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DANIEL HANNAN's EURO BRIEFINGS ^ | 25.02.2005 | Dan Hannan

Posted on 02/25/2005 3:36:41 PM PST by Leifur

It was hardly the speech we had been hoping for. George W Bush, as any fule kno, is a conservative hard-man, a scourge of international lawyers, a unilateralist. If he has one guiding principle in foreign affairs, it is a preference for national democracy over supra-national bureaucracy. On Kyoto, or the International Criminal Court, or the UN, he takes the robust view that elected politicians are preferable to unaccountable fonctionnaires. Yet here he was in Brussels lauding perhaps the most backward and anti-democratic project in the Western world.

European integration, he says, is a force for peace and freedom on Earth. Really? Where, exactly? In Iran, where the EU is cosying up to murderous ayatollahs who, among other things, recently sanctioned the execution of a teenage girl? In China, where it is collaborating with a Communist tyranny in developing satellite weapons systems? In Cuba, where it has a soft spot for the Castro regime? Or perhaps within its own borders where, through the proposed constitution, it plans to transfer yet more powers from elected national assemblies to unelected Brussels commissariats?

One of the mysteries of modern diplomacy is America’s continuing public support for a development that seems so inimical to its own interests. In every other field, Washington has adjusted to the realities of the post-9/11 world. During the Cold War, the State Department was prepared to back several odious dictators on grounds that they were anti-Communists (“he may be a son-of-a-bitch, but he’s our son-of-a-bitch”). George Bush, however, takes the more modern view that indulging these tinpot tyrants is not in fact in America’s interests, since unstable regimes tend to export violence, however nominally pro-Western their leaders. Better, he reasons, to deal with free democracies than to prop up local strongmen in the name of “stability”. When it comes to the EU, however, Washington is still frozen in the Cold War, preferring to humour remote elites than to encourage democratisation.

What is especially worrying is that the speech that the President delivered on Monday seems to have been toned down. Early drafts apparently included a specific endorsement of the proposed constitution, which was taken out after a ruckus in the White House. The idea of such an endorsement may have come from Peter Mandelson, who had been in Washington the previous week. Mr Mandelson no doubt remembers how useful it was during the 1975 Common Market referendum to have the Commonwealth leaders publicly calling for a “Yes” vote. If the leader of the English-speaking world were to say something similar today, it would surely sap the morale of anti-constitution campaigners.

Equally, though, there is a horrible possibility that the idea emerged in Washington without any European encouragement. Plenty of Americans – including a good many Republicans who ought to know better – go along lazily with the idea that European integration must be a good thing, since it means that American forces will not have to intervene to sort out European wars again. Others argue that, whether or not it is a good thing in its own terms, it is better, from a US point of view, to have the Brits inside sticking up for the Atlantic alliance. (This argument seems more reasonable, but ignores the way in which the British representatives in Brussels go native: their participation, in other words, has far more impact on Britain’s orientation than on Europe’s.) Still others see the process as an echo of their own early federation, and look on the European constitution as equivalent to the American one. After all, did not its principal author, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, describe it as “our Philadelphia moment” – a reference to the drafting of the US Constitution in 1786?

The briefest glance at the document would disabuse them of any such idea. The US had the enormous good fortune to draw up its constitution in an era when notions of personal freedom and limited government dominated Western thought. Alas, the EU constitution, too, is a child of its time. Where the US constitution is chiefly concerned with the rights of the individual, the European constitution is chiefly concerned with the powers of the state. Where the US constitution (in my version) is eleven pages long, the European constitution (in the official English publication) runs to 438 pages. Where the US constitution restricts itself to delineating the authority of Government and establishing a proper balance between federal and state jurisdiction, the EU constitution busies itself with such minutiae as marine biology and the status of the disabled. Where the Declaration of Independence offers “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”, the EU’s Charter of Fundamental Rights (which forms part of the constitution) guarantees the right to “strike action”, “non-discrimination” and “affordable housing”.

President Bush, who is currently reading a biography of Alexander Hamilton, can hardly have failed to spot these differences. Perhaps he takes the view that, if the Europeans want to lumber themselves with a top-heavy and illiberal system of governance, that is their business. He ought, though, to ask himself whether the European constitution is in his own country’s interests.

Anti-Americanism was built into the foundations of the EU. Even as US troops fought their way across occupied Europe, the future patriarchs of the EU were discussing the need to “contain” or “counterbalance” American power. For the next fifty years, the immediacy of the Soviet threat pushed such thoughts to the back of European minds. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, however, EU leaders have been speaking openly of the need to develop a powerful EU in order to prevent “a unipolar world”.

I saw an early sign of the new mood when, as an undergraduate in 1992, I worked with the “No” campaign in the French referendum on the Maastricht Treaty. Alarmed by the opinion polls, the Socialist Government launched a poster showing a cowboy in a stetson hat squashing the globe, and carrying the slogan “faire l’Europe c’est faire le poids” (“building Europe gives us weight”). It worked. Today, similar sentiments are routinely trotted out as an argument for voting “Yes” to the constitution.

Every superpower is resented, of course, as Britain once learned. But there is more to this than envy. Anti-Americanism in Europe has an ideological basis. Consider the areas where EU policy is most directly at odds with that of the US: Iran, China, Cuba, Israel. There is a common theme linking these countries: in each of them, the EU favours stability over democracy. It has spent a decade appeasing the mullahs in the vain hope that constructive engagement would stimulate internal reform in Teheran. Not only is it planning to lift its arms embargo on Beijing; it is actively co-operating with China on a new satellite navigation system called Galileo, designed explicitly to challenge the “technological imperialism” of America’s GPS. Having fiercely opposed US attempts to isolate Cuba economically, it has now withdrawn its support for anti-Castro dissidents. It boasts of having been Arafat’s chief sponsor.

It comes as no surprise, then, that the EU should itself be on the point of adopting a constitution that strengthens the rulers at the expense of the ruled. When American critics accuse the EU of hypocrisy for cuddling up to Third World tyrants, they are missing the point. Europe’s apparatchiks have never been wild about democracy (or “populism” as they call it). When they get a result they dislike – as when Danish and Irish voters rejected EU treaties, for example – they ignore it. It is only natural that they should extend the same way of thinking to, say, Iraq or Palestine.

Why on Earth, though, should President Bush go along with their agenda? At home, he has worked to diffuse power, to localise decision-making, to curtail judicial activism. His foreign policy, too, has been guided by a belief that it is better to deal with democracies than with juntas. He has no time for international quangoes. Yet, in supporting the EU constitution, he would be endorsing a project based on the idea that technocrats are better guardians of the public weal than the rogues who have conned people into voting for them.

Perhaps the President wants to reward Mr Blair for his support during the Iraq war. If so, he has found a clever way of doing so. Mr Bush’s direct electoral endorsement would do his British auxiliary no favours; but helping him win the referendum would allow him to retire as one of the most successful of all Prime Ministers.

The President has good reason to feel grateful to Mr Blair, who unwontedly swam against the current of public opinion over Iraq. But, before bestowing this particular prize on his friend, Mr Bush might care to cast his eye over Article I-15 of the proposed constitution: “The EU Common Foreign and Security policy shall apply to all aspects of foreign policy and all questions relating to the Union’s security. Member States shall support the Common Foreign and Security Policy actively and unreservedly in a spirit of loyalty and mutual solidarity”. It is worth asking whether, if this clause had already been in effect, Britain would have been allowed to join the invasion.

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Foreign Affairs; Government; Politics/Elections; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: eu; regimechange
Why is Bush adressing the EU as a independant identity, and as a whole instead of the various countries in Europe, weather members or not? Thankfully the EU is not a federation yeat, and God willing, newer will, but although I am not sure it will be good for us independant minded citizens of the various European countries having USA side with us in this struggle (although we tend to have more favorible opinions about Amerika than the Pan-European nationalists), but it is certeinly not good for us, and indeed not the US of A in the long haul promoting a united Europe. Or do you maybe think it will be simpler and better for the US just having to talk to a single, strong Europe instead of many strong independant countries? Would the US of A maybe sell Iceland into the European "wannabe" imperium? I hope not, we have been allies since you supported our independence from those same forces during the WW2, I hope that will continue, despite we not beeing as useful as then as a military base, maybe we will become so again if Euroland becomes to strong...
1 posted on 02/25/2005 3:36:41 PM PST by Leifur
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To: Leifur

Bush has no problem with europe tying itself in bureaucratic knots. It'll weaken them further still.

2 posted on 02/25/2005 3:40:42 PM PST by pissant
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To: Leifur
If Europe is now "unified," they should give up one of their two vetoes (France and Britain) on the UN Security Council and give up 24 of their 25 seats in the UN General Assembly.
3 posted on 02/25/2005 4:56:42 PM PST by Malesherbes
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To: Malesherbes; pissant

That is of course the logical conclusion Malesherbes, but lets pray, and fight for that day newer to come, a United Europe is a monster that will suck my country in, weather we like it or not, specially if the USA abandones us.

But a united Europe under the socialdemocrats who control this monstrousity, and allways will as its very nature is socialdemocratic, will be a thorn in USA´s and right wingers efforts to spread liberty, market freedom and unlimited property rights.

A weak Europe can mean a weak union and strong individual countries that can be allies in getting certein things through, a weak Europe can also mean a strong central Eunion having made the policital and economic powers of europeans so weak with its socialdemocratic centralized control that it becomes unstable and can fall towards tyranny, like is the very nature of such undemocratic, unindividualistic beurocracys.

We, the indipendant nationalists (patriots) of various european countries are some hoping for a deal to be made between NAFTA and EFTA (European Free Trade A...if I remember correctly), the other european cooperation alliance, whose main purpose was to cooperate with free trade, not all the other things. Maybe we should unite those to into TAFTA, a Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Association? What would you think about such? It would give European countries (and maybe others, as the Atlantic is at the shore of bouth Africa and South America) another option in European and world cooperation to ensure free trade and liberty.

Inhemselfs off in a tarriff protection Union like EU stead of closing tis, they could thus promote free trade the world over, something that would empower everybody and benefit all countries, not just the socialdemocratic cause and their Brussel´s mafia.

Please help us in our efforts of disbanding and reduce the power of the EU, not help towards ever closer Union, like the evil constitution, like Dan Hannan mentions. Just imagine like were his final words, if this constitution would have been in effect before the Iraq war, then the British, the Dutch, the Danish, the Polish, the Spanish, the Italians and others would have been barred from helping and participate in the invasion, and even the rebuilding efforts.

4 posted on 02/27/2005 6:01:32 AM PST by Leifur
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To: Leifur

You are right on.Europe was never meant to be unifed.There's too much heritage and independence to combine.Why has it taken these centuries of history for it to come about? True it's strength together can be monsterous,its also self destructive.Like any Union,Unifying itself will be the first step before walking to other issues.You see the strength of the U.N. do you think a "Mini-U.N." will be any more powerful? I can believe some of the countries will be happy to use the power against the United States while others will just be pulled along in the Wake.I Hope the EU will not be held by corrupt leaders as has happened in the United Nations.I Know the Scandinavian nations were hard to convince into the Union whereas the power greed driven entities already had a power grab over them.I feel sorry for a Union that wipes out so much culture with no disregard and seems driven on being at odds or in contest with the United States.Our Allies we consider the U.N. this is why Bush did not make a speech of threatening detail.In the U.S most do not consider all the Nations of the EU to be the same,or as One nor do we try to intervene in their unity of course.Thanks Leifur caught your post at Healing iraq,very interesting...

5 posted on 03/30/2005 9:46:27 PM PST by schlicht (TIME FOR REGIME CHANGE IN EUROPE)
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