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Dean advisors  

The latest advisors to the Dean campaign, announced today, are an eclectic, attractive bunch to my eyes. There are a lot of Clinton folks — Tony Lake, Ivo Daalder, Morton Halperin — but also some people harder to pigeonhole, like Jeff Sachs and Clyde Prestowitz. A list of advisors doesn’t necessarily mean much, but in general this is a list of people with the right stuff.

I know two of them quite well. Jeff Sachs, now at Columbia University, often takes a lot of stick for his “shock therapy” economics plans for Bolivia, Poland and Russia. They worked well in Bolivia in Poland, less well in Russia. Jeff believes the problem in Russia was “too much therapy, not enough shock”. We’ll never know. But since those high-profile assignments, he has been galvanised by a different set of problems. Jeff has done as much as anyone to look into the economic cost of Aids, malaria and tuberculosis and he has been highly influential in developing plans to deal with these health catastrophes in the developing world. Jeff has also done some innovative work on economics and the environment. He’s hugely bright (of course), but he’s also generally on side with the good guys.

Clyde Prestowitz, who runs the Economic Strategy Institute, is a fascinating story. Clyde’s background is thoroughly conservative, including a stint in the Commerce department during the Reagan administration. He made his name particularly on trade issues with Japan. But read Clyde’s latest book Rogue Nation: American Unilateralism and the Failure of Good Intentions. It’s the most powerful indictment I’ve seen of the Bush foreign policy. What makes it particularly potent for me is that it comes from someone who should, on past form, be a friend of the administration.

Europe flop 

Before the capture of Saddam, the big news of the weekend was the collapse of negotiations over Europe’s new constitution. When I happened to look at The New York Times’s front page on Saturday evening, it was the lead story, which is a pretty rare occurence for European political news.

Eventually, some kind of deal will be done, but getting there in an unreformed Europe of 25 nations is going to be excruciatingly hard. The early signs from Ireland, which assumes the presidency from the woeful Berlusconi government in January, is they won’t even try to complete a deal in their six months.

The Observer had two excellent commentaries on the problem. First, Robert McCrum, literary editor, compares the draft European constitution with the US constitution (but he oddly cites Jefferson above Madison as a drafter). As I’ve written before, the European language is bureaucratic rather than anything for the ages. McCrum also offers a startling comparison: “There’s another, more fundamental, difference between these two documents. The EU Constitution is expressed in 69,196 words and runs to 263 pages (depending on what language you read it in). The original US Constitution, by contrast, is just 4,608 words long on four pages. One has been the product of 26 plenary sessions, 11 working groups and three so-called ‘discussion circles’; the other was cooked up by half a dozen remarkable young Americans.”

Consistent pro-European Will Hutton reckons the weekend failure may prove terminal for Europe. “We are drowning in a sea of mutual spite and the legalistic legacy of successive treaties. Until more put their head over the parapet and fight for what I regard as a necessary and inspiring idea, we might as well — to follow William Pitt — roll up that map of Europe. It will stagnate and decline in the shadows of our mutual recriminations.”

Personal light cone 

Matt Webb has provided an RSS feed for your personal light cone, the stars close enough to earth for the light reaching us to have been emanated in your lifetime. I’ve just enveloped 72 Herculis and Nu-2 Lupi is approaching.

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