Colin's Journal

Colin's Journal: A place for thoughts about politics, software, and daily life.

February 22nd, 2003

The future of SimpleTAL

On a slightly less political note than my last post, work is once again underway on SimpleTAL. This time it’s thanks to an enquiry by Kevin Smith regarding support for METAL in SimpleTAL. METAL is a macro language that can co-exist with TAL, and which provides a way of copying parts of a document tree into a template and customising the part that was copied.

I’ve got an initial implementation working, but there is much to do before it is ready for release. I need to make sure that SimpleTAL implements the Zope behaviour for METAL, and that the existing TAL functionality integrates well with it. If all goes to plan however, I should have METAL support released within a few days.

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February 22nd, 2003

The future of NATO

There’s an interesting article in the FT by the prime minister of Belgium, Guy Verhofstadt. In it he tackles two different, but interrelated subjects: the current transatlantic gap and the future of NATO. The opinion provided on the first subject is not a surprise, and essentially comes down to lack of evidence to justify a war:

As long as we Europeans feel threatened, the use of war and weapons can more or less be justified. However, without this sentiment, a transatlantic gulf has opened up.

The second part of the article is more interesting however, it tries to explain how a European defence force would help rather than hurt NATO. The argument seems to come down to the current lack of balance in NATO: one country with a huge armed forces, and 18 with small ineffective armed forces. This certainly distorts decision making in the organisation, and reduces the effectiveness of NATO as a mutual defence organisation.

That the armed forces of Europe and north America should be able to work together, and that they should be made available to each other in times of crisis seems like a self evident good. The defence of Europe should, however, be in the hands of Europeans. It simply doesn’t make sense for Europe, a group of countries that can easily afford the required armed forces, to be dependent on a single other country for it’s defence. The development of a European defence force should not lead to any less co-operation between Europe and north America, our mutual security is still of paramount importance to both peoples. It will however make NATO more effective in that the forces provided by Europe would be properly equipped and trained, something that is certainly lacking today.

There have been tentative steps toward a European defence force, and with the recent agreement by Blair and Chirac, it’s possible that we may even see a mutual defence clause in the EU constitution. Despite the difficult politics of the situation I’m hopeful that over time we will continue to see further moves in this direction.

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