Tuesday, March 23, 2004
How Blairite!

When the Concert of Europe acts in its finest hour, one's eye is dimmed by the resolute loyalty that they show to strategies of spin and puffery in their vain scramble to show themselves as men of action. It is not for me to decry the efforts of our born leaders whose innate guidance and superior wisdom have brought up long-term solutions to the dangers that face us all. I will not bear witness to critics who carp at the supposed naivety of those who view terrorism as a social and economic problem, rather than a moral and a cultural battle, soluble through another round of peace negotiations. Who could doubt the power of the vol-au-vent to entice Hamas or Al-Qaeda to sit down and start telling us of their needs.

However, the appointment of a terrorist "tsar", to coordinate and step up security measures against Al-Qaeda, looks like a publicity exercise straight from Blair's manual. If such appointments achieve little in the rarefied world of the British civil service, how promising is the likelihood of success in the red raw world of Europe. There have been a rash of meetings by ministers and police chiefs trumpeting the need to combat terror. For once, the interests of the nation states have outweighed the integrating desires of the EU (tip of the hat to Charles Tupper Jr. here). Included in this saving grace is a realistic view of intelligence co-operation and the refusal to set up some bureaucratic monster like Homeland Security (for now):

One of the most sensitive areas thrown up by the Madrid blasts is that of intelligence-sharing -- a thorny issue particularly for countries with vast international intelligence-gathering agencies like Britain and France.

As a result EU countries have agreed to boost intelligence exchange via a closely-controlled "cell" in Brussels rather than a kind of European CIA proposed by some.

"We share intelligence on a bilateral basis," said British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. "What we want is a greater number of partners with whom to share intelligence on a bilateral basis," he added, noting: "It does ... require a very high level of confidence and trust."

The pols found that their national interests prevented them from actually cooperating, so they banked on a PR exercise to add 'European' lustre to their pointless meeting. You won't sleep any easier in your beds tonight, especially when it's none of our business.

(20.51, 23rd March 2003)


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