Daily Archives: February 16, 2012

Further uncertainty in Greece and Chinese princeling Bo Xilai under pressure

This week Gideon Rachman discusses with Peter Spiegel, FT’s Brussels bureau chief, whether time really has run out for Greece. He also talks to Jamil Anderlini, FT’s Beijing bureau chief, about Bo Xilai, the Chinese princeling who recently suffered a severe blow to his chances of becoming a member of the Communist party leadership. Read more


This handout picture released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency shows the statues of former North Korean President Kim Il Sung (L) and late leader Kim Jong Il (R) riding on horses together after being unveiled at the Mansudae Art Studio in Pyongyang on February 14, 2012

KCNA/AFP/Getty Images

Let’s face it, equestrian statues have since ancient times been an effective way for countries/governments/propaganda machines to honour their leaders and heroes (the earliest preserved equestrian statue is the Rampin Rider, found in the Acropolis).

So perhaps it is not surprising that North Korea decided to cast a larger-than-life bronze version of their late leader, Kim Jong-il, and his father Kim Il-sung, both gripping the reins of two rather spectacular ponies (the contrasting postures of the riders and their steeds are rather interesting – share your thoughts on any coded messages in the comments below).  Read more

Bye bye Robert Zoellick! Photo: JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images

Robert Zoellick goes from the World Bank, no doubt biding his time and eyeing up the possibility of a job as secretary of state or Treasury secretary in a future Republican administration (most likely Romney – he’s not really a Santorumite), and for the second summer in a row, the starting flag drops on the race to run one of the world’s top financial institutions.

Given that the quid of the Euro-American stitch-up worked to install Christine Lagarde at the IMF last summer, the pro, as it were, will most likely drop into place with an American appointment this year. To John Cassidy’s list of possibles I’d add John Kerry – international name recognition, interest in development, administrative experience –  though that could depend on whether he has something else in mind. Read more

What is it with Mitt Romney? Having failed in what ought to be the relatively simple task of knocking out Rick Santorum, the decreasingly prohibitive Republican frontrunner now appears in danger of giving away his “home state” of Michigan – the primary that was supposed to be his firewall in the Republican contest.

It is embarrassing enough that Mr Santorum is now running ahead of him in many national polls, as well as Thursday’s latest numbers from Michigan, which votes in less than two weeks. Can it really be that hard to take out Mr Santorum? This is a rival, after all, who wastes few opportunities to disparage contraception, which is in widespread use among all categories of voter. Even the most hardened social conservative knows that Mr Santorum’s prelapsarian social views would make him unelectable against Barack Obama. Poll after poll shows that self-described evangelicals say their highest priority is to deny Mr Obama a second term. Read more

I am currently involved in a couple of online debates – one on Germany, one on whether America is in decline.

Clive Crook has written a thought-provoking riposte to my column on Tuesday, which he thought was too sympathetic to Germany in the current euro-row. Meanwhile, over on the Foreign Policy web-site, I have been debating with Bob Kagan on the vexed question of American decline. Read more