Saturday, November 30, 2002
Blair's view - 30th November 2002, 21.37

Tony Blair, well informed about the developments on the continent and weathering the pressures of war with European change, made a keynote speech in Cardiff yesterday, welcoming enlargement. The text is here.

There is nothing in this speech to be welcomed, as Blair throws away what little sovereignty we have left, except on tax and the Charter of Rights. The Prime Minister maintains his wish to be a "leader in Europe" and not a follower like all of his predecessors. He repeats the list of lies that we hear so often about how good Europe has been for us. He would love to go into the Euro, economic circumstances permitting. On first reading, it appears to strengthen the intergovernmental agenda that Britain has supposed to have been promoting since 1997. It is deeply integrationist in its assumptions and goals. The main points are as follows:

1) A 'team presidency' with rotating candidates from all countries and a permanent President to provide continuity and leadership. This was a sop to the small countries to show that they would not be dominated by the 'Big Six'.

2) Transparency through the publication of national positions in councils. Wouldn't televising them be even better?

3) More QMV. The Eurodrug of choice.

4) Communitisation of the Justice and Home affairs pillar. This heralds Europol and continental police on our territory. Wave goodbye to the common law, habeas corpus and civil liberties.

5) Quicker fines from the Commission. Did Blair get tetchy over French beef?

6) No communitisation of defence or foreign policy. But, of course that is not the whole story...

7) "Again we need more Europe, not less. We need new decision making methods to get better value for money out of European defence budgets: strong peer review mechanisms; a European Defence Capability Development Agency, responsible to and run by the Member States, charged with identifying how capability gaps need to be filled and taking forward procurement projects to fill them; and further moves towards more open defence procurement to save on costly national protectionism."

8) A stronger European Parliament (but not Westminster), Commission and Council with plenty of Nulab nonsense but no actual gritty detail.

9) "We need a stronger Court of Justice.I agree with the strengthening proposed by a distinguished group of British Conservatives in their recent well-argued proposals." Presumably the usual suspects.

And finally, the goal chosen is one that is already lost but our government is unwilling to recognise this fact.

The essence of unity, in my view, is to regard Europe as it grows in power, as a partner with the United States; not either its servant or its rival. (from the passage on defence)

This is a one-off opportunity for reform: to set Europe on a clear course for the future, a Europe that as I have said before can be a superpower, if not a superstate. It is a future in which I want Britain to play its full and complete part. (Blair's closing words)

Never have I come so close to throwing my monitor out of the window at having to read this list of crap. This bloody idiot hasn't learnt his lesson and he's going to throw everything away because he thinks he can smarm both Europe and the States.

I'd say "God help us" if I believed in him.

No less determined to integrate - 30th November 2002, 20.53

Another firm linkage in EU politics is the Latin alliance between Spain and Italy. Both are governed by centre-right, pro-US administrations and both promoted the extension of qualified majority voting in all areas including foreign policy and security policy, at a summit on the 28th November.

Berlusconi placed himself firmly in the camp of the EPP with this Christian democratic message read out at their conference "The Europe that we want".

The single person and its dignity - concludes the prime minister - measure the Europe we want, a Europe based on Christian values, which guide our actions. We must introduce a social market economy which blends the benefits of economic liberalism and solidarity with the weaker classes. Nothing must be given for granted. We must all help out: government, parliament, and other institutional seats, work places, society, families. Today, you give Europe your contribution with your presence and your proposals.

This is the man put forward as a Thatcherite Italian and he sounds wetter than Heath.
Where do the smaller states stand? - 30th November 2002, 20.39

The Commission will submit its proposal for the future of the European Union this week and envisages a greater role for itself.

However, Mr Prodi would go further, by proposing a system in which the Commission could eventually have the sole right of putting forward proposals in the EU in areas as diverse as foreign affairs, EU-level economic policy and judicial matters.

Member states would retain the right of final decision.

The Commission argues that it has the right and the authority to decide large swathes of policy, although member states would finally decide, by qualified majority voting. Prodi does even recognise that a 'democratic deficit' exists and wishes to perpetuate rule by incompetent tranzicrats. These proposals are at odds with the wishes of the larger countries: France, Spain, Italy and Great Britain.

However, they are blessed by an emergent grouping of the small states who do not wish to be dominated by their bigger brothers.

A similar line is held by an emerging coalition of smaller countries, led by the Benelux states, but including Portugal, Austria, Finland and Greece, as well as several applicant countries.

The details are most advanced in the foreign policy area where the representative, currently Javier Solana, would be incorporated into the Commission and lose all accountability to the member states. Worryingly for Blair, intergovernmentalism is not an attractive model for other members of the EU.
Euronitis - 30th November 2002, 20.25

Last week, the newspapers were reporting that the European Commission would announce reforms to the Growth and Stability Pact. Eurospin would have had us believe that the changes would be firm enough to prevent the continued contempt that Germany and France showed the Commission.

However, the actual implementation of the Pact proposed to relax the tight rules currently governing the public sector deficits that members of the European Union could run by allowing extra expenditure for investment in recession. This small opening would give states carte blanche to return to deficit spending by using the standard excuse of 'skoolzanhospitalz'.

The losers were Belgium, Italy and Greece whose high debt levels were targeted for reduction and whose level in the EU pecking order was confirmed. These moves were a sleight of hand by the Commission which understood that the credibility of the Pact was in danger if France and Germany remained in breach so it blinked and moved the goalposts. Instead of concentrating on deficits, it would shift its focus to debt levels, an area of the Pact's implementation that it had previously ignored. Another proof, as if we need any more, of how political the Euro really is.
Thursday, November 28, 2002
Not good - 28th November 2002, 22.41

Current developments within the swirls of diplomacy surrounding the European Convention could prove disastrous for the United Kingdom since the renewed Franco-German offensive in EU circles is moving towards a common foreign and security policy. Blair will find himself isolated and facing a United Europe when our historic goal has always been to maintain the balance of power on the Continent between different nations.

France and Germany are going to submit a proposal to the defence working group of the Convention that envisages an integrated leadership capacity, training system and strategic doctrine, external to NATO. This rips apart New Labour's strategy of favouring a limited EU capability complementing US leadership.

The document talked about establishing 'multinational forces with integrated leadership capacities, regardless of their Nato actions'.

Both countries have talked about implementation of this proposal using the process of 'enhanced co-operation' and ushering in the heralded 'two speed Europe'. Of course, this deepened integration does not prevent the basic unification that would be achieved by the Constitution. The Danes are aghast to find that their hard fought opt-outs are so much smoke in the new Europe, especially after they tried so hard to act like good Europeans.

The Axis is a paper tiger and may provide a comfort blanket in times when a realistic assessment of security is required. Although Mr T has his own view here.
Do I look big in this? - 28th November 2002, 22.14

Another contribution from our favourite Italian. It appears that Turkey is European but even the Commission President cannot stomach the loose ends of the Soviet era: Belarus, Russia, the Ukraine and Moldova.

His reasons were very rational.

"We need to talk about our criteria. The fact Ukrainians or Armenians feel European means nothing to me, because New Zealanders feel European too," he said.

Prodi said President Vladimir Putin had asked him about potential Russian membership of the union.

"I told him straight away clearly: 'No, you are too big,'" Prodi said.

I hope any Kiwis out there will feel insulted.
Will London be a target? - 28th November 2002, 22.08

Possibly not.

Alarmist suggestions in the Financial Times earlier this year that Saudi investors have been pulling their money out of the United States was massively overstated. But a lot of Arab money is flooding into the British property market. According to DTZ Research, Middle East investors poured $1.278 million into the European property market last year, with 91 percent of that investment going to the United Kingdom. But Arab investment in British commercial properties over the first 9 months of 2002 soared to $1.353 million, a 20 percent increase. Anecdotal evidence says the money flow has increased over the past six weeks. The recently filed trillion-dollar lawsuit in the United States against Saudi "funders of terrorism" is seen as a factor. The latest fuss over the charitable donations of the wife of Saudi Ambassador Prince Bandar is likely to increase the trend.

And what will we do when we get there?

Once again, dear reader, I must point you to my improvement on, Christopher Montgomery. In this article he, once again, dissects the curiously unconservative musings of all those ex-leftrightwingers keen to invade Mesopotamia. And he asks what in the blazes will we do with the Chaldeans when we get them.
Wednesday, November 27, 2002

Err, Turkey's not in Europe

Srdja Trifkovic pours scorn on the idea that Turkey is in any way European:

Although Turkey has managed to hold onto a small piece of Europe's southeastern corner in the aftermath of the Balkan wars, it is an Asiatic country not only in the bulk of its land mass, but more importantly in its people's history, culture, outlook, religion, and way of life.

Iain Murray (a naturalising American like Mr Trikovic) would not agree, labelling opposition to inclusion of the Turks within the EU as "disgraceful" and "racist". Well I can see how he can think that.

First, is the wish to deny the Turks access to the EU racist? Most Westerners who lives in or around Turkish people would react with surprise with that assertion. Turks seem to mostly be Mediterranean in appearance and hardly distinguishable from other people from the Eastern Mediterranean. This may be because the vast majority of Turks are either from Western Turkey or Cyprus or they are Rumelian Turks who were descendants of European converts to Islam. Other Turks will be less ethnically European, although they are initially less likely to come over here.

The Turks are probably the most Caucasian of Asian peoples, and there's the rub. It is not race that militates against Turkey but culture.

To quickly take on immigration. At a time of heightened sensitivity within the Muslim world is it really a good time to be opening the door to a tens of millions of Muslims? We must be mad, literally mad. Let other less enlightened souls worry about the racial stock, I just think of all those potential terrorists that we're importing.

Then there's the question of political culture. Now Turkey's got a few of these. Firstly there's the oriental despotism of the Ottomans, the proto-fascism of Ataturk (Father of the Turks, no less) or the now incipient Islamism. What we don't see in Turkish political history is a convincing display of democracy or human rights. Is the Army still in control behind the scenes, is Kurdish still banned? This may suit the Eurocrats, but I don't really want representatives or bureaucrats from this political tradition making decisions regarding British lives. Now many of us Eurosceptics point to the shallow democratic roots of present EU members, but Spain's democratic roots appear deep by comparison to Turkey.

And then there's the strategic imperitives. Now Turkey is part of (a dying) NATO so the damage is partly done. However do we really want closer strategic ties with a country that borders Iran, Iraq, Syria, Armenia and Georgia? I can't see how the British national interest is enhanced by having a presence in this unstable region, but I can see plenty of new risks coming in. More risks and no benefits sounds like a bad deal to me.

There is a seductive argument that has been around since the 1980s, the enlargement falacy. I am not talking about all the e-mails that you get about changing certain aspects of your physique but the idea that by increasing the scope of the European Union one somehow dilutes it making it harder to unite. Since we joined in 1973 the EU has more than doubled it's membership. Has the integration clock been turned back one second in that time?
Tuesday, November 26, 2002
Should Parliament vote to deploy troops? - 25th November 2002, 22.18

There was a revolt by 32 Labour MPs on this very issue. A small minority stood up for an amendment of both constitutional and contemporary significance. The dissenters had no chance of winning but, given the huge power of the executive over the legislature, there are strong grounds for demanding that the deployment of British troops should be subjected to a vote in the House of Commons. The executive would still win this vote but it would provide stronger support for the role of Parliament and increase accountability.

Such a step would not transform our constitution but it would rein back the ambitions of particular Prime Ministers who move our armed forces around the globe like toytown soldiers on a bedroom floor.
Falling between two stools - 25th November 2002, 22.02

IDS managed to point out Blair's overloading of the armed forces. Which has priority: NATO or the EU? The Fettes cat smiled and disappeared, answering,

"There are going to be circumstances where Europe is able to act but Nato, for reasons for example to do with American unwillingness, is unwilling to act. In circumstances where Nato as a whole cannot be engaged it makes perfect sense for European defence to take this over."

Transpose 'American' and 'European' to discover this government's real foreign policy.
Giscard D'Estaing, Defender of Christendom - 26th November 2002, 21.50

A fortnight ago, the haughty defender of French interests declared that Turkey was not welcome at the trough. The country was Muslim, bordered Iran and, as an example, might even lead to an application from, quelle horreur!, Morocco. Moreover, as Britain was an enthusiastic supporter of Turkish entry, this ploy could be seen as an attempt to increase US influence.

"Those who have pushed enlargement most strongly in the direction of Turkey are the enemies of the European Union," he said, in a thinly veiled reference to Britain.

Now that Turkey has elected a mild Islamist government, the question of this NATO ally has haunted both the recent summit in Prague and the diplomatic rows behind the Convention. Neither France nor Germany wish to see so many Muslims in their beloved superstate even though the consequence could be increased instability and even war between Greece and Turkey on their southern borders.

Fortunately for Turkey, and even a possible escape-route for ourselves, is the mooted Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Area (TAFTA), that would merge NAFTA and the EEA with Turkey and independent countries west of the Urals. This looks a better alternative for Turkey who should ensure that the EU's military pretensions are punctured by refusing co-operation with NATO.
Monday, November 25, 2002
Wooing the West - 25th November 2002, 22.38

Over the last year, China has seen American forces encroach on its attempts to develop a 'sphere of influence' in Central Asia through the Shanghai five.

The low-key dialogue between China and NATO, mentioned in an earlier post, has been started due to two developments: the shift of Russia towards the United States that China now perceives as permanent; and the realisation that they have been a strategic loser from the 'war on terror'. As Western forces support existing regimes and build bases in Central Asia and South East Asia, regions which China views as 'areas of influence', the Communist leadership has had to swallow its pride and develop a relationship with the West's military alliance, NATO.

However, the hold of Western forces in Central Asia, Afghanistan and Pakistan is very fragile and depends upon the continued goodwill and neutrality of this mercurial giant. It is only four months ago that Chinese naval ships made the first circumnavigation of the globe for their country. China is expanding its role in international diplomacy: as an arbiter in regional disputes throughout Asia and as an intermediary between the developing world and the rich North. The reasons are as follows:

It was not until the mid-1990s that China, under the stewardship of Jiang Zemin, emerged as a regional power with global ambitions capable of becoming a major player in crisis situations around the world.

China's Communist Party, which is reshaping itself into a party of technocrats, businessmen and globe-trotting diplomats, is keen to foster the new image of Beijing as a global heavyweight and intermediary.

The People's Daily, the party's flagship newspaper, in an editorial last week, defined China's diplomacy as a "new security concept" of "working to safeguard world peace and promote common prosperity." Zhou Fuyuan, a senior official from east China's Jiangsu Province, was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua News Agency last week, "We must make the most of strategic opportunities facing us in the first two decades of the new century and open wider to and increase exchanges with the outside world,"

But analysts say China's ambitions are also aimed at countering what it perceives as America's growing "hegemony" throughout the world, which has brought U.S. troops stationed along its western borders.

"China is wary of the U.S.-led global security system of bilateral military alliances, which it fears will lead to a monopoly of power," said Ming Wei, a professor of international relations at Shanghai University.

Even as American hegemony drives forward with the 'war on terror', other nations adapt by engaging with the existing system of diplomacy and acting as regional counterweights with global pretensions. Thirty years from now, historians will look back and write that America's reaction to the 11th September bombings in turn deepened the drive towards a European superstate, westernised Russia and forced China to engage in global diplomacy.

As yet, the long-term trends are opaque for India or the Middle East.
Sunday, November 24, 2002
Leave Us Alone - 24th November 2002, 20.37

At first sight, this appears to be the gist of Osama Bin Laden's letter, circulated and translated in Britain by Islamists, before being printed in full by the Observer, here. The telling paragraph is reproduced below,

We also call you to deal with us and interact with us on the basis of mutual interests and benefits, rather than the policies of sub dual, theft and occupation, and not to continue your policy of supporting the Jews because this will result in more disasters for you.

Now, the Observer has described this as a call for a 'defensive' holy war calling upon the West to leave the areas where the Ummah exists and to cease supporting governments which oppose the rise of Islamism. If you read the actual letter, you will see that Bin Laden describes the United States as immoral and arrogant for having the temerity to be "the nation who, rather than ruling by the Shariah of Allah in its Constitution and Laws, choose to invent your own laws as you will and desire".

Here are some choice examples:

You are a nation that permits acts of immorality, and you consider them to be pillars of personal freedom. You have continued to sink down this abyss from level to level until incest has spread amongst you, in the face of which neither your sense of honour nor your laws object.

Who can forget your President Clinton's immoral acts committed in the official Oval office? After that you did not even bring him to account, other than that he 'made a mistake', after which everything passed with no punishment. Is there a worse kind of event for which your name will go down in history and remembered by nations?

I was tempted to ask if Osama was a Republican at this point!

However, if, as Osama demands, the US was to interact with Islam on the basis of mutual interests and benefits, then it would have to abandon those practices described in the letter as immoral and derived from the control of the Jews: constitutional democracy, gambling, drinking, fornication etc. etc. The only method that Bin Laden puts forward as the antidote to this supposed corruption is:

The first thing that we are calling you to is Islam.

Whilst the initial demands of this letter are the removal of the West from all areas where Muslims live, the call to morality underlying these, suggests that the ulterior goal is not to isolate the Ummah from the bacillus of the Enlightenment, but to purge the corruption from the globe. It is the usual open-ended nonsense shared by Stalin, Hitler and all other would-be king of kings.
The Axis Powers strengthened - 24th November 2002, 20.04

France and Germany announced a range of shared goals in their prospective submissions to the European Convention: a European Armaments Agency, a European defence policy and greater EU powers in internal and external security. To demonstrate the seriousness with which they now view the Convention, both foreign ministers, Dominique de Villepin and Joschka Fischer, have joined the body.

In this beneficial development, Britain is now marginalised and Blair's strategy of placing us at 'the heart of Europe' has proved to be an appalling judgement of error from a naive idiot.
Saturday, November 23, 2002
The Role of Religion in the European Constitution - 23rd November 2002, 21.25

The constitution of the European Peoples Party included a reference to the religious heritage of Europe in their proposal. At first, this appeared to be a confessional clause that the Christian Democrat element had insisted upon to appease their own Catholic and protestant constituencies.

Radio Free Europe has reported that Giscard D'Estaing visited Pope John Paul II a few weeks ago and responded sceptically to the Pope's insistence in a speech to the Italian Parliament that the Constitution should recognise Europe's religious heritage. This is understandable given French loyalty to the separation of church and state.

If this clause is adopted, it will demonstrate another vital difference between the commanding heights of constitutional practice (the United States), taking its cue from the Enlightenment, and constructing a constitution via committee in that unworthy plagiarist, the European Convention.
Lost an enemy, yet to find a role - 23rd November 2002, 16.59

The usual veil of reportage and 'event' status obscured the significance of the NATO summit in Prague this week, if it had any. The alliance was enlarged, President Kuchma of the Ukraine gatecrashed, and the Belarussian Lukashenko promised to unleash a tide of prostitution and crime.

The summit was influenced by the arguments that have pervaded comment over the last year of a rising US/European split. The 20,000 man rapid reaction force proposal supported by the US/UKwas viewed as a rival to the EU's pretensions towards a military role - their objective of a force, 60,000 strong, focussed on fulfilling the Petersburg Tasks. Those powers that wished to develop a separate European defence entity viewed this new force as an American attempt to undermine their objective, although their own divisions and lack of financial support have arguably caused more damage.

This "transformation summit" and its new force did not provide a corrective to the prevailing perception that NATO lacks a purpose. The United States has downplayed the alliance because its geopolitical concerns now focus upon the Middle East and the 'war on terror'. The rapid reaction force was designed as a tool whereby the Europeans could assist the US in this task, increasing their importance in the future coalitions that would be constructed to fight specific enemies. Hence, NATO would now take on a global role and ratify a permanent force for 'out of area' operations.

The United States' immediate concern was to find allies for its long term plans for the Middle East. Ron Asmus, one of the architects of NATO enlargement, had found great support in the Bush administration for his willingness to imagine a cleansed Augean stables where sheikdoms and autocrats were replaced by democracies:

Ron Asmus, former assistant secretary of State who was the Clinton administration's point man for the first enlargement of NATO three years ago, stresses that "the existential threats we face today no longer come from Europe. They come from the Middle East. That's the central strategic issue of the next decade and more."

Asmus, a former strategic analyst at the RAND Corporation, has drafted a broad proposal to use the planned regime change in Iraq to establish a beachhead of democracy in the Middle East. The Asmus plan stems from Washington's deep frustration with the collapse of the peace process in the Middle East, partly because undemocratic Arab governments need the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli crisis, and some discreetly cooperate with extremist Islamism, as a way to divert reformist pressures within their own societies.

The plan, which has attracted keen interest inside the Bush administration, proposes to widen this democratic beachhead and transform the assorted near-feudal autocracies, sheikhdoms, theocracies and dictatorships that comprise the 23 Arab countries.

But as Asmus noted in an interview last month, the United States is no longer interested in Europe because the continent is stable and does not pose a major threat. If NATO cannot provide aid to the US war effort in the Middle East due to the opposition of its members, then it will decline into irrelevance.

As all decisions in the North Atlantic Council have to be consensual, it is not alarmist to state that the fate of NATO lies in the hands of the Europeans themselves. Given their record, an obituary is just around the corner.
Thursday, November 21, 2002
Senescence - 21st November 2002, 22.36

When an individual becomes old and retires from working life, their capital is often drawn down as they use both interest and principal to support their standard of living. The same analogy applies to a tired German economy, ossified and welfarist, living off its past successes in wealth creation, whilst suffering a slow but inexorable decline in growth, productivity and living standards.

What will be the results of stagnation in Mitteleuropa? None for a short while except a turning inwards and an unwillingness to finance guns at the expense of butter. After all, why should Germans work when "The unemployed in Germany are better off than many workers in Britain"

But they shouldn't worry. It will be some years yet before economic reality cames calling.
What is Netanyahu playing at? - 21st November 2002, 22.23

'Bibi' Netanyahu is a fool if he thinks that the EU will provide a long-term solution to Israel's economic and security problems, even to the possibility of joining the fools.

Does he really want to consort with the amoral states that support his enemies for influence and profit?
Is it beginning to strike a nerve? - 21st November 2002, 22.15

Peter Hain was striking a sceptical note on the new European Constitution when he spoke to the Commons European scrutiny committee yesterday. After the initial spin stating that Britain was influencing the outcome, Hain proved more resistant to the ideas of a Congress of Peoples Parties, a Charter of fundamental rights, a common foreign and security policy and federalism.

This response is caused by Blair's mishandling of the European agenda as he finds himself sidelined by France and Germany attempting to share common ground on the Convention and Europe. There was even a hint in Blair's meeting with Alain Juppe that he linked the outcome of the Convention to Britain's attitude towards the Euro.

As mentioned in a previous post, Britain is now Turkey's main sponsor in the EU and this is considered a lever to widen US influence in Europe.

For the first time, Blair is finding himself at odds with his illiberal neighbours and the circles of Europe and the US are proving less compatible in current British foreign policy.
Tuesday, November 19, 2002
From Vancouver to Vladivostok - 19th November 2002, 21.47

NATO enlargement is neither efficacious nor productive for the military capabilities of the Alliance. It is about repaying moral debts enshrined in blood at Yalta and guaranteeing security to small countries on the periphery.

However, raise one's eyes above Europe and you see that China could view the current chain of US bases in Central Asia, a friendly Russia and its secure allies in East Asia as a form of encirclement. That is why China confirmed that it has opened a dialogue with NATO and leads to a globalised future for NATO.

China, in other words, doesn’t want to be left out in a world where NATO is becoming a sort of total security blanket that almost challenges the United Nations. And similarly, the US is also moving in this direction, expanding NATO but at the same time grading the real participation of its members.

With the agreement with Russia and now the dialogue with China, NATO is becoming something else, something more global that could soon include Japan and South Korea.

There are two important aspects to this new-look NATO: one, the benefits of each member state; and two, the role of the US, which leads the alliance now more than ever. Each member state benefits, no matter what its position in the grading system that places the various countries closer or further from the core - ie, the US. The advantage of membership is that member states will never be isolated, and so China would benefit by being in NATO's orbit.

NATO becomes the global vehicle through which states organise their security relationship with the leader, the United States. Not empire, but imperium. Iain Murray provides more discussion and a link on the distinction.
An Overview - 19th November 2002, 21.28

Here's a good article that links the changes in US foreign policy to the internal political changes within the EU. The basic premise of this article from the World Socialist Review is that Britain's pro-US position is a declining influence in the EU, where a German-French axis has reasserted its authority due to shared geopolitical concerns: maintaining a military role independent of the United States; scheduling a summit to take a common position on the Constitution and working to prevent Turkey from acceding to the EU as a US proxy.

The world economic crisis, European Union (EU) enlargement, and the debate on EU governmental structures are forcing major changes in the political positions of the European powers, exposing deep economic and political fault lines inside the EU. Underlying the disagreements within the EU is the impact of US foreign policy on the European integration project. In its turn toward unilateralism and militarism, Washington is exacerbating intergovernmental tensions on the continent, instead of favoring European integration as it did during the Cold War.

Despite the doubtful provenance of this piece, it is a succinct analysis of the current situation, even if some of the arguments are speculative.
Monday, November 18, 2002
Rapid Reaction NATO - 18th November 2002, 22.02

UPI are concentrating on the forthcoming NATO conference with their analyses and provide some insight into the role that the US/UK envisage for the alliance. Britain is supporting a rapid reaction force, formed of NATO's special forces that can act globally, with a command of 20,000 men under US leadership. This comes at the expense of the European Rapid Reaction Force which will be confined to latrine duties.

The US believes that NATO could "become another indecisive, bloated U.N." and are unsure whether Britain's kite will fly in the face of European apathy.
Hear, Hear - 18th November 2002, 21.56

Tony Benn took his famous one man show to Brussels and precipitated a Bateman cartoon before an undistinguished audience of eurocrats and politicians.

One of Benn's main criticisms was that there is not enough democracy in Brussels, a point with which it is hard to argue.

The European commission, he reminded the audience, is not elected and therefore not accountable, and the European parliament, he told crestfallen MEPs, is not a parliament in the real sense of the word.

The real parliament and the real power is the EU's council of ministers, he added, where many decisions are taken in secret and where ministers agree laws unencumbered by national parliamentary scrutiny - despite the fact that those same laws will have a profound and irreversible effect on the people of Britain. And that, he suggested, is not democracy or anything coming close to it.

The most important question to ask someone in power, he quipped, was how you go about getting rid of them, and in the case of the European commission the disturbing answer is you can't.

Benn did get some support.

A prominent Tory MEP who insisted on shouting "Hear Hear!" after any of Benn's pronouncements he liked (and there were many of them) reminded the audience that doubts about the EU and its direction are shared by the right too.

The man was doing well until he proposed a Commonwealth of European Nations including Russia, probably as a counterweight to the US. Still, it discomfited the audience.

Worth the Risk?

Terrorism is something that intrudes on us all, is the reaction from the surprisingly unformed plan to put cyanide in London Underground.

Apart from the disapointment that Al Qaeda did not stay in Strasbourg we have to ask why are they going for London?

Now is it jealousy with regard to our superior standard of civilisation? Rage at our participation in the crusades?

Of course it was neither. Simply put Al Qaeda want to take out the Saudi monarchy. Any obstacle to that (primarily the American presence in the Gulf) is resisted. And who are the Americans biggest allies?

Well us.

So let's look at the Pros and Cons.

Pro. Tony Blair gets to sit at an International top table.

Con. The British public are exposed to a far higher risk of terrorist attrocity.

Now terrorist attrocity is a worthwhile risk when the goals are important enough. Northern Ireland is a case in point. However the American presence in the Gulf, how does that affect our national interest?

However on the bright side no member of the Cabinet regularly uses the Underground system, and so they are not at risk - it is merely those of us who pay to keep them that way.
Sunday, November 17, 2002
North Americans Turfed Out (NATO) - 17th November 2002, 14.22

Not a headline I expect to see in Great Britain but one that is quite likely on the Continent with the continued rise of anti-Americanism. The NATO group is being overtaken by events elsewhere and even an enthusiastic article by Gareth Harding at UPI that views the meeting in Prague next week as a possible make-over by providing the alliance with global capabilities states that "Prague will prove whether they have come up with the right answers".

How can NATO co-exist with Europe? That question hasn't been answered yet.
United States refuses to support hate speech resolution - 17th November 2002, 14.14

If you live in Peoria, you won't be deported. If you live in Guildford, watch out!
Second Most Powerful Nation - 17th November 2002, 14.13

This appellation has been used a few times in recent weeks to describe Britain's (supposed) ability to project military forces beyond the European theatre. Its latest use is here in the Aerotech News and Review where Nile Gardiner and John Hulsman provide a succinct, if distinctly US flavoured article on the pressures facing Blair: dissent within the old left and a sceptical, indeed oppositional, European Union.

Britain's position as a leading global player has been greatly enhanced since Sept. 11, in large part due to Blair's standing "shoulder to shoulder" with President Bush. As the primary nation in Europe able to project substantial military strength beyond the continent, Britain has emerged as the world's second most powerful military and political power in the 21st century. It is no coincidence that it was the only nation to join the United States in launching military strikes on the opening day of the Afghanistan offensive. The closeness of the Anglo-American relationship undoubtedly causes envy and disquiet among a resentful Brussels establishment, who feel militarily inadequate and virtually irrelevant on the world stage.

Whilst unconvinced by this 'hype', there are some grounds for viewing this current US/UK configuration as increasingly incompatible with the moves underfoot in the European Convention for a sovereign state emerging from the EU. As The Economist stated this week, tax harmonisation may prove to be an "uncrossable line" for Great Britain and Eire, with D'Estaing stating that those who oppose can leave. Should events turn that way...
Saturday, November 16, 2002
Cyanide Plot - 16th November 2002, 23.10

Terrorists of North African origin linked to Al-Qaeda were arrested last week for plotting to release cyanide gas on the London underground system.

I am not sure how successful they might have been since the three arrested are of no fixed abode and planned to release the gas (mechanism unknown) in one crowded carriage. My suspicions are that they are probably the only visible sign so far of reasonable intel success on the part of the British government in foiling or preventing terrorist attacks. London has been a target for some time.

The problem with our intelligence services is you never know if they have ever been successful because you never hear about them.
Libertarian Defence - 16th November 2002, 13.58

Further to Paul Birch's article on mutual defence, Bob Murphy provides a note arguing that the 'free rider' problem was unresolved and that a better alternative would be long-term insurance contracts.
German Libertarianism - 16th November 2002, 13.52

Here's a website for a German Libertarian party called Die Freien whose links include The Centre for the New Europe, von Mises, Hayek, Cato and some unusual suspects. All in German so very difficult to comprehend unless you speak the lingo. But it's good to see some activity on that front.
Oxymoron: Libertarian Realpolitik - 16th November 2002, 13.45.

Seth Fehrs of libertyforall puts forward a libertarian solution to the problems of the Middle East: a peace treaty between Israel and the Arab states with the United States as guarantor and Turkey providing peacekeeping troops. The US would remove all troops from the Middle East.

Removal of all US forces from the region and a pledge to end US meddling in the internal affairs of all treaty nations.

Turkey would be included in the treaty, along with as many nations as possible from approximately Egypt to Afghanistan.

Pledges that an attack on any treaty nation would be viewed as an attack on them all. This is includes recognizing Israel as a nation and member of the treaty, and sincere efforts to eliminate terrorist organizations.

Israel cedes Palestine as a fully independent country and allows limited Arab pilgrimages to Jerusalem. Roughly speaking, Palestine would consist of territories seized in the 1967 war.

The United States agrees to come to the protection of Israel, and other member states who ask, in the event of a total breakdown of the treaty that results in war. [This part of the treaty might be optional, seeing as Israel has survived so far.]

The only problem is that the article presumes all parties would respect international law and underestimates the religious hatred that motivates many Arab states. I cannot see Arab states ganging up on one of their own if it attacks Israel.
Friday, November 15, 2002
The Tories have signed up to this - 15th November 2002

The European People's Party have produced their response to the skeleton constitution and puts flesh on their statist dreams. Here's a list of their 'democratic demands':

"a specific reference to Europe's "religious heritage" in the constitution's preamble, the introduction of an EU tax, and a new form of European partnership for the EU's neighbours which the EU believes might be extended to Turkey instead of membership."

They also differ from the socialists in their rejection of a European 'president' and Congress of the European Peoples.

Since the Christian Democrats have been federalists from the Treaty of Rome, can the Conservative Party continue to belong to a group that is unwilling to allow a secession clause in the constitution. After all, it is inconceivable that anyone would want to leave.

On the other hand, Timothy Kirkhope, Tory rep on the Convention (sotto voce) has called for referenda in all countries to ratify the Constitution. That sunk without trace.

Romano Prodi Muses - 15th November 2002, 21.36

An occasional series on the musings of the Commissioner.

Prodi expanded on his earlier thoughts about the "ring of friends" by supporting further enlargement of the EU, citing Israel and Morocco as possible candidates. This was possibly stimulated by Binyamin Netanyahu's meeting with Berlusconi where he took leave of his senses and explored the possibility of accepting the euro or the dollar in place of the shekel and joining the EU. Yossi Beilin wonders how the right in Israel could be so wrong.

Netanyahu and Shaul Mofaz had barely settled into their new positions when they rejected the "road map," joined the European Union, dollarized the economy and served as living proof that when you let the Right be itself, it has no coherent agenda that can advance Israel's national interest.

Sharon begins to look sane by comparison.

The only realist stance

In the National Interest, the cumbersomly named web presence of the National Interest is getting rather dovish these days. Well not dovish, merely taking the cold hard look that any adventure would need, and is not getting from usually sensible sources. An excellent example of this is Simon Chesterman's article "Unfinished Business".

Empty Cooing

Mick Hume takes apart the conventional antiwar case, hilarious. The problem with the peace movement is that a case based on compassion for the poor Iraqis has trouble when arguing for the continuation of Saddam Hussein's rule (I know that Arabs have a talent for coming up with far worse domestic arrangements than Saddam, but let's just say that he's not a pleasant man). Similarly the compassionate case sort of runs thin when saying that sanctions will bring him down when we are blocking chlorine to block the water supply and children's medicine.

The argument against intervention in other people's disputes is simply that they are not worth the expense and risk. Little England may be boring for the armchair generals but it is far more peaceful and prosperous.
Wednesday, November 13, 2002
A "Ring of Friends" - 13th November 2002, 22.06

It is kind of Romano Prodi to muse on the future borders of the European Union and share with us his thoughts on the prospective relationship with his neighbours. His speech confirms that many of the federalists are aware of the seachange in international relations since September 11th and this has acted as a stimulus to their push for a superstate and downgraded the emphasis given to international governance.

In the last year, the Commission has begun to speak as if it were a state and now envisages influence throughout the East and the North African littoral, captured in his phrase "from Moscow to Morocco". Such a vision places him in the federalist debate but promotes a transnationalist (free access to health care, political and environmental links etc.) view of the EU's future rather than the demand for sovereignty as a modern state and places him in disagreement with the the voluble Giscard D'Estaing. His vision as such is a ludicrous aversion to the huge problems that disfigure this region and pose difficulties for the Club Med who don't wish to be overrun by North Africans.

Those neighbours would be linked to the EU not only by a common economic space but also by political cooperation and technical agreements in areas such as health or the free circulation of people.

Prodi includes charming candidates like Libya and Egypt in this possible grouping and they wouldn't share institutions with the European countries themselves. That saves even these loathsome regimes from the heroin addicts huddling in Europe, who love to share everything from their currency to their food, always at our expense.
Tuesday, November 12, 2002
Skating away on the Thin Ice of the New Day 12th November 2002, 20.13

Why does NATO still exist when its purpose appears to duplicate that of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe? The answer lies in the inertia that has persisted since the Cold War when West Europe, facing the massed armies across the Fulda Gap, needed this institution and ensured that it did not go the way of its long-lost regional counterparts, SEATO and CENTO.

However, the events of the 11th September 2001 reshaped international affairs in a way that is just beginning to become clear. The United States remains the lodestar by which other countries orient themselves and many are starting to vocally address the same security concerns that the United States has identified and declare an 'interest' in missile defence. Japanese officials have been reported as accelerating their co-operation and deployment of anti-missile systems since the declaration of North Korea that it continued to develop a nuclear weapons programme. Geoff Hoon, the Defence Secretary, also gave the strongest indication yet that Britain wished to develop an anti-missile system in co-operation with the US.

With the redundancy of NATO, it is difficult to see how the future relations of North America and Europe will develop. One area that may provide a model is East Asia where the United States is economically integrated with the local countries and supports regional institutions that do not compromise its power. This is complemented with bilateral relationships to those nations too powerful to ignore or tied by security interests.

This also means that the system of international relations has tipped back towards the application of national sovereignty and against the promoters of transnationalism. They had the opportunity to develop their ideology within the security umbrella provided by the Cold War and have found that a multipolar world is inimical to their ideal view of the world. That could possibly explain why many transnationalists on the Continent are adapting a halfway house with the rush towards a sovereign United States of Europe in the Convention. This development has the best chance of representing their version of world governance.

Perhaps Britain's future in the medium term looks similar to Japan's, an offshore island looking nervously at an aloof, authoritarian neighbour with whom it has strong economic ties.

Still Legal

This should worry all web loggers. The Council of Europe (essentially a wider and narrower version of the EU) has outlawed "Hate Speech" on the internet.

We all know the slope. Does xenophobia mean beating up foreigners or not consenting to rule by foreigners? We all know what will be banned.
More Demands 12/11/02

23rd July 1914: The Austro-Hungarian government makes fifteen demands on the Serbian government.

Austria Hungary makes unacceptable demands on a sovereign country.

8th November 2002: The UN passes resolution 1441 making a series of unacceptable demands on Iraq after pressure from the US.

History pretty much judged Germany and Austria the bad guys after 1918. I have no idea how long the US intends to keep on about the supposed war on terrorism in aid of amongst other things Greater Israel but I do wonder how history will judge.
Monday, November 11, 2002
Anti-Americanism: How powerful is it? 11th November 2002, 23.30

It appears that within Germany, anti-Americanism has now found its voice and has been further stimulated by a recent article in Der Spiegel. There are some who argue that this latest bout of Anti-Americanism can be traced to the fall of the twin towers and the consequent perceived rise in US unilateralism.

Yet this article at KRTWire takes a balanced approach and shows that, below the froth of rock-throwing and puffing up of differences, both American and European citizens share similar attitudes to security. The only difference is that Berlin or Paris has not suffered an attack of the magnitude of 9/11 and do not consider missiles or weapons of mass destruction to be a primary threat just yet.

That will change as their vulnerability to states in the South and East grow.
The Russia-EU Summit 11th November 2002, 23.18

Another indication that the theory of the European Union as a post-modern construct heralding a new avant-garde in international relations has lost its explanatory force since September 11th 2001. The Europeans told the Russians that Chechnya was not an internal problem, that they were checking the conflict for human rights, and there was a need to treat the conflict as more than a "terrorist problem". The Russians ignored the EU and stated that it was an internal affair, backed up by Lord Robertson of NATO.

There will be more examples of the EU promoting its agenda in a world where states, faced with immediate threats to their security, will view them as idiots, perhaps naive idiots.

Libertarian and National Defence 11th November 2002, 23.05

It is rare (almost unique) to post a purely theoretical article on libertarianism here but the comments of Daniel Thomas concerning an engagement with standing armies prompted some research.

The purest strand that I could find was Paul Birch writing about the mutual defence association or militia, dependent upon the local community and viewing defence as a mutual private good rather than as a public good. These would provide the military ballast to allow libertarian societies to defend themselves against aggressive powers or invaders.

We're a long way from the world where such institutions could flourish.

Royal Intrusion

So who was Charles's man accused of rape? According the the Italian La Repubblica it was Michael Fawcett (here it is in English, sort of). This was the chap who earlier got the Prince of Wales in trouble with the employment tribunal for non-pc jokes and is famed as constantly being at Charles's side.

Now what this has to do with British foreign affairs I don't rightly know, more to do with the thrill of breaking officially embargoed news. And I struggled manfully at avoiding the obvious pun on a certain Latin phrase.

Wrong, wrong, wrong

Seems like a few helpings of humble pie are in order. I predicted that Bush would come out worse, as domestic policy would trump foreign policy. Well obviously he won and on a large part due to foreign policy.

It seems that he didn't. So my theory on the Falklands factor, that there isn't one - needs to be forgotten. How about the idea that Governments don't win elections due to winning wars. Fighting wars will still win you votes, after that the popularity drains regardless of the result.

Any counter examples to Churchill and Bush the First?

Sunday, November 10, 2002
UNanimity 10th November 2002, 22.55

It is now clear that the United States obtained the support that it desired from the Security Council with the unanimous vote to support arms inspectors returning to Iraq. Here is a timetable for the implementation of the resolution and the possibility of the US effecting militay action if Iraq fails to co-operate. What is clear is that the 'inevitability' of war should not be argued although the probability is now greater than it was at the beginning of this month as Hussein has fewer opportunities to play off the members of the Security Council.

The text of the resolution, including the much-publicised phrase "material breach" can be read here. Effectively, the French and the Russians argue that the resolution demands a referral back to the Security Council if the conditions are not met whereas the US views a breach as the casus belli for a regime change.

There are two schools of thought: that the US made significant concessions to the "sceptical three" in order to obtain the support of the Security Council including oil futures; or that the intense diplomacy concentrated the minds of the permanent members to maintain the authority of the UN as a constraint on the likelihood of a "vengeful, unilateral strike of an obsessed superpower". One suspects that the United Nations needs the United States more than the US needs the UN.

This outcome was not the most appealing since one of the few positive outcomes of possible military action was the negative impact that it may have had on the authority of the UN. Unfortunately, Blair, Powell and Bush's untimely common sense have conspired to support this much unloved institution for now.
Thursday, November 07, 2002

Domestic Politics Intrusion

Is IDS finished? Probably, but how about a slightly conspiratorial view?

Firstly we have to assume that IDS's rather dramatic rise was either the result of above average tactical skill, or advisers with the aforesaid skill. Secondly we have to assume that he has kept enough of his marbles or his advisers to have retained this. This is not to say that he has charisma or is a skilled parliamentary performer, just neither as nice or dim as he appears.

We should then look at the effect of his words (and the ferrocious briefings), in that they are heightening anger among his parliamentary opponents and increasing loyalty among the grassroots. Let's assume that the general effect would have been foreseen when the decision would have been (that tactical skill here) and therefore as he chose to speak out when he could have kept quiet then the effect was deliberate.

So what are the likely effects of this state of affairs, and why would they be beneficial to IDS? Well the big question is whether the dissidents will move. If they don't (which is most likely) then they will be humiliated. They've been left very little wriggle room to pull out of this. After all both the Pensioner and the Spaniard have a record of making loud threats and chickening out during the Major government. Why not again?

However there may be another outcome, and the dissidents may be incensed enough to challenge a sitting leader knowing full well that the last word will go to the party in the country. The most likely outcome would be that any sitting leader would crush an opponent in this case, particularly if the opponent was more pro Europe and socially liberal. Not only would he humiliate the dissidents, but also generate acres of free coverage. Under party rules he cannot initiate a Major style "back me or sack me vote" without completely standing down, that doesn't mean he can't get someone else to do it.

The IDS camp have been talking about a Clause 4 debate for IDS to take on the party. For a year this was assumed to be taking on the "traditionalists", but this would have been a lot of work for little reward as the modernisers started on insisting on sillier and sillier ideas such as expelling Norman Tebbit or supporting gay marriage. Now, if the above analysis is correct, the tack has been changed after the conference. The modernisers will never be satiated and there are now easier dragons to slay.

While the biggest problem for the Labour Party was the perception of economic incompetance - symbolically fought off with the repeal of clause 4 - the Conservative's problem is with division and back biting. This is why IDS is seen as finished in Westminster, as the Tories are now divided. However a massive mandate from his own party could transform things.

Of course there are a few possible flaws in this analysis. Perhaps IDS is not tactically astute and has not foreseen this, and is simply sleepwalking. Perhaps the party will vote against him, or by a smaller margin or the MPs won't let him through to the party membership.
Referendum on an E.U. Constitution? No Chance.

7th November 2002.

As ever, the dear old British government presents a fundamental change to our Constitution - in this case, about as fundamental a change as you can get, namely its replacement by a foreign one - as nothing more than a simple matter of tying up loose ends, "consolidating" what is already there, all for the sake of "efficiency", you understand. No, no, no need for anything so vulgar as a referendum, old chap, it really won't make a jot of difference; after all, we're slaves already, don't'cha know?

Monday, November 04, 2002
Levelling the Playing Field - 4th November 2002, 21.57

The government ensured that it would be able to follow the example of the Irish administration and outspend any of its opponents in a referendum on the Euro. Business for Sterling had decided to stop their little game and take proceedings to the High Court to prevent this shameful and one-sided waste of our money.

They have sent a letter to Lord Irvine and are expecting a reply by the 1st December 2002. Their legal opinion is here in pdf format from Simon Kovats, specialist in public law. It will be ironic if this government is hung out to dry on its own liberal agenda, as the no campaign is using Sections 10 and 14 of the European Convention on Human Rights to press their case.
Sunday, November 03, 2002
Are we living in Cloud Cuckoo Land? 3rd November 2002, 20.28

You would not believe that Britain had the fourth largest economy in the world given the state of our armed forces. The fiscal rapist, Gordon Brown, has pared away all fat from our defence forces as well as our pensions and has now informed the MOD that they must invent a new strategy that doesn't cost as much ie no ground forces.

It's the battle of leaks over money and war but Blair cannot afford to have his campaign undercut by the dismal Scot. He may have to bite the bullet and sack the mullet or pay the price in watching Britain sink further into European irrelevance.

Latest example: Nimrods that cannot fly after upgrading because their wings don't fit.
Saturday, November 02, 2002
Zimwatch: Government capabilities are failing 2nd November 2002, 19.32

The notch tightens further as the Zimbabwean government is no longer able to import oil for consumer use, presumably because of a lack of capital.

Comrade Mugabe spoke out,

The fuel comes in the name of the Government. When the fuel comes we are worried about its duration, whether we have enough stocks. And what do we do? We call in multinational companies. They sell and make profits. Government does not make any profit. Twenty-two years in Government, 22 years of playing this game of foolery. They don't suffer from the headaches and stomach aches I suffer from.

They can bring in fuel but Government cracks to make them rich. For how long shall I superintend this institution of tomfoolery?

No doubt the aches are caused by the stress of guiding his country wisely towards the uphills of socialism.
The Whig View of the EU - 2nd November 2002, 19.20

There are many Eurosceptics who take a Hegelian line that Europe will founder under its own contradictions: the lack of a democratic settlement and an institutional inability to set policies that promote reform at the expense of specific interests. They view the collapse of the European Union with a certain Whiggish inevitability in an inversion of the mindset of the 1980s that thought the Soviet Union was here to stay.

Michael Prowse of the FT writes, under the exaggerated headline of "A new superpower is emerging", that,

The danger of underestimating Europe's forward momentum is one of the few reliable historical lessons of the past 40 odd years.

Followed by more usual nonsense that we tend to read in powerhungry Europhiles:

My suspicion is that sceptics (on both sides of the Atlantic) underestimate the EU mainly because they find the idea of European unity so profoundly disturbing. The unease on Americans' part is understandable. At present, the US is the world's undisputed superpower. However implausible it may seem today, an enlarged EU is the political entity that is most likely to challenge US political dominance later this century. Everything points that way: Europe's history, its geographical size, its economic muscle and its depth of human talent. The one thing the EU still lacks is a constitution - a set of political rules - that will allow it to play its proper role in global affairs.

Of course, the article lacks one small but significant word: democracy or any discussion of its omission.
Friday, November 01, 2002
Plagiarism 1st November 2002, 23.36 GMT

No excuses. I'm just following Iain Murray on these links.

Boris Johnson interviews Chris Patten. About as penetrating as Newsnight.

Why oh why can't we act like the French?

PFI Friday - 1st November 2002, 19.47 GMT

With the prevailing discussion of war in Iraq and the resources required to combat these threats, it is clear that the armed forces are suffering from the incompetence, bad judgement and lack of preparation that New Labour brings to any Ministry.

Now, the Audit Commission has demonstrated that we lack trained pilots for the Apache helicopters we ordered; half of our warships are in drydock; or this wonderful PFI deal where midair refuelling Airbus A330-200s will double up as holiday jets. John Edmonds said,

But how is it going to look when Tony Blair has to tell President Bush that the RAF can't bomb Baghdad because it's stuck on a Club 18-30 mission to Benidorm?

Is that Labour's plan:support the US to the hilt without actually committing any forces because their equipment was crap or unavailable.

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