clear that what you need for influence is one or all of:

1. veto power on the UN Security Council

2. troops you can send into battle (a shooting war, not peacekeeping)

3. foreign/military aid big enough to matter that you can use for political ends Read more

By Roula Khalaf, the FT’s Middle East editor

Ingram Pinn Illustration Read more