Friday, January 24, 2003

Old Europe Indeed

Donald Rumsfeld’s comments referring to France and Germany as “old Europe” have caused a furor in Berlin and Paris, but from the point of view of most other European nations, Rumsfeld’s statement isn’t too far off the mark.

We hear a great deal about the divide between Europe and America that has come about in the last few days, but in truth, the divide is really between the Franco-Germans (along with my lamentably stupid Canadian homeland) on the one side and the rest of Europe, the US and Australia on the other. If we look at the UN, it certainly is the case that the US will not receive the support of the Security Council. But then who exactly are the countries blocking a resolution calling for force against Iraq. Well, they’re China, Russia, France and Germany. But if we contrast this with the recent vote among the NATO members regarding supporting the US in the eventuality of an attack, the majority of the members including Britain, Denmark, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, the Czech Republic, Turkey, Greece and Hungary all voted with the US. Only four countries voted against: Germany, France, Luxembourg and Belgium. And what do these countries all have in common? Well, they are either French or German speaking. In other words, both Belgium and Luxembourg are firmly in the Franco-German orbit. This holds true historically as well since, among the Benelux countries, it is only the Netherlands that can truly claim any sort of substantial national identity apart from France and Germany.

On the whole, the European continent is behind the United States even if there is doubt among the European populous. And, as I’ve pointed out in recent posts, the Franco-German axis has increasingly come under fire from its fellow EU states. Increasingly France and Germany are acting with complete disrespect for the rest of Europe. When Portugal’s budget deficit exceeded prescribed EU limits, it was penalized, but when France and Germany announce their budgets will also exceed the target, they simply receive warnings and thumb their noses at the EU. And recently, France and Germany have come out with a plan for a dual presidency for the EU that will give these two countries a stranglehold over EU decisions. And finally, the French and Germans without consulting the rest of the EU, have now set out a position on Iraq that runs contrary to the majority of the rest of the EU states. At the same time, the French and Germans are claiming to speak for Europe on these matters and seem to take great offense when the American Secretary of Defense claims otherwise.

In effect, the French and Germans are forming a union amongst themselves that runs counter almost all their western allies while cozying up to the Russians, the Chinese and any other third world dictator who comes along. But more importantly, they’re carrying out their imperial methods through two forums that are ostensibly international: the United Nations and the European Union. So, when Paris and Berlin speak of the need for multilateralism, they really mean working through these organizations which serve merely as a front for their national agenda.

What’s most troubling here, and this speaks to Rumsfeld’s point about “old Europe,” is that both the United Nations and the European Union were established precisely to avoid a situation in which battles between Germany and France would lead to another military conflict. To a large degree they’ve succeeded but in their success they’ve merely provided a platform whereby a corrupt and united France and Germany can pursue anew their imperial goals. Isn’t it odd that the true result of efforts to reconcile France and Germany may be nothing more than the construction of a new and larger force in the pursuit of an old and deadly dream: the domination of Europe, and through Europe, the world?

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