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Archive for the ‘Politics/Governance’ Category

Annenberg Hall (Steve Rosenthal)

Annenberg Hall (Steve Rosenthal)


Please Stop Giving Giant Donations to Rich Universities Matthew Yglesias urges. Following up with Seriously, Don’t Give Money to Fancy Colleges. Richard K. Vedder puts a version of the case in similarly blunt terms, Cut Off Harvard to Save America.

Yglesias’ disapproving reply to Kenneth Griffin’s $150 million donation to Harvard, “Harvard is already really rich.” Furthermore, “highly selective universities are terrible targets of charitable donations.” Essentially because, “…highly selective institutions remain what they always have been—mechanisms for the perpetuation of inequality and hierarchy.” Yglesias writes, “…the basic social role of the elite, highly selective institution hasn’t changed—they are both elite and selective, not democratic or egalitarian.”

Vedder makes a similar case, pointing out that “The eight Ivy League schools have less than 1 percent of U.S. college students but almost 17 percent of all endowment money.” These universities aren’t serving as engines to promote social mobility, “In the highly endowed schools, a median of 16 percent of students received Pells, compared with 59 percent at the lowest-endowed institutions.” Vedder asks, “Why do we provide favorable tax treatment that primarily benefits these wealthy schools?”

What are Yglesias and Vedder missing?

Well first, an alum can see oneself in a long line of beneficiaries of past giving. Those past givers helped make your education possible. Therefore, it is reasonable to voluntarily take on a responsibility to give to future generations of alums. This isn’t some abstract story for me. A Class of X grant paid tens of thousands of dollars towards my college tuition. That was serious money, mostly from people I have never met and will never meet. Supposing I had spectacular Kenneth Griffin wealth, I can see giving money to my already well off alma mater and it not being “ridiculous”, “misguided”, or a “terrible idea” as Yglesias claims.

Also, money for Harvard pushes the would-be Harvards to try to do and be better. For instance, Harvard College’s grants not loans program had a significant impact beyond Harvard. Within five years time peer institutions were instituting the same policy. Need blind admissions, simultaneously admitting students irrespective of aid needs and meeting full aid needs, are another policy that has reached beyond the Ivy League to more than 40 colleges (US News). In order to remain competitive, similar caliber schools have to adjust. In the financial aid sphere, this has redounded to the benefit of students.

Socioeconomic Distribution at Colleges by Selectivity

Yglesias points out that fancy colleges mainly serve an elite population; citing a chart from Brookings “a student at one of America’s most-selective universities is fourteen times more likely to be from a high-income family than from a low-income family”. The problem that Yglesias and Vedder cite is well worth paying attention to: insufficient socio-economic diversity at selective institutions is rightly troubling. But also consider that this phenomenon is at the tail end of a process with approximately 18 years of inputs by other social forces and institutions. Furthermore, since Griffin’s gift targets financial aid, it is directed at precisely those underrepresented students (a point Yglesias acknowledges with the backhanded compliment, “At any rate, in the scheme of misguided donations to Harvard this one seems not-so-awful. It’s mostly for financial aid, which is nice.”).

Also keep in mind that the things these fancy colleges are setting out to do are different from what community colleges set out to do. And that is a good thing. Diversity in the higher education sector allows for meeting a multiplicity of needs from remediation and career-change training to cutting edge research. A community college usually doesn’t have the global ambitions of the Harvards of the world. A campus on every continent is the kind of ambition Ivy presidents opine about. The aim of being a global university, occasionally becoming a “multiversity”, dots the speeches of high-powered university presidents. Or the aim to be at the forefront of pathbreaking research on not only Topic X, but also on related Topics Y and Z. For instance, the $200 million gift to the mind, brain, and behavior initiative at Columbia. If you want to be at the cutting edge of understanding, and hopefully curing, neurological disorders that is going to take big bucks.

And why not, as Vedder suggests, cut off Harvard? Why the capital gains tax break to the institution as well as the tax break for the individual donor?

For all its faults, higher education is something the US does extremely well. Taking onboard the various caveats about ranking methodologies, world rankings of US higher education institutions have the US performing quite well – with the Harvards of the US leading the way. Wealthy, fancy, name-brand private universities dominate the top slots of The Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2013-2014, the Shanghai Academic Ranking of World Universities, and the QS World University Rankings. Part of the reason these universities can lead is the significant public and private support they receive.

Exhibit B is the the university-government-corporate partnerships of places like Research Triangle Park and Silicon Valley. Others are currently trying to emulate these innovation, venture capital, catalytic research-enterprise zones; Dmitry Medvedev’s Skolkovo Innovation Center is one notable example. Cutting off the Harvards of the world is removing one of the legs from this three-legged stool.

Overall, there are multiple important values worthy of support in higher education and beyond. Both support for already world-beating institutions as well as support for institutions that manifestly serve a broader segment of society are worthwhile. Support for elite institutions should not be withdrawn in favor of the non-elite institutions, both deserve public and private donor support. Rather than make a case against giving somewhere, make a case for giving to somewhere as well. A point that extends well beyond higher education giving. Want to give money to the Met Opera? Wundebar! The Poetry Foundation gets $200 million bequeath? Great! This should be a both/and conversation, not an either/or conversation. A culture of major giving by the mega-wealthy is worth celebrating. Whatever the institution they give to, including Harvard.

(Full disclosure, I went to a university with a significant endowment, I have also worked at a university with a significant endowment. Neither was Harvard.)

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The Problem We All Live With, Norman Rockwell (1964)

The Problem We All Live With, Norman Rockwell (1964)

There is something startling, breathtaking even, about Massive Resistance, the set of segregationist policies attempted in light of Brown v. Board. In place of accepting equality and inclusion of a previously stigmatized out-group, Massive Resistance represents backlash. In part, it asserts that the state’s functions would better be dismantled than permit entry of the out-group.

The policy that stands out foremost in my mind is the shutting down of public education in some communities specifically for the purpose of avoiding integration – rather no public schools at all than allow desegregation. Let injustice be done though the heavens fall, a twisted perversion of the maxim.

Unfortunately, and much to the discredit of the state legislators involved, the legal sweep towards same sex marriage is facing a modern day version of Massive Resistance. United States v. Windsor’s reshaping of the legal landscape with regard to gay rights is the parallel for Brown v. Board in this instance. And paralleling the part played by segregationists like Harry F. Byrd Sr., we have Oklahoma state representative Mike Turner (via News9):

State lawmakers are considering throwing out marriage in Oklahoma.

The idea stems from a bill filed by Rep. Mike Turner (R-Edmond). Turner says it’s an attempt to keep same-sex marriage illegal in Oklahoma while satisfying the U.S. Constitution. Critics are calling it a political stunt while supporters say it’s what Oklahomans want.

[…]

“Would it be realistic for the State of Oklahoma to say, ‘We’re not going to do marriage period,'” asked News 9’s Michael Konopasek.

“That would definitely be a realistic opportunity, and it’s something that would be part of the discussion,” Turner answered.

In sum, Turner’s position amounts to: better to stop opposite-sex marriage than permit same-sex marriage. Aside from the fundamental obscenity of denying people fundamental rights, is this a stance that one can be proud of? In ten years time? A hundred years time?

Posterity takes names, makes judgements, and shouts through the decades, “For shame!”

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C. Montgomery Burns’ note on the sensitivity of the well-off came to mind when reading Tom Perkins’ brief letter to the Wall Street Journal, entitled Progressive Kristallnacht Coming?. Perkins “perceive[s] a rising tide of hatred of the successful one percent”. Essentially he sees parallels between the current state of the US discussion on inequality to the anti-semitism of Nazi Germany.

It is hard to capture succinctly the many ways the view Perkins presents is profoundly wrongheaded. He references the Occupy movement as part of this “tide of hatred”. Now, I was not deeply engaged in Occupy. I visited Zuccotti Park and I attended an Occupy sponsored teach-in at Union Square Park, on both occasions with a friend more sympathetic to Occupy than me. The beginnings of pogroms these were not. Where was the violence? Where was the threat of violence (other than that of the state against the protesters)? Where even, were the calls to forcefully seize the means of production in favor of the revolutionary proletariat?

In Zuccotti Park there was a lending library. There was recycling, with handy signs making the significant distinction between compost and non-compost items. At no time during my visit did I feel physically endangered by the then-denizens of the park. Essentially, a really sophisticated sit-in was underway. A peaceful protest that, by way of its location, called attention to many of capitalism in America’s central disjunctures: the unfulfilled promise of work hard and play by the rules yielding social mobility, the relative inattention to the well-being of the common man and underclass versus the well-being of the elite, and perhaps foremost, the mobilization of hundreds of billions in government resources in short order to shore up threatened financial institutions while the unemployed and downtrodden receive(d) scant attention.

With respect to the teach-in, two professors from liberal arts colleges in New York State discussed unions. We sat in a circle on the south side of Union Square Park; our circle gained or lost members or onlookers as the course of the discussion went along. Starting at maybe five to eight people, and maybe at its highest point reaching 30 . Yes, it was a progressive vision of the history of the union movement in America.

My previous questions obtain for the teach-in as well: Where was the violence, or threat thereof? Where was the call to arms, assault, battery, theft, rioting, arson? From the tenor of the discussion we could have been talking about Romantic poets or the architectural history of New York. Nary a voice raised in anger. If you’ve had a college seminar meet outside on a spring day, then you had the essence of this teach-in’s atmosphere.

Now, I don’t present my experiences with Occupy as definitive. But if Perkins has evidence of “a tide of hatred” in part represented by Occupy he needs to provide it.

As for the meaning of Nazi Germany’s targeting of Jews, it is a topic that won’t adequately be served by the attention I can give it here. The drawing upon centuries of exclusion and Othering. The erection of boundaries between a supposedly pure German identity as set against a supposedly Other, suspect, Jewish identity. Being in the society, but not of the society. The dehumanization and of course the violence.

The orgy of violence.

Preceded by violence and followed by violence. To invoke Kristallnacht is to invoke a web of terror, totalitarianism, and authoritarianism rarely equaled in human history.

I don’t know what kind of bubble being a billionaire provides for someone – the kind of insulation from the day-to-day insecurities of the average citizen. And what’s more, to have all kinds of society’s institutions falling over themselves to stroke your ego. But Tom Perkins, you urgently need to use some of that $8 billion to buy yourself a clue. Some clue as to what it means to live in a democratic society where people may peacefully protest and put their public institutions under scrutiny for compliance with key principles of social justice and human rights.

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Beijing Tokyo BrusselsTufts University political science professor and long-time policy blogger Daniel Drezner pooh-poohs China’s recent, mild efforts to influence US domestic politics over the debt ceiling. Drezner highlights a senior Chinese Treasury official’s fairly anodyne statement, “the Chinese side feels the US needs to take realistic and resolute steps to ensure against default on the national debt”. Drezner finds the attempt “at best futile and at worst counterproductive.” Overall Drezner concludes there isn’t foreign pressure that could help resolve the conflict, given that some GOP members believe a default wouldn’t be a catastrophic crisis. (Drezner adds China probably isn’t the best country to deliver the message as it has been a bogeyman in recent American politics.)

There are two points I’d make in response. First, a point that I suspect Drezner wouldn’t disagree with: foreign leaders have reason to be highly interested in a prospective default. China holding in excess of $1 trillion in US treasuries certainly gives them an interest in expressing concerns about potential default. Beyond China, no one relishes the knock-on consequences for the global economy of a US default.

My second point challenges Drezner’s answer to the question “Is there any kind of foreign pressure [from friends or rivals] that would help [break the deadlock]?”

There is a policy option available to foreign leaders that will focus the minds of Tea Party members of Congress and their sympathizers.

China, Japan, and the European Union should ever so gently leak a draft, of a draft, of a green paper, on a communiqué on US debt default. After stating the obvious, wrecking the global economy by way of default is unwise, the draft Beijing-Tokyo-Brussels Communiqué would say: in the event of a US default we would impose tariffs targeted at those states (and districts) of the GOP’s Suicide Tea Party Caucus. Trade sanctions targeting the key products from states like Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Texas, and Kentucky. Ryan Lizza has already provided a handy map. Three of America’s largest trading partners could cover quite a few industries those states, their businesses, and thus their representatives care deeply about. Pressure from abroad to exert pressure from below on the Tea Party Caucus.

Tariffs targeting key American states is not an unheard of political tool. In its trade dispute with the US over steel tariffs, the EU threatened tariffs aimed at products from specific states due to steel links as well as those states’ electoral significance in the then-upcoming 2004 presidential elections (Guardian). Altogether, it becomes a lot more difficult to say, “Crisis, what crisis?” when confronted with the prospect of home district businesses and jobs being put at risk.

As for drawbacks, there’s the usual reticence on getting involved in the domestic politics of other countries. To quote LBJ, “Never tell a man to go to hell unless you’re sure you can send him there.” There is an ocean of things China, Japan, and the EU want from the US Congress – looser trade restrictions for China, increased US-Japan defense cooperation, and the prospective US-EU trade agreement immediately come to mind. It is ill-advised to reach short-term goals if putting long-term goals in serious jeopardy. Lastly, stabilizing the global economic system by threatening a trade war is pretty counterintuitive. Tariffs and the resultant retaliatory measures likely hurt everyone involved (see, Smoot-Hawley).

My reply to the counterarguments is therein lay the reason for “a draft, of a draft, of a potential green paper”, loads of distance between possibilities and actions. And yet reason for the business communities in these states to sit up and take notice. Since solid Tea Party Caucus members dismiss the prospects of a global-US default crisis as hyperbole, raising the prospects of an alternative default-linked trade crisis aimed squarely at their constituencies would be well worth the effort. Interviewed by the French press on targeting tariffs at specific states, then-EU Trade Commissioner Pascal Lamy remarked “At the end of the day the US president takes a political decision, and you have to be able to play the same game.” (CS Monitor). In this instance, Obama has limited leverage over members of Congress in safe seats with stridently conservative voters. Foreign leaders do have both a significant interest at stake as well as a policy option available beyond standing idly by or (ineffectually) voicing concern. If Tea Party intransigence continues unabated, yes, mess with Texas (among other states). Not least for shaving valuable tenths of a percentage point off US and global growth (Guardian), as well as for inflicting Ted Cruz and his ilk on us all.

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St. Matthew Passion closing sections.

Ruht wohl, ihr heiligen Gebeine,
Die ich nun weiter nicht beweine,
Ruht wohl und bringt auch mich zur Ruh!
Das Grab, so euch bestimmet ist
Und ferner keine Not umschließt,
Macht mir den Himmel auf und schließt die Hölle zu.

Rest in peace, you sacred limbs,
I shall weep for you no more,
rest in peace, and bring me also to rest.
The grave that is allotted to you
and contains no further suffering,
opens heaven for me and shuts off hell.

Ach Herr, lass dein lieb Engelein
Am letzten End die Seele mein
In Abrahams Schoß tragen,
Den Leib in seim Schlafkämmerlein
Gar sanft ohn eigne Qual und Pein
Ruhn bis am jüngsten Tage!
Alsdenn vom Tod erwecke mich,
Dass meine Augen sehen dich
In aller Freud, o Gottes Sohn,
Mein Heiland und Genadenthron!
Herr Jesu Christ, erhöre mich,
Ich will dich preisen ewiglich!

Ah Lord, let your dear angels
at my final hour carry my soul
to Abraham’s bosom,
while my body in its narrow chamber
gently without pain or torment
rests until the last day.
Wake me then from death,
so that my eyes see you
in all joy,o God’s son,
my saviour and throne of mercy
Lord Jesus Christ, hear me,
I shall praise you eternally!

Almost too hopeful a selection for reflection on the murder of more than two dozen people. Most of them in an elementary school. Most of them children.

Dirksen226

America has yet another awful opportunity to sit with the idea that America is a violent country. Another opportunity to pose the question: What kind of country do we want to live in?

We should have that discussion, and initially at least, we should admit all answers. So those who want armed primary and secondary school teachers, concealed carry on college campuses, more guns not fewer, those are valid answers to bring to this wide-open discussion. Frankly, I disagree rather strongly with those replies, but they need to be represented in the discussion. If only so that we can also make representations about a much narrower understanding of the Second Amendment on the opposite side.

Unfortunately, I don’t see the process for working through these replies housed with Congress in the first instance. Congress has the fiscal cliff, impending cabinet nominations, and any number of well entrenched battles and animosities to work its way through at any given moment. Perhaps its my time observing at UK politics, where public inquiries and national commissions have been an even more regular part of working through national events. Some collection outside of Congress, but with greater heft than civil society’s Punch and Judy Show, to digest the entire issue. Take the whole thing, “On Violence in America”, into its orbit.

Crucially, with public hearings. Let’s hear from the NRA and the National Shooting Sports Foundation as well as from the victims of gun violence. Let’s hear from sociologists, criminologists, psychologists, anyone willing to bring their expertise, personal or professional, to bear on the issue. We need South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission level consideration. A wide mandate, a broad remit, and a deadline for producing a report.

Put the national dialogue into an institution with a responsibility to take something forward.

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“President Barack Obama holds a Cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Nov. 23, 2009.” (via Wikipedia)

The difference between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney is the difference between the Center for American Progress and the Heritage Foundation. Because the President of the United States holds responsibility for appointing literally thousands of senior government officials, an election is never merely about the candidates running for office. Obama and Romney’s individual personalities, strengths, weaknesses, life stories are all interesting inputs.

But a great deal of what matters in the governance of the US over the next four years is whose appointees sit atop the executive branch bureaucratic machine. Those officials who serve at the pleasure of the president will have had careers in the party apparatus of Republicans or Democrats, congressional staffers, current or former elected officials, fellows in think tanks with this or that political alignment, or previous service in presidential administrations of the same political stripes. If one claims to have any affinity for the left of the political spectrum, there is no alternative but to vote in favor of putting Obama at the top of this vast executive branch pyramid.

US Supreme Court Justice appointments provide a particularly vivid example of this point. Considering the US Constitution from a left-of-center perspective, one is spoiled for choice in selecting a Justice Antonin Scalia quote to marvel (and recoil) at. I’ll plonk for a brief answer given to California Lawyer (via ComPost),

[California Lawyer:] What do you do when the original meaning of a constitutional provision is either in doubt or is unknown?

Always in the balance

[Justice Scalia:] I do not pretend that originalism is perfect. There are some questions you have no easy answer to, and you have to take your best shot. … We don’t have the answer to everything, but by God we have an answer to a lot of stuff … especially the most controversial: whether the death penalty is unconstitutional, whether there’s a constitutional right to abortion, to suicide, and I could go on. All the most controversial stuff. … I don’t even have to read the briefs, for Pete’s sake.

Fewer ellipses on California Lawyer‘s part would be helpful, but the sentiment that still jumps out “I don’t even have to read the briefs, for Pete’s sake.” The death penalty a-okay, thinking rights to abortion or suicide, well not in his reading. Simple, straightforward. And he can go on! Interpretations that are essentially antiquated, a constitution that reflects rights as conceived in the 18th century, not the 21st century. I take Romney at his word when he pledges to appoint justices in the mold of the right wing of the court. From a left-of-center perspective, one should quake in terror at the prospect of even more Scalias and Thomases on the court (See the NY Times editorial board on Justice Thomas in 1992: The Youngest, Cruelest Justice).

It is not as though Obama’s critics from the left have illegitimate points to make. I count myself among those who wish Obama’s first term had been less conciliatory, with far less time spent reaching out to the right. A right devoted not to constructive legislating but bare-knuckled, blood-sport politicking – “death panels” for instance. That level of outright falsehood signals how unwilling the GOP was to take part in carefully crafting public policy. Obama rightly deserves blame for not pushing his program harder, earlier in his administration. The administration needed a posture akin to that of the Tory Chief Whip who remarked, “In the last analysis, even if there has been a major fight, the Queen’s Government must get it’s business.” (via BBC Parliament, Margaret Beckett in Speaker’s Lecture Series).

Civil liberties beware?

I also would have liked a firmer footing for the national security architecture that is developing to combat al-Qaeda. Simply put, due process does matter. The way America conducts itself in the world matters. I disagree with critics (see for example Jason Kuznicki or Freddie deBoer) who claim, wrongly, that Obama has arrogated unto himself lawless, unreviewable power to determine who lives or dies. Obama has not established modern-day star chambersLA Times, NY Times, and Washington Postcoverage have explored the checks on the process and the administration has articulated its legal underpinnings (see speeches by Harold Koh at ASIL and John Brennan at the Wilson Center). Nonetheless, the organic regime that the Obama administration developed deserves scrutiny and firmer legal footing only found in congressional action. I would note that the alternative does not have a sparkling record on this front. Recall Mitt Romney saying “we ought to double Guantanamo” or with regard to waterboarding Romney’s declining to “describe specifically which measures we would and would not use”.

All that criticism from Obama’s left said, too conciliatory and needing improvement with regard to civil liberties, a proverb comes to mind: Do not use a hatchet to remove a fly from your friend`s forehead. Those aiming for a more leftward tilt in American public policy need a more far-reaching, long-term strategy than pooh-poohing the re-election of a Democratic president. Election Day 2012 is not the day to fight these particular battles. Candidate recruitment and intra-(Democratic) party coalition building form the core of creating the pressure for more left-leaning policies.

Protest votes for Ralph Nader, Jill Stein, and other third party candidates are fruitless given the first-past-the-post electoral system, the levers of power in America lay with the Democrats or the Republicans. While Obama has had these levers, there’s a great deal (more) to be said in his favor: a near Dream Act executive order, legislation on women’s rights, promoting LGBT rights domestically, and in work that goes under recognized, promoting LGBT rights abroad, Wall Street reform measures, preventing a second Great Depression, and of course action on health care. That’s a record worthy of another term.

My view on the US elections tomorrow, I hope the American public agrees (more than the British did).

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Sir Humphrey: Minister, Britain has had the same foreign policy objective for at least the last five hundred years: to create a disunited Europe. In that cause we have fought with the Dutch against the Spanish, with the Germans against the French, with the French and Italians against the Germans, and with the French against the Germans and Italians. Divide and rule, you see. Why should we change now, when it’s worked so well?

Hacker: That’s all ancient history, surely?

Sir Humphrey: Yes, and current policy. We had to break the whole thing [the EEC] up, so we had to get inside. We tried to break it up from the outside, but that wouldn’t work. Now that we’re inside we can make a complete pig’s breakfast of the whole thing: set the Germans against the French, the French against the Italians, the Italians against the Dutch. The Foreign Office is terribly pleased; it’s just like old times.

Hacker: But surely we’re all committed to the European ideal?

Sir Humphrey: [chuckles] Really, Minister.

Hacker: If not, why are we pushing for an increase in the membership?

Sir Humphrey: Well, for the same reason. It’s just like the United Nations, in fact; the more members it has, the more arguments it can stir up, the more futile and impotent it becomes.

Hacker: What appalling cynicism.

Sir Humphrey: Yes… We call it diplomacy, Minister.

[Via]

An exchange from the outstanding British political comedy series Yes, Minister, underscoring the strategic failure of British Prime Minister David Cameron this week. Britain should aim for either a disunited Europe, as cynically expressed by Sir Humphrey, or a united Europe with Britain at the core along with France and Germany. A Europe with Britain at the periphery is simply bad foreign policy.

Two lines of spin were being reported today. One line was that Cameron’s position in the Brussels summit was the inevitable culmination of a position that has been constant for at least three premierships and two changes of party. The argument goes that from the days of John Major keeping the UK out of the euro to the Blair administration’s continuation of that policy, Britain has stood apart from some key elements of European integration. That is true as far as that line of argument goes. Yes in fact Britain, along with nine other EU members, is not in the eurozone. But the spectacular failure of Cameron was that none of these nine potential partners joined his position forcing a solely eurozone deal. The European Council outcome was not 10 to 17, with Britain comfortably aligned with other non-eurozone countries. The outcome was 1 to 26, with Britain standing alone. After five hundred years a united Europe, and Britain on the outside looking in (BBC).

Deftly, President Sarkozy and Chancellor Merkel had laid contingency plans for an outcome of the eurozone against non-eurozone EU states, warning that the eurozone could go ahead with a solely intra-eurozone treaty if non-eurozone states wouldn’t agree – warning Cameron against pressing too hard in negotiations lest the 17 eurozone states proceed without him and other non-eurozone colleagues altogether. But the French and Germans didn’t even have to settle for this to this fallback position. With a 1 to 26 outcome it was Cameron as the odd man out.

The other line of spin was that the Brussels outcome was some sort of victory. Having not received assurances of opt-outs, particularly concerning safeguarding London as a global financial center, Cameron blocked an EU-level treaty change. Claiming the summit outcome as a win for Cameron, well there’s some chuztpah at work here. As Alex Massie points out, if this is a win then what would defeat have looked like? More power for the European core, more power for Germany, more power for France, a Europe that will ultimately resemble more closely the German and French visions, and less influence for Britain. Once again, if this is victory, what exactly constitutes defeat?

Despite this fiscal compact, the euro-uncertainty may go on. There are parliamentary assents to be gained in several EU members and the possibility of referendums. Crises throw up the unexpected and this European compromise could yet be derailed. But examining the four corners of this European Council, Britain has not done well. This European Council outcome demonstrates Sir Humphrey’s cynical definition of diplomacy, Britain as a disuniting force in Europe, is no longer tenable. Given the fact that Paris and Berlin will not be divided, the wisest long term strategy for Britain is inside Europe.

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