Thursday, May 01, 2003
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.


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