Friday, May 30, 2003

The Things they say

First they say that the constitution is a tidying up operation meaning that there is no significant change in the European Union, then they say that they're going to block the European Public Prosecutor. By definition it can't be a tidying up operation, as they wouldn't have bothered to block this.

Then they say that they are against the use of referendums because it interferes with parliamentary sovereignty.

A good article in the Spectator from Ambrose Evans Pritchard on Europe in general.
Wednesday, May 28, 2003
Blogging on the Constitution - 28th May 2003, 23.02

Iain Murray has provided some sound arguments on the disadvantages of holding a referendum on the European Constitution. Iain states that a parliamentary route is constitutionally more sound and that a referendum could prove disastrous, due to the vulnerability of this vehicle to any cause (post entitled "HM the Q in EU").

On Samizdata, I commented on David Carr's posting and the lively debate that it fired up (135 comments and counting). My comment revolved around the question of how the United States may aid the Eurosceptic movement in its endeavours. Financial aid would be counterproductive. Therefore, the most favourable strategy would be to draw upon the strengths of the conservative and libertarian movements in the United States: their strong intellectual and institutional infrastructure, with the aim of providing a favourable 'climate of opinion' towards Euroscepticism and UK withdrawal within the Beltway (especially at the State Department) and exploring possible alternatives, both economic and strategic for the North Atlantic community. James Bennett, of Anglosphere fame, also commented:

The problem is that this time, unlike 1940, Britian does not have Churchill in No. 10; in regards to the European question, the current occupant is more like Oswald Moseley. If Britain had a visible figure somewhere in its leadership who was clearly articulating why this constitution was bad for Britain and bad for America, Americans would respond in kind. Unfortunately, the Brit most visible to Americans is working hard to sell the idea, including to Bush. This limits our ability to mobilize.

Much progress has been made over the past three years on educating America. Before that, many American conservatives and libertarians thought the EU was actually a good thing, a pro-free-trade organization. Today, National Review Online, for example, has become pretty euroskeptic.

The big secret about American politics is that there really is no "America" except once in a long while. When someone kills three thousand of us one morning, for example. Most of the time policy is influenced by a small group of people who feel strongly about the issue at hand. Hardly anybody in America likes the European Union or cares strongly about it; US support comes from maybe three hundred sleepwalkers at the State Deaprtment who support it because they always have supported it.

There's plenty that can be done. Mobilize several thousand Americans to make influencing the US government on the EU a major political priority for a year or two, and policy will change. Hell, everyone says they hate the French; here's something more constructive than renaming French fires "freedom fries". We need a new Eagle Squadron -- commemorating the Americans who volunteered to fly against the First European Union back in 1940. But these would stay home and lobby Congress.

If the US made it clear to the UK political establishment that the US would be very unhappy about the UK approving the EU constitution, this would have a strong political effect

I'm off to New York on my hols and will return, refreshed on June 9th, to tackle the Euro debate, when they announce their reasons for not coming to a decision,unless they shock us all, and hold the referendum. Over to you, Emmanuel.
Tuesday, May 27, 2003
More arrogance - 27th May 2003, 23.30

Hain showed more contempt for the democratic process today by arguing that the European elections in 2004 could act as an alternative to a referendum. One suspects that his uncompromising and antagonistic line will lead to a lower profile in teh near future and that Denis McShane may take a more prominent role.

Mr Hain, the Welsh secretary and minister heading the UK delegation to the convention on the future of Europe, said this morning: "In the end, if people don't like what they get, they can vote against the government in the European elections next year. They will more or less coincide with the end of this constitution."

The second part of the constitutional draft was published today giving sweeping new powers to the Union.

Majority voting will become the rule while the number of areas where the European Parliament can co-legislate with member states has almost doubled to 70. Qualified majority voting and co-decision with the European Parliament have been introduced to areas such as control of borders, and asylum and immigration, judicial co-operation, and the prevention of crime. Issues concerning intellectual property, energy and social security will also be subject to co-decision with the European Parliament, according to the draft Constitution.

The Charter of Fundamental Rights, including a right to strike, is also binding. Expect plenty of fireworks and a realisation by Labour that they are now stuck between a eurosceptic populace and their wish to be at the heart of Europe. (If they really want this, they could always sod off to Belarus, where the centre of Europe actually is).

Update: Peter Hain was summoned by Blair after making his comments on the European elections. Ancram noted,

"Tony Blair has summoned Hain to Chequers. It seems that Big Brother has called him into the diary room and given him a strong rebuke. Hain should watch out or next time he will be evicted."

Will Peter Hain follow other contestants evicted over the years: Mo, Mandy, Robin and Clare?
The Union's Institutions - 27th May 2003, 23.03

The draft Constitution has not advocated radical change amongst the existing institutions of the Union (helpfully listed in Art.1-18) and confers on all of these bodies the responsibility of practicing “full mutual cooperation”. That will see off any potential constitutional crisis, not.

(Art. 1-19) The European Parliament: This will be directly elected every five years from all Member States (with a minimum of four members for each Member State). The Parliament elects the President of the European Commission and jointly, with the European Council, enacts legislation.

(Art 1-20) The European Council: This is composed of the Heads of State and provides the “general political directions and priorities” of the Union. All actions, unless specified in the Constitution, must be taken by consensus, and it is led by a President. (Art. 1-21) The President will be elected by the Council for a period of 2 ½ years. He will represent the Union and ensure that the common foreign and security policy is put into practice. He cannot be a member of another European institution or hold a national mandate. The Council also has the option, by consensus, of appointing a board of three using a system of “equitable rotation”.

The Presidency could be strong or weak depending upon whoever is appointed to the role. He has no formal power and represents a report to the Parliament on the Council of Ministers. On past practice, one could speculate that his role will follow that of the current foreign policy holder, and weaken in relation to the Heads of State, effectively doing their bidding.

(Art 1-22, 1-23) The Council of Ministers and Council Formations: These, as set out, specify the ambitious reach of the New Union. A General Affairs Committee would underpin the work of the European Council and the Council of Ministers. The Legislative Council, in partnership with the European Parliament, would draft and enact new European laws. The Foreign Affairs Council, chaired by the Foreign Affairs Minister, would “flesh out” the foreign policy set by the European Council. There would also be Councils for Economic and Financial Affairs and Justice and Security.

(Art 1-24) Qualified majority voting on the Council of Ministers or the European Council requires a majority of the Member States representing three-fifths of the population. The European President and the President of the Commission are not allowed to vote (a further testament to the weakness of the former).

(Art 1-25) The European Commission will “safeguard the general European interest”. In its functional role as a bureaucracy, its independence from government or institution is enshrined and the body retains the monopoly on proposing new acts of the Union. All the powers of the Commission and their relationship with the European Council and the European parliament remain the same.

(Art 1-27) The Foreign Minister is responsible for conducting the common foreign and security policy. He is appointed by qualified majority voting on the European Council in agreement with the president of the Commission, acts as a Vice-President of the Commission, and is responsible for setting out proposals and enacting foreign/ security/defence policy for the Union. The position is a curious hybrid since the holder will be bound by Commission procedures (including dismissal by the European Parliament?) for those responsibilities taken on as part of the Commission. Due to the importance of the CSFP and the influence of the role covering the Commission, the European Council and the Council of Ministers, this position has the potential to accrue a lot of power and sideline those Member States that do not subscribe to the consensus view, articulated naturally after soundings by him- or herself. If this is put into place, it will institutionally prove far more difficult to take a dissenting view from the majority since the consequences of a rupture would be far more serious. The success of the CSFP will depend, in part, upon the ability of the Foreign Minister to support his own proposals, aided and abetted by the Commission.

(Art 1-28) The Court of Justice of the European Union remains the same.

(Art 1-29) The European Central Bank gains a constitutional role directing the European system of Central Banks. It s goal is to support the economic policy of the Union, provide price stability and “define and implement the monetary policy of the Union”. It has legal personality and independence. Fortunately, it states in cl.6 that those countries which have not adopted the Euro retain certain powers over their monetary affairs.

There are also two advisory committees, for consulting over pork: the Committee of the Region and the Economic and Social Committee. One sounds like an estates-general; the other, a holdover from the corporatist representative bodies so beloved of fascism.

The proposed institutions are not radically altered, but whilst D’Estaing has constructed a weakened Presidency that would not threaten the vanities of the Heads of State, he has strengthened the independence of the ECB and provided the new Foreign Affairs Minister with power bases beyond the control of the governments. The Common foreign and security policy would be far more difficult to oppose under this new arrangement and it provides an institutional base for those who wish to provide Europe with its own defence force, ie France and Germany.
Discussion on the Constitution - 27th May 2003, 16.59

A lively debate has revolved around Samizdata since David Carr contributed his sovereign to the collection.

Monday, May 26, 2003
The European Constitution - 26th May 2003, 23.14

The Constitutional draft, in pdf format, is 148 pages long and has changed in some important aspects from the original draft s published earlier this year. We can note no shift from the centralised superstate originally put forward by Giscard D’Estaing where the European institutions were responsible for all core competences and ‘permitted’ national states to act in certain areas. This new draft has dropped the federalist rhetoric and added an ‘intergovernmental’ flavour, as we can note from Art 1.5, Cl. 1:

“The union shall respect the national identities of its Member States, inherent in their fundamental structures, political and constitutional, including for regional and local self-government. It shall respect their essential State functions, including for ensuring the territorial integrity of the State, and for maintaining law and order and maintaining internal security”.

The problem with this defence of national sovereignty is that it relies upon a continental definition of the State: one that is institutional and represented primarily through a bureaucracy, whereas the web of legal and constitutional convention that underpins the British state remains legally unrecognised. Effectively, the institutions of the British state would act as agencies and conduits for European regulation but their legal underpinnings would be gradually replaced (as they are at the moment) by new laws and regulations.

This is not the full picture but I suspect that this cultural disjuncture between the British and continental systems of jurisprudence has extremely worrying consequences.

Under Union Competences and Actions, the competences are now transferred upwards from the Member States to the supranational institutions through a process known as conferral. The Union will act up to the limits of its powers and areas which fall outside of these competences will remain with the Member States, under the subsidiarity principle. However, the balancing act of conferral and subsidiarity is undermined by Art 1.9, cl.3 which states that all actions which can be “better achieved” at Union level, or which Member States are unable to “sufficiently achieve” will fall within Union competence. Hence, the divisions of power between the Union and the Member States will be set by the European Court of Justice, a body known for its centralising instincts, and one can foresee judgements that set remarkably high standards for subsidiarity to take effect. To make the pill even more bitter, “national parliaments will ensure compliance” with the new laws of the Union, confirming their role as rubberstamp assemblies.

The initial clauses confirm the role of a common foreign and security policy, the coordination of economic policy and the takeover of social security policy (under the coordination of social policy), ensuring that the private pension provision that Britain currently holds, is now in danger of being reallocated, at some later date, at the direction of the Union. Indeed, the power of the Member States is so circumscribed that a policy area must be stated and defined within the Constitution as within their remit, to fall outside the powers of the Union. I haven’t come across any as yet.

The first few clauses appear to show that the Union has potentially no check on its power, given that there are no balances to the executive in terms of judiciary or legislature. Legally and theoretically, the Constitutions sets out a state, unaccountable and unchecked.

More tomorrow, and Iain Murray has promised his thoughts on this historical document.
All Eyes on the Constitution - 26th May 2003, 12.17

James C Bennett provided an excellent column on the perverse arguments of the Europhiles for signing up to the new Constitution. Even if one does not agree wholeheartedly with his alternative, the Anglosphere, it is, at least, an energetic attempt to redefine the goals of British foreign policy and combat the intellectual monopoly of European transnationalism. Best putdown:

Disposing of such lesser objections, we must turn to a remarkable piece by the intelligent but deeply misguided Mike Gonzalez of the Wall Street Journal Europe. In it, he trots out the argument that has been the mainstay of U.S. State Department-received wisdom for the past half-century: that Britain must immerse itself fully in the rapidly-congealing European superstate in order to reform it into a free-market entity, and to carry America's water in the councils of Europe.

This policy makes European membership Britain's new "White Man's Burden" -- carrying enlightenment to the "Lesser Breeds Without the Law." Well, some scholars have always held that Kipling intended that description to mean the Germans anyway, so perhaps there is a poetic justice in that theory.

This is the day when the draft of the European Union is published. The media coverage ranges from downright deceit at the BBC, where they appear incapable of reading a draft constitution that 'permits' nation states to retain their power:

The problem with EU documents like the constitution, however, is that they are designed precisely to allow everyone to interpret them the way they wish. For European federalists, it may indeed be presented as a blueprint for an eventual United States of Europe.
For the more nation-state minded, it can be presented as a clarification and simplification of the role of the EU.
And there's probably enough evidence to allow any shading of view along that line.

to a more factual overview at the Guardian and the FT. Now that it has been unveiled, the figleaf of federalism and the overt ambition of a United States of Europe have been dropped to assuage the concerns of the intergovernmental factions. If Blair spins this as a triumph of British diplomacy, one should take the statement as expedient opportunism. The excisions were designed to maintain unity within the Convention.

The Constitution retains a European Presidency and Foreign Minister. All member states have to "unreservedly" back a European foreign policy, which appears to indicate that further military actions like the Iraqi war could not take place. The Charter of Fundamental Rights is a binding element and all domestic policy is Europeanised. The Convention has stayed silent over the harmonisation of tax or social security but we can expect further pressue to concede on these points over the next few months.

The Tories immediately and unanimously condemned the document. Labour saw things differently:

Peter Hain, UK envoy to the convention, said: "We have achieved over the last few days a lot of the things which we thought we would but the Tories and their friends in the media said we would not."

Yes, we have managed to sell Britain down the river. Hurrah!

Anti-War, Pro-Europe - 26th May 2003, 1.12

Tom Spencer of the European Centre for Public Affairs (con)descends from the Ivory Tower to spend time on the boundary between journalism and research. Good to have you with us, Tom. However, you are confusing only yourself with your identity crisis:

On mainland Europe I am regarded as a dangerous Anglo-Saxon trampling on a thousand years of continental sensitivities. In Britain, I am regarded as a dangerous European Federalist, unreceptive to the latest version of euro-sceptic gloom about the future of the European idea. Meanwhile in America, I am regarded as another whinging European going on about complexity, consequences and global cooperation.

Journalism also demands that you provide some evidence to back up your opinions. A small imposition, I know, but your statement: "The invasion of Iraq was not some random act of filial revenge. It followed the logic of a long-planned re-writing of American foreign policy by US defence companies.", is not one that I have seen repeated throughout the rest of the media. Still, it is the old canard of a United States in thrall to the military-industrial complex, or Big Oil. For a researcher, who identifies himself as an intelligent student of the complexities that underpin foreign policy, Spencer falls back on the easy assumptions of a US establishment determined by the defence companies.

Th entire article falls into the campaign of anti-Americanism that the academic classes have fallen for since the 'war on terror' began. As an alternative to US "imperialism", the resolution of European civil society is cited as evidence for a wider continental identity, morally and politically superior to the democratically elected governments that opted to oppose their demonstrations.

Choices are the order of the day for civil society organisers both in Britain and around the world. How useful is it to put millions of demonstrators into impeccably well-behaved events if they are then ignored by the target governments. On the model of North Korean responses to Iraq, we might expect some return to the violence of globalisation demonstrations, if peaceful cross-party protest yields no response. (Note the implicit call for action!)

The author welcomes the development of a United Europe as a counterweight to the United States and as the political expression of the antiwar movement.

The US-led attack on Iraq united European public opinion in a way that no speech or grassroots public affairs campaign could ever have done. Just as Bin Laden’s outrages drove the Union to make major progress on the integration of Justice and Home Affairs, so will the “shock and awe” US diplomacy of recent months goad the Union into the next steps towards a European Defence and Security Policy. Forget old Europe and new Europe. By the end of 2004, there will only be Europe - perverse, proud and politely determined to run its own show.

Spencer comfortably resolves his identity crisis and helpfully demonstrates the ideological linkages between the anti-war movement and the pro-European campaign. Their shared transnationalism and preference for single issue demonstrations to representative politics and national sovereignty is short-term opportunism. Europhiles cite this invented demos as support for their view (although there are no opinion polls in Britain that back them up, but when was evidence a problem) and apply a democratic veneer to their bureaucratic state.

For left-liberals, the cause is more important than the process: it is better to march than to vote but only for the right cause. Spencer never engages with the current British reality: a population that was sceptical about both the war and Europe. This scepticism speaks volumes to those who are too quick to write off the British as docile sheep herded towards some European abattoir (shortly to be closed by the US Meat Hygiene Service).
Sunday, May 25, 2003
The Sun says... - 25th May 2003, 23.12

As a follow up to The Conspiracy, Frontpage Magazine reprinted the Sun's 20 points on why the Constitution is absolutely dreadful.
The Conspiracy - 25th May 2003, 22.55

The Observer examines the personal and political ties that underlie the campaign for a referendum on the European Constitution by the Mail, the Sun and the Torygraph.

However, one fear is that they may have jumped the gun, setting out their campaign too early, since ratification will not take place until 2004.

Update: - Even better, renegotiation from a future Conservative government, if we signed up to the Constitution, could be a codeword for withdrawal.

The new tensions centre on a major speech on Europe Duncan Smith is due to make next month. Both Cash and the heavily Eurosceptic economist Tim Congdon have been advising on it and Cash has already clashed with the more cautious Shadow Foreign Secretary, Michael Ancram, over whether it should demand renegotiation of Britain's treaties with the EU if the constitution is not diluted - seen as code for withdrawal from Europe altogether.
Nul point - 25th May 2003, 3.04

Just back from Sutton, but it appears that Britain has achieved the same level of appreciation as Norway, probably because of the war in Iraq. Perhaps it will persuade some (shocked) viewers to rethink their views on Europe.

Nobody likes us, we don't care!
Saturday, May 24, 2003
Congo Intervention - 24th May 2003, 20.33

No doubt the suffering in the Congo is vicious and appalling, after years of civil war and foreign intervention. The French view armed intervention as an opportunity to demonstrate their military capacity in support of international law under the sanction of the United States.

Such a selfless sacrifice has led Blair to suggest that British forces, embodying his missionary zeal, should also decamp to the dark heart in order to show that we are friends with the French and all things European. They may be acting as a stopgap for two months but how peacekeepers will be able to stop a war started by our very allies in the region, Uganda and Rwanda, remains curiously unresolved. Perhaps turning up with the power of well-armed civilisation will do the trick.

Two groups, Hemas, traditionally cattle-raisers, and Lendus, predominantly farmers, have been in conflict for centuries for land and other resources in the area. The rivalry has become more bloody because the Ituri district around Bunia is rich with gold. Neighbouring nations involved in the civil war - Uganda and Rwanda - armed both sides as proxy militias.

As France is finding in the Cote D'Ivoire, you are left as the only force preserving peace and the only exit strategy is to find some other mug to replace your forces. Therefore, No to intervention in the Congo!
So far and no further - 24th April 2003, 16.57

John Major, excoriated former leader of the Tories, wisely maintains a low public profile, waiting for the historical judgements that will bolster his reputation in the longer term. Therefore, this week's cover of the Spectator, with Major towering over the white cliffs of Dover, keeping a stiff upper lip, represents a rare political intervention in support of the Tories.

Major opposes the European Constitution and adds his voice to the campaign demanding a referendum on the matter. The addition of moderate Europeans like Major is a positive development. With their support, this issue is far less likely to be divisive for the Tories (far more so for Labour) and allows the calls for a referendum to incorporate and include a number of disparate groups: Eurosceptics, Europhiles and those who wish to withdraw.

Major also identifies the probable outcome of the debate. With such a centralised constitutional document, how many countries will veto or decline to ratify this vile steaming pile of ordure? The Constitution has the potential to exacerbate the divisions seen earlier this year and fracture the European Union into a 'variable geometry'.

Giscard D'Estaing is the maitre d' imploring "And, finally sir, a wafer thin clause" with the EU as Mr Creosote, fit to burst!
Friday, May 23, 2003

The Referendum

The Daily Mail referendum is one of the methods of getting the British public's voice heard on the coming EU constitution. Details of how to vote are here.

More later.

Time to go home

Lew Rockwell attempts an economic analysis of the occupation of Iraq. It should be read for three reasons.

Firstly it is yet more ammunition against the free marketeers who believe that Empire is good for either the home country or the benighted colonies.

Secondly it has quite a handy update on the situation in Afghanistan, last year's war. Yes, we are doing worse than the Russkies did.

Lastly it has a great quote from the arch little Englander Richard Cobden:

If you want to give a guarantee for peace, and, as I believe, the surest guarantee for progress and freedom, lay down this principle, and act on it, that no foreign State has a right by force to interfere with the domestic concerns of another State, even to confer a benefit on it, with its own consent.

Of course we do have a right to intervene in the domestic politics of other nations if it affects our narrowly defined national interests, but the idea that we will economically profit or that the colonised will benefit are simply not among them.

Losing value against what?

The Mises Institute has a pieve on the Dollar's loss of value against the Iraqi Dinar. Strange stuff.

Yet another reason to leave the EU

Demography is destiny as they say, and it's looking glum for Europe. According to Global Britain the ageing population of Europe is going to poleaxe the EU over the next half century. It looks like the train that the Europhiles keep on fretting about us missing will soon be hitting the buffers.
Thursday, May 22, 2003

Not an Imperial People

Now it seems that Colonel Tim Collins is being stitched up by some of his incompetent (incidentally American - so much for the Anglosphere) inferiors for his actions in Iraq.

Once you get over the hysterical "war crimes" tag, they seem to be either untrue - delaying food distribution to conscripts - or the actions of a normal occupier - stopping looters by blowing out the tyres of trucks that refused to stop at a roadblock. Is cutting up rough with the Fedayyin really a crime against humanity when they were shooting British prisoners?

The point is if you are going to carve out empires you can't act by the Cub Scout rule book. Occupation is a dirty and brutal business. Perhaps if the American officers showed some of the no-nonsense attitude that Collins did then there would not be looters and Shiite militias in Iraq at the moment.

Prissy witch-hunts are no way to go if you want to bend the world to your will. This is why any American carve up will fail, they are not up to it. Some of the most admirable qualities of Americans, their concern for constitutional decencies and their appreciation for the benefits of capitalism - are directly opposed to the brutality and sacrifice that will be demanded over the long term of an imperial people. They will either lose the admirable qualities or lose their bid for Empire. Indeed we British are no longer robust enough for an Empire.

That is one reason why Britain should keep well away from an American Empire. The other, which is merely illustrated rather than proved in this example, is that the Yanks will leave us holding the baby once we get in too deep.
Tuesday, May 20, 2003

Euro Logic

So we should join the Euro because of the business benefits.

And those business benefits are? Well a more stable exchange rate for that trade that is denominated in Euros.

So it's business stability? Yep.

So what if the British public want to vote no? We should still keep the option open for this parliament.

How does this affect business stability? It increases uncertainty.

So where's the business case for keeping the option open on the Euro? Or is this whole economic case for the Euro one big fraud?

Disillusioned and still so young.
Monday, May 19, 2003
How divisive is Europe? - 19th May 2003, 10.45

Very. Here are some snippets from Lithuania to show how it strangles borders and black market enterprise.

"My girlfriend is in Belarus, but now I can't marry her, because then I wouldn't be a European," says Denis, who offers a dejected shrug and takes a long drag on his cigarette. "I don't want to be on the outside when they make this part of Europe. I can probably make more money living in Belarus and smuggling things, but Belarus will never be part of Europe, and I want to be a European."

"I don't think it will help me to be a European," said Janina Kisiel, the matriarch. "I'm doing this for my grandchildren. I'll die soon, but she shouldn't have to live like this," Mrs. Kisiel said, gesturing to 18-month-old Augustyna. "She needs to live in the modern world. She shouldn't be stuck behind with the Belarussians and Ukrainians."

"Now it's Lithuania with Lithuanian laws, and soon we'll have to live under European laws. Life is very difficult, and I don't think it will get any easier for me," said Mr. Kisiel, the farmer. "I won't be able to sell my milk, but I can say I'm European."
Denis the smuggler, on to his third beer at 10:30 in the morning, acknowledges that even he, facing the prospect of losing his furtive livelihood, has voted to wrench his country away from this hodgepodge of forgotten states in favour of joining the daring project of Europe. "We'll survive -- we'll think of something to do," he said with a wry smile. "A lot of things are going to cost more, but we're better off being Europeans."

Slovakia - 19th May 2003, 22.28

Slovakia said yes. However the turnout was low and whilst the positive vote of 92.46% reached communist levels of approval, the referendum nearly failed the hurdle of 51%. The turnout was 52%. Poland has imposed a similar law on turnout but Hungary, in order to improve its chances, abolished this obstacle.
La Haine - 19th May 2003, 22.17

Hain recently called the campaign for a referendum on the European Constitution a non-starter:

Mr Hain was asked on The Politics Show on BBC TV if he understood why people were worried about the threat to sovereignty. He said it was "not surprising when they are fed a lot of baloney by some of our newspapers and some of our Conservative opposition and a lot of lies frankly about what is really going on".

However, this ill-tempered Chiracism, served to enrage Eurosceptic opposition and has provided wind for the sails of the referendum campaign in the Labour Party. Blair's own MP's wish to join the campaign publicised in the Torygraph and provides a bridge between the old Left and the soft Left, since they can safely hide their European credentials behind the figleaf of democracy. They will join the Liberal Democrats and Tories who have already hitched the horses to the bandwagon.

However, the Convention remains bitterly divided between the supporters of the Commission and the larger countries. Despite agreement on an EU Foreign Minister, the Convention has not resolved its differences in other areas such as the minority support for the role of a full-time President, and proposals to extend the lifetime of the Convention.

Even worse, the willingness of the elites to hold referenda on their new Constitution is an act of supreme hubris or an inability to recognise that their electorates may, as a theme, say 'No'. (like drugs). D'Estaing is very scared of his own coutrymen - the French.

French voters could throw out a new European Union constitutional treaty if it intrudes too much into national life, Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, president of the European Convention, warned yesterday. Mr Giscard d'Estaing admitted that a French referendum on the new treaty, which he is in the final stages of drafting, was one of the biggest dangers facing his project. Mr Giscard d'Estaing will present the draft treaty to EU leaders on June 20, and the final product is expected to be agreed by heads of government in the first half of 2004. George Parker, Brussels - Taken from the FT (subscription, no link).

Blair is meeting Giscard D'Estaing this evening and their mealy-mouthed approach is already clear. The government has retreated to the redline areas of foreign policy, defence policy and fiscal policy. All else will be centralised. But the PMOS (Prime Minister's Official Spokesman) stated clearly that the Constitution could only be accepted or rejected as a whole document. When asked if Britain would veto the document if it removed sovereign control of these redline areas, the PMOS did not verify this.

Questioned as to whether the UK would have a veto on the final document or whether we would be given the chance to veto individual elements of it, the PMOS said that we wanted to accept the document as a whole. Asked if he was implying that we could veto the entire constitution because it breached our red lines, the PMOS said that the draft constitutional treaty which M. Giscard would present in June would be the starting point for the IGC which was due to begin in the autumn. The final constitutional treaty had to be agreed unanimously. Therefore, each member state had a veto over the entirety of the treaty. Asked if he was saying that the idea we could veto individual elements of the treaty was simply wrong and that we would have to veto the entire treaty if we disagreed with any aspect of it, the PMOS suggested that a false analysis lay behind the question, namely the idea that a majority of countries wanted to go into territory where we did not want to venture. That was simply not the case. Yes, some might - but not the majority. In the same way, some might want to hold a referendum - but not a majority. There seemed to be a mindset which still thought of Europe as a community with a membership of six and where one or two countries were able to dominate. That was completely wrong. We were talking about a Europe of twenty-five - and the quicker people understood that, the better.

He didn't even answer the question.

Sunday, May 18, 2003
Decisions, Decisions - 18th May 2003, 22.38

Gordon Brown, on Breakfast with Frost today, stated that he was, in principle, in favour of the Euro and that he would campaign for a 'Yes' vote in any referendum. This was an unsubtle hint that his announcement of the 'five tests' would postpone a final decision until such time that the government could command sufficient support from the public.

Brown's influence on the decsion appears to have been strengthened after a Yougov poll in the Observer demonstrated that his endorsement could swing public support behind the single currency. As living standards stagnate or fall this year, Brown may find that his reputation for probity suffers and that he loses his sway over public opinion on this issue.

Run like a CND camp

Most antiwar protestors protested against the war against Iraq because they saw it as coldblooded. They were wrong. The war against Iraq was wrong because no coldblooded calculation of national interest (especially the British national interest) could justify this. We were being led by deluded fools, whether the ex-Trotskyite neo-conservatives in Washington or our happy-clappy Prime Minister.

To see the wild-eyed idealism of the pro-war party one should only look at the occupation, which to use a politically incorrect term looks like it's run by spastics[1]. They simply don't seem to know how to run the place. All you need is the Boys Own Guide to running the Fuzzy-Wuzzies and you could do a better job. Here's some multiple choice questions for some wannabe imperialists.

If there is a looting spree and your soldiers are in charge should they:
(1) impose martial law and then clamp down mercilessly
(2) fire at crowds who are looting places you'll need in a couple of months time like shops and hospitals or
(3) say not our job guv

You need to appoint an administrator to the new area, do you choose:
(1) A military man with no connection to the feuding parties with experience of running a millitary occupation, or
(2) A diplomatic expert with a knowledge of the area and language
(3) One of your defence minister's mates who is a fanatical Zionist and couldn't run a whelk stall

You have a number of functionaries of the old ruling class but a shortage of other decent administrators, do you:
(1) Work with them, they know how to operate the place
(2) Weed out the bad apples and bribe and threaten the rest to change their loyalty
(3) Make a play about getting rid of the lot of them and look weak as you choose Baathists to run various parts of the machine as they were the "only ones around"

If you answered mostly (1) then you are French. If you answered mostly (2) then congratulations, you have won the first prize in the lottery of life and you are British. Those who answered mostly (3) really shouldn't think that just because they've got a decent military that they can run an Empire. That's simply sufferering delusions of competence. It's time to reprint that Boy's Own guide.

[1] I do of course apologise to sufferers of cerebral palsy, and I realise that their crippling physical condition in no way represents a mental disability. And yes, you could run the occupation of Iraq better than the Yanks, and to compare you with them does make you seem far more inept and incompetent than anyone has any right to believe.
Friday, May 16, 2003
Zimwatch: When will we emigrate to Baghdad? - 16th May 2003, 20.40

If there is a place that has sunk lower than Iraq, it is now Zimbabwe. Whilst Mugabe was listening to the efforts of a 'praise-singer' exulting his achievements in driving the whites off the land, his country is now suffering from hyperinflation and a freefalling currency. As these quotes show, the ecomony has now ground to a halt:

Industrial production is estimated to be 60% below capacity. Inflation has soared to a record 228% this year, and unemployment is nearly 70%....The National Oil Company of Zimbabwe, the state oil monopoly, announced last week it had run out of hard currency to import fuel and was preparing to buy US dollars "at any rate."...With little fuel available, traffic in Harare was light on Thursday, almost resembling weekend traffic flow. Many commuters have resorted to walking several miles to work. Those who live too far away, simply don't go at all.

The MDC remains committed in theory to the campaigns of mass action and have stated that they will render the country "ungovernable". The organisation is certainly unwilling to accede to the demands of Africa's Big Men that they accept Mugabe's rigged election, as demanded by the tainted Obasanjo and Mbeki.

Obasanjo, in flowing robes and fresh from his own questionable election victory, took a line straight from Shakespeare's Richard II: "Not all the water in the rough rude sea can wash the balm from an anointed king." Once a ruler had gone through the process of an election, and been sworn in, there should be no further challenge to his authority, he said. MDC sources say Obasanjo, Muluzi and Mbeki tried to manoeuvre Tsvangirai into conceding that the officials who conducted the 2002 bogus poll in Zimbabwe were appointed constitutionally, acted in terms of the constitution, and Mugabe was then sworn in constitutionally. The MDC would have none of it.

Mugabe is reducing his victims to the Stone Age. People even leave their cars in queues for weeks at a time waiting for petrol, secure in the knowledge that no-one has the fuel to drive them away. Meanwhile, the usual suspects turn a blind eye to the crimes of the kleptocracy. Zimbabwe's Minister of Trade is currently in Belgium at a summit of the African, Caribbean and Pacific group of countries.

However, the Pope managed to get a dig in, for once.

Making reference to your Government's land reform program, Your Excellency has remarked that this is a vehicle for improving the people's standard of living, achieving equity and establishing social justice. In many countries, such agrarian reform is necessary, as noted in the document "Towards a Better Distribution of Land" published in 1997 by the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, but it is also a complex and delicate process. In fact, as this same document points out, it is an error to think that any real benefit or success will come simply by expropriating large landholdings, dividing them into smaller production units and distributing them to others (cf. No. 45). There are first of all matters of justice to be considered, with due weight being given to the various claims of land ownership, the right to land use and the common good. Moreover, if land redistribution is to offer a practical and sustainable response to serious economic and social problems in a given country, the process must continue to develop over time and must ensure that the necessary infrastructures are in place. Finally, and no less important, "indispensable for the success of an agrarian reform is that it should be in full accord with national policies and those of international bodies" (ibid.).

It can't be too long now.
Basra - 16th May 2003, 20.12

The situation in Basra is far less advanced than most supporters of the war would have expected. Recent events appear to show that the superb planning of the war effort may have foundered under the differing needs and unpredictable developments in postwar Iraq. Delays can be attributed to the intelligence held on the poor operational state of Iraq's infrastructure and the political configurations that could re-emerge following the overthrow of the Ba'ath regime.

To manage the transition from the postwar phase to reconstruction, the MOD has appointed Major-General Graeme Lamb, a veteran of special forces operations in Northern Ireland, to command a new multinational force (comprised of Italians, Norwegians, Danes and Netherlanders, as well as British troops). The order to move Italian troops was published on May 14th although negotiations continue with other nations.

The refinery is now up and running, producing 68,000 bpd. Although this is insufficient to supply the needs of Basra or Baghdad, the opening of a pipeline on May 25th is planned to ease the distribution bottlenecks that currently strangle the Iraqi economy. It is noteworthy that,

Luckily there was no major damage or looting," said Keith James, a British oil expert and army reservist. "There were some mechanical problems and it took some time getting the parts we needed, but things are making good progress."

However, positive news is clouded by accusations of torture from Amnesty International (which appear to be based upon unsubstantiated testimony) and the detection of cholera.

The reputation of the coalition forces is declining within Iraq itself as the initial release from Ba'athist terror is replaced by the mundane battles for survival in a decrepit and dysfunctional economy. Living standards in postwar Iraq (except for Kurdistan) are probably lower than they were in the first quarter of the year and, unless this decline is reversed will feed the disillusionment and islamicisation that is currently developing in the background. As yet, the choice of Iraq is not this stark, but it soon could be:

The democracy presents a dilemma for the self-proclaimed creators of democracy in the post-Saddam Iraq. A democratic Iraq will be a Shia Iraq – an Islamic republic governed by the Shariyat laws. For Americans a democratic Iraq might be a dangerously anti-US Iraq. Therefore, they will be hard pushed to find a democrat, who could manipulate the popular will, manage the Ayatollahs and guarantee to fulfil the US interests in the oil rich country. Indeed a tall order.
Thursday, May 15, 2003
Roll on the Referendum - 15th May 2003, 23.30

Anatole Kaletsky writes, as a convert, on the need for a Euro referendum. We should thank the former Tory, Chris Patten, for this.

The EU’s Constitutional Convention is preparing the next great leap forward towards a centralised Europe in 2004. The Government has decided to deny voters a chance of expressing their opinion on the new constitution, but a referendum on the euro would give democracy an outlet. It would prove once and for all that the people of Britain are not “fully and unequivocally committed to EU membership”, at least in the mindlessly obedient manner that Mr Patten demands.
How to say a lot about very little - 15th May 2003, 19.58

Jack Straw, Britain's Foreign Secretary, met Silvan Shalom, Israeli Foreign Minister, and beyond stating support for the current embryonic peace process, the so-called "roadmap", managed to avoid commitment or condemnation beyond support for the states of Israel and Palestine.

We in the United Kingdom are completely committed to the State of Israel and completely committed to getting to a point where the people of Israel are able to live in peace and security, without the terrible scourge of terrorism....We then discussed the issue of the road map, and as the Prime Minister said, the British government is committed to a State of Israel living in peace and security alongside a viable State of Palestine.

Straw's primary goal was to ease strained relations with Israel after two Britons were discovered to be suicide bombers and Blair campaigned to link the Iraqi conflict with the Palestinian issues. Ariel Sharon accused Britain of "unnecessary intervention" in Israel's affairs in a newspaper interview prior to Shalom's visit, and the Israeli Foreign Minister called upon Britain to curb anti-semitic organisations that encouraged terrorism.

The succour and space that British governments have given to organisations like Al-Muhajiroun has resulted in British individual sembracing their nihilistic ideology and carrying out terrorist acts. The Stephen Roth Institute at Tel Aviv University publishes an annual report on anti-semitism and racism that does not fall into the politicised insulting match equating anti-Zionism with anti-semitism. For their 2001/2002 report, they clearly state:

Most antisemitism in the UK today emanates from militant Islamist and other Muslim groups.

These are as follows:

Militant Islamist and Other Muslim Groups
Most open antisemitism in the UK now emanates from extreme Muslim groups. The most active in the UK is al-Muhajiroun (The Emigrants – AM) which, while claiming not to support terrorism, nevertheless continued to champion Usama bin Ladin, al-Qa‘ida and the Taliban prior to and after 11 September. AM are extremely hostile toward Israel and speakers at AM eventsdeny the Holocaust and have often called for the killing of Jews. AM promote their public activities by extensive illegal flyer-posting and by faxing regular press releases to other Muslim groups, the Jewish community and the media. In October the director of public prosecutions dropped charges against five AM members arrested in October 2000 whilst distributing leaflets advocating the killing of Jews. However, two other members of AM were to face similar charges during 2002. In November founder Omar Bakri Muhammad and current leader Anjem Choudhary stated that the Muslim world was happy with the events of 11 September and expressed satisfaction, at an AM meeting in Willesden, North London, in November, that the Jews were cursed in the Qur‘an. However, their rhetoric, open support for terrorism training and their claims to have sent volunteers to Afghanistan and other countries of jihad have been toned down as a consequence of new laws banning support for terrorism and making illegal calls for the murder of religious minorities abroad (see below).

In April the National Union of Students voted to ban AM from university campuses despite an attempt by the Trotskyite Socialist Workers Student Society to block the motion.

Sakina Security Services, associated with AM and other Islamist groups, ceased activity following the arrest in September and October of its leaders, who were imprisoned pending trial on terrorism charges.

Hizb ut-Tahrir (HUT), from which AM split in 1996 under the leadership of Omar Bakri Muhammad, recommenced public activity during the latter part of 2001. Like AM, HUT promotes the establishment of an Islamic state encompassing all the Muslim umma and supports the activities of violent Islamist groups in other countries. It is antisemitic, homophobic, anti-Hindu and anti-Sikh.

The tiny Islamic Party of Britain, which comprises mainly converts to Islam, campaigns primarily through its website, although members address public meetings held by other organizations. It continues to propagate antisemitism.
Supporters of Shariah (SOS), led by Egyptian Shaykh Mustafa Kamil, aka Abu Hamza al-Masri, continues its activity but at a much reduced level. Abu Hamza’s use of his North London mosque at Finsbury Park for recruitment to al-Qa‘ida, and the revelations that a number of al-Qa‘ida detainees apprehended in Afghanistan were enlisted through the mosque, have led to media calls for his arrest. SOS remains implacably anti-Zionist, promoting an antisemitism which combines traditional religious anti-Judaism with Protocols of the Elders of Zion-style conspiracy theories.

The Islamic Observation Center (IOC), led by Egyptian Islamist Yasir al-Sirri, aka Abu ‘Ammar (who was sentenced to death in Egypt), ceased activity following his arrest in October in connection with facilitating the murder of Afghan Northern Alliance leader Ahmad Shah Mas‘ud. He is also the subject of an American government extradition request relating to terrorism charges.

Since these organisations are allowed to operate, collect money and support terrorism abroad through financial aid and useful idiots to martyr, how can we condemn Noraid in the United States without cleaning up our shores? The blood of innocent Israelis lies shamefully on British hands.
Monday, May 12, 2003
Krieg der Illusionen - 12th May 2003, 23.10

The 11th September 2001 was an abrupt reminder that whatever happened to America affected the rest of the world, a brutal reminder of the United States' status as a star around which all other cultures orbited. If America invades another country, say Iraq, it is an interesting sideshow. When the Twin Towers fell, resentment was an inevitable outcome.

This outrage was also a reminder; a reminder of the limitations of influence that other countries had to recognise, in terms of power, culture and capital. It burst the skein of illusion that had allowed Europe, most of all, to entertain notions of a "global exuberance" about their global role. Europe's initial outpouring of sympathy under this realisation of unwanted realism. How dare the United States force Europe to acknowledge its own weaknesses, just because they were attacked?!

Yet, addicted to the comforting and illusory stability of international law, European countries have been unable to face the ferocious power relations of our Hobbesian world. Instead, they seek, through their own nascent ideology, to ward off the ills of the world, by focusing upon their own continent. The paradox of their Janus faced approach is that they hide themselves from the world and, at the same time, imagine that, by doing so, they are becoming a pretender to the global throne.

If the 'war on terror' has not been sufficient to awaken their minds, then one can only speculate that Europe may have to experience its own 9/11, an attack on the heatland that will pierce their imagined deceits.
Lithuania - 12th May 2003, 22.52

Lithuania voted, on a turnout of 63.3%, to join the European Union with an overwhelming 89.92% in favour, 8.85% against. The ethnic populations (Russians, Poles, and Byelorussians) tended to vote against.

So you want to do something about Europe?

The present fight on Europe is hotting up, and there will be a referendum if the government believes that they can replace the present Tory leadership with someone who if not pro-Euro (Ken Clarke) is at least more pliable on the subject (Portillo, or indeed virtually anyone). So keeping IDS in place, whatever we think of his baldness/luck/posh accent should be the priority of any Eurosceptic - as his replacement is a priority for Europhiles.

So have any of my dear readers received the e-mail from Crispin Blunt sent to every other Tory activist but me. Did you get it without sending him an e-mail, or after sending him a disagreeable e-mail? If so it will be possible to report him under the Data Protection Act for "unlawful obtaining of personal data" and a summary conviction. At the very least he can be reported for an ethical breach to the disciplinary sub committee of the Board of the Conservative Party (what good that will do). If you have received an e-mail from him and it could have been unsolicited then please e-mail me on

A small coterie of Conservatives like Crispin Blunt (unfortunately other pro-Euro tories don't have easy to spot names like Philby or Maclean) are selling our birth right, we should not take it lying down.
Thursday, May 08, 2003
A Critical Atlanticist - 8th May 2003, 23.54

Malcolm Rifkind, advises Blair, in the Spectator that a critical friend is better than a camp follower.

British interests are best served by a close relationship with the United States, but Blair has yet to learn that unqualified endorsement of US policy is a bridge too far.

Rifkind argues that the future of NATO as a military alliance depends upon the continued presence of US troops in Europe.
The Iraqi archives - 8th May 2003, 23.16

Insight Magazine has a number of pieces detailing the initial discoveries from the captured Iraqi archives. Their first astonishing claim: the Russians are acting just like the Soviets, using the same dirty tactics and smears. The only difference is that they are acting in the national interest of Russia. The article does highlight a possible problem in post-war Iraq: the possible utilisation of stolen archives by Russia to blackmail former Ba'athists for their own advantage. This tactic has proved succesful in post-communist countries.

What really happened? U.S. intelligence sources aren't talking. But Russian tradecraft and practice show a precedent. A parliamentary investigation in post-Communist Poland found that before many archives in Central and Eastern Europe were destroyed, they were copied and shipped to Russia. A Czech parliamentary probe reached a similar conclusion. Moscow then penetrated the newly democratic societies by controlling former internal-security agents of the old Communist regimes. Jiri Ruml, in the early 1990s chief of a parliamentary commission to investigate the StB Soviet-era security forces, reported to lawmakers that the files of 10,000 StB agents and informers were missing, and that "former collaborators of the StB are still continuing their activity, and their network reaches into the new parliament."

However, those archives that were not incinerated, have been looted or lifted by Iraqis and the western press.

U.S. troops arrived too late to take control of many of the 23 government ministries and other intelligence-rich sites in Baghdad. Local Iraqis carted off bags of documents and videotapes from secret-police facilities. An American TV company reportedly stuffed several vehicles with secret Iraqi documents. British journalists sacked the foreign-ministry building April 22 after a reporter from London's Daily Telegraph discovered a document of former foreign minister Tariq Aziz in the wreckage, showing that antiwar leader George Galloway, a left-wing Member of Parliament, allegedly was in the pay of Saddam.

It appears that Britain and the United States did not anticipate the lively interest that access to these archives would bring, just as they did not anticipate the chaos or the looting.

U.S. troops arrived too late to take control of many of the 23 government ministries and other intelligence-rich sites in Baghdad. Local Iraqis carted off bags of documents and videotapes from secret-police facilities. An American TV company reportedly stuffed several vehicles with secret Iraqi documents. British journalists sacked the foreign-ministry building April 22 after a reporter from London's Daily Telegraph discovered a document of former foreign minister Tariq Aziz in the wreckage, showing that antiwar leader George Galloway, a left-wing Member of Parliament, allegedly was in the pay of Saddam.
Hear, Hear for Heffer - 8th May 2003, 22.19

Although this is not shown on any website, the Daily Mail produced the first (though surely not the last) blast against the proposed European Constitution, with a strong article from Simon Heffer calling for a referendum. Their headline, "A Blueprint for Tyranny" set out the strong foundations of the argument:

"Imagine a country that is no longer independent, no longer capable of deciding its own destiny, no longer able to make effective democratic choices". [the last clause is alreay in place but we won't hold that against them]. "Imagine the future that is being prepared for us under the direction of a former President of France, with the apparent complicity of our own Prime Minister. It is no exaggeration to say that the European constitution now receiving its finishing touches in Brussels would mark the end of everything we understand by the terms Britain and Britishness. There will be no more national sovereignty, no more meaningful election to Westminster, no freedom independent of our European partners."

"If Giscard D'Estaing's blueprint is enacted in anything like the present form, it will strip our voters of any real control over foreign policy, defence, the economy, law, policing, commercial policy, health, transport and indeed everything that can be described as the national interest".

Marvellous tabloid journalism and a welcome tone that reminds me of the battlehardened Andrew Dodge. If only the national interest mattered...
EU-CIS: A New Marketplace - 7th May 2003, 23.55

Vladimir Putin, whilst holding a summit with Leonid Kuchma, the controversial President of the Ukraine, called for a common marketplace between the Commonwealth of Independent States and the European Union. This warm up act is intended for the Russia- EU summit on the 31st May. Whilst some commentaters may infer a positive response following the recent actions of the 'coalition of the unwilling', Putin may find that his new allies are unable to accommodate his wishes. The CIS includes notable liberal outposts like Kazakhstan, the Ukraine and Belarus; states that the diplomatic clergymen of Scandinavia or the Netherlands would rather leave in their benighted hinterlands.

However, the vast reserves of oil and gas held by Russia ensure Europe's energy security for the first decades of the twenty-first century, a dependency that the Kremlin will no doubt wish to exploit.
Wednesday, May 07, 2003
The next big battleground is tax - 7th May 2003, 23.32

Just a reminder that the European Convention will soon be debating the harmonisation of taxes and fiscal policy. Expect plenty of obfuscation on the parts of the British and the Irish as they concede under the issues of evasion and fraud.

John Bruton, an Irish member of the 12-member praesidium, told Reuters he did not expect Dublin and London to back down, whatever the pressure from the Convention and other EU states. "If we have qualified majority voting on this we would end up politicising the decisions," he said. "'Unfair competition' is a very subjective concept." "At the end of the day, you will only get this into the new (EU) treaty if there is unanimity and you won't get unanimity on this issue," said Bruton, a former Irish prime minister. He said single market concerns were best tackled by beefing up the competition rules administered by the European Commission, the EU's executive body. Meyer-Landrut said the Convention must distinguish between the politically sensitive issue of "unfair" tax competition and the broader questions of fighting tax evasion and fraud. "It would be a shame if we threw out (qualified majority voting on tackling fraud and evasion) because people see red on hearing the word 'tax'," he said.

Giscard D'Estaing is on record as wishing to end a national veto on taxation.
Another reason for kicking the American Left - 7th May 2003, 23.22

Harold Meyerson, editor at large for the American Prospect, demonstrates that the American Left has a sneaking regard for chocolate teapots (or the European army).

Indeed, in their commitment both to multilateralism and a mixed economy, the Europeans often seem a good deal closer than the current administration does to the America that emerged from World War II. Let them have their army. Without the Old Europe, where could we still see the Old America?

He's not that hot on history, either.

Action by example - 7th May 2003, 11.17

There is an argument that other European countries are impressed by Britain's immeasurable increase in influence following teh deployment of a supporting force in the Iraqi war. Geoffrey Wawro in the national Review takes up the cudgels on the part of Italy:

Talk of needles, tokens, and asymmetry turned my thoughts to the British in the Gulf and around Basra — to the way a single naval and amphibious task group and an armored division had given crucial support to the American war effort, securing Iraq's second city and principal oil fields against stiff opposition. If the Italians continue to evolve in this direction, I reflected, we can truly move the world.

If you look at Poland's role within the Iraq war, their "reward" now appears to bring them more headaches than resolutions. After the assignment of a geographical area for peacekeeping duties within Iraq, the Poles publicly made noises about burden-sharing with the Germans and other European partners. Such statements are not usually made without private assurances that their allies would be forthcoming with a positive answer. Germany's rebuke to Poland this evening and its restatement of the policy that German soldiers would only enter Iraq under a NATO or UN mandate must count as a diplomatic faux pas. The Germans have stated that they were not consulted but, as this was a planned meeting between the Poles, Germans, and Danes about their established shared military structures, the justification appears unconvincing.

This would not be the first time the German government has used foreign policy and embarrassed a close ally in order to publicly shore up its domestic popularity.
Monday, May 05, 2003
Do not confuse neoconservatism with neoconservatism - 5th May 2003, 21.15

An example of how the same word can be applied in very different contexts.

Fewsmith, Joseph. China since Tiananmen : the politics of transition. New York : Cambridge University Press, 2001. Fewsmith puts the rise of neoconservatism and nationalism in China today into historical context, and he contrasts it with the growing pluralization of Chinese society and governance. Fewsmith depicts the growing tensions between these two trends as China's version of America's culture wars, but with arguably higher stakes. BOOKJACKET

It appears that neoconservatism in China is the term given by Sinologists to that strand of ideological thought which strives to replace socialism with nationalism as a legitimating strategy for the state.
CSIS: Euro-Focus - 5th May 2003, 18.00

The Centre for Strategic and International Studies provides a cogent overview of the winners and losers in Europe (pdf file).

"...the prevailing view in the United States is that the EU is a troubled and troubling union: troubled in terms of its internal divisions, and troubling in terms of the motivation that seems to underline the actions of its older members. As for Nato, the prevailing view is that it is a fading organization with a blocking minority of members who are not only unwilling but also broadly incapable and frankly irrelevant".

Simon Serfaty argues that there was a convergence of agendas on EU and NATO cooperation, cushioned by behind teh scenes support from the United States, during the NATO summit in Prague last autumn and at the EU summit in Copenhagen during December. This convergence no longer exists and individual countries within Europe work within the existing institutions whilst undertaking bilateral relationships that contravene the standards of governance supporting the common foreign and security policy. Yet, Washington may place more weight upon bilateral relationships than they can hold and misunderstand the constraints under which European nations function in their foreign policy. Serfaty recognises the Quartet underwriting the Middle East roadmap as a possible model for future cooperation. Where European nations agree more amongst themselves than with the United States, a corporate model may be invoked that presents a counterweight in particular areas of diplomacy.

Serfaty's recommendations that greater European unity would aid the United States by providing the opportunity for firmer institutional links may be opposed on the grounds that the Gaullist tendency within the EU has warped into anti-Americanism without any productive programme for solving Europe's weaknesses. However, he does indicate the possible diplomatic model that may be adopted from now on over issues like the Middle East, Iraq, the Balkans and so on.
Finnish opposition to a "closed defence core" - 5th May 2003, 11.49

The Finnish government has been one of the more vocal defenders of the rights of small countries within the EU and, interestingly, has linked this to opposing the creation of a "two speed" EU in security policy. Finland has a history of neutrality and has been willing to accept certain security guarantees within the EU, including "the establishment of an office of defence materiel, a statement of solidarity in the future EU constitution, and the expansion of crisis management".

They view the "closed defence core" as an importation of NATO's probles into the European Union and prefer to retain a common foreign and security policy that is open to all and structured on the grounds of flexibility. It appears that the "closed defence core" is having an impact upon the current division within the European Convention between the smaller and larger countries, stimulating new institutional alliance centred on the Franco-German motor.
German support for the European Army - 5th May 2003, 10.27

On the day that Germany, France, Belgium and Luxembourg were meeting to set up a prospective defence core within the EU, a paper was deliberately leaked to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung, containing support from German military planners for an EU army. Their plan was for German leadership in this role, the establishment of a full state security infrastructure and a seat at the United Nations for the EU (a goal that the federasts have in common with the neo-conservatives).

The British nuclear deterrant was flagged as a possible "sticking point for pooling European forces".
Zimwatch: Three Kings watch over negotiations - 5th May 2003, 9.07

Mbeki of South Africa, Obasanjo of Nigeria and Muluzi of Malawi will visit Zimbabwe for one day and talk to both the Mugabe dictatorship and the opposition. April was a quiet month after the general strikes of March and one could speculate that this show of resistance may have forced certain elements in ZANU to consider post-Mugabe Zimbabwe and open behind the scene negotiations.
Sunday, May 04, 2003
The Future of Europe: A Neo-Conservative Viewpoint - 4th May 2003, 21.14

Victor Davis Hanson, in the National Review, provides the systematic and moralistic position of the neo-conservatives on post-Iraqi Europe. Through the very assumptions on which the article rests, one can see how a moral stance renders an analysis semi-detached from current diplomatic developments. Hanson argues that the Paris-Berlin-Moscow axis requires expulsion from the existing institutions of the Atlantic Alliance in order that they may fully appreciate their current military and political weakness. Now, such an action would actually cement an axis that exists more in the minds of American commentators who have developed a taste for dividing the world into those who are for the US and those who are against the US. Perhaps simplifying international relations is the first step towards proper management in a unipolar world.

Hanson's problem is that he does not distinguish between "Europeans" and the French, the Belgians and the Germans. For the first four paragraphs of his column, the two appear to be interchangeable so that every European member of NATO is tarred with the same brush. The current stereotyping of Europeans stereotyping Americans flows from the Kaganite rhetoric popular amongst the foreign policy entrepreneurs of Washington but, in the longer term, such generalities will obtain a life of their own. Individual countries are targeted but opprobrium is directed at the Continent, simplifying a discourse that needs to retain an understanding of the sharp differences between members of the European Union.

In return, many European elites ridicule American values, naïveté, and insularity — even as their countries have raked in billions of American dollars in trade surpluses and tourism from mostly oblivious, aw-shucks Americans. We self-absorbed, parochial yokels laughed and paid little attention to the fact that some in Europe had forsaken Christianity for this weird, emerging boutique religion of anti-Americanism.

Who could take their ankle-biting seriously? Who, after all, would give up all that they had gotten so cheaply — that dream of all spoiled teenagers: to snap at and ridicule their patient and paying parents, even as they call on them in extremis for help whenever the car stalls or the rent is short?

Such labelling will anger US allies in Europe who read this column. There is a 'take your friends for granted' contempt that does not appear to take into account any number of deaths British soldiers suffered in Iraq. As Britain is lumped in with the 'Europeans', one can take exception to Hanson's character assassination of this country on the grounds of misrepresentation and ingratitude.

That aside, what is most interesting about the neo-conservatives who adopt a Kaganite perspective, is that a 'special relationship' falls off their radar. The UK is a part of Europe and is perceived as useful rather than as a trusted ally. Hanson reorders the foreign policy of the United States from this moral foundation and leaves out the two concepts most appropriate to diplomacy: negotiation and compromise.

To bring back moral clarity and maturity, we must begin to establish a more reciprocal relationship with the willing.

Hanson provides a wish-list for a world that America can guide with its muscular morality: Removing the French veto in the United Nations; removing all non-democratic states from the United Nations (though he doesn't mention how China would react to this); downgrading NATO and removing all US bases to more supportive and compliant countries; updating the United Nations to recognise current powers like Brazil, India etc.; and placing the analysis and implementation of US foreign policy from the State Department to ambassadorships with "resolute, principled men and women there [in Europe] to present our new views forcefully". As the above quotation demonstrates, Hanson argues for a more reciprocal relationship with friendly powers but his agenda shows little flexibility in accommodating the needs of allies.

It is unclear if a formal neo-conservative policy agenda in Washington, filtered through a Kaganite lens, would be of benefit to the United Kingdom. The harsher language that Hanson provides, if ever adopted by the United States, would strip away the 'rose-tinted' mystique that politicians in the United Kingdom use to obscure the 'special relationship'.

However, Hanson undermines his own credibility by confusing Gibraltar with a quagmire (his term for security concerns over here) and calls on Europe in one breath to sort its problems out and for the US to maintain cordial relationships with Britain and Spain in the next. It is an issue between two staunch US allies unless he views Gibraltar as a staging post for terrorists.

Cyprus, tension in the Aegean, Turkish EU membership, Gibraltar, North African disputes — all that and more must remain exclusively Europe’s quagmires. We wish them well, but cannot under the present circumstance hope to send a single soldier to resolve a single one of their own internal crises — unless it involves the safety of our own bilateral allies: perhaps a Britain, Poland, Italy, Holland, Spain, or others in such future coalitions of the willing.

The column may be marred by this factual lapse which does call Hanson's basic knowledge of European affairs into question. However, the more interesting question is why those conservatives who support the concept of the Anglosphere have not identified the stark differences between themselves and the neo-conservatives. A strong strand of neo-conservatism includes an 'America first' ideology that does not recognise the importance of cultural affinities as foreign policy is subjugated to a strong moral position that the United States embodies all that is best in the world. The universalised values that they promote are wedded to a hegemonic approach and do not require the recognition of cultural or ethnic ties; indeed, these would undermine and adulterate the purity of their foreign policy, since they argue that the US brand of constitutional republicanism can be planted, with local variation, in any soil, no matter how forbidding. Anglospherists need to examine their relationship with neo-conservatism. The moral foundations of the latter preclude the cultural reciprocation that underlies the 'special relationships' of the 'Anglosphere'.
Saturday, May 03, 2003
Will Tony Blair Resign
If He Turns Out to Have Lied About
The "Weapons of Mass Destruction"?
by Sean Gabb

Last Wednesday in Parliament, Tony Blair was asked a question by Sir Peter Tapsell, the Conservative Member for Louth and Horncastle. Here is the question:
If it eventually transpires at the time of our invasion, that Iraq no longer produced weapons of mass destruction capable of threatening this country, and the Prime Minister led this country into war under a false assumption, will he resign?

Even today, the rules of the House of Commons are strict about the use of language, and it is not permitted to accuse another Member of lying. Therefore the odd use of the words “a false assumption”. But the meaning of the question was plain. Just as plainly, it was not possible for the Prime Minister to give a straight answer. Those of us who are not Members of Parliament are free from the constraints under which Sir Peter asked his question. It is now undeniable that the Prime Minister lied us into the war with Iraq.

It will not do, weeks after the end of the war, for the Allies to find a few barrels of some forbidden chemical. We were assured by Mr Blair not that the Iraqis had forbidden chemicals, or even that they were a danger to each other and their immediate neighbours, but that they had chemical and biological weapons capable of being used against this country. We were further assured that these could be deployed against us within 45 minutes. Nor will it do even if such weapons are eventually “found”. That the United Nations weapons inspectors have been forbidden access to the country to continue their search for such weapons - that the man most likely to have been complicit in any hiding of them has stated in a news conference before giving himself up to the Americans that there were none - must bring any future discovery into obvious doubt. There is also the fact that the Iraqis never once used any unconventional weapons in defending their country against invasion. They had good warning that their country was about to be invaded. They had good reason to use whatever weapons they had. Failing this, they had good reason to call on the connections we were assured to exist with some international terrorist conspiracy. They did nothing. Their armies were the ill-equipped and ill-disciplined conscripts usual to the third world dump that Iraq turned out to be.

In this war, 2,500 Iraqi civilians and 10,000 Iraqi combatants are believed to have been killed. Certainly, 105 American and 32 British soldiers were killed, together with at least ten journalists. 17 million Iraqis now rely on charity for their food; and another 40,000 in Baghdad for water. The American Government so far has spent $55 billion on fighting the war, and the British Government £3 billion. The estimated cost - to the American taxpayers largely - of rebuilding Iraq is another $100 billion. No weapons of mass destruction - certainly none capable of use against either America or Britain - have been found. No evidence has turned up of any but the slightest communication with al Qa’eda.

It seems that the American Government always intended to invade Iraq, and was not interested in the truth of whatever claims were made to justify the invasion. That is a matter for the American people to take up with their government, not for us. But it is our concern, here in this country, that our own government lied to us.

It is not possible to say that Mr Blair was deceived by the security chiefs. Even if he had been, he appointed or retained them, and he is formally responsible for their actions. But they did not deceive him. Robin Cook, who resigned from the Government over the invasion, was a senior Minister and a former Foreign Secretary. He had no information about any Iraqi threat. Mr Blair stood up in the House of Commons and lied to Parliament and to all of us. He took us into a war that was not in our interest, that killed thousands - and might easily have killed hundreds of thousands - that has cost us billions, and that may not for many years have revealed its full cost to us. He lied us into war and thousands into early graves.

I know that some of my readers will shrug and ask “so what?” They had their own reasons for supporting the war, and regarded the talk of an immediate threat as a useful fiction. But, while I do not believe any of these reasons was enough to justify the war, I will not argue with them. All I will do is suggest that, while Mr Blair may have been useful to get us into the war, he has now served his purpose. Whatever was meant to be achieved has been achieved, or will now be achieved without his continuation in office. At the same time, every day that he continues in office is a continuation of the attack on our cultural identity as a people and therefore on our personal freedoms. We cannot even be sure that he will allow his policy on Europe to stay in ruins.

The war is over, and it is time to return to domestic issues. Mr Blair remains the most dangerous man in the country, and so it is necessary to do what we can to help remove him from office. The local authority elections went badly for him yesterday, and would certainly have gone still worse were the Conservatives not mostly in political hibernation. Even so, the more intelligent Conservatives are asking about the weapons of mass destruction. The electors are willing to hear the questions. Whatever differences I and the majority of my British readers may have had over the war, the time has come, I suggest, for all of us to join in the questions. Perhaps not even a liar so inveterate as Mr Blair may be able to answer them.
Thursday, May 01, 2003

So what's the problem

Crispin Blunt has resigned the Tory front bench and thrown down the gauntlet for a leadership challenge. Tory Central Office came up with this strange quote:

Crispin Blunt's resignation is no surprise. He has been at odds with the party leadership for some time, notably over foreign policy.

Foreign Policy? Does that mean Europe or America. The Blunt statement (sorry) says nothing on foreign policy, or indeed anything political.

Supposedly this is the prelude to a stalking horse challenge by Tim Yeo, who although more pro-Europe than IDS is not a raving Europhile. He is sceptical about the war.

One former IDS backer was talking to me about Michael Howard last week. My favourite is William Hague in a year, although his pro-Americanism should make a little Englander like me blanche.

Any way let's see what happens.
Direct Hits on HMS Blair - 1st May 2003, 22.20

The meeting of the four partners, under the disparaging description of 'Old Europe', may have been widely reported in the media as a radical step towards a separate European defence, but the details show that the politicians are strong on Gaullist rhetoric, short on actual detail.

Having said that, the significance of the mini-summit was in its gesture of independence, rather than the detailed content. The suggestions, at root, are almost identical to existing plans for the rapid reaction force. The main difference is in language, calling the heart of the force a “nucleus of a collective capability”, which dodges the question of its exact size. It would be formed by “interested parties”, rather than all EU countries — leaving open the chance that Britain might be left out.

One could conclude that "Yesterday’s scheme is largely posturing".

However, Nick Clegg was "gobsmacked" by Blair's acceptance of a unipolar world in his summit with Putin and declares, without much evidence, that this will result in eventual withdrawal from the European Union. This outcome is highly unlikely as Blair continues to work within the European Convention and pursues the "special relationship". Current events only confirm that the Convention is unlikely to agree upon a common foreign and security policy.

One can debate which leader is the worst at spinning international relations: Chirac or Blair. Chirac excels in tired outbursts but Blair is ahead in public humiliations with foreign potentates. He has suffered a few bodyblows this week.

Blog Archive