Monthly Archives: March 2012

La France, joue-t-elle encore un rôle dans la politique mondiale ?

 

Pendant quelques dernières semaines, il y a certains qui ont dit que la France ne joue plus aucun rôle important dans la politique mondiale. Pour commencer, il faut que nous rejetions ce sentiment comme faux. La France d’aujourd’hui joue un rôle actif et important dans la politique globale. Elle est, par exemple, un des membres permanents du Conseil de la sécurité des Nations unies. Une telle position ne serait jamais accordée à une national sans influence ou sans puissance mondiale. Les décisions qui sont prises dans les rendez-vous de ce conseil ont toujours un impact grave et global. Ces pays peuvent autoriser les attaques militaires contre les autres, mettre en place des mesures qui légalisent une guerre ou imposer des sanctions politiques et économiques sur un pays pour faire pression sur un régime ou pour le punir. Comme membre du Csnu, la France est au cœur de la politique internationale.

Ce n’est pas seulement dans une salle de rendez-vous à New York que la République Française montre son rôle mondiale. Avec le Premier Ministre britannique, David Cameron, le Président Sarkozy a mené les efforts de l’Otan pour aider les opposants de Colonel Kadhafi en Lybie en 2011. La situation dans ce pays s’empirait avec de nombreuses fatalités civiles. En conséquence, M. Sarkozy a donné l’ordre à l’Armée de l’air française à intervenir. Avec M. Cameron, la France a mené une intervention qui s’est terminée par la mort de Kadhafi et la transition vers la démocratie.

Actuellement, le problème le problème le plus profond pour les hommes et les femmes politiques est la crise économique internationale, est pour l’occident surtout, la crise dans la zone d’euro.  Avec la Chancelière allemande, Angela Merkel, c’est le Président français qui mène les négociations pour sauvegarder l’économie européenne et pour formuler des mesures urgentes budgétaires  pour les cas sévères comme la Grèce ou l’Irlande. La BBC a reporté récemment que certains irlandais surnomment leur pays la Merkozie à cause de l’entente entre les deux chefs d’états que leur semblent contrôler la direction dans laquelle l’économie irlandaise va avancer.

Face à l’opposition du Royaume-Uni, un pays normalement considéré comme plus important dans la politique mondiale que la France, le Président continue à avancer les reformes à Bruxelles et beaucoup des grandes idées sont annoncées aux sommets franco-allemands.  Ces deux anciennes adversaires ont prises ensemble leur place dans l’histoire européenne que s’écrit pendant que nous parlons.

La France en 2012 est un pays au cœur des grands évènements politiques internationaux. A New York, elle a une voix dans les discussions dont les résultats pourraient avoir un effet profond pour tout le monde. A Bruxelles, la France mène, avec l’Allemagne, le projet de protéger les  grandes économies européennes et avancer la zone d’euro. Elle est un état déposant des armes nucléaires et elle à une place aux tables les plus importantes du monde où elle joue un rôle d’importance majeure. A Paris, le prochain habitant de l’Elysée va se trouver comme chef d’état d’une France revitalisée et bien préparée pour un rôle mondiale majeur au XXIème siécle.

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Race for Life – The Acceptable Face of Sexism

Once again the time of year has come around when, as the skies are bluer, the birds are chirpier and the excuses to avoid spring cleaning are brought out with abandon, Cancer Research UK start running their TV advertising campaign to get people to sign up to run the Race for Life to raise much needed funds.

Now before the criticism comes flooding my way, let me just say that Cancer Research UK are a fantastic charity. The work they do raises extraordinary amounts of money for a cause that is more than likely to affect all of us, in some way or another, in our lifetimes. The platform they have established allows the message to be broadcast wider than ever before and awareness is at record levels. The Race for Life is a flagship event and one which raises millions every year and Cancer Research UK must be commended for this. Anything that raises that kind of money for a good cause on a national platform must surely be lauded.

Unfortunately, however, the Race for Life is also the only overtly sexist and discriminatory charity event that I can think of. I know men who have done the night-walk wearing a bra to raise money for the fight against breast cancer. I know women who have donned a wig and a beard for the awareness raising drives for testicular cancer charities. I do not, however, know one man who has done the Race for Life, despite knowing plenty who would happily do so. That is because men are not allowed. It is, as their website proudly boasts, ‘the largest women-only fundraising event in the UK’.

The advertising campaign shows tear-jerking images of women running the race with dedications stuck to their chests. They are all running it for people they know. ‘To my Mum, the bravest and the best’. There is no way anyone can fail to be moved by those simple words and it is things like that that make me feel, even as I write, a little uneasy about criticising. But criticise I must. There are millions of men across the country who have lost loved ones to cancer and who would dearly love to run, bedecked all in pink with a silly wig, with their dedication written on their chest. Excluding men from this event is simply awful and I fail to see how, year on year, it is allowed.

I would ask how many of you would be up in arms if a men-only event was launched. If a grieving woman was prevented from taking part in an event in memory of her husband, her brother or her Dad. Women have suffered at the hands of discrimination and sexism at the hands of men for centuries and it is right that we have anti-discrimination laws in place and that attitudes are changing. What that does not mean, however, is that we now have carte blanche to exclude men, many of whom feel hurt and angry at their grief and desire to take part is seen as less important, less significant than that of women. In 2012, the barring of people taking part in an event on the grounds of sex is simply unacceptable.

Cancer does not discriminate. Nor should the Race for Life.

Why Marriage Equality is our next once-in-a-generation change.

After the comments by Cardinal Keith O’Brien, leader of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, in yesterday’s Sunday Telegraph, the issue of gay marriage is on the lips of newsreaders, commentators and ordinary people up and down the country. Cardinal O’Brien has done his country a great service by bringing this issue to the fore and he was very right to do so. He is also right to say that laws introducing marriage equality would fundamentally change a concept that is so ingrained into our culture and consciousness. On every other count, including his use choice of words and ludicrously hyperbolic comparisons to the legalisation of slavery, he is wholly and fundamentally wrong. That is not a surprise, however. After all, Cardinal O’Brien comes from an institution whose politics, and I mean politics and not faith, lead it to stand against the right to use contraception, even to prevent the spread of HIV, and the right to divorce, even in cases of violence and abuse. It’s hardly a great shock, then, that he is not waving the rainbow flag and calling for universal LGBT rights.

But what the Catholic Church, and indeed the Church of England, thinks is their business and the state has no right to dictate to them. They are at liberty to afford the rites religious marriage to whomsoever they see fit. What they are not at liberty to do, however, is dictate to an elected Parliament how it should legislate on civil marriage. Speaking as a secularist Christian, thankfully the days in which religion holds such powerful sway over our national politics took their final breath along with the last millennium. Whilst the Cardinal and his ilk can and should state their opinion, what they think is really an irrelevance.

What actually matters is that this country, for probably the first time, has a Prime Minister, a Deputy Prime Minister and a Leader of the Opposition who not only support marriage equality but have the political will and the courage of their convictions to make it a reality. This could mark an historic change in this country, one that half a century ago seemed impossible. People are making the argument that this would mark a fundamental change in the way this country defines one of its oldest institutions. To them I say ‘Of course it will, that is why we must seize this chance’. The evolutionary progress of British politics is usually slow and I am a great advocate of the idea that it is our national small ‘c’ conservatism that has held our country together and prevented great crises for centuries. We come to points, however, on occasion where we must face the fundamental redefinition of an idea, a concept or an institution to something which, in the past, may have seemed unthinkable. We arrive at the point where things come to a head. We arrive at a position where we have to go against our conservative grain to do what is right. The ending of absolute monarchy, the abolition of slavery, universal suffrage, rights for women, the National Health Service and the decriminalisation of homosexuality and the abolition of the death penalty all seemed to go against everything that was engrained in national ideas at the time but now are integral parts of what makes us proud of our country. Marriage equality is the next one of these once-in-a-generation steps.

There are those who argue that civil partnerships have given homosexual couples equal legal rights so we don’t need to afford them the right to fully define themselves as married. I say that this is precisely the reason we do need to afford them this right. There are now no legal barriers to overcome, the legislation is there and civil partnerships have not destroyed society like some of the doom-mongers claimed would happen. The practical step we have to take is actually a very small one but it’s one of immense significance. It would mean that homosexual couples not only have the right not to be discriminated against legally but also culturally. It would mean that homosexual love and commitment, now widely accepted across society, would be given that same sanctity that heterosexual love and commitment has. It’s not ‘gay marriage’ I believe in, it’s marriage. It’s the idea that two people could commit their lives to one another before the law, before friends and family and before the national emblem of our country regardless of their sexual orientation.As the Leader in today’s Times says, ‘Reforming the law to allow same-sex couples to marry would enrich an historic institution and expand the sum of human happiness’.

As a country we should be proud of the fact we have a Prime Minister who supports marriage equality and not surprised that it has Catholic priests who don’t. I profoundly hope that my generation’s children will not know what ‘gay marriage’ is, they’ll simply value the idea and the institution of marriage, whoever might be making the vows.