Monday, May 26, 2003
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).


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