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2012 October 13 Saturday
Nobel Peace Prize Is A Joke

The European Union just won the Nobel Peace Prize. Read the list of previous Nobel Peace Prize winners.

The Peace Prize rides on the coattails of the science and medicine prizes. The latter prizes are for real objective accomplishments and those prizes give the word Nobel prestige that then gets spent on the Peace Prize.

The prize for the European Union is more ridiculous than the average Nobel Peace Prize. The EU financial crisis has boosted Greece's unemployment rate to 25%. That's a Depression that would have been avoided had Greece not joined the ill-conceived European monetary union. Spain could be next.

Europe would not be convulsed in a war if the European Union did not exist. The Europeans aren't up for having wars with each other anymore. If they tried then the United States Air Force would demolish any army that tried to cross national borders as part of an attack on a neighboring country.

By Randall Parker    2012 October 13 03:43 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (3)
2012 February 25 Saturday
David Brooks: America Just As Socialized As Europe

David Brooks thinks we just hide our welfare state better.

The U.S. does not have a significantly smaller welfare state than the European nations. We’re just better at hiding it. The Europeans provide welfare provisions through direct government payments. We do it through the back door via tax breaks.

For example, in Europe, governments offer health care directly. In the U.S., we give employers a gigantic tax exemption to do the same thing. European governments offer public childcare. In the U.S., we have child tax credits. In Europe, governments subsidize favored industries. We do the same thing by providing special tax deductions and exemptions for everybody from ethanol producers to Nascar track owners.

I am skeptical of this line of argument for multiple reasons. First off, private providers do not have the same impact as public providers. For example, lots of people providing child care out of their homes do not have the same impact as government-run child care centers whose employees are recruited thru civil service tests and managed by government managers. This difference is profound in impact because the private providers compete and they serve their customers rather than serving managers higher up in agencies or elected or appointed officials. The private providers are far more flexible and serve many more specialty niches (e.g. people who work late or who work weekends or people who want a specific style of environment for the kiddies).

Room for innovation is much larger in the private sector. Also, for some forms of tax deductibility (e.g health care savings accounts paid into with pre-tax dollars that accumulate across years) the buyer using pre-tax dollars has an incentive to be frugal to hold back money for use in later years. The buyer has an incentive to find cheaper service providers and that incentive is missing when health care and other services are provided by a government.

Health care providers and other providers in America have far more incentive to provide flexible hours, short waiting times, and other conveniences and service quality differentiators. The reason is simple: individual buyers are free to take their money elsewhere. The incentives to meet the needs of individual customers are much lower in Europe. The American approach leads to services that are more customer-centric, innovative, and higher in quality.

If we must have subsidies then we should make them come in forms that create more competition and more tailoring to individual needs.

By Randall Parker    2012 February 25 11:22 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (6)
2008 July 19 Saturday
Obama To Up US Pressure On Europe

Top Barack Obama foreign policy advisor and former Assistant Secretary of State Susan Rice (not to be confused with Condi Rice and not to be mixed in with about 300 lesser Obama foreign policy advisors) tells the Daily Telegraph of London that Obama will be in a stronger position to bend Europe to America's will.

"There is some truth to the notion that some of the animus at the popular level towards the Bush administration may have made it easier for some of our European partners to avoid taking steps that we may want them to take and that perhaps they ought to take," she said.

"That has, in some respects, perhaps on some issues, given them an easy out. Barack Obama will lead from a position of strength and seek progress, and he will want to work with Europe in very strong partnership.

"It means we in the United States will have to do our part; but Europe will have to do its part too. There can be no free riders if this is going to be an effective partnership."

Is this funny or what? At the same time Obama says he doesn't want to abuse Britain as much.

"We have a chance to recalibrate the relationship and for the United Kingdom to work with America as a full partner," Obama told more than 200 American expatriates gathered at the Notting Hill home of Elisabeth Murdoch, the head of Shine television production company and daughter of the media tycoon Rupert Murdoch.

The event, which raised more than $400,000 for the Obama campaign, was intended to be confidential, but several guests have since confirmed the senator's remarks. A foreign policy adviser to the Obama campaign said the remarks on the US-UK relationship reflected the senator's general foreign policy approach.

"It's no longer going to be that we are in the lead and everyone follows us. Full partners not only listen to each other, they also occasionally follow each other," the adviser said.

It sounds very pretty. But Barack Obama will try to get other countries to do his bidding just as George W. Bush has done. He might manage to exert more influence than Bush because he'll appeal more to the electorates in other countries.

By Randall Parker    2008 July 19 10:19 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2008 June 19 Thursday
France To Rejoin NATO Military Structure

The relationship between the United States and Europe is not falling apart.

More than four decades ago, Charles de Gaulle, angry with American and British domination of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, said France’s military integration into the alliance had been “stripped of justification.”

But now that the Soviet Union is gone and the European Union is more fully established, President Nicolas Sarkozy has decided that France is best served by participating fully with Washington and NATO, in part because the vast majority of members of the European Union are also members of the alliance.

NATO's purpose was famously put by British General Lord Ismay as "to keep the Americans in, the Russians out, and the Germans down." Well, it does not do the latter two any more. I suspect it is going to become a Western alliance to allow the Western powers to maintain influence around the world as Asian economies grow bigger and China becomes more influential. The leadership of France likely see that as far more important than anything that you might expect them to think about George W. Bush.

By Randall Parker    2008 June 19 09:44 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2006 October 05 Thursday
Daniel Larison On Victor Davis Hanson

Daniel Larison thinks more highly if the European reaction to Islam than of the popular neocon game of sliming the Europeans with all matter of calumny.

Victor Davis Hanson evidently doesn’t like Europeans and some Americans and he’s isn’t afraid to say it.  You see, according to the one article, many Muslims are anti-Semites and the Europeans (along with select Americans) are “indifferent” to Muslim anti-Semitism, even though many if not all EU countries actually criminalise anti-Semitic speech and acts as hate crimes.  One might actually object to such criminalisation of speech on the basis that it infringes on free speech, which has lately become the fashionable idol before which American conservatives throw themselves, but it remains unclear how the Europeans enable rampaging anti-Semitism.  Oh, that’s right–they disagree with Hanson on foreign policy, so ipso facto….There are apparently Americans who are also doing this, because some attempted to have a conversation with Ahmadinejad (how dare they!).  

In the other, we are told that Europeans are “traitors to the Enlightenment.”  Well, maybe, but if they were actually traitors to the Enlightenment why would that necessarily either be a bad thing or reason for an ostensibly conservative person to complain?  Oh, yes, now I remember–they have allegedly lost faith in Reason, which is the other idol to which we on the right are now supposed to bow.  There is good reason to lament cases where Europeans cave in to Muslim intimidation, as happened with the Berlin opera, but it is by no means a universal phenomenon.  When Muslims were rioting and protesting the Danish cartoons, German government officials, among others, expressed support for free speech and several European newspapers republished the cartoons to state their support for free speech.  When Van Gogh was murdered, after Fortuyn had already raised the problem of Muslim immigrants’ assimilation to Dutch norms, such as they are, the Netherlands started taking a hard look at the problem of how or whether such people could be integrated into Dutch society if they are unwilling to accept the norms of that society.  When Muslims were rioting and protesting Pope Benedict’s speech, Aznar came out in support of the Pope and invoked the example of Ferdinand and Isabella–hardly the squeamish whinging of an appeaser.

Europe is one of the topics of debate which made me realize that there's a huge gap between the neoconservative unconservative view of the world and my own. The Europeans are not my enemies. Their societies and cultures are not distant from my own. I'm increasingly thinking that people want us to see the Euros as enemies are fools or worse. Why do they want us to believe this? Near as I can tell they do not like the more critical views of Israel that pertains in much of Europe and so they want to drive a wedge between the United States and Europe in order to decrease European influence over US foreign policy. Pushing apart Western societies is unwise.

The neocons are the ones whose views of Islam are incredibly lame. While many European governments are making moves to keep out Muslim immigrants many neocons want us to believe that the problem with Islam is just some Westernized radical strain of it that is aping mid-20th century European fascism. The term "Islamo-fascist" makes no sense. Real Burkean conservative John Derbyshire agrees.

By Randall Parker    2006 October 05 10:56 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (6)
2005 December 31 Saturday
European Union Losing In Popularity

The EU is losing in popularity.

The annual Eurobarometer poll, issued just before Christmas, shows that on average, only 50 percent of Europeans consider EU membership "a good thing", down from 54 percent earlier in the year. The traditionally Euroskeptic British are no longer the most hostile, having been overtaken by the Austrians. Only 32 percent of Austrians, and 33 percent of Brits, say EU membership is good for their country. They are followed by Latvia (36 percent), Finland (38 percent) and Sweden and Hungary (both 39 percent).

I wonder if the Austrians hate the EU because they see it as a cause of immigration of large numbers of Muslims and Third Worlders.

The two countries where the EU is most popular are Luxembourg (82 percent in favor) and Ireland (73 percent), the two countries that have been the biggest net beneficiaries from the EU budget. Ireland has received an average 3 percent of GDP in EU subsidies for over 30 years, which helps explain some of that country's 'Celtlc Tiger' economic performance; and Luxembourg has by far the highest per capita income in the EU. The poll suggests that the EU gets what its pays for in public support, which also helps explain why the EU leaders wrangled so bitterly over who paid what and how much they got back at their acrimonious summit this month.

Governments can buy the affections of some groups at the expense of other groups. No surprise here.

The Danish also like the EU.

Remarkably, in the Netherlands, a country that overwhelmingly rejected a European constitution in June, a whole 70 percent of citizens say that EU membership is a good thing.

Only 32 percent of Swedes say they perceive that their country has "benefited from EU membership", closely followed by the Austrians and the British with 36 and 37 percent discontent citizens.

On the other side of the scope is - again - Ireland where 86 percent of citizens claim to enjoy Brussels's treats, and 69 percent of the Danes are as happy.

Maybe EU membership is losing popularity among the Turks becaues the Turks are realizing that the Europeans do not want them.

Meanwhile, support for EU membership among Turks themselves has dropped from 66 percent in spring to 52 percent this autumn, while 77 percent of Europeans back Swiss and Norwegian accession.

The European Union's promoters probably face another problem: A general decline of support for governments. The Brussels Mandarins are trying to build up another layer of government on top of existing layers at a time when a decreasing number of people see governments as net benefits.

If the EU elite insist on bringing Turkey into the EU that'll create a huge competing source of demands for hand-outs. Then the current net beneficiaries of the EU's largesse will suddenly start seeing the EU in a far less favorable light.

The Greek government has consented to Turkey's membership in the face of 80% popular opposition.

Greece has a negative attitude to the EU accession of Macedonia (52%) and Albania (61%). The average level among the 25 EU member states is 42% in favor and 33% against. Greeks are absolutely against Turkey’s EU accession (80%).

How's that as a demonstration of elite willingness to ignore the wishes of the masses?

I do not understand why the UK Guardian speaks of the decision to begin accession talks with Turkey as "a high moment".

October's decision to launch membership talks with Turkey was a high moment soured by low manoeuvring over the terms. And that is going to be a long haul - with 55% of Europeans against Turkish membership. The number opposed to any further expansion has grown to 39%, with bigger majorities against in France, Germany and Austria. Romania and Bulgaria are supposed to join in 2007 but face delay unless they make progress tackling corruption.

The EU project should stop short of membership for Ukraine, Turkey, and a few of the most corrupt Eastern European states. But the Mandarins are intent on harming the interests of their citizens.

By Randall Parker    2005 December 31 12:49 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (7)
2005 November 13 Sunday
Stephen Roach Says German Economy Restructuring

Morgan Stanley chief economist Stephen Roach says Germany is restructuring for more rapid growth.

Germany, despite its bad press, is very much on the move. Yes, it still has one of the most expensive and rigid labor markets in the world. But the rigidities are not as severe as they were just a few years ago. For example, German labor unions have lost significant power in recent years -- they no longer bargain across industries but confine their negotiations to individual companies. Moreover, led by the metals sector, Germany is now moving away from the shortened 35-hour work week. And in an effort to avoid the high fixed costs of hiring and firing, Corporate Germany has hired increasingly large numbers of part-time workers and contract temps; collectively, such “flexi workers” currently make up about 39% of the total German workforce -- up sharply from the 29% share a decade ago. At the same time, German businesses are now moving aggressively to increase IT spending -- making up for the shortfall in the late 1990s; the IT share of German capex has increased from 30% to approximately 50% over the past ten years. Last but hardly least, there has been a dramatic recent increase in German corporate restructuring; M&A activity in Germany has increased from $73 billion to $138 billion over the last three years.

Read the whole thing. He lays out some other facts that suggest Germany might be doing what needs to get done to get on a faster growth track.

By Randall Parker    2005 November 13 10:22 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (16)
2004 October 15 Friday
Iceland Doing Well Outside The EU

Iceland, like Norway and Liechtenstein a member of the European Economic Area, but not a member of the Euoprean Union, now has a higher standard of living than any European country and the world's highest life expectancy.

Iceland has few natural advantages: it is cold, treeless and, for much of the year, sunless. It has a population of 285,000 — roughly that of Croydon. Yet this sparse, chilly speck of tundra has just overtaken Norway to become the wealthiest place in Europe. Faced with a small home market, Icelandic entrepreneurs have expanded into neighbouring countries. In Britain alone they have bought, among other things, Hamleys, Somerfield, Oasis and Karen Millen. Icelanders now enjoy the highest life expectancy in the world. And — here’s the thing — they have achieved all this while remaining outside the EU.

Iceland has much more leeway with which to create a more business-friendly environment.

Being outside the EU, Iceland has been able to cut taxes and regulation, and to open up its economy. For 70 years the Althing has been dominated by the splendidly named Independence party, which has pursued the kind of Thatcherite agenda that is off limits to EU members because of the Social Chapter, the euro, the 48-hour week and all the rest of it.

With a population of about 294,000 people Iceland does not benefit from high levels of internal economies of scale. However, they do earn 70% of their export income from fishing. So they have some of the characteristics of a state that is wealthy due to natural resources. However, only 12% of the population works in fishing and most of the economy is not the fishing industry.

Switzerland, which is not a member of the EU or the EEA but which has only EFTA (European Free Trade Association) member, has a higher $32,700 (2003 est.) per capita GDP (as measured by purchasing power parity) than Iceland which has a per capita GDP of $30,900 (2003 est.). Switzerland manages this feat without natural resources to make a major contribution to the Swiss economy.

If the British manage to break free of the European Union at some point in the future I predict their economy will then start growing more rapidly.

By Randall Parker    2004 October 15 02:36 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (23)
2004 October 11 Monday
Europeans Versus Americans On Personal Control Of Destiny

George Will has an interesting essay "Why America Leans Right" where he explores why Americans are more conservative and libertarian than Europeans.

Europe, post-religious and statist, is puzzled -- and alarmed -- by a nation where grace is said at half the family dinner tables. But religiosity, say Micklethwait and Wooldridge, "predisposes Americans to see the world in terms of individual virtue rather than in terms of the vast social forces that so preoccupy Europeans." And: "The percentage of Americans who believe that success is determined by forces outside their control has fallen from 41 percent in 1988 to 32 percent today; by contrast, the percentage of Germans who believe it has risen from 59 percent in 1991 to 68 percent today." In America, conservatives much more than liberals reject the presumption of individual vulnerability and incompetence that gives rise to liberal statism.

It would be very interesting to see results of doing this same survey on people from countries in other parts of the world. I'm going to guess that Middle Easterners hold views closer to those of the Germans than to Americans on the question of whether they have individual control of their destiny. Though the Middle Easterners may cite different reasons than the Germans for why they do not feel in control.

It would also be interesting to see polling by ethnic and racial group in America on this question. My guess is that whites have a stronger belief in their control of their own destiny than blacks and Hispanics. I would especially like to see numbers on Hispanics broken out by how many generations their families have been in the US.

How will American and European attitudes toward their ability control their lives change in the future? Will advances in understanding of genetics and the human brain make people see themselves as more determined by their environment and genes and hence less in control of their lives? Or will the ability to use biotechnology to reshape one's body and brain cause people to think they are in even more control of their destinies? Perhaps popular reactions come in phases with the initial greater understanding of genetic influences and environmental influences decreasing the belief in free wil. But then later the new knowledge will be harnessed to develop technologies to make it possible to improve our physical and cognitive abilities and then these technologies will cause a shift back of the pendulum to reestablish the belief that we are each in control of ourselves.

Will's source for the numbers he is quoting is the new book The Right Nation: Conservative Power in America by Economist writers John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge.

By Randall Parker    2004 October 11 01:48 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (7)
2004 October 08 Friday
Most Turks In Favor Of Polygamy

The European Union is on course to add a member state whose majority is in favor of polygamy.

A RECENT poll in a Turkish newspaper included an eye-catching statistic. A substantial majority of the population — 63% — thought it perfectly acceptable for a man to have more than one wife.

It may not seem as surprising as some of the country’s other distinguishing features: in parts of mainly Muslim Turkey, some people still live in cone-shaped mud huts whose design dates from the dawn of history.

Yet Turkey’s penchant for polygamy may well become more of an issue in the debate about where to place the eastern boundary of the western world — and whether to let Turkey become a member of the European Union.

As Steve Sailer recently pointed out even intellectuals in our own elite such as Jonathan Turley are so foolish that they can't see the problems posed by polygamy. Monogamy reduces the amount of rivalry between males because it increases the odds that each male will be able to find a mate. Among males this tends to build support for society as a whole.

Far too many intellectuals seek to ignore the biological factors that influence human behavior. Many intellectuals seem to want to believe that humans can escape their biological nature and that the best way to do so is to deny its relevance. But both consanguineous marriage and polygamy contribute to making societies where there is less trust and less a sense of shared common interests.

We can not safely take for granted that the conditions that have made Western cultures more free and open will always be there no matter what cultural changes take place. Change the ratio of religions and religious beliefs in a society through immigration and differential rates of reproduction or change the laws that govern family formation and the result will be changes in values and cultural practices. If you are living in a Western country care about your country's culture and do not have a desire to see it commit suicide (as the West's intellectuals and political leaders seem intent upon doing) you should oppose immigration and legal changes that will dilute and destroy what makes the West distinct.

By Randall Parker    2004 October 08 04:30 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (21)
2004 September 24 Friday
Turkey's Islamic Party Backs Off Of Criminalizing Adultery

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as part of his efforts to assure the acceptance of Turkey into the European Union has backed off plans to criminalize adultery in Turkey.

All references to proposals to outlaw adultery, which were inserted into the legislation by conservative members of the ruling Justice and Development party (AKP), would be dropped.

"No item which is not already included in the draft of the Turkish criminal code will be included and I mean by that the issue of adultery," Mr Erdogan told a news conference.

The European Union is now widely expected to give Turkey approval to begin formal talks for Turkey's entry into the EU. Once the approval for those talks has begun it is unlikely that the EU would back out of accepting Turkey as a member.

European diplomats are now seriously doubting the intentions of Turkey's ruling Islamic political party.

Newspapers said Erdogan had taken the side of conservatives in his Justice and Development Party, a conservative group with Islamist roots which was deeply divided over outlawing adultery.

Diplomats say Erdogan's face-off with Brussels, which roiled Turkish financial markets this month, has raised doubts about Erdogan's political judgment and his real intentions.

These diplomats are slow learners.

Turkey's government could just hold back from putting more Islam into Turkish law until after Turkey becomes an EU member state.

The European Parliament's conservative faction even suspects that Erdogan will hold back controversial laws until EU membership negotiations actually begin next year.

Only then, when there is no turning back for the EU, will the Prime Minister show his true face and put the brakes on societal reforms: Erdogan as an Islamic submarine, so to speak.

Well duh guys. Do you really think you can change Turkey into a secular European country by making it part of the EU? Snap out of your dreams. The real world doesn't work that way.

French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin publically supports Tukey's membership in the EU and yet Raffarin sounds very unenthusiastic and worried about the idea of a Muslim state joining formerly Christian now secular states in a political union. (same article here)

"We don't think we should tell Turkey that the doors of Europe are forever closed to it," Raffarin told the newspaper, but then said: "Do we want the river of Islam to enter the riverbed of secularism?"

I think it darkly humourous that the European elites saw the US invasion of Iraq as a really bad idea that the US should have refrained from and yet the EU mandarins are intent on going down a road with another Muslim country that they have deep doubts about. The elites of the Western nations all seek to commit cultural suicide with their choice of folly while pointing fingers at the follies of others.

The European peoples may yet save their elites from elite follow. The one distinct possibility for stopping Turkey's accession into the EU is the prospect that the majority in many EU member states may vote against the new EU federal constitution.

The EU's new constitution represents another effort to preserve and deepen European unity, but it too could backfire. For the constitution to come into force, it must be approved by all 25 EU countries. At least 11 of them are likely to hold referendums, and in a few of those, notably Britain, the verdict is likely to be negative. Such an outcome could well provoke a crisis within the Union.

This survey will conclude that the EU may indeed split. But a split need not be a disaster. It could lead to a multi-layered EU in which different countries adopt different levels of political integration and experiment with different economic models. If the EU were preserved as an over-arching framework, it could actually benefit from such diversity. But there is also a darker, if less likely possibility. A split in the EU could cause Europe once again to divide into rival power blocks. That could threaten what most agree is the Union's central achievement: peace in Europe.

The EU could break up into pieces before Turkey manages to join. That is the best hope for Europe at this point. The editors of The Economist who wrote that previous excerpt see an EU break-up as a dark possibility. But I see that possibility as a ray of hope for the survival of Western liberal democracy in the gathering gloom.

By Randall Parker    2004 September 24 04:27 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (3)
2004 September 20 Monday
Steve Sailer Says Keep Turkey Out Of European Union

Steve Sailer lays out a number of reasons Americans, Turks, and Europeans should want to keep Turkey out of the EU.

It's simply not in America's economic interest to encourage Turkey to submerge into a trading bloc designed to maximize trade within the EU while penalizing imports from America.

Nor is it in America's strategic interest to make more feasible Brussels' dream of a European military force separate from NATO. So far, such plans have largely foundered on the anti-martial feelings of Europeans unwilling to sacrifice their precious 1.3 children. But Turkey would make a separate EU strike force much more feasible by providing cheap, brave cannon fodder.

Objective hardball points about American interests are too often ignored while attention is given to unrealistic and idealistic imaginings about how some policy proposal will promote freedom or democracy. Enough such unrealistic imaginings have blown up in our faces that we ought to be more willing to make more hard-headed realpolitik calculations of our interests. The recognition that a single united EU covering all NATO countries is going to obsolesce NATO is certainly a realpolitik acknowledgement of the obvious.

By analogy imagine the United States forming a political merger with Mexico and allowing Mexicans to legally travel across the border in unlimited numbers. The EU has a lower per capita income than the United States but Turkey has a lower living standard than Mexico. Measured in purchasing power parity Mexico's per capita GDP is $9000 whereas Turkey is even lower at $6,700. The EU will have to spend large amounts of money on Turkey and also on increased levels of social spending on all the Turks who would flood into Europe.

If Turkey is really capable of rising to Western European levels of productivity and living standards (and I do not believe it can - see Steve's article for some arguments why) then it should be able to accomplish that economic rise without joining the EU. After all, even some small countries that are not part of large trading blocs have managed to achieve absolutely amazing standards of living without the help of highly valuable natural resources. Located right in the heart of Europe and without EU membership Switzerland has managed to achieve a very impressive $32,000 per capita GDP.

Some people argue that if the EU "turns its back on Turkey" then the Turks will turn toward Islamism. Well, if the Turks are that easily offended into going down that path the Europeans should be very reluctant to take the risk that the Turks may go down that path even as part of the EU. There is no reason that the EU's mandarins should feel rushed to decide the Turkey question. Let the Turks show that they can raise their living standards, that they are not going to join the rest of the Muslim world in the increasing trend toward embrace of fundamentalist Islam, and that they really have settled their internal problem with the Kurds.

Update: What I find ironic about the EU mandarin push for Turkey's membership in the EU is that those same mandarins tend to look down on Christian fundamentalism in the United States. The EU elites generally despise and distrust Americans with strongly held religious beliefs and do not like to see religiously devout people in high positions in the US government. Yet what is the EU embracing by entertaining political union with Turkey? A country that will become politically more Islamically fundamentalist once the soldiers are told they have to permanently butt out of politics. In fact, this is already happening. The effect of Turkey's entry into the EU will be to undermine the Turkish military's role as guardian of the secular nature of Turkey's government. American Christian fundamentalism poses very little threat to the EU and yet it is that fundamentalism that attracts critical elite European commentary even as the elites in Europe are probably too foolish to avoid letting a far more dangerous fundamentalism become a much larger presence in Europe. What folly.

By Randall Parker    2004 September 20 01:42 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (13)
2004 May 08 Saturday
Robert Samuelson On The Drifting Apart Of America And Europe

Europe's working population is going to shrink.

From 1996 to 2003, economic growth averaged 1.3 percent annually in Germany, 1.5 percent in Italy and 2.2 percent in France (the U.S. rate: 3.3 percent). Many EU countries have taxes between 40 percent and 50 percent of national income. Aging populations intensify upward pressures on benefits. From 2000 to 2020, the over-65 population in the 15 countries of the "old" EU is projected to rise 38 percent, while the number of people between 25 and 49 falls 14 percent.

While the recently enlarged European Union now has a combined economy bigger than that of the United States it is pretty obvious that it will not continue to do so. The bigger birth dearth in Europe will shrink their working population so much that the US is most likely to pass it by and leave it well behind.

Europe's problem is that only is its population aging more rapidly but its governments are already larger portions of their economies than is the case in the United States. The US can increase taxes and spending to European levels in order to pay for aging populations. But Europe is already at those higher tax levels. Tax increases in Europe may decrease economic activity so much that the amount of money collected could decline as a result of the tax increases.

Europe is going to have to reduce welfare spending for those of working age in order to make more money available for retirees. Europe is also going to have to raise retirement ages. The United States will need to take both of these steps as well, but on lesser scales in both cases.

Samuelson comments that Europeans see their interests diverging from those of America to such an extent that George W. Bush is a blessing to them since he gives them an excuse to point to for why they are going to disagree and distance themselves from America. This seems very plausible to me. French elite dissatisfaction and general European leftist intellectual dissatisfaction with the United States are of very long standing.

The bigger picture is that China is going to surpass the United States as the world's largest economy. India may eventually do so as well.

By Randall Parker    2004 May 08 07:47 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (4)
2004 April 03 Saturday
V.D. Hanson: Withdraw US Forces From Europe

Victor Davis Hanson says the Europeans will not act politically mature as long as the United States defends them.

Precisely because we protect Europe, Europe will need ever more protecting, and will grow ever more weak. And because it will need the United States to defend it, it will ever more resent the United States. Without a real menace like the Soviet Union on its borders, Europe will find ever more outlets to vent cheaply and without consequences — at precisely the time it is most threatened by terrorists and rogue states.

In contrast, the withdrawal of Americans throughout Old Europe — sober analysts can adjudicate a remnant figure of about 30,000 or so, down from our present numbers in Spain, Holland, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Turkey, and Greece — will encourage Europe to rearm or face the consequences of institutionalized appeasement. That radical step — despite popular misconceptions that it is either impossible or unwise — is more a good thing than a bad one.

His argument has considerable merit. The main advantage for having US troops in Europe at this point is that Europe is closer to the Middle East and Central Asia than the United States is. So then perhaps the US should negotiate basing rights with countries even closer to the scene of action. Armenia and Georgia come to mind. Or the US could put a lot more forces on Diego Garcia. It is worth thinking this through to consider other options.

By Randall Parker    2004 April 03 12:48 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (4)
2004 March 12 Friday
British Entry Into Euro Currency Becoming Less Likely

UK government Treasury Chancellor Gordon Brown is going to argue that Britain is becoming even less of a fit into the euro currency because the Euro zone economies and Britain are diverging economically.

The gap between British and euro zone interest rates, which was 1.75 per cent last June, is now 2 per cent. The British unemployment rate is now 4.9 per cent compared to 8.8 per cent in the euro area, compared with 5.1 per cent and 8.7 per cent a year ago. And economic growth in the UK is forging ahead at 2.8 per cent compared to a sluggish 0.6 per cent in the euro zone.

...

Now even the most ardent pro-euro MPs concede it has been relegated to a long-term goal that could take more than a decade to realise. "The whole pro-European movement needs to be rebuilt," said one.

The use of a common currency was supposed to speed up growth in European economies. Where is the evidence to support this? The euro zone is sluggish. Britain continues to outperform it. The biggest problem with the euro is that it extends a common currency over an area which has so many different spoken languages which reduce labor mobility and laws that cause rigid labor markets. The various economies can not all grow at the same rate and they can not shift labor around to adjust for the different growth rates.

By Randall Parker    2004 March 12 03:24 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2004 January 29 Thursday
French Leaders Show Foresight Supporting Anti-Democratic Forces

Just when I start to develop considerable sympathy for the French their leaders just have to go doing something to remind me how far American and French interests have diverged. Jaakko Haapasaloof Rye Beer has a link to a report of French efforts to resume European Union arms sales to China.

On Monday French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin urged his EU counterparts meeting in Brussels to lift the embargo that, he said, "dates back more than 15 years and no longer corresponds with the political reality of the contemporary world."

Europe is divided on this issue.

France and Germany are the leading proponents of dropping the arms ban, while the Netherlands, Scandinavian nations, the European Parliament and human rights groups oppose to such a step.

The French do not see democracy in Taiwan as something that is worth preserving.

"France's constant position for years now has been to support a single China," said Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin.

"When we said what we did, in no way were we intending to interfere in anyone's affairs. We simply stated again our wish that nothing should divide or complicate relations in the region. That is the wish and interest of all states in the region and indeed the whole international community," he said.

The Brussels bureaucrats would probably be wise at this time to reject this attempt by the French to lift the EU arms sales embargo to China. The friction it would cause in trans-Atlantic relations would be considerable since if Europe started arming a future US enemy (not that the US wants to call China an enemy) it would be hard for the US to think of the European countries as allies. The US response might widen a rift in the EU between the less and more democratic countries. Until an EU constitution is passed that pretty well cements all members states permanently in the Union it would be unwise to make any moves that would threaten that goal.

However, the French are looking down the chess board more moves and correctly recognize the need for the European Union to make common cause with anti-democratic regimes on at least some issues. After all, the EU is not exactly a paragon of democracy and clearly needs to maintain what is widely called its "democracy deficit" because of the very nature of the EU as a combination of very different nations, cultures, and speakers of many different languages brought together by political elites. The more democratic nations such as Sweden serve as democratic obstacles to further European integration. It is no accident that Tony Blair doesn't want the British people to directly vote on the next EU constitution revision since the British people would probably reject it if the decision was left up to them.

In fact, the EU is probably going to need to make its "democracy deficit" even larger because the need to stay anti-democratic at the EU level in Brussels is eventually going to have to be supplemented by a decrease in the democratic character of the various member states as the Muslim portions of the populations of some European states increases and the sense of a set of common shared values and interests declines. There are already warning signs flashing on this demographic trend with the French debate on Muslim headscarves and the widespread importation of Muslim spouses (the same phenomenon happening in Norway as well - see first update in that post).

Immigration is beginning to be recognized as a major obstacle to the continued maintenance of a consensus of shared values and interests in Europe. See this Februrary 2004 essay from Prospect Magazine where David Goodhart examines whether Britain is becoming too diverse. (also find the same article here)

It was the Conservative politician David Willetts who drew my attention to the "progressive dilemma." Speaking at a roundtable on welfare reform (Prospect, March 1998), he said: "The basis on which you can extract large sums of money in tax and pay it out in benefits is that most people think the recipients are people like themselves, facing difficulties which they themselves could face. If values become more diverse, if lifestyles become more differentiated, then it becomes more difficult to sustain the legitimacy of a universal risk-pooling welfare state. People ask, 'Why should I pay for them when they are doing things I wouldn't do?' This is America versus Sweden. You can have a Swedish welfare state provided that you are a homogeneous society with intensely shared values. In the US you have a very diverse, individualistic society where people feel fewer obligations to fellow citizens. Progressives want diversity but they thereby undermine part of the moral consensus on which a large welfare state rests."

Europeans are not going to be able to maintain the EU project or the welfare state or even the liberal character of their societies unless they make their states less democratic. So far the political leaders in Europe have repeatedly shown a willingness to defeat the will of the various European peoples in order to continue to shift power up to the European Union. It should not, therefore, be particularly surprising when the top leaders in France make a bold argument for selling arms to China even though those arms would be used to intimidate and perhaps even attack the much more democratic Taiwan. Democracy clearly can not be as highly valued in Europe as it is in the United States if Europe is to become increasingly governed by a central government even as each European state becomes less homogeneous and less European.

Update: Do you think I'm exaggerating the EU's need for a democracy deficit in order to make the whole European multi-national state project happen? See a related post on the Anti-Idotarian Rottweiler blog about the problem that Danish direct referenda are seen to pose for the expansion of EU power. Watch out for proposals to add a clause to the draft EU constitution to strike out the right of member states to hold binding popular referenda on issues regarding the European Union. That would be the logical next step to deal with popular opposition to the EU in Europe.

By Randall Parker    2004 January 29 03:41 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (3)
2003 November 28 Friday
Revel On European Resentment Of America

Frenchman Jean-Francois Revel has written another essay on European anti-Americanism.

The real cause of September 11 unquestionably lies in the resentment against the United States, which grew apace after the collapse of the USSR, and America's emergence as the "sole global superpower." This resentment is particularly marked in the Islamic lands, where the existence of Israel, which is blamed on America, is an important motivator. But the resentment is also more quietly present over the entire planet. In some European capitals, the sense of grievance has been raised to the status of an idée fixe, virtually the guiding principle of foreign policy. Thus the U.S. is charged with all the evils, real or imagined, that afflict humanity, from the falling price of beef in France to AIDS in Africa and global warming everywhere. The result is a widespread refusal to accept responsibility for one's own actions.

As for the American "hyperpower" that causes Europeans so many sleepless nights, they should look to their own history and ask how far they themselves are responsible for that predominance. For it was they who made the twentieth century into the grimmest in history. It was they who brought about the two apocalypses of the World Wars and invented the two most absurd and criminal political regimes ever inflicted on the human race. If Western Europe in 1945 and Eastern Europe in 1990 were ruined, whose fault was it? American "unilateralism" is the consequence--not the cause--of the diminished power of the other nations. Yet it has become habitual to turn the situation around and constantly indict the United States. Is it surprising when such an atmosphere of accumulated hate ends in pushing fanatics to compensate for their failures by engaging in carnage?

By putting so much energy into their resentment of America many Europeans are missing the real threat:

In the two months after 9/11, the phobias and fallacies of traditional anti-Americanism massively intensified. The clumsiest of them was an attempt to justify Islamist terrorism by claiming that America has long been hostile to Islam. The United States' actions historically have been far less damaging to Muslims than those of Britain, France, or Russia. These European powers have conquered Muslim countries, occupied and indeed oppressed them over decades and even centuries. Americans have never colonized a Muslim nation. Americans evince no hostility toward Islam as such today; on the contrary, their interventions in Somalia, Bosnia, and Kosovo, as well as the pressure exerted on the Macedonian government, were designed to defend Muslim minorities. And the U.S.-led coalition that removed the Iraqi army from Kuwait during the first Gulf War acted to defend a small Muslim country against a secular dictator who had used chemical weapons against Muslim Shiites in the south and Muslim Kurds in the north.

Another myth strenuously maintained since 9/11 is that of a moderate and tolerant Islam. The dominant idea in the Muslims' worldview, in truth, is that all humanity must obey the rules of their religion, whereas they owe no respect to the religions of others. Indeed, showing such respect would make them apostates meriting instant execution. Anxious to show tolerance, the Pope encouraged the erection of a mosque in Rome, the city where Saint Peter is buried. No Christian church could be built in Mecca, or anywhere in Saudi Arabia, for that would profane the land of Mohammed. There is no ambiguity about al-Qaeda-style intentions: It is quite simply to convert the whole of humanity to Islam by force. Murder and mayhem is justified in the eyes of the terrorists because it strikes at the infidels who refuse to embrace Islam. We deceive ourselves if we think we can negotiate with the al-Qaeda fanatics and their ilk.

The day after 9/11, Le Parisien-Aujourd'hui published an account of the jubilant atmosphere the previous evening in the eighteenth arrondissement of Paris, home to a large Muslim community. "Bin Laden will nail all of you!" was among the more moderate remarks hurled at passersby who didn't appear to be North African. Or: "I'm going to celebrate big time tonight! Those guys were real heroes. That'll teach those American bastards--and all you French are next!" Snippets of this sort were ignored by almost all media.

Revel correctly points out that the irrationality of so much of European criticism of America causes Americans to ignore European criticism even when Europeans are making valid points. The effect of the resentment then is to decrease European influence in America and effectively to cause American policy to be more unilateralist than it otherwise would be.

See previous posts about Revel: Jean Francois Revel On Anti-Americanism and John Vinocur: Why France disdains America. See also his book now translated into English: Anti-Americanism.

Also see my previous post On Globalization And The Psychological Visibility Of America.

By Randall Parker    2003 November 28 12:10 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2003 November 13 Thursday
Closer German-French Union Proposed To Counter United States

France and Germany may merge to meet the imagined common threat.

France is threatening to unite with Germany to maintain their influence in an enlarged European Union and strengthen their common front against the United States, according to reported remarks by the Foreign Minister, Dominique de Villepin.

The minister was quoted by Le Monde speaking about "Franco-German union" and calling the deepening of ties "the one historic challenge we cannot lose".

The newspaper gave most of its first three pages to reports on the proposed union, noting it was an idea whose time may have come.

Pascal Lamy, a French EU commissioner, was enthusiastic, telling Le Monde that closer ties could begin with the unification of diplomatic services and the sharing of France's permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council.

To counter the United States over what exactly? The French and Germans are starting to get downright batty in their anti-Americanism. Why not go further and merge the French and German languages in order to create a linguistic counterweight to English?

The obsession with America as the enemy causes Europe to miss its biggest enemy: Demographic trends that threaten to shrink Europe in population, vigor, economic size and in living standards while Europe becomes more Islamic and less European.

Update: D.J. McGuire of China e-Lobby in the latest issue of his newsletter points to a report about the desire of France and Germany to sell more advanced weapons to China.

The removal of sanctions against Beijing is likely to result in major weapons purchases from both France and Germany. The Chinese army would very much like to purchase French Mirage or Rafale jets and the Tiger attack helicopter. The Chinese have a major shortfall in helicopters and lack a modern attack helicopter.

In addition, the Chinese navy would like to collaborate with France on the purchase of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and nuclear-powered submarines. The Chinese navy also would like to purchase French- or German-made air cushion landing craft for a possible invasion of Taiwan.

If Germany and France start selling their best weapons to China and engage in weapons technology transfer deals with China then at that point the Western Alliance will be dead.

Update II: Victor Davis Hanson argues that Europe may eventually rearm.

Behind the pretense that a dash of multinationalism and pacifist platitudes have suddenly transformed Europe into some new Fukuyama-type End-of-History society, it is still mostly the continent of old, torn by envy and pride, conjuring up utopian fantasies of pan-European rule at the same time as nationalist resentments fester. That’s what makes the question of European rearmament so crucial. Should Europe rearm—and I think it will, either collectively or nation by nation, as America reduces its military presence—it has the population, economic power, and (most important) the know-how to field forces as good as our own. If Germany invested 4 to 5 percent of its GNP in defense, its new Luftwaffe would not resemble Syria’s air force. Two or three French aircraft carriers—snickers about the petite Charles de Gaulle aside—could destroy the combined navies of the Middle East. We may laugh today at the unionized Belgian military of potbellied cooks and barbers, or scoff at German pacifism, but this is still Europe, which gave birth to the Western military tradition—the most lethal the world has ever known.

Hanson argues that the US should continue troop withdrawals from Europe because an elimination of US troop presence from more countries in Europe will reduce their feelings of resentment and impotence. He suggests keeping forces only in European rim countries such as Britain, Spain, and Italy in order to be able to use bases for transfer of forces to the Middle East when necessary.

By Randall Parker    2003 November 13 03:27 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (3)
2003 November 12 Wednesday
Radek Sikorski Sees US Failing To Build Ties With Central Europe

Troops from Poland, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia and Ukraine are serving in Iraq. Sikorski points out that costs for supporting those forces in Iraq take money away from military modernization.

Central Europeans had also hoped that the United States would help them modernize their militaries. Because it's so much cheaper to send foreigners to Iraq than Americans, this seemed a good time to help these armies come closer to NATO standards, which would make them more easily deployable alongside U.S. forces. Instead, these countries' investments in defense are being postponed to finance operations in Iraq.

Does the US foot any of the bill for the costs? Those countries are not well developed and have much lower per capita GDPs than the United States. That is why the salaries of their soldiers are low enough to make their deployment to Iraq much cheaper than is the case with US troops.

As Central Europe becomes increasingly integrated with the rest of the European Union US influence looks set to decline regardless of what the US does.

As of next year, Western Europe's pull in Central Europe will multiply. Millions of motorists will see signs marking EU-financed infrastructure projects; millions of farmers will get EU agricultural subsidy checks in the mail; and tens of thousands of journalists, scientists and academics will become eligible for EU grants. If the United States wants to remain a player, it better get into the game.

It is simply not worth it for the United States to try to compete with the level of aid the EU is going to lavish upon the former Warsaw Pact countries. But the US could get smarter and use small amounts of money to at least symbolically reward the countries that are providing troops in Iraq. For instance, a few small contracts to Polish companies (Poland provides the biggest troop contingent from Central Europe) to help in the rebuilding would go a long way. Also, some sort of US equivalent of Rhodes scholarships for Europeans would help to build ties.

By Randall Parker    2003 November 12 11:22 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (3)
2003 October 17 Friday
Queen Elizabeth Afraid Of Loss Of British Sovereignty

The Queen has finally started reacting as if the EU is a threat to her position.

It is believed that the Palace's concerns focus on whether the Queen's supreme authority as the guardian of the British constitution, asserted through the sovereignty of Parliament, could be altered or undermined by article 10 of the draft text.

This states: "The constitution and law adopted by the union's institutions in exercising competences conferred on it shall have primacy over the law of the member states."

Many MPs say that this will rob the House of Commons of its ultimate authority to override decisions and laws made by the EU.

It is crunch time for the development of the EU super-state. The various leaders of EU governments are willing to give up national sovereignty to the European Union. But the Queen knows that she is the Sovereign. What is the point in being the Queen if she is not going to be the Sovereign? If she wants to really try she might be able to make the new EU constitution into a much bigger political issue in Britain. If the constitution was put to a popular vote it is doubtful it would pass in Britain and in some other European countries as well.

The United States ought to alert the various European states that it is thinking of either closing its various embassies in Europe or converting them to consulates. After all, if London is not going to be the home of a sovereign government then what is the point of sending an ambassador to the Court of Saint James? The US also ought to raise the issue on the United Nations Security Council that since the sovereign goverments of France and Great Britain are ceasing to exist they have no sovereignty vested in them with which to even appoint ambassadors to represent them on the Security Council. Also, the US could cease to greet European state leaders as heads of state when they come Washington DC. If the Europeans want to play seriously at the creation of a super-state we ought to start treating them in ways that recognize that they really are doing exactly that.

Update: One sly way the Bush Administration might want to handle the constitutional debate in Britain and Europe is to have some Administration official state off-the-record that the US still views Great Britain as possessing a sovereign government at this point in time and that the Bush Administration has not yet made a determination as to when Britain will cease to have a sovereign government.

By Randall Parker    2003 October 17 01:58 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
2003 September 21 Sunday
Thomas Friedman: French Opposition On Iraq Hurts France

Thomas Friedman says France wants the US to fail in Iraq.

What is so amazing to me about the French campaign — "Operation America Must Fail" — is that France seems to have given no thought as to how this would affect France. Let me spell it out in simple English: if America is defeated in Iraq by a coalition of Saddamists and Islamists, radical Muslim groups — from Baghdad to the Muslim slums of Paris — will all be energized, and the forces of modernism and tolerance within these Muslim communities will be on the run. To think that France, with its large Muslim minority, where radicals are already gaining strength, would not see its own social fabric affected by this is fanciful.

If the US fails then the radical Muslims will be emboldened and the drive to turn Europe into Eurabia will intensify. John Chipman says Europe wants America out of what Europe sees as its backyard while Europe refuses to tend to it in our place.

Says John Chipman, director of the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies: "What the Europeans are saying about Iraq is that this is our backyard, we're not going to let you meddle in it, but we're not going to tend it ourselves."

Heck, the European countries won't even tend to the Balkans without US help. Why can't the vaunted EU of the Euro-enthusiasts dreams at least take care of Bosnia and Kosovo without US help?

By Randall Parker    2003 September 21 01:04 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
2003 September 12 Friday
Europe Produces More Scientists But Employs Fewer Researchers

The European Commission (EC) of the European Union (EU) is worried that Europe produces more scientists but has fewer researchers.

In relative terms the EU produces more science graduates (PhDs) than the United States but has fewer researchers (5.36 per thousand of the working population in the EU compared with 8.66 in the USA and 9.72 in Japan). In order to achieve the objective of raising Europe's investment in research to 3% of gross domestic product (GDP), as decided at the Barcelona European Council meeting in March 2002, the EU will need 700 000 extra researchers.

There is therefore an urgent need to improve the image of researchers within society, attract more young people to scientific careers and foster researchers' mobility across Europe and back from other regions in the world. There are still some major obstacles to overcome, including in particular difficulties in cross-sector mobility such as moving from university to private business careers, and in addition the problems encountered by researchers attempting to embark on careers in universities outside their own countries.

The European Commission lays out a series of recommendations:

  • the launch of a “European Researcher's Charter”, for the career management of human resources in R&D;
  • a “Code of conduct for the recruitment of researchers” at European level;
  • the development of a framework for recording and recognising the professional achievements of researchers throughout their careers, including the identification of tools aimed at increasing the transparency of qualifications and competencies acquired in different settings;
  • the development of a platform for the social dialogue of researchers;
  • the designing of appropriate instruments in order to take into account the necessary evolution of the content of research training and
  • the development of mechanisms to ensure that doctoral candidates have access to adequate funding and minimum social security benefits.
  • But there is no indication that these recommendations address the question of why the difference exists in the first place. Increased funding for basic researchers will probably help. But while the United States government spends a great deal on basic research a lot of R&D workers in the United States are employed in private industry and the same holds true in Japan. The EC recommendations provide no indication that the EC bureaucrats have bothered to figure out the relative importance of the various reasons why the United States and Japan have more R&D workers as a proportion of their populations. Lots of obvious questions could be asked. Here are a few of them:

    • What industries employ most of the researchers? Is there a structure to European universities that works against a greater amount of research being done?
    • Are there important differences in how grant applications are judged?
    • Does America's larger amount of venture capital make a key difference?
    • If so, then why does Japan employ even more researchers as a percentage of the population than the US by the measure they are using?
    By Randall Parker    2003 September 12 01:02 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
    2003 August 08 Friday
    Europe To Become "Massive, Harmonized Welfare State"

    William Niskanen, chairman of the Cato Institute, compares the US and proposed Euopean Union constitutions and concludes that the EU constitution will lead to an expanded welfare state.

    These claims on the state represent the most important potential tension in the Union. On the one hand, the proposed EU constitution states that the "Free movement of persons, goods, services and capital, and freedom of establishment shall be guaranteed within and by the Union ... [and] any discrimination on grounds of nationality shall be prohibited."

    Fine. On the other hand, any citizen of the Union seems to have a claim on a wide range of social services wherever that person chooses to live. This will lead to either a massive movement of people to states with a higher level of social services or the harmonization of these services among the member states.

    This is why the Leftists in Britain have switched sides on the issue of closer British integration with the EU. British Leftists see the EU as a tool with which to further expand the power and size of the welfare state.

    By Randall Parker    2003 August 08 12:29 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    2003 July 15 Tuesday
    The British Left Sees The EU As Revenge On Thatcher

    Andrew Stuttaford explains the appeal of the European Union to the British Left.

    The aim behind the EU has long been the establishment of a corporatist economic system across a continent (the relative economic failures of France and Germany have shown that, in an age of increasingly free markets, such a system can’t survive in one country alone). Including the UK in this project will remove an economic (and intellectual) competitor and will be a good revenge on the hated Thatcher. This managed capitalism (and the revenge on the hated Thatcher) has considerable appeal to the British Left (lest there be any doubt - this includes Tony Blair). Remember that the very structure of the EU offers another advantage – it is not subject to any meaningful democratic review. It is thus, for all realistic purposes, irreversible and so is the economic system it will impose.

    Economic competition between nations leads to pressure to restrict the size of government. But if governments can effectively merge and adopt the same high levels of taxes and regulation that reduces the pressure to cut back on the size of government. It is sad to see Britain going down that path.

    By Randall Parker    2003 July 15 11:10 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    2003 July 04 Friday
    Timothy Garton Ash On The Growing Divide Between America And Europe

    Timothy Garton Ash surveys reasons for the divisions between many EU countries and the United States.

    When and where did European and American sentiment start diverging again? In early 2002, with the escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Middle East. The Middle East is both a source and a catalyst of what threatens to become a downward spiral of burgeoning European anti-Americanism and nascent American anti-Europeanism, each reinforcing the other. Anti-Semitism in Europe, and its alleged connection to European criticism of the Sharon government, has been the subject of the most acid anti-European commentaries from conservative American columnists and politicians. Some of these critics are themselves not just strongly pro-Israel but also “natural Likudites,” one liberal Jewish commentator explained to me. In a recent article Stanley Hoffmann writes that they seem to believe in an “identity of interests between the Jewish state and the United States.” Pro-Palestinian Europeans, infuriated by the way criticism of Sharon is labeled anti-Semitism, talk about the power of a “Jewish lobby” in the United States, which then confirms American Likudites’ worst suspicions of European anti-Semitism, and so it goes on, and on.

    There are two parts of the disagreement over the Middle East. One has to do with the Israelis versus the Palestinians and their supporters in the larger Muslim polity. That conflict is about to take a new turn in the next several months when a new fence is completed that will separate most of the West Bank from Israel (also see this article for more details and also this article for a partial map).

    Will the wall intensify or lessen differences between the US and Europe on Israel? Perhaps the best way to approach that question is to ask whether the wall will have beneficial or harmful effects upon how the Arabs view Israel. Will the wall improve the chances that Israel and the Arabs can reach an agreement over the Palestinians that would be generally acceptable to all concerned? That seems unlikely at this point. Islamic Jihad and Hamas treat ceasefires as periods during which to restock and reload. The Israelis are including enough of the West Bank behind their side of the wall and doing enough to keep the West Bank divided into cantons that the Palestinian sense of grievance is being further stoked. At the same time, the demographic trends of the coming decades look set to strengthen Palestinian beliefs that they deserve more of the territory that lies to the west of the Jordan river. Plus, Islamist sentiment is rising among Palestinians while the larger Arab polity is a long way away from making peace in their own minds with a non-Muslim state in their midst.

    Then there is the disagreement over what to do about the Arab countries. The threat of terrorism is seen by the Europeans as something that has to be managed chiefly thru intelligence and police work. Whereas the Bush Administration sees the terrorism problem as unsolvable as long as Arab and other Muslim societies do not modernize, remain fairly closed, and have governments that are corrupt and oppressive. It will likely take many years before the effects of American interventions change either European or American perceptions.

    Israel and the set of issues relating to the Muslim Arab lands are hardly the only divisive issues in the split. Ash sees a more general divide due to an ideological split between the political Left and political Right. The Left is firmly ascendant in Europe while the Right is in power in the US at least part of the time. This ideological divide might eventually close if the Europeans come to realize that they need more market elements in their economies and less social welfare spending. But the rising average age of Europeans and consequent demands on spending for the elderly may well produce a solidification of the welfare state in Europe as the elderly and near elderly of the European populace decide they need expanded government programs in order to survive.

    Differences on the proper role of the United Nations and other international institutions are also important in the split between America and Europe. The US would likely increase its support of international institutions if a Democrat is elected President in 2008. However, even while Clinton was President there was not enough support to ratify the Kyoto Accord on climate change and Clinton did not try to get the Senate to accept the International Criminal Court treaty. While Bush is criticised by leftists in America and Europe on Kyoto and the ICC the fact is that had Gore been elected the only difference would have been that the he would not have as openly voiced US opposition to these agreements.

    Another important factor going forward will be the extent to which the EU becomes more integrated with more political power concentrated at the top. If more power shifts to Brussels then the sharpness of trans-Atlantic agreements will likely increase as all of Europe can be made to take a single common position on a foreign policy issue.

    The big wild cards in the future of US-European relations are future events. If a huge terrorist attack happens in the US or Europe that will cause a big shift in attitudes. Developments in Iran, Iraq, North Korea, and other states of interest either due to terrorism or WMD threats will also influence perceptions on both sides of the Atlantic. My own expectation is that trans-Atlantic relations will not get either much worse or much better in the next 5 years barring some dramatic event that shakes people lose from existing mindsets.

    Update: Ken Jowitt makes some good points on why the US and Europe should stay allied. (my bold emphasis added)

    Why does America need Western allies? To begin with, the West is simultaneously the global military power and the global cultural minority. The West is the only culture in the world with a history based on individual liberty, democratic republicanism, and market capitalism. It would be absurd to cut ourselves off from our natural West European allies.

    ...

    Third, any attempt to identify, intimidate, or eliminate all wildcat violence with a potentially global reach is beyond the intelligence-gathering, logistical, material, and emotional resources of even the United States. The United States will have to align itself with less-powerful allies in various regions and become as adept at military diplomacy as it has always been with military technology.

    We should try to prevent our differences with the European countries from something deeper and wider than they need to be (and we should act with restraint in spite of the French). Yes, we are not always going to agree. Yes, we are sometimes going to act in the face of some European opposition. But we have more in common with them than we do with the vast bulk of the rest of the world.

    Europe's population is aging and it is going to shrink. They are faced with rising demands for increased entitlements spending for large elderly populations and they already have fairly high levels of taxation. At the same time they face growing Muslim subpopulations of uncertain loyalty whose influence will tend to pull European politics in directions that bring Europe into greater conflict with the US.

    While immigration is preventing the US from aging as much as Europe the US also faces increasing demands for old age entitlements spending that will place severe limits on the US ability to fund a large military. The US population is expanding but only because of immigration from non-Western countries. The US no longer has institutions that teach immigrants to assimiliate to American values and culture, US higher education institutions produces teachers who are ideologically less friendly to classical Western ideas (to the extent that they even understand them) and operate academic departments that teach less successful minorities that they are victims. The US, from a Western cultural standpoint, is probably going to weaken as a result of all this and become less Western in character. The US will become beset by divisions caused by a politics of envy driven by increases in subpopulations of ethnic groups that have lower average educational and economic achievements. In spite of the triumphalism about America voiced by many neoconservative hawks the US position is not as unassailable as the neocons seem to believe. We should not unnecessarily burn any diplomatic bridges with Europe.

    Update II: James W. Ceaser has written an excellent essay on the history of anti-Americanism in Europe for the public policy journal The Public Interest entitled A genealogy of anti-Americanism.

    Although anti-Americanism is a construct of European thought, it would be an error to suppose that it has remained confined to its birthplace. On the contrary, over the last century anti-Americanism has spread out over much of the globe, helping, for example, to shape opinion in pre-World War II Japan, where many in the elite had studied German philosophy, and to influence thinking in Latin American and African countries today, where French philosophy carries so much weight. Its influence has been considerable within the Arab world as well. Recent accounts of the intellectual origins of contemporary radical Islamic movements have demonstrated that their views of the West and America by no means derive exclusively from indigenous sources, but have been largely drawn from various currents of Western philosophy. Western thought is at least in part responsible for the innumerable fatwahs and the countless jihads that have been pronounced against the West. What has been attributed to a "clash of civilizations" has sometimes been no more than a facet of internecine intellectual warfare, conducted with the assistance of mercenary forces recruited from other cultures. It is vitally important that we understand the complex intellectual lineage behind anti-Americanism. Our aim should be to undo the damage it has wrought, while not using it as an excuse to shield this country from all criticism.

    Let me restate my point a different way: Anti-Americanism as an intellectual movement began in Europe centuries ago, has gone thru many stages, and has even found footing with many intellectuals in America. In spite of centuries of European anti-American thought the US and various European countries have pursued many efforts to mutual benefit. While European anti-Americanism is a destructive ideology that is harmful to the rational interests of the US and Europe alike the embrace of knee-jerk anti-Europeanism is not an adaptive response. The West as a whole would be ill-served if it split and became heavily divided against itself. The biggest winners from such a split would be non-Western rivals. A more adaptive response is to intellectually engage the Europeans and to point out the unfounded and ideological nature of the bulk of anti-Americanism.

    By Randall Parker    2003 July 04 07:37 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
    2003 June 22 Sunday
    EU Claims Ready To Get Tough On WMD Developers

    Meeting in Porto Carras Greece European Union leaders agreed that the EU has to be prepared to use military force to prevent clandestine development of WMD.

    June 20: European Union leaders on Friday gave green light to the first draft constitution preparing for the bloc's 2004 eastward expansion as well as a new security doctrine authorizing the use of force "as a last resort" against nations building clandestine weapons of mass destruction.

    The EU has vowed to give up on the idea of a static system of defenses.

    The text agreed by EU leaders at dinner last night in the beach resort of Porto Carras said the EU could no longer rely on static "Cold War" defence against terrorists determined to use "unlimited violence and cause massive casualties".

    Was that a French idea? Just curious.

    Does this mean the EU is really going to change? Well, tough guys that they are, they are threatening to take part in any UN-sanctioned use of force.

    Indeed, leaders backed the use of force as a last resort as a means of dealing with such threats - provided it was sanctioned by the UN.

    "The US never believed we took the threats of WMD seriously," said another EU diplomat. "These documents show how the Europeans are responding to the growing proliferation of WMD, including biological and chemical."

    Gee whiz, I still do not think they take the problem seriously. They are willing to take military action if France, China and Russia will agree on the UN Security Council to give them the okay. That sounds like a recipe for inaction. Kim Jong-il can relax over his worries about the European Union. As Officer Barbrady says on South Park "Move along folks. Nothing to see here."

    The EU's idea of playing hardball with Iran is to threaten to hold off completion of negotiations of an EU-Iran trade deal if Iran does not make concessions over inspections of its nuclear weapons development facilities.

    As its largest trading partner, the European Union has significant commercial leverage on Iran and is in the process of negotiating a trade deal with Tehran.

    The ministers pointedly said progress toward resolving the nuclear issue was "interdependent" with progress in the trade talks.

    What, the Mullahs can not get a new trade deal if they do not stop developing nuclear weapons? That is just so incredibly mildly inconvenient.

    To get a sense of just how the Europeans see this bold new decisive muscular tough hardnosed doctrine it is worth hearing what the Germans and French think of it.

    Gerhard Schröder, the German chancellor, embraced the doctrine because of Berlin's strong support for multilateral institutions; President Jacques Chirac of France did so because it spelt out how countries, including the US, could not act alone and expect to be effective.

    The US can not expect to act alone (alone defined here as "without the consent of all the major powers in the European Union") and be effective. This doctrine is going to support multilateral institutions. It is muscular.

    Barry Posen, a senior analyst with the U.S. Marshall Fund in Germany, says there is a big gap in perceptions between the Europeans and Americans over Iran.

    He said, however, that the Europeans do not seem yet to have reached the conclusion that the Americans appear to have reached -- namely, that Iran has a weapons program and is thus in breach of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

    Posen said the Europeans need to think through what they will do if the Iranians do not accept the tougher inspection regime. He said it's clear that for Washington, the end point is much more sharply focused -- that is, it reserves the option of taking military action if Iran continues to develop its alleged nuclear-weapons capability.

    German deputy foreign secretary Klaus Scharioth seems to understand that Iran does not need nuclear power given all its cheap oil and natural gas deposits.

    Mr. Scharioth said Germany also questions why Iran needs nuclear power when it is rich in oil and natural gas and why the country has medium-range missiles that could reach Europe.

    Come on Klaus, you just have to put two and two together. There is one hugely obvious purpose for Iran's nuclear efforts. It is staring you in the face guy. I know you can make the leap and figure it out. I'm cheering for you. Go ahead, draw the obvious conclusion. Boldly go where most European diplomats and politicians dare not go.

    Come September the rubber will meet the road on all this multilateral institution security blather when we get to see what the "international community" will do about Iran's continued development of nuclear weapons.

    The US and the European Union want the IAEA to speed its investigations and present the findings by September. The US hopes this next report will definitely prove that Iran is in breach of the NPT and that the IAEA will then refer Iran to the UN Security Council for sanctions.

    Will the UNSC vote for sanctions against Iran? Will Germany and France boldly step forward and ask for UNSC approval for a European Union military attack on Iran to put an end to Iranian nuclear ambitions? Stay tuned for the next episode of As the European Multilateral Institution Anti-Neoimperialistic World Turns.

    Update: The latest EU security proposal seems to have as its main purpose to prevent EU member states from pursuing independent foreign policy on security matters. It appears to be designed to discourage EU member states from individually making common cause with the United States in various actions the US pursues around the world.

    EU foreign ministers asked Solana to prepare the report in a bid to avoid a repetition of their damaging rift over the U.S.-led war in Iraq, which split the bloc in half, with founder members France, Germany and Belgium opposing military action.

    By creating a framework for member states to define common interests and agree how to apply EU policy ranging from trade and aid to sanctions and armed force to strategic threats, the aim is to anticipate and defuse future crises.

    By Randall Parker    2003 June 22 05:54 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
    2003 June 19 Thursday
    Willy Claes: Decision Already Made To Move NATO HQ

    Former NATO Secretary General and former deputy Belgian prime minister Willy Claes says the United States government has already decided to move NATO headquarters out of Belgium.

    BRUSSELS — The US has made up its mind to move Nato headquarters from Brussels to another member state, according to the defence organisation's former Secretary General Willy Claes.

    Where to? Poland? Romania perhaps in order to put the headquarters closer to trouble spots?

    Members of Belgium's government are split over whether to abolish the law that has so angered the Bush Administration.

    BRUSSELS – Belgium's Liberal party appeared split at the weekend over the controversial war crimes law which has infuriated the US and threatened the loss of Nato HQ for Brussels.

    John O'Sullivan argues that Rumsfeld's warning needs to be repeated again because there is too much at stake over this issue for the US government.

    U.S. generals would know that an unsympathetic Belgian court might conceivably be looking over their shoulder when they were making the most difficult decisions about bombing targets and collateral damage. It would be little comfort that the court would hand over their cases for final determination to a U.S. court--even if we could be sure that Belgium might not suddenly decree that because of racism and the death penalty, American courts no longer qualified as impartial--because their reputations would be sullied by the mere accusation. The European political climate in which the accusations would originally be raised would very likely be one hostile to U.S. foreign policy in general.

    For more details on the background of this dispute see my previous post on the subject.

    Of course, moving the NATO headquarters from Brussels to a friendlier European state is not the only conceivable solution to this problem. Perhaps we should follow the advice one British politician offers to his own nation: Daniel Hannan, Conservative MEP (Member, European Parliament) for South East England, is opposed to both the European Army and wants to see the UK pull out of NATO and resume Britain's blue water military policy.

    What is harder to understand is the position of my fellow Euro-sceptics, who oppose a common European defence without seeming to realise that this is precisely what we now have. Michael Portillo famously declared that he did not want British soldiers to die for Brussels. Absolutely. Let's pull them out of Nato command.

    Back to the high seas!

    By Randall Parker    2003 June 19 02:23 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    2003 June 18 Wednesday
    Council Of Europe Proposes To Compel Internet Linking To Defenses Against Criticism

    Declan McCullagh reports that the quasi-official Council of Europe is proposing a law for European countries to enact that would require anyone who criticises someone on a web site to offer that person who was criticised a way to respond to the criticism.

    The all-but-final proposal draft says that Internet news organizations, individual Web sites, moderated mailing lists and even Web logs (or "blogs"), must offer a "right of reply" to those who have been criticized by a person or organization.

    Say you criticise someone in a blog post. If that person posted a response to your criticism then under this proposed law you'd have to link to their response. How stupid. Showing a wisdom that the Europeans could learn from, in 1987 Ronald Reagan axed the more limited US equivalent for broadcast media called the Fairness Doctrine.

    I see a proposal like this as an obvious violation of free speech because it compels someone to speak when they do not want to. If you do not want to link to someone (and linking to someone is a form of communication) then you shouldn't have to. The people in European countries really have no protection against this sort of nonsense. European nations really could use strong constitutionally guaranteed freedom of speech. But in Europe the concept of rights has gotten so confused with the concept of entitlements that when they sit down to think of ways to protect rights they inevitably instead end up coming up with entitlements that others become obligated to support.

    Think about where this could lead. Suppose one criticises US policy in Iraq and in the process of doing so one states that the Islamists are a real threat to US efforts to make the place better. Well, just how many people might think they've been criticised even if they haven't been mentioned by name? Islamists, US government administrators, top government officials, and perhaps any Iraqi who thinks he and his fellow citizens are ready to run their own country might all perceive themselves to have been criticised.

    The effect of such a rule would be to intimidate people from offering criticism. Who wants to deal with the hassle of having to read thru one's email looking for demands that one adds links to responses to things one writes? Suppose you want to make a critical post and then go on a one month vacation. You'd have to periodically check in during vacation to see if anyone is upset enough to demand a link to a defensive response to your post.

    By Randall Parker    2003 June 18 01:01 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
    2003 June 14 Saturday
    US Threatening Belgium Over NATO Headquarters

    The US is telling Belgium to stop prosecution of American officers and government officials.

    Brussels, Belgium - The United States threatened yesterday to withhold money for a new NATO headquarters and to ban Americans from attending alliance meetings unless Belgium changes a law under which Army commander Tommy Franks was charged with war crimes.

    US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is not amused

    "These suits are absurd. By passing this law, Belgium has turned its legal system into a platform for divisive politicised lawsuits against her Nato allies," he said. "For our part, we will have to seriously consider whether we can allow our civilian and military officials to come to Belgium.

    "We will have to oppose all further spending for a Nato headquarters in Brussels until we know with certainty Belgium intends to be a hospitable place."

    There are pending Belgian prosecutions of a number of current and previous high US officials.

    The problem stems from Belgium's Universal Competence Law. Under this law, U.S. Central Command chief Army Gen. Tommy Franks has been charged with war crimes for his actions in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

    Former President George H.W. Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Colin Powell and retired Army Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf, former CENTCOM commander, have also been charged for their roles in the 1991 Persian Gulf War.

    In an absolutely amazing display of audacity some Europeans are upset that the Bush Administration wants to retaliate.

    BRUSSELS, Belgium – Europeans were stewing today over an implied U.S. threat to move NATO headquarters from Brussels if Belgium doesn't rescind its loose "war crimes" law.

    The US shouldn't have waited this long to start threatening to pull NATO headquarters out of Belgium. Where do these Euro-weenies get off thinking they can pull this nonsense?

    Update: The Belgians seemed to waver in response to Rumsfeld's tongue-lashing.

    Defense Minister Andre Flahaut said the country's universal jurisdiction law, which has been used to file suits against several senior current or former U.S. officials, could perhaps be revised for a second time to end the standoff.

    But the Belgian Prime Minister now claims the amended version of the law is no longer a problem.

    But Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt told a news conference there was no problem with the recently amended law and abuse of it for political reasons was now impossible.

    It seems unwise to trust the Belgians on this.

    Consider the irony: Europeans claim the United States is too unilateral. But then a single small European country sets its courts up to judge war crimes all on its own.

    By Randall Parker    2003 June 14 09:18 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
    2003 June 13 Friday
    Alberta and British Columbia As American States?

    Lawrence Solomon executive director of Urban Renaissance Institute has an article in the National Post (a Canadian publication) on the idea of bringing Alberta and British Columbia into the United States as the 51st and 52nd states. (you can also find it here)

    Because U.S. democrats would balk at adding a Republican state to the Union, they would want a second, more left-leaning state to be added at the same time, to maintain a balance of power – this was part of the bargain that had to be struck before Democratic Alaska and Republican Hawaii could be ushered into the Union. The likeliest running mate for Alberta is British Columbia – a lush and largely liberal urbanized province that has much in common with the west coast states of Washington, Oregon and California.

    Canada has serious political problems that continue to cause discussions among Canadian political commentators about a possible break-up of Canada. Solomon thinks one cause of Canadian political problems is the excessive amount of power held by rural areas in Canada. Solomon has a later article on barriers to trade in Canada erected by the provincial legislatures.

    To protect their private fiefs, each provincial legislature has erected trade barriers to block Canadian businesses that try to come in from other provinces. The barriers cover financial services, they cover construction. They cover electricity, gas distribution, transportation, health, education and architecture. Most of all, they cover the resource industries.

    Solomon argues that this state of affairs is at least in part a result of legislative districts (called ridings in Canada - from the days when one had to ride around them on a horse?) which have fewer people in them in rural areas than in urban areas. The rural areas support regulations that create barriers for trade between between provinces. This reduces competition and reduces economies of scale. Given that Canada has about a ninth the US population spread out over a large area it already has much less potential for economies of scale than the US does. Therefore trade barriers between provinces are especially damaging to overall living standards.

    But if we compare the United States to Canada in terms of internal trade the biggest factor that has made the US more integrated economically is a clause in the US federal constitution. Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution contains what is called the Commerce Clause which has generally been interpreted to mean that US states can not create trade barriers between the states.

    To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;

    To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States;

    To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures;

    In the views of many commentators (myself included) this clause has been abused by liberal courts to empower the federal government to regulate all manner of local matters. There has been a long series of cases which have changed the scope of the Commerce Clause. For a treatment of the history of court rulings see a review by Robert H. Bork and Daniel E. Troy entitled Locating The Boundaries: The Scope Of Congress's Power To Regulate Commerce. While the Commerce Clause has been abused to excessively extend the power of the federal government its net effect over the longer run has been to allow large economies of scale within the US economy that have enabled Americans to have higher living standards than Canadians. The increased level of trade between the parts has also been a politically integrating force in American politics.

    Does Canada lack the equivalent of the Commerce Clause? It sure sounds that way. How about it Canadians, do you folks have a federal constitutional clause that prevents provinces from restricting inter-provincial trade?

    By Randall Parker    2003 June 13 12:44 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (4)
    2003 May 22 Thursday
    John Major Demands British Referendum On EU Constitution

    Former Conservative UK Prime Minister John Major calls for a referendum on the proposed European Union constitution.

    At the heart of Giscard d’Estaing’s proposals is the intent to replace intergovernmental decision-making with a new written constitution for a single European entity. The institutions of this European entity would exercise sovereign powers, with primacy over the laws of member states in a breathtakingly wide range of policy areas. Even worse, the existing protection of a national veto largely disappears, as almost all the decisions would be under a system of majority voting. This is utterly unacceptable.

    So is the treatment of the concept of ‘subsidiarity’ that was introduced in the Maastricht Treaty: it was a principle that was intended to ensure that the EU acted only where it could complement national actions. Giscard d’Estaing turns this on its head and redefines the distribution of power by stating baldly that member states may take action in defined areas ‘only if and to the extent that the Union has not exercised its [competences]’.

    If Britain loses the right of a sovereign state to have a foreign policy and defense policy then the United States will most likely lose a very valuable ally. Among the losses to the British will be their legal system which will be gradually replaced with a legal system based on a very different European continental legal philosophy. Ironically, English common law will be dead in the country of its birth while its legacy lives on in other Anglosphere nation-states.

    By Randall Parker    2003 May 22 03:46 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (3)
    2003 May 18 Sunday
    Richard Myers Threatens To Move NATO Headquarters

    US military chief of staff General Richard Myers has threatened to move NATO headquarters from Brussels Belgium.

    America's top military officer has warned that Nato may have to move from its Brussels headquarters after an attempt to bring war crimes charges against General Tommy Franks, the commander of coalition forces in Iraq, in the Belgian courts.

    The threat is in response to a legal action taken against General Tommy Franks in Belgian courts for US conduct in the Iraq war.

    Lawyer Jan Fermon presented the complaint against Franks and a Marine officer he identified as Col. Brian P. McCoy to Belgium's federal prosecutors' office despite recent changes in the country's war crimes law to prevent such charges against Americans.

    Eastern Europe would be a cheaper area to operate NATO headquarters. Though there may be a considerable cost in moving my guess is that the yearly savings would pay it back eventually. The Poles would probably be happy to host NATO. Some US military facilities currently located in Germany could also be transferred to Poland. Though it might make more sense to put them in Romania or Bulgaria so that they are closer to the Middle East.

    Update: The Belgian Prime Minister is going to force the lawsuit to be shifted to an American court.

    BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgium's Prime Minister Guy Verhofstadt said on Saturday he would send a war crimes lawsuit filed in Belgium against the commander of U.S.-led forces in Iraq to the United States next week.

    By Randall Parker    2003 May 18 02:10 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    2003 May 17 Saturday
    Margaret Thatcher Criticises French, Anti-Westernism

    Margaret Thatcher proclaimed the importance of the Anglo-American alliance while taking a pretty good swipe at the French.

    Lady Thatcher said: “For years, many governments played down the threats of Islamic revolution, turned a blind eye to international terrorism and accepted the development of weaponry of mass destruction. Indeed, some politicians were happy to go further, collaborating with the self-proclaimed enemies of the West for their own short-term gain — but enough about the French. So deep had the rot set in that the UN security council itself was paralysed.”

    She was speaking at a meeting of The Atlantic Bridge think tank. The text of her speech is not yet on their site at the time of this posting but likely will be in a few days.

    By Randall Parker    2003 May 17 12:18 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    2003 May 10 Saturday
    Fight For Eastern European Loyalties Favors EU

    Jeffrey Gedmin, director of the Aspen Institute in Berlin, explains why the United States faces an uphill battle to try to retain the loyalties and support of Eastern Europeans who have far more interactions with the European Union.

    In any case, Paris and Berlin have their own influence. There are the endless subsidies after which EU applicants salivate. There are the more than 80,000 pages of regulations and "harmonization" that countries have to swallow before they are permitted full membership in the club. And it is plain now that there is a heavy price to be paid for "immature" behavior -- Chirac's word -- over Iraq. "We've made clear to (the East Europeans) that this will never happen again," says an adviser to the coalition government in Berlin, a reference to the letter of the "Vilnius 10" pledging solidarity with the United States before the war.

    Germany have more cards to play for the fight over Eastern European loyalties. They also have physical proximity and fewer other foreign policy issues to distract them. The EU may well become a competing power to the United States and current Eastern European government support for US foreign policy is no reason for complacency.

    By Randall Parker    2003 May 10 11:52 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    2003 May 08 Thursday
    Use Of Polish Special Forces In Iraq Bonds Poland And America

    An article by Victorino Matus describes the Polish GROM special forces and their involvement in the war in Iraq.

    Radek Sikorski observes that "It was wise for the United States to show countries who backed it in this war that they are appreciated. This will probably pave the way for more 'coalitions of the willing.' Poland took a lot of risks supporting America. It also took a beating from some of its European friends." Sikorski thinks this could be the beginning of a special relationship with the United States, akin to the one shared by Great Britain, but warns "it is still in the very early stages and much will also depend on America's staying power in the region, its willingness to remain interested in Central Europe. One thing the Americans could do is move their bases out of Germany and into Poland, which has less population density and greater space to conduct exercises."

    The use of Polish special forces in Iraq gives Polish people something to feel proud about while at the same time in a very substantial way it makes the Poles feel as Poles allied with America rather than as Europeans. The US government should go out of its way to find ways to do military operations with willing allies. Doing so builds up a very substantial feeling of common cause and alliance between those countries that participate. These alliance activities serve the very useful exercise of creating sentiments in Europe that are in opposition to French and German attempts to turn Europe into a counterweight to American power.

    By Randall Parker    2003 May 08 03:11 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
    2003 May 05 Monday
    Bill Gertz: France Helped Iraqis Escape

    This may explain why the United States has not been able to capture more regime members in Iraq. The Iraqis are now Frenchmen living somewhere in the 12 EU Schengen Accord countries.

    An unknown number of Iraqis who worked for Saddam Hussein's government were given passports by French officials in Syria, U.S. intelligence officials said.

    If this report is true then eventually the proof will be forthcoming when some of these guys are photographed on a street in Paris or some other European city. They may opt for plastic surgery but if pictures made available of their families (say on a web site that has extensive sets of pictures for all the top Iraqi regime members along with pictures of their family members) other family members might be identified. There may even be French citizens who are sufficiently disgusted by this to report sightings. The FBI or CIA or DOD ought to put up a web site with picture collections for various Iraqi regime members with web forms where people can report suspected sightings.

    By Randall Parker    2003 May 05 11:51 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
    2003 April 19 Saturday
    Europe Discovers The Limits Of Soft Power

    Tony Judt has an essay in the New York Times on the limits to European power.

    Generally, this has worked well, particularly for the earliest participants in the club (France, West Germany, Italy and the Benelux countries). But as the club expanded, from 6 countries to 9, then 12, then 15 and now 25, it has become an unwieldy bureaucratic organization with a geometrically expanding range of conflicting regional priorities. For a single country like the United States, power increases with size. But for Europe, growth may be a source of weakness.

    One problem Europe faces is that its peoples speak a large variety of languages. Europe can not have a "national" debate in the same way that the United States can. People who do not share the same language are not going to think themselves members of the same common nation with deep shared interests. That problem is going to take a long time to go away.

    Another long range problem for Europe is demographic. Their population is not reproducing. It will shrink in the next 50 years and become smaller than the growing American population. Europe will have fewer young people to work and pay the taxes to support an its elderly population. The higher taxes and a shrinking workforce of the future Europe will cause anemic economic growth and declining influence. At the same time, the biggest growing fraction of the population is not European in culture and is Islamic in religion. Therefore European politics may become divided over cultural and religious issues in ways that make similar debates in the United States seem mild by comparison.

    From a US perspective probably the most important and, as yet, undecided question about Europe is whether the member states will be able to maintain their own independent militaries and foriegn policies. If the member states lose those fundamental attributes of a sovereign state then it will become impossible for the United States to ally with a subset of European states in the pursuit of US foreign policy. Most notably, the United States will lose Great Britain as an ally. A top objective in US foreign policy toward the European Union ought to be to prevent this outcome.

    By Randall Parker    2003 April 19 09:45 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    2003 March 25 Tuesday
    Amir Taheri On France's Arab Policy

    In an enlightening essay Paris-based Iranian writer Amir Taheri traces France's Politique Arabe de France (PAF) Arab policy back to its initiator Charles de Gaulle as a way to counterbalance German and American power. Taheri argues that it is time for the French to reexamine the assumptions underlying a policy which is not providing net practical benefits to France.

    One aim of PAF was, one must assume, the securing of a greater share for French goods in the Arab markets. But that has not happened. In most Arab countries France has been distanced as a trading partner by Germany, Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. In a sense PAF may have actually harmed French business prospects. There is a feeling in many Arab countries that doing business with France is always political rather than commercial, and that one must purchase French goods and services not because they are attractive but as part of a pay-off for French political support.

    By attempting to prevent a US attack to overthrow Saddam Hussein's regime Jacques Chirac has been acting to protect what the French government sees as a valuable relationship with an Arab client state. But the problem with the French thinking is the assumption of the value in some of its relationships with Arab states. The French appear to want influence as an end in itself. The French are so desperate to have influence that they have lost sight of what rational self interests they should most try to protect.

    France, no longer a first rank power, can develop special relationships only with states that are basically the left-overs that the United States has rejected. Any regime that is seen as a threat to US interests is available as sloppy seconds for France to cultivate. Long term French disdain for America enhances the appeal of cultivating relationships with Arab countries that the United States sees as enemies. Therefore the French elite disdain and resentment toward the US combines with the desire to find states in which the French government can exercise some influence and results in French policies which oppose US interests in a knee-jerk fashion.

    As Taheri argues it is not clear that the PAF policy has provided a net benefit to the French even if one uses a narrow economic definition of French interests. If one widens the scope of interests that are considered then the costs to the West as a whole seem clearly to outweigh the benefits that have accrued to some French commercial interests. The biggest area in which French policy operates in ways contrary to the needs of the security of the West is in nuclear proliferation. French policy, like Russian policy, acts to promote nuclear proliferation. Nuclear proliferation is the greatest threat to Western Civilization because it will inevitably lead to the possession of nuclear weapons by shadowy groups which are not deterrable.

    By Randall Parker    2003 March 25 12:44 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
    2003 March 19 Wednesday
    Christopher Caldwell on France, America Iraq Disagreement

    Christopher Caldwell argues that the disagreement between the United States and France over Iraq is at its base one of substance, not style.

    Both the US and France entered the Iraq crisis working on the assumption that the interests of the world and America were still so intimately interwoven that they were in effect identical. Americans assumed that the world was as panicked, infuriated and - most important - viscerally terrified by September 11 as they were. The world was not. It was sympathetic, it was interested - but the 18 months since have made plain that Europeans are nowhere close to understanding the event's impact on the American psyche. The French meanwhile assumed that, if they themselves did not feel terrified by the arrival of terrorism in New York, anyone who did was overreacting.

    While a common European attitude is that the Bush Administration is acting like a bull in a china shop the disagreement between the United States on one side and the French and many other Europeans on the other side is not due to Bush Administration clumsiness or hawkishness. Its biggest cause is a difference in the perception of danger.

    One reason for this difference in perception is that the United States was the country that was attacked with a loss of thousands of it citizens and residents. But this not the only reason. Another reason is that Americans and others know that America is at the top of the target list for terrorists. Other countries discount the overall threat because their own risks are lower. This is a parochial attitude and it doesn't speak well of anyone who thinks that way but there it is.

    Keep in mind for all these differences between such large groups as the populations of countries the differences are measured as average beliefs held. There are certainly Americans whose beliefs are closer to those of most Europeans and Europeans whose beliefs are closer to those of most Americans.

    Another cause of the difference in attitudes is the argument that Robert Kagan has made where basically Americans tend to see problems in terms that lead to drastic responses because the United States is in a position to respond with drastic measures (i.e. war) whereas European nations tend to see problems in terms of what can be done about them with the lesser tools they have available. When you have a hammer the whole world looks like a nail and when you have a wrench the whole world looks like a bolt. People define the problems they face in terms of how their own efficacies can solve them. Of course, that doesn't make the Europeans automatically wrong. Sometimes the use of less drastic measures will be more appropriate.

    There is a tendency in human nature to assign causes to why others disagree with one's position which reflect most poorly on those who disagree. This tendency makes a great deal of partisan debate in politics into mean-spirited name-calling. Sometimes the reasons that people disagree really do reflect poorly on the character, education, or intellectual capacity of those who disagree. But if a great deal is at stake then one should try to explore the underlying assumptions that cause disagreements as an examination of those assumptions can be enlightening even if the exercise does not change anyone's minds or narrow the scope of the disagreement. At the very least such an examination may decrease the degree of ill-will that flows from heated disagreements.

    By Randall Parker    2003 March 19 01:07 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
    2003 March 17 Monday
    Views On The Future of Trans-Atlantic Relations

    Former British Conservative Party leader William Hague expects a continued decline in the influence of Europe.

    What the present crisis underlines is that Western Europe is losing its influence. In the coming decades, the greatest growth of manufacturing will be in China, the fastest growth of population in the Middle East and India, and the strongest enterprise culture and greatest military power will remain in America. The sound we can hear from Paris and Berlin is not the march of ever closer union, but the rage of ever closer impotence. Once again, when the world gets dangerous, it is the Americans, British and Australians who respond. The vacuum left by others leaves us no choice.

    For Europe's demographic future Mark Steyn sees either demographic decline or the Islamization of Europe.

    If that ratio of workers to retirees keeps heading in the same direction, the EU will have the highest taxes not just in the Western world, but in most of the rest. A middle-class Indian or Singaporean or Chilean already has little incentive to come to the Continent. If the insane Bush–Steyn plan to remake the Middle East comes off, even your wacky Arabs may stay home. If it doesn’t, the transformation of Europe into ‘Eurabia’, as the droller Western Muslims already call their new colony, will continue.

    Either way European culture loses. How many decades will it take before a European nation adopts Sharia Law as a result of an Islamist party sweeping into power?

    Craig Kennedy, President of the German Marshall Fund, examines causes for the disagreements between the United States and Europe. A broad range of differences in outlook and perception are at the base of the widening split. John Clark of the Hudson Institute took notes on a recent Kennedy speech at the Hudson Institute. Kennedy sees different assessments of risks, problems, and of the best tools to address them all feeding the widening split.

    The current problems between the United States and Europe have nothing to do with Iraq. The key is the control of the use of American military power. All European leaders want a say in how the United States deploys its military; no American political leader, Left or Right, wants to cede control at all. In this sense, Tony Blair is doing the same thing as Jacques Chirac, only using a different strategy.

    Europe is not going to get control of US foreign policy. Chirac et. al, have so overplayed their hands over the Iraq war that their influence over US foreign policy looks set to decline if anything. However, Blair shares some of the same goals of Bush and therefore he's not simply trying to get more influence over US policy. Blair has consistently spoken about the dangers of nuclear proliferation and terrorism. His convictions seem genuine.

    Kennedy runs down some of the differences in how most Europeans and most Americans see the world.

    Third, Europeans have a different sense of risks. They don’t feel vulnerable to terrorism in the same way Americans feel; and if they do feel vulnerable, they blame the United States because its power draws attacks. Kennedy has been asking European leaders: If your country experienced an al Qaeda style terrorist attack, would it draw you closer to the United States or further apart? All say further apart: they would think that they were attacked because of their connection to the United States.

    Kennedy sees four main possibilities for future transaltantic relations. I've included the two most interesting ones here:

    I. “Multilateral quagmire,” meaning more of the same. He thinks this is most likely. The United States won’t leave the UN, at least for several years. Even after Iraq it will keep trying to work through the UN and NATO; France will block the U.S. initiatives; the United States will try to divide Europe. The result will be that multilateral institutions are in shambles. This combat will extend into the economic sphere. For instance, the WTO will increasingly be the site of trade disputes over genetically modified foods, privacy, and other issues. This fighting will spread to the IMF and World Bank. Kennedy thinks the business community on both sides of the Atlantic will keep it from spiraling completely out of control, but it will be very damaging.

    How much the relations between Europe and the United States decay will depend in part on pure luck. Terrorist attacks, election outcomes, and a host of other factors may accelerate changes.

    For his fourth possibility on the future of trans-atlantic relations Kennedy sees "The New Transatlantic Project" proposal by Ronald D. Asmus and Kenneth M. Pollack as a non-starter:

    IV. New Trans-Atlantic Bargain. The United States will allow Europe a voice in how American military power is used in exchange for European help in grand projects. GMF Fellow Ron Asmus and Ken Pollack have written a reply to Robert Kagan called “The New Transatlantic Project,” that calls for the United States and Europe to transform the Middle East.[5] Fred Bergsten of the Institute for International Economics envisions cooperation between a new “G2” of the United States and EU extending beyond economics. Kennedy thinks this is unlikely. For instance, on the Middle East Asmus and Pollack don’t appreciate the gap between the United States in identifying the problems: Americans focus on tyrants, support for terrorism, clashes of civilizations; Europeans see poverty and Israel as causes. Europeans don’t think democracy is possible in the Middle East, the United States thinks it’s necessary, at the very least a plausible goal. They disagree about means: The United States emphasizes force; Europeans constructive dialogue, trade, aid. This makes Kennedy skeptical that a new trans-Atlantic project will ever take off.

    I agree with Craig Kennedy that the prospects for that approach are bleak. On one hand the Europeans are right in their skepticism about the prospects for democracy in the Middle East. On the other hand, if the Middle East is not culturally transformed to make it a more hospitable place for democracy then it will continue to be a large terrorist threat to the West. The advance of WMD technologies will make it easier for terrorist groups to make weapons suitable for terrorists to use to kill large numbers of Westerners.

    I think European intellectuals tend to underestimate the degree to which trends taking place outside of the West make the maintenance of a status quo international system impractical. Advances in an assortment of technologies combined with the spread of religiously based political movements are destroying the status quo. That the neoconservatives in America underestimate the size of the cultural transformation job (no, not everyone loves liberal democracy and individual rights) entailed in trying to counter the dangers thrown up by these trends does not disprove their conclusion that there is a need for drastic action to meet the threats.

    As for Israel and poverty being at the root of the Muslim hostility toward the West: Its the modernising Islamic cultures that are the biggest sources of terrrorists. The foot soldiers are coming from Saudi Arabia and Egypt, not from Bangladesh. Even impoverished Afghanistan, while it was a useful base of terrorist operations, did not produce legions of Afghans eager to go off to the West to conduct terrorist attacks. The Arab dispute with Israel is a contributing factor to Muslim hostility toward the United States. But there is no plausible solution to the Palestinian desire for statehood that would end that source of hostility. As long as Israel exists and the US supports its existence many Muslims will be angry about it.

    Update: As for whether the Western nations could economically transform the Middle East if the will existed in the West to try: The history of attempts to use foreign aid programs to cause economic development is littered with failures. The countries that have industrialized and become contenders did not rely on foreign aid programs to build modern economies. Quite a few long term recipients of foreign aid have remained mired in poverty. It is possible to use foreign aid to fund the training of technically skilled workers. But without an economic system that will allow those workers to form companies and compete the most likely outcome of such training programs is going to be the emigration of the most skilled workers to lands of greater opportunity.

    What the Middle East needs is a transformation in religious beliefs and in cultural practices. Both of those types of changes are hard to engineer from the outside and will happen only very slowly if at all.

    By Randall Parker    2003 March 17 02:56 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (5)
    2003 March 02 Sunday
    Robert Kagan: Of Paradise and Power

    Robert Kagan's new book Of Paradise and Power: America Vs. Europe in the New World Order builds on his June 2002 Policy Review essay "Power and Weakness". Stephen Robinson reviews Paradise and Power for the UK Daily Telegraph.

    But he is excellent in explaining how America was not thrown off course by the election in 2000 of a conservative Texan, or even by the terrorist attacks 10 months later. Transatlantic tensions became apparent the moment the Wall came down, in the Balkans and elsewhere. For, as Kagan argues persuasively: "America did not change on September 11. It only became more itself."

    Kagan is interviewed by the Telegraph.

    "What he's persuaded Bush to do is amazing. There's no way that Bush would be going for a second resolution if Blair were not asking for it. Blair has succeeded in roping Bush - as far as possible - into a European vision of an international system where the United States seeks legitimacy for its actions. The transatlantic relationship is hanging by a thread and it is being held by Tony Blair." Why has the Prime Minister risked so much? "For Blair there was no low-risk option anywhere on the board. Imagine if he had taken the Franco-German line. He might have resurrected the British Conservative Party in one move! Downsides were obvious whichever way he turned.

    Kagan misses the point that Blair sincerely believes that nuclear proliferation has to be stopped. Blair wants to go thru the UN in part as a consequence of his Gladstonian view of the world. But he wants the same final outcome that Bush wants in terms of disarming various regimes and for many of the same reasons. Tony Blair understands the threat to the international system and security of the West posed by WMD proliferation..

    Marta Salij reviews Of Paradise and Power.

    The United States can't join Europe in its postmodern paradise, Kagan says, because the United States is busy defending the paradise. "It mans the walls, but cannot walk through the gate. The United States, with all its vast power, remains stuck in history, left to deal with the Saddams and the ayatollahs, the Kim Jong Ils and the Jiang Zemins, leaving most of the benefits to others."

    Reviewers inevitably bring their own biases to book reviews. Lorraine Adams sees US opposition to the International Criminal Court as a double standard.

    Kagan's treatise is remarkably intelligent. It feels right. But his unabashed embrace of double standards is not completely persuasive. Perhaps Kyoto is an imperfect accord. Perhaps France abjures enforcing the Security Council articles against Iraq out of petulance, not principle. But when it comes to the international criminal court, it seems improvident for the United States to advertise justice for all but not for itself. This is an era when only 19 men can kill 3,000 Americans in less than two hours. Terrorists grow from the toxic soil of ignorance, mental illness, fanaticism -- and American double standards. When America announces with impunity that there is one rule for it and another for everyone else, it jeopardizes its security in the raw new world of asymmetrical warfare.

    If the US submitted its military to the control of the UN Security Council and if it made its citizens accountable to the International Criminal Court the Jihadists wouldn't hate the United States any less. Neither are the Jihadists intimidated by the ICC. The Islamists do not see the UN or other international agencies as repositories of morally legitimate use of force for just purposes.

    Adams offers no alternative for how to put an end to the ignorance and religious fanaticism that drives terrorism. Neither do the Europeans. While the neoconservatives might not be right in their prescriptions (I certainly think they underestimate the difficulties in trying to create liberal democracies) they at least recognize that the problem of religious fanatic terrorists pursuing asymmetric warfare requires a response that is commensurate with the threat posed.

    Also, there is the small matter of how Iraq is ruled. The Europeans are willing to allow the Iraqi people to be ruled by a vicious tyrant. An argument for tolerating a tyranny can be made in pragmatic terms. But to make the argument in terms of international law robs international law of moral legitimacy. If international law means the assurance of the continued existence of the most odious and threatening regimes no matter what danger they constitute to more enlightened governments then what is the point of international law?

    A system of law, in order to mean anything, must be accompanied by a force that exercises a monopoly of power. The whole idea that there even exists such a thing as international law is flawed because there is no such force. Nor is it possible to create such a force. The incompatibility in values between the world's peoples is so large that it makes an international government and a widely agreed upon body of international law sufficient to govern relations between nations impossible now and for many decades and perhaps even centuries to come.

    The UN is seen by some as a stepping stone toward a world goverment. In practice the UN, if its decisions were to be respected, would constitute a tool to protect regimes no matter how they behaved. Therefore the UN in effect operates to protect the sorts of regimes that ought to be considered outlaws in any international order that this writer would consider morally legitimate.

    Terry Eastland reviews Of Paradise and Power.

    The question "Of Power and Paradise" raises is whether some European countries--France and Germany in particular--might "become positively estranged" from America. The war in Iraq could lead to that unfortunate outcome. Yet one must hope the war would remind Europe of "the vital necessity," as Kagan puts it, "of having a strong, even predominant America."

    The Kagan interview with Brian Lamb for C-Span Booknotes is excellent.

    LAMB: You live in Brussels, so you were probably there during the "axis of evil" speech about a year ago.

    KAGAN: Yes.

    LAMB: What was the reaction the day -- several days after that?

    KAGAN: Well, the first reaction was a kind of stunned disbelief, and then the second rather quick reaction was that this was -- I mean, this was the European view -- that this was a vaguely insane comment.

    LAMB: Why?

    KAGAN: Europeans don`t use words like "evil" to discuss other nations in foreign policy. They think that`s an American oversimplification, nothing is that black and white. They pointed out, as many Americans did -- have made the argument that, you know, you can`t lump together Iran and Iraq and North Korea. But I think what most sort of shocked European sensibilities was this -- this sense of implacability on the part of the United States. It had labeled countries evil. Clearly, it was going to do something about them. And that was a -- that seemed to the Europeans to be a very aggressive approach, which very much contrasts with the European approach.

    LAMB: Why don`t -- why wouldn`t they use the word "evil"? What`s in that society that`s not in -- that`s not in this society, or what`s here that`s not there?

    KAGAN: Well, I think it comes -- it goes back to European history. You know, after -- the Second World War and the First World War, but the Second World War, in particular, was a very searing experience for Europeans. And if ever there was a government that was evil, it was Nazi Germany. But after the Second World War, Europeans had to find a way to come to peace with each other and to reintegrate Germany and to create what we now see as the European Union. And I think that the European perspective is, Let`s not talk about things like evil. We have to put this kind of -- because they wanted to put the past behind them, they wanted to put the discussion of evil behind them. And it`s a touchy issue even within countries. France`s role during the Second World War and other European countries, with their treatment of the Jews, for instance -- I think they`d prefer to have things a little bit more in the gray area and not so starkly black and white. It makes it easier for them to solve the European problem.

    Patrick J. Garrity reviews Of Paradise and Power.

    The argument of our friends seems to be this: during the Cold War, the United States created and supported a system of multilateral institutions and agreements—e.g., the United Nations, NATO, IMF, the World Bank, even arms control treaties—that reflected America's own civilizing mission and yet reassured other nations that U.S. aims were limited and just; that others had a place in the sun as well. The United States, they say, now seems to be turning its back on many of those institutions and agreements—perhaps wisely, in light of new threats like Iraq—but it has not yet explained convincingly how it proposes to replace or find a functional equivalent to them.

    The problem is not that the US strategic thinkers haven't explained themselves. The problem is that the European thinkers reject the explanations of the American hawks because they do not like the conclusions that the strategists reach. They don't agree with the conclusions because they have a different set of assumptions about the world.

    The UN and international diplomacy will not keep America safe. Appeasement of Islamists will not make them less motivated to attack the US. Nuclear proliferation can not be stopped with diplomacy. Terrorists with weapons of mass destruction would constitute a huge risk to the lives of Americans. There is (even though the Bushies and even many neoconervatives will publically deny this) a Clash of Civilizations between the West and the Muslims. Anyone who does not agree with these points is not going to agree with American foreign policy.

    Update: For more on the debate on preemption as a strategy see the Preemption, Deterrence, and Containment archive. On the limitations of inspections see the Inspections and Sanctions archive.

    By Randall Parker    2003 March 02 06:06 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (3)
    2003 February 12 Wednesday
    Turkey Iraq Crisis to be the End of NATO?

    The crisis over NATO approval to shift missiles into Turkey in the run-up to the attack on Iraq brings another multinational organization into the diplomatic fight over the fate of Iraq. The outcome promises to make both the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization distinctly less important.

    British Foreign Minister Jack Straw is warning France and Germany over Nato.

    Britain bluntly warned France and Germany yesterday that their attempt to halt preparations for war in Iraq would doom the United Nations and undermine the credibility of Nato.

    Colin Powell warns the Nato alliance is breaking up.

    During a Senate Budget Committee hearing, Sen. Ernest F. Hollings, South Carolina Democrat, asked the secretary whether it was worth breaking up Washington's alliances "just to get" Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.

    "Who is breaking up the alliance?" Mr. Powell replied. "Not the United States. The alliance is breaking itself up because it will not meet its responsibilities."

    Die Zeit editor Josef Joffe says that in provoking a crisis within NATO Germany and France are not working toward an achievable goal.

    Such are the insights that even the most basic course in diplomacy teaches to young foreign ministry acolytes, but then, neither Bismarck nor Talleyrand is running foreign policy in Berlin or Paris these days. These wily manipulators of men and nations would have asked a more fundamental question: "Are we willing to sacrifice Nato to our attempt to tie down the 'hyperpower'?"

    On closer inspection, they would have answered "Nein" and "Non". They would have reasoned thus. First, if we want to take on Mr Big in earnest, we had better make sure that we can stay in the game after the first few moves. Since we don't have the chips, we must add to our smallish pile by recruiting reliable allies. Belgium? Scratch that, for we need heavier munitions than those pricey chocolates concocted by Neuhaus and Godiva. Let's see, is there anybody else?

    Joffe assumes the NATO veto over missiles to defend Turkey is being wielded in order to hold back the United States. But is he correct? Might its exercise be for some other reason? Another possible motive would be to intentionally undermine NATO in order to remove an obstacle for further European military and foreign policy integration. In other words, the Germans and French may want a weakened or even dissolved NATO as an outcome. Yet another possibility is that they are indifferent to the fate of NATO because they do not see any threats for which they need NATO's help. Therefore in pursuit of other goals they are willing to block NATO action even though doing so defeats the purpose of NATO.

    If the French and German goal is to undermine NATO in order to make room to expand the EU's diplomatic and military power then their plan might backfire. Other countries in the EU may respond to the diplomatic fight over Iraq by concluding that they do not want the EU to adopt a new constitution that transfers more foreign policy control to Brussels. This crisis may especially convince Eastern European governments that they do not want to give up too much power to Brussels on defense and foreign policy matters.

    Will NATO formally break up? A more likely outcome is that it will continue to exist but that its decision-making mechanisms will be ignored. The United States will shift its forces in Europe into countries that it feels it can more consistently rely upon. Then the US will put together ad hoc alliances of European nations as the need arises.

    At the least, the political rift is likely to accelerate NATO's pace of structural change. Five years from now the remaining US heavy forces in Germany may be greatly reduced, with some units scattered to new bases in Eastern and Southern Europe, and others returned to North America.

    The NATO fight over missiles to defend Turkey ought to raise alarms in Washington DC about increased EU integration. Any proposed constitutional changes that would reduce the ability of individual EU members to have their own foreign policies on security and defense matters would reduce the ability of countries friendly toward the US to cooperate with the US.

    Update: Steve Den Beste argues cross-cultural misunderstanding of the signals being sent between Europe and America may be to blame. He's right that one should always consider stupidity as an explanation before attributing a behavior to malice. However, I think an article he links to in the Washington Post about anti-American sentiment in Europe suggests another explanation.

    While some observers here have attributed the popularity of "The Big Lie" to France's obsession with conspiracy theories, others see it as one barometer of just how far anti-Americanism has spread into the mainstream. Guillaume Dasquie, a French journalist who co-wrote a book, "The Horrifying Lie," that dismantled Meyssan's claims page by page, said he has seen a marketing study indicating that many of those who purchased Meyssan's book are newcomers to book buying.

    "The idea of Americans as victims was too unsettling for many ordinary people," said Francois d'Alancon, chief foreign correspondent for La Croix, a Catholic newspaper. "It contradicted their normal view of the world. But with Meyssan's theory, the Americans are the villains again. They become the ones responsible for these terrible events. It's much more acceptable."

    Western Europeans lived under American military protection for many decades. American decisions had the potential to have enormous impact on their lives. The Cold War was the occasion for debates in Europe about the deployment of such weapons as neutron bombs and intermediate range nuclear missiles and detente. It was natural under those conditions that Europeans would develop an exaggerated sense of the efficacy of American power. As a consequence one big dividing line between Americans and Europeans is ironically over the extent of America's ability to work its will on the world. Europeans attribute so much to American power that when things go wrong in the world they assume that America must be the cause. This leads many French and other Europeans to believe delusional conspiracy theories about 9/11 and other events.

    The key difference between Americans and Europeans at this point is that Europeans think that American power is so great that the United States doesn't need to make special exertions to defend itself. The European view is that America's margin of safety for its security is so large and its ability to defend itself so great that when the United States takes action abroad it must be doing so for reasons other than a real concern for its own security. By contrast, Americans do not see themselves as anywhere near as secure as the Europeans imagine us to be. During the Cold War we worried about the threat of an unstoppable massive nuclear strike. Now we worry about terrorist attacks and the threat that weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists pose to the American people. We think we are much more likely to be the targets of a large scale terrorist strike than any European country. We look at the world and see shadowy groups hiding out in chaotic countries and plotting attacks against us.

    There is a tendency for the human mind to seek out single simple causes of events. Also, at the same time humans see themselves as existing in hierarchies and humans naturally form hierarchies. These tendencies are so strong that they must be genetically coded into our nature. As the most militarily and economically powerful country America has come to be seen as the prime mover of the world. People think its at the top of the hierarchy sending orders out to cause events to unfold according to its will. European support for the UN should therefore be viewed as an attempt to move America off the top of this imaginary hierarchy.

    It is not clear what the US can do about European attitudes (aside: not all Europeans hold the majority European view and not all Americans hold the majority American view). There is an internal logic to both the European and American views. If another terrorist attack happens in the US then the European view will be that will be in reaction to things that the US did and that the US could have avoided the attack by not doing the things that provoked the terrorists (America being prime mover after all). But the US reaction will be that this just proves we are vulnerable and need to intervene more to protect ourselves.

    I think the "prime mover" view is fundamentally flawed because it ignores the extent to which we are each autonomous beings. No one is in control. It is not possible for any one country to have so much power that it can orchestrate all political developments of the world and, by wise actions, to prevent all unfavorable threatening trends. Before technological developments increased the interactions between the parts of the world there were plenty of sufficiently developed existing cultures and belief systems that were destined to react with hostility to the US and the West no matter how we treated the rest of the world. As technology has advanced the ability of previously remote groups to do damage to each other has risen apace. Technology is enabling the development of distributed networks that can't be controlled by some central hierarchy. Technology is also bringing more people into contact with each other in more ways. This inevitably creates unpredictable and mostly uncontrollable cross-cultural reactions. The world is a chaotic place and its becoming a more dangerous place.

    By Randall Parker    2003 February 12 02:16 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (6)
    2003 February 09 Sunday
    France, Germany, Belgium Trying To Destroy NATO?

    Is this an intentional plot by France, Germany, and Belgium to destroy NATO?

    Belgian Foreign Minister Louis Michel says his country will again block NATO military planners from drawing up measures to protect Turkey against potential attacks from Iraq.

    In a Belgian television interview, Mr. Michel said he expects the veto to be supported by France and Germany.

    Think about it. Germany and France (and probably Belgium) are keen to create a European Army. The biggest obstacle in their way is NATO. Preventing NATO from defending a member nation against attacks launched from a non-member is a way to make people think that NATO is obsolete and useless.

    The French and Germans might even be hoping that they will so infuriate the Turks that the Turks will not want to join the EU. That outcome would be double bonus points from their perspective. They can't oppose Turkish membership in the EU without being called anti-Muslim (even though Islam poses a real problem and even though its compatibility with Western political and cultural norms is questionable). The war in Iraq may be seen as an opportunity to undermine NATO.

    France wants to leverage its position in the EU by any means possible. If Turkey was to come in it would eventually displace Germany as the most populace EU member. France is looking to bind ever tighter to Germany in order to allow Germany and France as a pair to dominate the European Union.

    If evidence was still needed that the revitalised Franco-German motor is roaring along once again, it emerged when a proposal for dual citizenship between the two powers was unveiled.

    The revolutionary initiative - part of a program to intensify bilateral relations - would allow German and French citizens resident in each other's countries to hold the passports of both states.

    The plan was to be officially declared yesterday when 577 French MPs and 603 German MPs came together in Versailles for their first joint session of parliament to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Franco-German co-operation.

    Then we come to the attitude of the French toward Britain. It has to have occurred to the French that if Britain was to exit the EU that this would eliminate the largest source of resistance within the EU toward French ambitions for the EU's future. The Anglo-American model of capitalism is a threat to the way that France is run. The EU economy as a whole will likely go one way or the other. From a French elite perspective an end to NATO and both Britain and Turkey permanently outside of the EU would put them in a position to steer the economic and political development of the European Union in a direction much more preferable to them. Therefore it will be worth watching to look for signs that the French are trying to get Britain out of the EU as well.

    Update: Does anyone think I'm being extreme in my speculations? If so, see this BBC analysis. (my emphasis added)

    If a veto is lodged on Monday, Turkey could respond by invoking Article Four of Nato's founding treaty, which calls on the alliance to consult whenever a member state feels its territory is threatened.

    Correspondents say the move would be unprecedented.

    Correspondents say Turkey could also by-pass Nato as a body and seek the support of individual members. Diplomats say this would spell the collapse of the alliance.

    France and Germany see a big win here in terms of undermining NATO as a way to create space for the formation of an EU military.

    Colin Powell is going to stay baffled unless he comes to understand that Germany and France do not mind damaging NATO.

    Echoing Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld's comments in Germany over the weekend, Mr. Powell said on "Fox News Sunday" that it was "inexcusable" for France, Germany and Belgium to block the request, coming as it did from a fellow NATO member.

    US-German relations are getting even worse.

    An administration official said Struck told Rumsfeld: "We're talking about it with the French, but we're not ready to talk to you about it." If the official's account is accurate, the exchange is about as coarse as U.S.-German government discourse has been since World War II.. Rumsfeld has irritated the Germans with recent remarks that lumped them in with Libya and Cuba because of their opposition to war.

    Anne Applebaum says Germany is the country which has most shifted its position.

    But listen hard to what Germany says, for it is Germany, not Europe or France, that has been behaving unusually, even peculiarly. Since the 1950s, Germany has seen itself not (like France) as a counterweight to America but as the essential bit of glue that stuck America to the European continent.

    US policy makers need to wake up and figure out what they are going to do about the EU. Germany, France and Belgium would like to make the EU into a counterweight that can block the United States on many issues.

    John O'Sullivan argues for offering European countries an alternative to the EU in the form of a Trans Atlantic Free Trade Agreement.

    With TAFTA and an a la carte Europe, Britain would then be at the heart of an Atlantic civilization, politically stable but economically vibrant, guaranteed by and supporting U.S. power, in which the Franco-German bloc with its old-fashioned regulatory interventionism and structurally high unemployment would constitute the 'slow lane.'

    By Randall Parker    2003 February 09 03:02 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (3)
    2003 February 08 Saturday
    Containment Or Preemption Against France?

    Think about it. A nuclear armed nation controlling a key location on the continent of Europe has allied itself with a corrupt arms-proliferating regime in the Middle East. I realize that well-informed people can have honest differences about matters of grand strategy and I certainly respect Richard Perle's strategic acumen. But shouldn't we be talking about preemption instead of containment as the appropriate strategy to use against our enemy France?

    France is no longer an ally of the United States and the NATO alliance "must develop a strategy to contain our erstwhile ally or we will not be talking about a NATO alliance" the head of the Pentagon's top advisory board said in Washington Tuesday.

    Richard Perle has called France an erstwhile ally. This is confusing in itself. France used to be allied with the United States? When was this? Perhaps I'm not old enough to remember that era. But lets take Perle's word for it. This throws a whole nuther light on European politics. Great Britain and other countries in Europe have been pursuing a strategy of appeasement thru the facility of EU Common Agricultural Policy food aid to prop up the French regime. One can understand why frontline states are reluctant to take on the French militarily. The French are a nuclear power after all. But can we trust the French to refrain from exporting their weapons technology to our enemies? It seems doubtful.

    We come then to the question of what is an appropriate policy for handling France. The UK has been trying a strategy of engagement with their sunshine policy. They have even gone as far as opening rail links to France so that East Asian goods can travel across Asian and Europe to Britain. The leader of the UK has summit meetings with his French counterpart and tries to maintain his composure in the face of numerous provocations. But what has this strategy bought him? Most recently one result has been a French-crafted proposal for a political union that would destroy the sovereign independence of his great nation.

    Appeasement is not working. The French, demonstrating the strength of their paranoid internal system of indoctrination, straightfacedly blame the United States for all the political crises of the world. Not matter how hard Secretary of State Colin Powell has tried to placate them the French can't see beyond their ideological label of United States as a capitalistic hyperpower oppressor. Their doctrinaire hardline at the United Nations and in other fora demonstrates the intractability of the French regime. It is clear that only a strategy of preemption will work against it.

    Its time we take the French threat seriously. Once the Iraqi regime falls we should begin to build up our forces in England in preparation for a lightning strike to take down the 5th so-called Republic.

    Update: I finally recall what Perle must have been referring to: The United States were allied with France during the US Revolutionary War of Independence against the British colonial oppressors. So Perle was correct to speak of France as our erstwhile ally. Plus, we were allied with France briefly during WWI. So we've been allied with France twice. Of course, more recently we fought the French in North Africa. Since then we've been in a Cold War with them, France having outlasted the Soviet Union as a tenacious enemy. Therefore as an enemy France has more in common with Cuba and North Korea than with the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany.

    By Randall Parker    2003 February 08 12:20 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (10)
    2003 February 07 Friday
    New EU Constitution Would Take Sovereignty

    If the EU's proposed new constitution is enacted the European nation-states would cease to be sovereign nations.

    Britain will lose control of foreign policy and defence and will be stripped of its sovereign power to legislate in almost all areas of national life, under the draft text of the European constitution released yesterday.

    Sweeping aside British objections, the document establishes the European Union on a "federal basis", enjoying "primacy over the law of the member states".

    The 16 articles unveiled at the European Parliament are the first piece of a constitutional text being drawn up for the Convention on the Future of Europe.

    The constitution is a bigger threat to sovereignty than a common currency. While the British Labour Party has promised to hold a referendum on whether to join the Euro currency its not clear that the British public will be given a say on whether the UK ceases to be a sovereign nation.

    Mr Blair now has a choice. He could veto the treaty, in which case Britain could face exclusion from full EU membership. Or he could put it to a referendum. The third possibility - that he might sign it, even in a diluted form - sounds unthinkable, yet it appears to be being thought. A prime minister who condemned his country to puppet status would be unworthy of his office.

    The transfer of sovereignty to the EU is a problem for the United States because the central government of the EU will likely be more hostile toward the US than many of its nation-state members. Its a problem for the publics of the various European countries because the Brussels mandarins show every sign of being anti-democratic and will seek to maintain a degree of government control over life that will rob Europe of much of its vitality. The EU looks like it will be especially harmful for the Eastern European countries whose less developed economies will be saddled with labor laws and other business regulations that will slow growth and keep unemployment rates high.

    The British Conservative Party ought to be loudly demanding every day that the proposed new EU constitution be voted on by the British public in a referendum.

    By Randall Parker    2003 February 07 12:39 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (4)
    2002 December 14 Saturday
    Should Turkey Join The European Union?

    Writing in The Guardian Martin Woollacott asks Is it in Turkey's interests to join this Christian club?

    Skilfully combining these positions with a continuing Islamist message and with not unjustified charges of corruption and economic mismanagement against the secular parties, gave the AKP a stunning victory. But that takes us to the heart of the Turkish problem now for Europe, which is that the Islamists have used Europe to take power for what we must still assume are Islamist purposes. The secular parties, meanwhile, and much of the Turkish middle class, see in that same Europe an antidote to Islamism, as well as to the military authoritarianism of the past. Turkish liberals are sure that democratisation in Turkey would be far less advanced had there not been the spur of Europe's requirements for entry.

    Perhaps the Islamists have really changed. The party and the movement certainly include various currents of opinion, and both Gul and Erdogan are from its moderate wing. Yet it seems probable that two very different projects are still under way in Turkey, the one to make the country more Islamic, and the other to make it less so, and that both have now seized on Europe as a means to their ends.

    Woollacott mentions the growth of the imam hatip schools in Turkey as a means that the Islamists have used to expand their ranks. They apparently seek to teach a new generation of Turks to be fundamentalist Muslims. This brings up an important question: Is there a higher percentage of Turkish school children attending Islamist schools than was the case 10 or 20 years ago? Is that percentage rising or falling? Will the AKP government increase funding for Islamist schools? Will the desire to achieve EU membership cause the military to hold back from blocking this move?

    There is a very basic question that should be asked: Is the Islamist influence in Turkey growing or declining? A follow-up question: If Turkey joins the EU will the Islamist influence be more likely to grow or decline? Many in the pro-membership camp assume that EU membership will increase the power of the secular faction in Turkey. But it is by no means obvious that Turkey's membership in the EU will help ensure the secularization of Turkish government and society. If EU demands for greater religious freedom translate into greater latitude for the Islamists to get control of cultural and education institutions it is quite possible that EU membership will have the opposite effect. A Turkey outside of the EU is a Turkey whose military will be free to stomp down on the Islamists when Islamist influence begins to grow too strong. A Turkey inside the EU will be one whose historical protector of its secular character - the Turkish military - will no longer be able to perform that function.

    Jonny Dymond finds young Turks in Istanbul cafes who doubt Turkey's suitability for EU membership.

    It is not the grand clash of civilisations that disturbs, said Verda, it is that being Muslim means you embrace change more slowly, that you are culturally different. 'Muslims have a lot of traditions; they are not leaving their traditions, they are keeping them. A lot of my Muslim friends, despite being highly educated, think that they are not suitable for the EU.

    'The reason is that they are Muslim, they have their own culture, their own lifestyle, and it is too hard to change it.'

    Istanbul, said Verda, is different - not really Turkey at all, the cosmopolitan city has a history of European civilisation and intermingling of cultures. All the same, she says, it is not Europe either. 'It's like the combination of East and West together - one day you feel you are very European, very modern, the next you wake up and find out that you are from the Middle East.'

    The EU is demanding greater civilian control over the Turkish military.

    The EU has so far refused to start membership talks with Turkey until the government meets minimum requirements on human rights and democracy. But Mr Erdogan argued that tougher standards were being applied to Ankara than to other nations vying to join the EU. Although Turkey has passed laws banning the death penalty and granting more rights to its Kurdish minority, the EU has noted shortcomings in human rights, including restrictions on freedom of expression, the torture of prisoners and insufficient civilian control over its military.

    Is that wise? The one institution that is most loved and respected by the Turkish people is their military. The Turkish military has protected the secular state and Turkey would be nowhere near ready to join the EU in the first place if the Turkish military hadn't played its role of constitutional protector for about 80 years. If Islamism grows as a force in Turkey and Turkey is admitted to the EU then what will the EU be able to do to stop the growth of a religious state within its borders?

    German opposition leader Edmund Stoiber predicts EU membership for Turkey will destroy the political union.

    “Membership for Turkey would spell the end of political union in Europe. We do not have that kind of integrative strength,” Herr Stoiber, the Christian Democratic opposition leader, said. “We want a proper political union, not just a free trade zone, yet that is what we would end up with if we let in Turkey.”

    Germany and France agreed a “conditional rendezvous clause”, allowing the start of entry talks with Turkey in July 2005, providing Ankara satisfied the EU that it had met standards on minority rights, judicial and prison reform, institutional democracy and market economics. “If you set 2005 as a possible date for talks, as Chancellor Schröder has done, then you will not be able to hold up the process,” Herr Stoiber said yesterday.

    When he talks about a political union versus a free trade zone he's making an important point: In order to achieve a political union one needs a lot of common values. The EU already faces enormous obstacles brought about lack of a common language, differences in historical experiences and differences in cultures between the existing EU members. There are large differences in living standards, levels of corruption, and the strength of civil society among the EU members. The addition of Turkey as a member would make the differences even greater and the number of issues on which a consensus can be formed would be reduced.

    Dr. John Casey, a fellow of Gonville & Caius, Cambridge, believes that there are cultural differences that make Turkey incompatible with the EU.

    The Turkish question is a much more acute version of a problem that could in the long run bring to nought the dreams of those who seek "ever closer union" in Europe itself. How can there be a European "state" - how can there be a common sense of allegiance among citizens of the EU - where there is no common language, where there is such cultural diversity, and where the political and legal traditions of at least one important European country - the United Kingdom - differ so radically from those of many of the others? Yet the European idealists can point to two great facts to oppose the sceptics. Almost all of Europe has a Christian inheritance, which means that the great majority of us, whether believers or not, are profoundly shaped by up to two millennia of Christian culture. You can only think this does not matter profoundly if you fail to see how culture overwhelmingly makes us what we are, and does help give us a sense of European identity despite the manifold differences.

    John O'Farrell says the Europeans really need to figure out what they want to accomplish.

    Turkish Muslims want the same things as European Christians: to get together in one happy internationalist family so we can all slag off the Americans. But try asking our leaders if we really want what was once a small common market to be expanded into a huge European superstate stretching from the Atlantic to Asia. Most politicians will say it is high time we had a full and frank debate about the whole issue. Which is their way of saying they haven't the faintest bloody idea.

    He's wrong about what the Turkish Muslims want. They want to be as affluent as the most advanced European countries. Part of the motivation for creating the EU was to make a state that is as powerful as America. That is not going to happen for decades if ever. The newer applicants are driven by a desire for a better living standard. But as the EU has enlarged, lowered internal barriers, and adopted a common currency across most of its members the growth rate of the EU as a whole has not caught up with that of America let alone surpassed it. The EU's leaders and intellectual supporters should realize that the hopes and expectations for what the EU can accomplish have gotten so far ahead of what is realistically possible that a backlash against the EU may form.

    Update: The economic disparity between the existing and new EU members is already taxing the limits of the generosity of the taxpayers of the richer EU states. Martin Walker reports that the new EU members together produce less than the 16 million people in the Netherlands.

    The 10 new members have a combined population of 75 million, but a combined GDP of just $338 billion -- less than that of Holland. The EU is increasing its population by almost a quarter, but increasing its wealth by just 4 percent.

    The EU's GDP per head last week was around $25,000, close to that of the United States. The new, enlarged EU's GDP per head next week will be just $20,000 -- uncomfortably close to that of South Korea.

    According to the chart at the bottom of this article Turkey has a per capita GDP that is lower than that of all the 10 new EU members. While Turkey is ahead of Bulgaria and Romania they weren't let into the EU in the latest round either. Therefore money is a big obstacle to the acceptance of Turkey as an EU member. When West Germany merged with East Germany it was in a far better position to fund the reconstruction of East Germany than the EU is to fund the new Eastern European EU members, Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey. Yet, as Martin Walker points out, in spite of the large amount of money spent on East Germany East Germany still lags West Germany by a large margin and there is a brain drain and youth brain of the brighter and more capable East Germans toward West Germany. Imagine what would happen with a much larger income gradient between Turkey and Western Europe if Turkey was allowed into the EU with full labor mobility.

    By Randall Parker    2002 December 14 01:20 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (61)
    2002 December 13 Friday
    Barbara Lerner On Turkish Attitudes Toward America

    While only 30% of Turks have a favorable attitude toward the United States (and that is down from 52% of a couple of years ago) Barbara Lerner tries to put these numbers into context.

    To understand Turkish attitudes towards us, it helps to ask a question the Pew researchers failed to ask: "Compared to what?" A survey of Turkish opinion released in March did just that. This one was conducted by the Bosporus University European Studies Center, using a sample three times the size of Pew's. Instead of focusing only on the Turks' attitudes toward the U.S., they explored their attitudes to other nations generally by asking: "Which country is Turkey's friend?" Here are the results: 34 percent said Turkey has no friends; 27 percent said the United States; 9 percent said other Muslim countries; 7 percent said the European Union.

    Lerner argues that Turkish attitudes toward the USA and Turkish opposition to a war against Iraq is in large part due to the expectation of its people that they will pay a large economic price for that war just as they did for Gulf War I. She doesn't think there is much in the way of cultural or religious hostility toward the US on the part of the Turkish people. She also believes Turkey deserves a lot more economic aid to cushion the blow that the Turkish economy will suffer from a war. It is worth noting in this regard that Egypt gets $3 billion dollars of US aid per year. That is almost as much as the Bush Administration has been reported as offering Turkey (reports range as high as $5 billion for US aid to Turkey). But the Turkish aid is a one-off and the Egpytian aid is yearly.

    Is that aid to Egypt buying any friendly feelings toward the US among Egyptians? No, as the Pew Global Values Survey shows, only 6% of the Egyptian people have a favorable view of the United States. (it would be interesting to see how much of that support is from Egyptian Coptic Christians and how much of it is from Egyptian Muslims). The US aid is mostly paying for Egyptian acceptance of a sort of faux peace with Israel. While only 30% of Turks have a favorable view of the US the dramatic drop from 52% favorable of a couple of years previously probably reflects a response to US pressure on Turkey to support a US attack on Iraq. It will be interesting to see what happens to Turkish attitudes once Saddam Hussein's regime has been ousted. If this next war is not long and does not disrupt the Turkish economy as much it is quite possible those numbers will turn around pretty quickly.

    Are the recent results in Turkish elections a sign of growing political Islam in Turkey? Well, here the Pew Global Values Survey again provides some useful insight. On page 49 of their main report Turkey is listed as one of the 4 bottom countries with least favorable views of clergy. Only 32% of the Turks think that their clergy are a good influence on the nation while 54% think their clergy are a bad influence. Clergy are ranked worse only in the Czech Republic and Japan. That is most emphatically not a sign that the Mullahs are becoming a powerful political force in Turkey. From the Pew report:

    In Europe, roughly six-in-ten Germans and Czechs and nearly half of Italians (47%) say religious leaders have at least a moderately negative influence on society. Since 1991, the reputation of religious institutions has improved in the Slovak Republic and Poland, but it has fallen dramatically in the former East Germany, Bulgaria, Ukraine and the Czech Republic.

    Among countries with substantial Muslim populations, attitudes toward religious leaders vary widely. Clerics are judged quite favorably in Indonesia (89%), Senegal (89%), Mali (75%) and Uzbekistan (69%). But just half of the Lebanese and Pakistanis agree. In general, the military is held in higher regard than religious leaders in most heavily Islamic nations. This is especially evident in Turkey.

    More than twice as many respondents in Turkey give the military a good rating as view religious leaders in positive terms (79% vs. 32%).

    Barbara Lerner's previous article The Secret of Turkish Democracy met with a very warm welcome from many Turks. The Assembly of Turkish American Associations publishes an interesting biweekly The Turkish Times. In a recent issue Mahmut Esat Ozan has praise for Barbara Lerner.

    Barbara's words are not only to be regarded as encouraging pronouncements for all Turks who read her column, but they are also regarded as a bit of fresh air, amid the stagnated hypocritical pabulum generating from the member states of the said European Union. The courage of Ms. Lerner is obvious. She has what the French call that "je ne sais quoi" quality in her convictions that Turkey is equipped to meet European 'allegedly' high moral and political standards.

    Its beginning to look more likely that Turkey will eventually join the EU. Turkey has has now been given a tentative date to begin EU accession talks.

    Turkey will be invited to begin European Union membership talks "as soon as possible" after December 2004 if Ankara meets the bloc's stringent human rights rules, EU leaders decided early Friday at a landmark summit in Denmark.

    Turkey may well be able to work out as an EU member. Still, even if there is not a political problem with Islam Turkey still poses two problems for the EU which much of Eastern Europe also poses: low living standards and political corruption. Plus, the extension of the EU's many rules into the less developed Eastern European countries poses and even bigger burden for their economies than those same rules pose for the more developed European countries. A big part of the motive for the Eastern European drive to join the EU seems to be a desire to be in an elite wealthy club. But the aid that the EU is providing to help the Eastern European economies to develop should be weighed off against the costs of EU rules. It is not clear that EU membership will be the economic bonanza that so many Eastern Europeans hope it will be.

    By Randall Parker    2002 December 13 03:54 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    2002 December 12 Thursday
    Europe's Scientists Call For Money To Stop Brain Drain

    Yet another sign that the expansion of the EU hasn't made Europe a more dynamic happening place.

    The United States spent 2.7 percent of its 2000 budget on research and development and Japan 3.0 percent, while EU nations have lagged behind since the mid-1990s, according to OECD data.

    The U.S. government also plans to increase spending by more than 20 percent over the 2001-03 period, and Japan's budget has also been expanded, the letter said, adding, "No corresponding dynamism is visible generally throughout Europe, although there are exceptions like the United Kingdom."

    If the EU could bring itself to abandon its Common Agricultural Policy it could use the CAP money to put Europe into the top ranks in research funding. Abandoning CAP would also allow European food prices to fall 20%. Yes, that is right. Eastern Europe's food prices are going to go up 20% when those countries join the EU. This is progress? Seems retarded to me.

    By Randall Parker    2002 December 12 04:26 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    Eastern European Views Of EU Membership

    Czech journalist examines the increasingly ambiguous feelings that many Eastern Europeans have toward European Union membership.

    The leader perhaps most haunted by this possibility may well be Arnold Ruutel, the president of Estonia. His country is, along with Latvia, the only one where opposition to the EU already outstrips support - in Estonia by 42% to 32%. We might expect Estonia, having suffered so much from the Soviet Union over many decades, to be among the keenest countries to embrace Europe. Yet the Soviet legacy is more complex: the large Russian community brought in by Stalin to break up Estonia's national identity still makes up one-third of the population. And many more Estonians are unsure if Europe does offer the best route to break the legacy of outside control: "We are a very sceptical nation by nature and no doubt became even more so during the Soviet era, when bitter irony often helped people to survive the absurd conditions we had to live in," says Kertu Ruus, the editor of Foorum, Estonia's biggest political monthly magazine: "There are critics among the businesses who fear we will lose the privilege of our liberal economy should the EU force its own rules upon us. But there are also people whose arguments are more emotional - the outcry "Do we want another Moscow?" and the simple fact that EU passport is of the same red color as the old Soviet passport can also drive some people up the wall," she added.

    This Christian Science Monitor article also reviews the deal that the Eastern European states are being offered and their reaction to it.

    In terms of roads and infrastructure investment, current beneficiaries such as Greece and Portugal will receive twice as much EU funding per capita as the new member states. Under the current EU enlargement proposal, farmers in new countries will get just a quarter of the subsidies doled out in the old states. Moreover, the accession countries will be denied the EU's most basic right, the freedom of movement across internal borders, for up to seven years.

    The European Commission argues that poorer states don't have the organizational ability to correctly fill out the complicated paperwork and utilize massive EU funding. Analysts within the EU also point out that, if new members demand the same rights as existing states, the whole enlargement project could be derailed. The last thing EU taxpayers want is some poor eastern cousin asking for extra helpings.

    Its unfortunate that the already relatively poor Eastern European states (see the chart at the bottom of the Christian Science Monitor article) are being forced to enact so much legislation and regulation. Their economies are ill-equipped to handle the extra expense that all this regulation will cause.

    The relative poverty of the Eastern European states and Turkey is also illustrated by the chart. Turkey has a surprisingly low level of car ownership. In spite of not having spent almost 5 decades in the Soviet Bloc Turkey is not that much better off than Romania or Bulgaria.

    On a related note, Martin Walker reviews Ronald D. Asmus's book Opening NATO's Door about the politics behind the expansion of NATO into Eastern Europe.

    Asmus is equally good on the tough confrontations with the established NATO allies, and France's unhelpful role in pushing the cause of Romania (then palpably unready for NATO membership), largely because Paris through that the Romanians were Latins who would be susceptible to French influence.

    The French suspected that most Eastern European countries would be instinctively pro-American voices in NATO, with little time for grandiose French hopes of a separate Europe-based security system, led from Paris. The fear was that if the French got their way, that could have been NATO's first and last enlargement -- leaving out the thoroughly deserving causes of the Baltic States.

    Update: Writing in the Times of London Roger Boyes sees EU rules holding back Eastern Europe's economic development.

    For sure, we should celebrate the growing together of East and West. But this long-winded negotiation, staggering this week into its final days, was conducted like a hostile takeover bid. Next year Central Europeans will hold referendums to approve the Copenhagen offer; not surprisingly it looks likely to be a close-run vote in several countries. The EU has behaved disgracefully: the historic fusion of the continent has become a petty exercise, a veritable flea circus.

    Competition is being quietly, systematically squashed. Eastern regions with special investment incentives will have to be phased out — the Czech Republic cannot, after all, be allowed to lure investment away from eastern Germany. Just to make certain that Polish milk can never compete with imported German milk, the European Commission has declared that only 38 dairies meet EU standards. “We like our milk this way,” a Polish official recently told a visitor from Planet Brussels. For the commission, this is a very weak argument indeed.

    By Randall Parker    2002 December 12 03:26 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    2002 December 05 Thursday
    Hopes For EU As Military Power Considered Unrealistic

    Writing in the Financial Times of London Anand Menon argues that the idea of a serious EU military force is a fantasy.

    In a world of amorphous and unpredictable security challenges, military operations will increasingly be carried out by "coalitions of the willing" assembled on an ad hoc basis. The EU, however, lacks the necessary flexibility. After years of theological wrangling, it has conspicuously failed to come up with an effective mechanism to enable a small group of member states to act without the others. Moreover, the EU has never been good at involving non-members in its work. The exclusion of Russia and Turkey does not bode well when the most likely area of instability, and hence western intervention, is the Middle East and adjoining regions.

    Even if the EU had enough hardware and personnel its member states could never agree to use it for anything.

    By Randall Parker    2002 December 05 12:25 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    2002 November 30 Saturday
    Trans-Atlantic Conservative Meeting In Italy

    It would be a mistake for exasperated Americans on the Right to write off Europe entirely and just give up on it in frustration. Doing so would concede too much ground to the anti-American left and would abandon many natural allies:

    Encouragingly, there are still Europeans who are pro-American and not afraid to declare their colors as such. "There are not two Wests," affirmed Mr. Adornato, a sentiment echoed by many participants. "There is only one Western culture to which the United States and Europe both belong." Participants included ministers from the conservative governments of Italy and Spain, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Disarmament John Bolton, members of Britain's Conservative Party and representatives from Poland, Hungary, Lithuania, France and Germany.

    By Randall Parker    2002 November 30 12:03 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    2002 November 28 Thursday
    Christopher Caldwell On Germany As Anti-American Domino

    Another great Christopher Caldwell article on the politics of Germany and US relations with Germany.

    Germans tend to overestimate the part personality plays in America's shifting views. The snubs that followed Mr Schröder's election - including the lack of an official welcome for Mr Struck during a "working visit" to Mr Rumsfeld, and Mr Bush's unwillingness to schedule a bilateral chat with Mr Schröder in Prague - are not just personal. The administration is rightly worried about the potential appeal of Schröder-style anti-Americanism in other European countries. Using a sort of Nato equivalent of the domino theory, Mr Bush means to establish that no such sallies will go unpunished.

    So, paradoxically, Mr Schröder has run into trouble by underestimating the appeal of the anti-Americanism he let loose. He now seeks to reassure the US by giving away the diplomatic store. He signed the Nato communiqué promising "effective action" against Iraq should Mr Hussein not comply with UN inspectors. His Yes to the US-favoured Nato response force was lightning fast, even while his pacifist base was attacking it as a plan for an "American foreign legion".

    See as well this previous post on Caldwell on German Anti-Americanism as German Nationalism. Christopher Caldwell's writings on Germany are consistently knowledgeable and full of insight.

    By Randall Parker    2002 November 28 11:00 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    2002 November 26 Tuesday
    Amir Taheri On Reflexive French Anti-Americanism

    Amir Taheri examines the intellectual laziness underlying French anti-Americanism.

    For some, anti-Americanism plays a useful role in filling the vacuum left by the evaporation of 19th-century ideologies.

    Those too lazy to do their homework on any issue could still espouse an opinion simply by looking at what the U.S. says and then saying the opposite.

    How many of the people who are bashing the U.S. on the latest fashionable issues such as the Kyoto Protocols, and the International Criminal Court, for example, have really studied either?

    The arrangement is simple: Where America is, there I shall not be.

    This irrationality comes at a cost: French foreign policy will oppose any necessary move that United States tries to take and France will support regimes that are a threat to the civilized world.

    By Randall Parker    2002 November 26 09:36 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    2002 November 23 Saturday
    James C. Bennett On Excessive European Uniformity

    In his Anglosphere column James C. Bennett argues that the desire of the EU leaders to make the European Union more uniform is robbing Europe of needed flexibility and adaptability.

    Harmonized EU labor regulations means they will not be all that more attractive for manufacturing than Western Europe, so new job creation will be slow, while the Western Europeans will be free to sell their products on the newly-opened Eastern markets. Meanwhile, asymmetrical agricultural payments will burden Eastern European agriculture vis-a-vis Western European farmers.

    The European fetish with uniformity, a trait the Germans share with particular enthusiasm, prevented a flexible and pragmatic approach to the problems of German unification. The coming extension of this fetish to the recovering economies of Eastern Europe cannot be justified by the excuse of political urgency as in the German reunification situation.

    I think he puts his finger on the problem. The Brussels Mandarins and the ruling class in Europe seems to think that union requires homogenization even on subjects that do not need to be the same in all members of the EU. The biggest benefits of the EU are lower barriers to trade and labour movement across national borders. But the EU is making rules at the all-Europe level on subjects that should be handled at the national or even lower level. Bennett makes some suggestions (notably offers of a free trade agreement for any country that wants to stay outside of the EU) for what the US can do to do encourage more flexibility in Europe.

    By Randall Parker    2002 November 23 11:04 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    2002 November 21 Thursday
    Canada AWOL From The War On Terrorism

    Canadian Defence Minister John McCallum is mad at George Bush because the Bush Administration keeps complaining about the low level of Canadian defense spending.

    Mr. McCallum said yesterday he is fed up with the Americans hectoring Canada about its low defence expenditures, even though he himself has been publicly lobbying for greater military spending.

    "I would not urge the president of the United States or the U.S. ambassador to Canada to do my job to ask for more defence spending. I think that is a Canadian matter," Mr. McCallum told reporters.

    Canada's defense spending is less than half of the NATO average. Yet in the face of declining military capabilities Chretien's administration tells lies about how useful Canada's military has been in various conflicts. While a small number of Canadian soldiers performed admirably the quality of their performance is hardly a reason to trumpet Canada's total contributions.

    If the level of Canadian defense spending is purely a Canadian matter then why is Canada part of multinational joint defense organizations? Does Canada have no obligations to other nations in exchange for what its membership does for Canada?

    Does anyone know whether the Canadian government ever awarded medals to those Canadian sharpshooters who did such a great job in Afghanistan? Also, did the Canadian government ever let the US military award them medals? And what became of the Canadian soldier who was possibly going to be punished for what he said in Afghanistan that was supposedly insenstive?

    Meanwhile, David Frum points out that the Canadian government is not cracking down on terrorist organizations:

    On the other hand, Canadian laxness in the war on terror makes me twitch irritably. On Tuesday, Britain and the United States froze the assets of a large Canadian Muslim charity, the weirdly misnamed Benevolence International Foundation, as a terrorist front. Yet the Canadian government refuses to act – as it has refused to act to halt Hezbollah fund-raising on Canadian territory or to crack down on terrorist sleeper cells inside Canada.

    Prime Minister Jean Chretien’s theory seems to be that by tolerating terrorist activity within Canada, Canada can buy itself a degree of immunity from terrorism. It’s a policy that disgusts a great many people in Canada. But it’s a policy that looks likely to last as long as Chretien’s hold on power does. Fortunately, his days do seem numbered ....

    Canada enjoys military protection provided by the US and it also has a large trade surplus with the US. Under the circumstances you might think they'd be willing to make some small moves to help reduce sources of threats to the US. But if you thought that you'd be wrong.

    Update: Chretien has the audacity to call Canadian defense spending "competitive" with NATO:

    "We are at the level that is competitive in NATO. Some say we should be higher, but Canada is Canada. It's not our highest priority -- defence."

    By Randall Parker    2002 November 21 10:35 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
    Karl Zinsmeister Expects US, Europe To Grow Apart

    European resentment is growing. Jealousy is distorting the minds of many European intellectuals and feeding growing delusions:

    The panel on which I spoke was chaired by Reiner Pommerin, a professor at the University of Dresden, colonel in the German air force reserves, and advisor to the German Ministry of Defense. My fellow speakers included Germany's former ambassador to the U.K., the current German ambassador to Poland, a DaimlerChrysler managing director, and a professor from Britain. We were to focus on transatlantic relations.

    Throughout the two days, Pommerin set the tone with an aggressively antagonistic attitude toward all things American. "Thank God we had the 11th of September," he declared--for this showed the U.S. how it feels to be humbled. Herr professor-colonel went on to suggest that Americans often feel nostalgic for the "good old days of slavery in the nineteenth century." He told ludicrous stories about seeing empty bottles and litter piled "one meter deep" along roadsides in America, illustrating our environmental slovenliness. He insisted the seemingly mighty U.S. military was now a hollow force, all flash and no substance.

    Picking up on this, another panelist stated with authority that most Microsoft products, and indeed most American technologies generally, are junk, and have come to dominate world commerce solely through manipulative trade and advertising.

    By Randall Parker    2002 November 21 07:45 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    James Hoagland: NATO Strategy For Common Purpose

    James Hoagland argues that the Bush Administration is pursuing a set of proposals with its NATO partners designed to give them a bigger sense of common purpose and ways to deal with each other more constructively. The idea seems to be that if you can give people more positive things to do with each other they will spend less time tearing each other down:

    The expansion of NATO into the Baltics and Balkans should give Europe and America a new common purpose.

    So should Bush's decision to drop the Clinton-era practice of hammering NATO's European members to match U.S. defense spending on a wide variety of 50-odd alliance "capabilities." Instead, the Bush White House wants to bring those European countries willing to project military power globally into an elite NATO rapid reaction force, while letting other alliance members pursue a half-dozen "niche capabilities" such as heavy air transport or intelligence.

    By Randall Parker    2002 November 21 11:58 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    2002 November 19 Tuesday
    John O'Sullivan On The Future Of NATO

    John O'Sullivan takes issue with Robert Kagan and Charles Kupchan on the question of the future of NATO. O'Sullivan beliefs the military weakness of Europe, the expansion of NATO into states that have warmer views of America, and the terrorist threat all are breathing new life into NATO:

    Unfortunately for both schools of thought, the trend of events is against them. First, the low level of European defense spending that has weakened NATO over the years is strangling Kupchan's concept of the EU as a military superpower in its cradle. Though the EU has voted to establish its own 60,000-strong Rapid Reaction Force, it has yet to assign the necessary resources. And while it spends less than 2 percent of its GDP on defense, it will remain a theoretical defense only. No European nation could afford to rely for its protection on such a spavined horse.

    Second, neither Kagan nor Kupchan take account of the pro-American shift of influence within NATO, the EU and Europe generally that will result from the entry of pro-American and pro-NATO countries like Poland and the Baltics.

    By Randall Parker    2002 November 19 10:28 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
    2002 November 18 Monday
    Martin Walker Sees NATO As Mini-UN Talking Shop

    Its not that the US has abandoned NATO. Its that its NATO allies have abandoned having real militaries:

    Second, and far more serious, is the awareness that the new NATO of 26 nations, will be less a military alliance than a political club, an institution that is meant to embody the diplomatic and political community of the Atlantic nations, while resting on a fragile military base. The fear is that NATO is degenerating into a talking shop, a miniature United Nations, with all the frictions and weaknesses of the United Nations, but lacking the legitimacy that comes from the presence of every nation on earth.

    Also see Martin Walker's previous column on how wrong the Europeans have been in their disagreements with the US. Its also here.

    By Randall Parker    2002 November 18 04:09 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    James Heartfield: Forgetting the evils of Empire

    James Heartfield explores the contradictions of the multilateralist critics of US policy:

    Today's 'anti-imperialist' critics of American militarism are all too willing to mix up demands that the USA rein in its horns, with the entirely opposite demand that it takes more responsibility for governing so-called 'failed states'. The din that accompanied America's attempts to exempt its troops from responsibility to the proposed International Criminal Court took it for granted that these troops would continue to contribute to the military occupation of parts of Afghanistan, the Balkans and East Timor.

    Another allegation made against America is that it is not interested in 'nation-building' - in other words, it is not taking up its colonial responsibilities in ruling lesser peoples. The charge of 'unilateralism' made against the USA is in effect a demand for America to join in with the major European powers in ruling the world, not that it should relinquish an interest in foreign adventures.

    By Randall Parker    2002 November 18 09:17 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    2002 November 12 Tuesday
    Ira Straus On The Purpose Of NATO

    Ira Straus has written an interesting analysis of the rise of the West, the shift of the center of Western Civilization toward the Atlantic, and his view of the purpose of NATO as an organizing force to strengthen Atlantic Civlization:

    For the Founders, the purpose of NATO and its sister institutions was:

    First, to organize the Atlantic countries so their leadership in Europe could be exercised in a consistent fashion, joining the cause of freedom with the cause of international order and stability, depriving their enemies of hope of victory, and gradually drawing all of Europe in tow.

    Second, to salvage European leadership in the world at large and render it, too, more consistent and sustainable, until the day when all the world could be drawn in tow.

    This purpose -- organizing Atlantic leadership Europe-wide and renewing it worldwide -- is the one against which NATO's plans for the future have to be measured. The plans for the Prague summit were not drawn up with this purpose in mind. Not surprisingly, the plans therefore fall short. To do adequate planning, the Atlantic countries will have to remind themselves of the sources of their leadership and the role that their unification was meant to play in enhancing it.

    Update: Also see this UPI article for the views of an assortment of thinkers on European and American divisions:

    Fukuyama also said there is merit to the argument put forward by Robert Kagan, a scholar at the Carnegie Institute for International Peace, that European discontent with American policy is driven by Europe's embrace of normative laws and international organizations like the United Nations. Kagan has written that such Europeans believe that such institutions provide a needed balance in world affairs, and also function as the driving force of European power.

    Fukuyama said that such beliefs underlie the basic schism between the American view of nation states and international power, and the view held by the European policymaking elite, because Americans have a fundamentally stronger belief in national democratic institutions. He added that Americans also strongly mistrust non-elected bodies like the International Criminal Court.

    Also, this article reports on a meeting in Berlin between UK and US policy makers and Berlin thinktank intellectuals:

    At the Nov. 5 meeting, British Defense Minister Geoffrey Hoon lauded the Germans for their intense public debate over defense issues. He also said: "It is well known that Britain and Germany do not see entirely eye-to-eye on how to deal with the issue of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and I do not propose to go through all the arguments again now.

    "In this context, I would therefore merely like to pose the question: If Germany is really serious about the importance of arms control, as I know it is, what effective action would Germany take in the event of a flagrant and very dangerous breach (by Iraq)?"

    The article reports that, not surprisingly, the Germans had no answer. To argue against preemption one has to either put forward an alternative strategy that can work or to admit that one holds the position that proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is not a threat to the security of Western nations. So far the opponents of preemption have no workable alternative strategy. It is implicit in their position that proliferation is not a problem. Yet they will not come out and say this explicitly.

    See these previous posts for more details on Fukuyama's and Kagan's views on the differences between Europe and America.

    By Randall Parker    2002 November 12 03:50 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    James C. Bennett On The Euopean Union And America

    Anglosphere columnist James C. Bennett thinks the US needs to change its strategy toward Europe in order to block the emergence of a fully mature EU that is hostile to US interests:

    Bush and his team, once they are able to take a long view, should meditate on the fact that America's relations with almost any given European nation are more amicable, cooperative, and productive on a bilateral basis than they are with Europe collectively, that is, with the European Union. A real legacy must treat a dogmatic devotion to the EU as one more fixed idea, such as past notions about litigation, taxation, or international organizations, that must be re-examined, and if needed, reversed.

    If Europe is really to become the rival hegemon and power bloc its enthusiasts predict, it makes sense for America to blunt this rivalry by making a generous alternative offer to compatible nations such as Britain and Ireland. If, on the other hand, Europe is about to sink into a demographic, structural, and fiscal crisis, as analysis suggests, then it likewise makes sense for America to buffer itself from this catastrophe by rescuing the nations, again Britain and Ireland, that hold the lion's share of American financial interests.

    By Randall Parker    2002 November 12 09:39 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    2002 November 11 Monday
    Were Giscard's Comments On Turkey Badly Timed?

    The conventional view in the EU chattering classes (at least those who are speaking publically) is that Giscard's comments undermined the modernizers and reformers of Turkey.

    With much riding on EU-Turkey relations and the possibility of a war in Iraq, analysts said Giscard's comments were badly timed.

    "It seems uncharacteristically maladroit," said Peter Ludlow, a specialist on the European Union. "It's difficult to see why he needed to say this or how this can help the work of the convention."

    Heather Grabbe, an expert on the enlargement of the Union at the Center for European Reform in London, said Giscard's words made life harder for the very people in Turkey whom the European Union wanted to encourage.

    "This just undermines the reformers and modernizers in Turkey," she said. "It undermines all the people who pushed through with great difficulty the legislation over the summer about human rights and minority rights."

    The problem with this sort of analysis is that it basically argues that Turkey will not be able to reform, decrease corruption, develop greater protections for individual rights, and greater protection for individual religious and lifestyle choices if Turkey is not allowed to become part of the EU. Suppose that is true. If it is true then is Turkey really compatible with the EU in the first place? If the position of the liberal Westernizing parts of Turkish society is so weak that they need EU membership to buttress their positions then I fail to see how Turkey can become compatible with the EU.

    The acid question should be this: if Turkey does not become part of the European Union will Turkey develop along lines that will make it culturally and politcally more compatible with Europe? It would seem unwise to admit Turkey into the EU just because EU policy makers hope that doing so will help to transform Turkey to make it more compatible. The EU is overestimating their ability to affect the internal developments in Turkey.

    The position of secular reformers in Turkey has been greatly weakened by the fact that Turkish secular parties have been discredited by their own corruption and mismanagement. At the same time, the Turkish military (which is the traditional bulwark of protection of the secular nature of the Turkish government) has had its authority to intervene diminished by constitutional changes that were passed in large part to make Turkey more compatible with the EU. What is especially worrisome about this is that the most Islamic of the Turkish politicians have only been prevented from Islamicising Turkey by occasional interventions by the Turkish military to force Islamists from elected office.

    Martin Sieff thinks the results of the recent elections in Turkey do not bode well for Turkey's continued development in a European direction.

    Neo-conservative intellectuals now openly write and dream about replacing their increasingly fractious and critical allies in Western Europe with nations such as Israel, Turkey, India and even Russia. But the breakthrough triumph of the Turkish Islamists suggests that their dreams may be built on shifting sands.

    Giscard D'Estaing chose the days after the Turkish Islamists won that triumph to make his undiplomatic but hardly unpremeditated remarks. They suggest that French leaders too may be tiring of the cat and mouse delaying game they have been playing with the Turks.

    But if the Turks turn away from Europe, the Islamist victory suggests they may not turn to the United States, but to the Muslim East instead, and provide a very different kind of example to the region than the one Pentagon policymakers hope and expect from them.

    The recent Turkish elections that brought the more Islamic party to power occurred before Giscard's comments. That Giscard's comments followed within a few days of those elections is probably not a coincidence. If the only reforming force in Turkey that still has any energy is a religious party then its hard to see how secular government has a bright future there. If Turkey is going to become less secular and more Islamic in its goverment then that makes it less compatible with a very secular EU what is culturally mildly Christian but in which religion greatly diminished as a force in politics.

    The EU has already extended itself too far into historically culturally Christian (ie countries that used to be Orthodox, Catholic, and Protestant Christian before the Iron Curtain came down) countries that are incredibly corrupt. The EU has already bitten off more than it can chew. It is hubris and folly on the part of the EU leaders that they have gone as far as they have as fast as they have.

    To get an idea of just how deep the problems in Turkey extend its important to understand the relationships between the cultural, family, and religious elements of these problems. This previous post has a link to an excellent article by Stanley Kurtz entitled Veil Of Fears which I strongly advise reading if you haven't already. Will the new Turkish government try to lift the headscarf ban? Looks like they are going to try.

    The winner of Turkey's election says his party, which has its roots in a banned Islamic movement, will move to lift a ban on the Muslim-style headscarf.

    "We will resolve the problems through social compromise. We do not want tensions," Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the head of the Justice and Development Party (AK), told NTV television.

    Wearing the Islamic-style headscarf is banned in public offices and universities in Muslim-dominated but strictly secular Turkey, where it is viewed as a declaration of religious fundamentalism.

    Will the military step in and stop this?

    Finally, David Remnick has an excellent article in The New Yorker which surveys the contemporary Turkish political scene and delves into the history of Ataturk and secularism versus Islam in Turkey. Recep Tayyip Erdogan is the leader of the recently victorious Justice and Development Party (AKP in its Turkish initials) who can't become prime minister because he's banned from public office for being too Islamic:

    Although Erdogan was the focal point of this fall's election campaign, speaking to huge rallies around the country and appearing on posters and billboards, he is a kind of ghost. The Turkish courts banned him from higher office, precisely on account of his rhetorical excesses. "You cannot be secular and a Muslim at the same time," he once declared. "The Muslim world is waiting for the Turkish people to rise up. We will rise up! With Allah's permission, the rebellion will start." His greatest offense, which led to a charge of sedition, came in 1997, when he recited a poem with these lines: "The mosques are our barracks, / the domes our helmets, / the minarets our bayonets, / and the faithful our soldiers." The author is Ziya Gokalp, a secular nationalist from the early twentieth century.

    This time around, the Party, Erdogan included, stifled any talk of religious politics, emphasizing instead an ideology of centrist populism. Many of the secular journalists and businesspeople I spoke to expressed awe at the discipline of Erdogan and his followers. They stayed on message. Opponents accused Erdogan of takkiye, or lying in the name of promoting Islam—in this case, masking a politics of Islamic revolution with the rhetoric of more earthly issues.

    I tend to expect people to change their fundamental beliefs only very slowly, if they even change at all. So I suspect Erdogan and others like him haven't changed all that much.

    Update: All the EU talking heads speaking in an official capacity are claiming that Turkey is still going to become a member of the EU:

    EU spokesman Jean-Christophe Filori said Giscard's views were not shared by the leaders of the 15 EU nations.

    ``Turkey's candidacy is not being questioned by any EU head of state and government in Europe,'' Filori told reporters.

    Erdogan is responding very calmly to Giscard's comments and is in a strong position domestically from which to do so:

    Mr Erdogan's win of almost two-thirds of the seats in parliament also helps. AKP is likely to rule Turkey for a full five-year term, after a decade of ineffectual coalitions. This means Mr Erdogan may feel less need to respond to every slight. He has more to gain from focusing on Turkey's objective of joining the EU.

    "People like Giscard are sent there to try Turkey. Erdogan's response shows he is not going to rise to every aggressively anti-Turkish opinion, especially if it comes from someone who will not take the decision as to whether Turkey joins or not," says one EU diplomat. "

    Surprisingly, this Financial Times article claims that Greece is no longer opposing Turkish entry into the EU. Given the demographic threat that many Greeks feel if Turks were free to move over the border and work in Greece this is unexpected (at least by me). Can this be true?

    Meanwhile the 15 EU member states are divided over what to offer Turkey at the Copenhagen summit, as much now depends on how Mr Erdogan's Islamist Justice and Development party, fresh from its election victory, performs in coming weeks.

    Britain, backed by Denmark, the current EU president, and Greece want to give Turkey a "rendezvous date" - probably next year - to start accession negotiations.

    By Randall Parker    2002 November 11 01:28 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (2)
    2002 November 10 Sunday
    New OSI Report On EU Accession Country Corruption

    The Hungarian chapter of George Soros' Open Society Institute has released a new report that confirms the problem that the European Union faces with candidate members that are more corrupt than the average existing members. Since many of the existing members are more corrupt than the US the EU already has a serious problem with corruption. From the press release

    The OSI reports confirm existing perceptions that corruption in candidate States is a significant problem. The main findings of the country reports are the following:

    The issue of corruption tends to be used in candidate States as a political weapon. A survey carried out in November 2001 by Strathclyde University found that three-quarters of citizens in candidate States believed most or all public officials to be corrupt. Opposition parties across the region often use corruption to help them win elections, and then disappoint electorates by not delivering on their promises - further delegitimising politics. In Poland, the issue of corruption is providing ammunition to populist parties that are - ironically - opposed to EU accession.

    Political will to tackle low-level corruption is high across the region. However, very few candidate States have put in place frameworks that can effectively combat high-level corruption. This is particularly true regarding corruption in the lawmaking process and in political party financing. Lithuania stands out as a country that has put in place mechanisms that appear to be increasingly effective against corruption at all levels.

    Corruption is a serious problem in public administration in almost all candidate States, underpinned inter alia by the absence of effective appeal procedures and widespread conflicts of interest. For example, the Czech Republic, where administrative procedure and appeal processes date from the 1960's, is typical in providing citizens with poor options for redress against administrative fiat.

    Corruption in public procurement remains a serious problem in most if not all candidate States: bribes of 10-20 percent of contract value appear to be typical, while collusion between bidders appears to be widespread across countries as different as Slovenia and Bulgaria.

    The full text of the report is available for downloading here: Monitoring the EU Accession Process: Corruption and Anti-corruption Policy.

    The full text of a recent related report is available here: Monitoring the EU Accession Process: Judicial Capacity. The UK Guardian has also published an article about this report.

    Also see my previous posts on EU corruption.

    By Randall Parker    2002 November 10 02:56 PM Entry Permalink
    2002 November 07 Thursday
    Anatole Kaletsky: UK Labour Party May Overreach

    Writing in the Times of London Anatole Kaletsky argues that there are signs the UK Labour Party may overreach in its forced egalitarian agenda and provoke a backlash that will drive the Right back into power:

    But in taking the Left’s hegemony for granted, the new generation of Labour leaders are playing with fire. Some of the concepts with which they are toying — the abolition of private practice for hospital doctors or the punitive treatment of elitist educational institutions — go beyond anything attempted by successful left of centre parties in continental Europe. They also defy old Labour’s traditions of reluctantly conciliating and co-opting large parts of the British middle and upper middle class.

    New Labour has tried to cement its friendship with Britain’s middle classes by refusing to raise income taxes. By doing this, Mr Brown believes he has gained himself the political cover to pursue a redistributive welfare policy and now an aggressively egalitarian social agenda. But Britain’s affluent classes will not be mollified for long by Labour’s apparent tolerance of personal wealth, and its commitment to moderate income taxes, if the Government then tries to prevent the affluent from using their money to give their children an elitist education or to buy themselves better healthcare.

    The interesting queston is whether this overreach and the corresponding reaction will come soon enough to stop the UK government from giving its sovereignty away to the EU.

    By Randall Parker    2002 November 07 01:14 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    2002 November 06 Wednesday
    Europe Will Now Have To Take Bush Seriously

    This analysis in Deutsche Welle (at least I think that's the name of the publication) argues that the Europeans are going to have to accept Bush as a legitimate and serious leader now that his party has had so much success in mid-term elections. Now, you might say they are hopeless because it has taken them two whole years to see the obvious. But since some people never do clue in on any number of subjects (eg Arabs who claim the US or Israel was behind the 9/11 or Bali attacks) the ability of the Europeans to finally make contact with reality is actually a promising sign:

    But Tuesday's elections -- which put Bush's Republicans in control of both chambers of the U.S. Congress -- are likely to challenge those stereotypes. "He's not the trigger-happy cowboy people here like to portray him as," says Christian Hacke, a professor of political science at the University of Bonn.

    Instead, he's become a strong political leader in the U.S. and abroad -- one that Europe will have to contend with whether it wants to or not.

    "Europeans who are having trouble with him may continue to, but this is not an accidental presidency anymore," says Jackson Janes, executive director of the American Institute for Contemporary German Studies. "Europeans must now engage with the U.S. and stop sitting around saying, 'What an idiot.' They're going to have to learn how to play the piano with Bush as Tony Blair has done."

    By Randall Parker    2002 November 06 06:46 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    European Tranzis Unhappy With US Election Results

    European Transnationalists (ie many of the usual suspects) are unhappy with the Republican electoral victory. Their fantasy of exercising control over the US in foreign policy has taken a big hit:

    Indeed, the view from European capitals is that transatlantic relations will not so much drift but slip into a pattern of US unilateralism and selected bilateralism - the latter taking precedence over any common EU foreign policy.

    This has become more apparent over the past year, with European foreign policy shifting back to its natural home in individual capitals. Diplomats said Italy and Spain, for example, were much more interested in cultivating relations with Washington - even to the extent of providing military or political support over Iraq - than helping to promote a coherent EU common view.

    While the most recent electoral results certainly do up the odds that the US is going to follow thru on its preemption strategy and take out the Iraqi regime of Saddam Hussein we have still not reached a point where it is certain that the US will pursue the preemption strategy beyond Iraq. The other regimes which are developing weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and supporting terrorism against Western targets may still manage to survive long enough to develop enough WMD to be able to deter US attacks on those regimes. What is most notable about the Iraq debate is the sheer number and variety of types of bad things the Iraqi regime has had to do in order for the US government to move in the direction of removing the regime from power. Even then, the US has had to do so with little support from other Western nations.

    To the extent that the argument for taking out the regime in Iraq is made for reasons other than to stop the spread of WMD the whole argument for preemption is downplayed in the public debates. The Bush Administration, by emphasising all the other reasons for removing the Iraqi regime, has lost an opportunity to promote preemption as a strategy that should guide US policy toward Libya, Iran, and North Korea.

    By Randall Parker    2002 November 06 06:29 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    2002 November 04 Monday
    NATO Rapid Reaction Force To Be Announced

    The force will have remote projection capabilities:

    Most dramatically, the NATO heads of government could announce creation of a multi-national rapid deployment force of about 21,000 troops that would allow NATO to operate quickly and effectively against new enemies far from Europe, the area NATO was formed to protect against the Soviet Union 53 years ago. NATO members may also announce commitments to acquire new aircraft and equipment that would make this an effective force and allow it to deploy on a week's notice.

    This can be interpreted as a way that the Europeans can signal a willingness to stay allied with the US.

    By Randall Parker    2002 November 04 11:29 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    2002 November 03 Sunday
    AEI: Europe and America over the next generation

    In the December 2002 issue of The American Enterprise Institute's The American Enterprise Magazine has published comments made by various contributors to a symposium on the future relationship between European nations and America.

    Jeffrey Gedmin, director of the Aspen Institute in Berlin:

    Of course, we're likely to get through Iraq with the Europeans. More than anything they are afraid of being left out. But beyond that? Once upon a time, it was hoped that the inclusion of the central Europeans would re-invigorate the trans-atlantic alliance with a fresh dose of idealism and pro-American sentiment. As NATO heads to its next summit in Prague, prepared to enlarge again, it could yet happen. But time is running out. How long can an alliance really function when key allies believe that building themselves up means cutting America down?

    Andrew Sullivan:

    Europeans may believe that national interest is a thing of the past and military power an anachronism. Within the confines of a few European countries, they may be right. But in the wider world, especially the Middle East, history hasn't ended and a new threat to world peace is rising. If Europeans believe it can be palliated by diplomacy or appeasement, they are misreading their own times as profoundly as they did in the 1930s.

    The question for European leaders is whether they want to be adult players in a new and dangerous world. Grow up and join in--or pipe down and let us do it. That's the message America is sending. It's a message long, long overdue.

    Jonathan Rauch:

    The deeper problem is that bureaucratic internationalism is fundamentally inconsistent with democratic values. Yes, American democracy features undemocratic elements (the federal courts, the Federal Reserve), and they are very powerful; but they are also exceptional and surrounded on all sides by elected officials. The plan of Europeans talking of "ever closer union" is to take governance ever further from voters. On principled as well as pragmatic grounds, this is a tendency that America will increasingly be called upon to resist, even at the cost of transatlantic rows like the one over the International Criminal Court.

    Europeans are wrong to see bureaucratic internationalism as a stabilizing influence. In the long run, the unmooring of public decision making from popular sovereignty is a recipe for capricious policies and unstable politics. You would think that Europeans, of all people, might appreciate this.

    Mark Steyn:

    In defiance of traditional immigration patterns, Europe's young Muslims are less assimilated than their parents and grandparents. Instead of becoming more European, they're becoming more Islamist. If the "root cause" of September 11 is Islam's difficulty with modernity, we shouldn't be surprised that this manifests itself less in Indonesia than in Holland, the epitome of the boundlessly tolerant post-nationalist state, a liberal utopia of cannabis cafés and gay marriage--for now. Sheikh Omar's demand for the imposition of sharia doesn't seem so absurd when you consider that in 20 years the majority of the Dutch under 18 will be Muslim.

    A multiculturalist society has a hard time even discussing these things. In the advanced technocratic Euro-state, almost any issue worth talking about has been ruled taboo. Continental voters, faced with a choice between Eurodee and Eurodum, have been turning elsewhere. The beneficiaries of this tune-out, in Italy, Belgium, Denmark, and elsewhere, don't have much in common--some are maverick magnates, some fascist nostalgists, others gay hedonists. What unites them is what they're against: the traditional European cultural consensus that's now sleepwalking its way to suicide.

    Michael Kelly:

    European public opinion--as represented in the European press--is mostly limited to elite opinion. And for decades, much of this elite class has cherished a sneering and jingoistic contempt for America and for American values. This attitude fulfills an obvious psychological need: As the former global ruling class of Europe saw America emerge overwhelmingly dominant in economic, political, military, and cultural terms, a natural response was to insist on Europe's moral and intellectual superiority.

    John O'Sullivan's contribution is especially worth reading because he's the only one of the contributors who attempts to lay out a positive program for what to do about the US-European split:

    America's ultimate interest in Europe is that European nations be reliable allies in a united West committed to liberal democracy. The combined power of America and Europe is so overwhelming that if the West remains united, it will dominate world politics and shape global rules along liberal democratic lines indefinitely.

    What makes this an uncertain enterprise is the growing ideological disagreements within and between Western countries on the nature of the liberal democratic order and the classical system of nation-states it sustains. Progressive opinion holds that national sovereignty is discredited, patriotism atavistic, military force outmoded as a means of settling disputes, and that as a result power is rightly and inevitably shifting from nation-states to transnational organizations.

    These new views are promoted most vigorously in Europe. In frustration, some Americans have concluded that Europe should be left to cultivate its post-modern garden, while America gets on with running the world.

    But in reality, both the "American" and "European" viewpoints are found in both continents, and they are finely balanced in several important countries. There is no reason to concede Europe to the "national-interest-is-defunct" camp without a struggle, as this would only strengthen that faction everywhere--including in America, where the Democrats, the academy, the foreign policy establishment, and the media have already bought into much of the utopian internationalist view, as the Iraq debate has revealed.

    By Randall Parker    2002 November 03 11:55 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
    2002 November 01 Friday
    Anatole Kaletsky on the EU Democracy Deficit

    Kaletsky compares the US constitution and new proposed European Union constitution proposed by the Convention on the Future of Europe and offers an explanation for why the EU is becoming no more democratic:

    Is the neglect of democracy in the new European constitution merely a cynical omission by national politicians and bureaucrats whose primary aim is preserving as much of their powers as possible? Or does it reflect a much deeper problem – the fact that Europe is simply too large and diverse ever to be governable in a genuinely democratic manner?

    I suspect that the failure to come up with a constitution which would improve the democratic legitimacy of Europe has much more to do with the absence of a European “demos”, than with the selfishness and cynicism of European bureaucrats and politicians. That is why the idea of transferring real power to the European Parliament has so little support anywhere in Europe, while direct election of a European president is dismissed as absurd.

    (found on The Edge Of England's Sword)

    By Randall Parker    2002 November 01 11:44 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    2002 October 31 Thursday
    Transparency International: New EU Members Corrupt

    Transparency International has brought out a new report on the obvious:

    The 10 states preparing to join the European Union are run by crooked political elites who, together with unscrupulous businessmen, exploit their nations for self-enrichment, says a leading corruption watchdog.

    Bringing these countries into the EU so quickly seems unwise given that the EU is already more corrupt than the United States. But the EU is intent on absorbing these corrupt members in spite of being aware of the problem:

    But the fine print told a very different story, cataloguing fraud, crooked judicial systems and failure to get to grips with the 80,000 pages of EU law, the "Acquis Communautaire" across most of Eastern Europe.

    Poland, with a greater population than the other nine put together, was singled out for harsh criticism. The report said "corruption remains a cause for serious concern", saying there had been little progress in nurturing "a political, administrative and business culture that can resist corruption".

    I previously noticed this problem while reading TI's Global Corruption Report and mentioned it in this earlier post. I haven't yet been able to find this new report on the Transparency International site.

    By Randall Parker    2002 October 31 07:23 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    2002 October 29 Tuesday
    The Anti-Democratic European Union

    Imagine a US Congress in which the elected members could not propose legislation. Imagine a system where they could only vote on legislation proposed by a Presidential Cabinet. This apparently is how it works in an increasingly undemocratic Europe:

    This anti-democratic manipulation should come as no surprise, for the EU is an inherently undemocratic institution. The European Commission, a bureaucracy, is the only body allowed to propose legislation. Think of it for a moment — elected politicians may consider only those policies that bureaucrats put in front of them.

    It is sad to see the UK going deeper into this abomination.

    By Randall Parker    2002 October 29 11:40 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
    2002 October 28 Monday
    Charles A. Kupchan: The End of the West

    Writing in the November 2002 issue of The Atlantic Monthly Charles A. Kupchan sees the US and Europe splitting in a way analogous to the split between the Eastern and Western Roman Empire:

    As Byzantium did with Rome when it separated from its former overseer, the EU is making a run at the United States. And just as the Byzantines and the Romans parted ways over values and interests, so have the Europeans and the Americans. The two sides of the Atlantic follow different social models. Despite recent deregulation across Europe, America's laissez-faire capitalism still contrasts sharply with Europe's more centralized approach. Whereas Americans decry the constraints on growth that stem from the European model, Europeans look askance at America's income inequalities, its consumerism, and its readiness to sacrifice social capital for material gain.

    The two have also parted company on matters of statecraft. Americans still live by the rules of realpolitik, viewing military threat, coercion, and war as essential tools of diplomacy. In contrast, Europeans by and large have spent the past fifty years trying to tame international politics, setting aside guns in favor of the rule of law.

    As long as the USA is out in the Hobbesian world playing Realpolitik hardball and the EU is trying to play in a fantasy world where it imagines the rest of the governments can be persuaded play by the EU's interpretations of the rules of international law the EU is not going to rival the US in power and influence. Also, longer term demographic trends (lower birth rates and a shrinking and aging population) do not favor the EU's bid to become a power that rivals the US. Plus, they want to support their welfare state and that puts a crimp on their military spending. Nonetheless, there is still a real problem developing here. The EU can play a foil to the US and become less supportive of US efforts and thereby decrease US power marginally. Most worringly, as the EU's power becomes more centralized it will eventually take the UK away from the US as an ally.

    Update: An earlier essay in April 2002 issue of The Atlantic by Walter Russell Mead (he the author of Special Providence: American Foreign and How It Changed the World) catches the view of those in America who don't think the EU is going to become a serious rival to the USA:

    Europe hopes for a world role more or less equal to that of the United States. Jacksonians roll their eyes. Jacksonians think that Europe—with a declining and aging population and an economy likely to grow more slowly than most of the economies of the developing world, to say nothing of the United States'—is likely to continue to lose influence.

    By Randall Parker    2002 October 28 12:01 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
    Jim Hoagland: Back to Europe

    Hoagland reviews a number of dealings happening between the US and European nations. The whole article is worth a read. In particular, the Germans are looking for ways to get back in American good graces:

    With Germany, the results of a more Ameri-centric focus have been mostly for the worse. Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder harshly slammed Bush's approach to Iraq during the German election campaign. But Berlin is now putting forward olive branches in the all-important security area.

    After initial resistance from U.S. officials who were not ready to overlook the campaign demagoguery of others, Washington has agreed to a German-Dutch command taking charge of the small international peacekeeping force in Afghanistan at the end of the year. This step will save American taxpayers millions of dollars in U.S. subsidies that had enabled Turkey to hold the command temporarily.

    By Randall Parker    2002 October 28 12:39 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    James C. Bennett: Capitulate or Engage with Europe?

    In his Anglosphere column James C. Bennett takes up the subject of what to do about the prospect of a more integrated EU which might restrict its members cooperation with America. The prospect of a UK which in the future would be unable to cooperate with the US by, for instance, allowing the US to share use of Diego Garcia ought to be deeply troubling and requires a US response:

    One less-ambitious option might be to cut a deal between NAFTA and its European analogue, EFTA. Once a strong rival to the EU, EFTA is today a small organization. But by making it clear that the U.S. would regard it, or some similar new organization, as somebody to do business with, other Eastern European nations might decide it would be a preferred alternative to accepting the crushing body of EU regulation. Of course, a TAFTA -- a Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Area deal, including NAFTA, EU states, and other Europeans outside the EU -- would make even more sense, if it could be obtained.

    Similarly, the United States should consider a bold move to signal the transition of NATO from a North American-Western European club to a broader alliance. Perhaps the United States should consider proposing the relocation of NATO headquarters from Brussels to Warsaw or Budapest. It'd be cheaper in the long run, would provide a welcome stimulus to the local economy, would give American personnel a friendlier duty post, and would make a very tangible statement to a number of different parties.

    Norwary is still a member of the rather smaller European trade club that is not in the EU. The US could make trading conditions for that small club so favorable that if a country decided to leave the EU (especially if that country is the UK) it could gain a large replacement market.

    By Randall Parker    2002 October 28 12:19 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    2002 October 25 Friday
    David Frum Interprets America To Britain

    David Frum has written a five part series in the Daily Telegraph attempting to explain American views of the world and American foreign and domestic policy to British readers.

    Myth I: America is totally in hock to the Jewish lobby

    So it was a very pleasant surprise to spend a week here in person and discover just how faint and marginal true anti-Americanism is. It exists, of course, but even when it does, it often seems motivated by envy rather than hatred. "You have to understand," one Left-wing journalist told me over a boozy lunch, "that everybody in our business here wonders whether he didn't make the mistake of a lifetime by not moving to the United States when he was 22."

    Myth II: America wants war with Saddam because of oil

    But here is where the no-war-for-oil crowd make their mistake. Those Americans who worry most about oil tend to oppose action against Saddam, because they worry about the effects an Iraq war would have on Saudi Arabia.

    Myth III: Bush wants war with Iraq because of a family vendetta

    Washington is full of people such as Leon Feurth, Al Gore's former chief adviser on security issues, who have rotated out of government with their heads full of secrets - but who no longer draw a government salary; or Jim Hoagland of the Washington Post, a journalist so connected to the intelligence services that reading him is like listening to the CIA talking to itself; or Richard Perle, the former Reagan defence aide who trained an entire generation of Republican national security operatives who still look to him for ideas and advice.

    These people talk to one another and argue and attend conferences together and read each other's newspaper columns - and out of it all, ideas get hammered out and party positions are formed. And not just party positions, but true national consensus. The definitive case for war with Iraq has just been published, not by some still-bitter alumnus of the Gulf war, but by Kenneth Pollack, who analysed Iraq on President Clinton's National Security Council.

    Myth IV: America couldn't care less what the rest of the world thinks

    But who is the real threat to the international rule of law: America, for acting on the ancient and universal sovereign right not to adopt a treaty that does not serve its interests? Or those European countries that claim that the agreement on the international criminal court binds America, whether America adopts the treaty or not?

    International law is an idea with a powerful hold on the European mind; maybe too powerful, since Europeans often pronounce things "unlawful" when they merely mean that they disapprove of them.

    Part V: The truth: America is indeed subverting the Middle East

    America does not want to destabilise the Middle East. But Islamic extremism, anti-American incitement, and willing and unwilling support for terrorist organisations have fastened themselves deep into the societies and cultures of the Middle East. Osama bin Laden's terrorism is not the work only of a few sociopathic killers: it is the product of a wide and deep complicity throughout the Arab world. Finding, uprooting, discrediting and destroying terror will have equally wide and deep - and unpredictable - consequences.

    And that is why so many Europeans with an interest in the Arab world and its oil have urged America to learn to live with terror: to be realistic, to adjust, to accommodate - as they have had to do. And it is America's refusal to be realistic in this way that, more than anything else, has puzzled, vexed and even enraged so many in Europe and in Britain.

    I think the best point Frum makes here is with Myth II. The 9/11 attacks have forced the traditional American interests groups that have involvement in the Middle East to give way to the demands of the US populace as a whole that something be done about the Middle East. There is a widespread view that something has to be done to make the Middle East's peoples less of a threat to the American people. The cozy relationships between business interests, diplomats and regimes of the region have been overwhelmed by larger concerns. The populace as a whole feels threatened. That, more than anything, is providing the driving energy of US foreign policy. Therefore national security trumps all else.

    The essay that Frum quotes about America being the designated driver for the planet is the John Hawkins essay Confessions Of An Isolationist Wannabe which I've previously cited here.

    (I originally discovered the fourth article of the series on Vinod's blog)

    By Randall Parker    2002 October 25 01:16 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    2002 October 21 Monday
    18 Ways to Hate Your Neighbour

    The Moscow-based alternative newspaper eXile examines the question of whether Europeans are in a position to preach to Americans:

    Should America, and the rest of the world, listen? What is Europe’s lesson to humanity? What example have they set for the rest of us?

    To answer this question, we at the eXile have decided to let ze Europeans speak for themselves. A sort of “Europe on Europe” primer. Nothing could better test the European sense of profound inter-ethnic understanding than studying how Europeans view their very own European neighbors.

    And when you do that, you find something incredible: Bigotry and hatred are the bread and water of European life. This isn’t a vague, impersonal hatred; rather, it’s a profoundly evolved, carefully tailored hatred, a SMART Hatred if you will, tailored as tightly as a Swiss banker’s shirt towards the village over the hill, where your bosom enemies live.

    Through hard and thorough research (ie., by pouring beer into the throats of selected Europeans and letting them rant), the eXile has managed to isolate and map the 18 fundamental hatred genomes that Europeans carry towards their neighbors—the RNA strand of Euro-hatred, if you like.

    For the results see the charts on this page.

    By Randall Parker    2002 October 21 03:08 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    2002 October 20 Sunday
    Jonah Goldberg: Europeans don't want a foreign policy

    Jonah argues that the Europeans, Japanese and South Koreans tend to see the problems of the world as solvable using diplomacy because that is what they are able to use:

    "Irresponsibility, resentment, and self-hatred are the inevitable consequences of excessive dependence on others," wrote Melvyn Krauss in How NATO Weakens the West. Krauss was writing in the late 1980s, when our European allies and Japan were typically spending about half as much as we were on defense (in terms of GNP) and only about a quarter of what the Soviets were spending — despite the fact that our allies were on the front lines of the Cold War. Krauss's argument was simple: By over-relying on our military welfare, our allies were developing bloated social-welfare programs. Moreover, because they didn't take defense seriously, they also began to believe that talk — then called "détente" — would be a more effective solution to the Soviet threat.

    Well, the Cold War may be gone, but the "irresponsibility, resentment, and self-hatred" Krauss chronicled has a momentum that's still going strong. France's position in the U.N. Security Council, like that of the antiwar Democrats here in the U.S., amounts to wanting the results a threat of war might yield — disarmament, regime change, etc. — without even the possibility of actually threatening war, under any circumstances.

    By Randall Parker    2002 October 20 08:56 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    Pollack and Asmus: The New Transatlantic Project

    In the October 2002 issue of Policy Review Ronald D. Asmus and Kenneth M. Pollack have written an essay entitled The New Transatlantic Project arguing for a new Atlantic Alliance of the Western powers to reshape the Greater Middle East region that stretches from North Africa to Pakistan and Afghanistan. Asmus and Pollack argue for a sustained common strategy to politically transform that entire region:

    What would a common transatlantic strategy to address this threat look like in practice? The starting point would be the recognition that the greatest threats to both sides of the Atlantic today no longer come from within the continent but beyond it and in particular from the Greater Middle East. Those threats are not second-tier risks but very real and potentially existential dangers because they involve the growing likelihood of the use of weapons of mass destruction against our homelands.

    We also need to stop looking at the problems and crises in the Greater Middle East as separate or distinct problems that can be addressed in isolation. A common set of driving forces across the region from Northern Africa to Pakistan is contributing to the toxic combination of radical anti-Western ideologies, terrorism, rogue states, failed states, and the drive to acquire weapons of mass destruction. The problems we face in Afghanistan, the Israeli-Arab conflict, Iraq, and Iran are all parts of the same interwoven tapestry and a larger strategic problem. Indeed, to some extent, their impact can be felt in the problems of the Caucasus and Central Asia as well.

    Most of the people of the region suffer from underlying problems of economic stagnation, political alienation, maleducation, and an inability to come to terms with modernity. We need to encourage them to address these problems themselves, while we provide them with assistance — both resources and expertise. Too often in the past, we have allowed democratization and economic liberalization to slip to the bottom of our list of concerns with our allies in the region. This must stop. The need for transformation must move to the top of both American and European priorities, which must also recognize that this will not be easy for the states of the region.

    In Asmus and Pollack's favor is the fact that the security threats the Middle East creates for the West require that we think in grand terms. But I have to ask this question: What exactly could the West do that would transform the Greater Middle East in a way that would increase Western security? One can trot out all sorts of ideas that would cause all sorts of changes. But which changes would be a net benefit to Western Civilization?

    To put it another way: Can we transform the failed Middle Eastern states into no-longer-failed states? If so, how? Do we have to invade and overthrow each regime we would transform? It seems extremely likely at this point that we will invade Iraq and I have no doubt that we are going to try something to change Iraq somehow. But will that something change the Iraqi culture in a way that will cause the people to behave in ways that are more supportive of a secular democratic government that is open, respecting of individual rights, and not corrupt? If we can even do that much will the Iraqi people become any less hostile to us as a result?

    Can a political transformation of the Middle East be accomplished without transforming Muslims mating practices and family structure? Suppose we try to introduction of democracy into the region. Will intervention make the Middle Eastern regimes worse or better? What I find lacking in most writing about the need to politicaly transform the Middle East is any sign of understanding of why the Middle East is so politically backward in the first place.

    Meanwhile, the UK and US are arguing over whether the post-war Iraqi administration should be a UN administration or a US military administration. I'd care more about this if I had a clearer idea of exactly what each administration would do to change Iraq. My guess is that the US military would make more sensible changes than the UN would (sensible not being a word that naturally goes with the UN).

    By Randall Parker    2002 October 20 08:02 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    2002 October 17 Thursday
    Francis Fukuyama on American, European views

    Fukuyama describes the causes of the differences between the US and Europe with regard to the role of international institutions:

    Between these two views of the sources of legitimacy, the Europeans are theoretically right but wrong in practice. It is impossible to assert as a matter of principle that legitimately constituted liberal democracies can't make grave mistakes or indeed commit crimes against humanity. But the European idea that legitimacy is handed downward from a disembodied international community rather than handed upward from existing democratic institutions reflecting the public will on a nation-state level invites abuse on the part of elites, who are then free to interpret the will of the international community to suit their own preferences. This is the problem with the International Criminal Court. Instead of strengthening democracy on an international level, it tends to undermine democracy where it concretely lives, in nation-states.

    By Randall Parker    2002 October 17 01:04 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    2002 October 16 Wednesday
    John Vinocur: Why France disdains America

    Vinocur describes two recent books on French views of America written by Jean-Francois Revel and Philippe Roger. The French resentment goes back a long way:

    Scholars of the French Enlightenment considered American plant and animal life degenerate, inferior to that in Europe. Children born in the New World were incapable of prolonged thought. Venereal disease had its home there. At the same time as the creation of the United States, and while a part of fashionable Paris was titillated by the Yankee insurgents, Roger writes, by 1778 in France a "a globally negative image of America was anchored in the literate public."

    That French disdain for the US translates into real world consequences - at least if you consider events in the UN Security Council as consequential:

    UNITED NATIONS, New York The impasse between the United States and France over military action in Iraq has deepened in recent days after an effort to reach a compromise stalled, with the French insisting that the Americans must come back to the UN Security Council before they can use force, according to diplomats.

    Update: Also see the Walter Russell Mead review of the same two books L'obsession anti-americaine: Son fonctionnement, ses causes, ses inconsequences by Jean-Francois Revel. and L'ennemi americain: Genealogie de l'antiamericanisme francais by Philippe Roger in his Foreign Affairs March/April 2003 article Why Do They Hate Us?: Two Books Take Aim at French Anti-Americanism.

    On the one hand, anti-Americanism is, as both Revel and Roger convincingly argue, a self-referential Franco-French phenomenon largely untroubled by larger questions of fact. On the other hand, the rise and persistence of this discourse reflects actual historical trends. Anti-Americanism developed and persisted in France because the United States thwarted, threatened, and diminished that country. Anti-Gallicism in the United States has had a fitful and shadowy life because France has only rarely risen to more than a nuisance in American eyes. In the realms of power politics, economics, and culture, French anti-Americanism is the psychological footprint of a conflict -- a conflict all the more irksome to the loser simply because the winner never seems to have paid it much attention.

    Unfortunately the books are not available in English. But the Mead review in particular gives a good sense of their arguments. Unfortunately, those arguments make it clear that the US can't really do much at all about the anti-American sentiments of the French. They want to be bigger players in world affairs. By being so much more powerful than them we effectively limit their potential to be world players. What they object to are things about us that we are not going to want to change.

    By Randall Parker    2002 October 16 03:38 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (4)
    2002 October 15 Tuesday
    Robert Kagan: Multilateralism, American Style

    Robert Kagan argues that the distance between the major two camps in the US debate about whether to seek UN support is not as wide as it is often believed to be. Even the supposed multilateralists in the US foreign policy establishment don't really want the US to treat the UN as an institution that holds a veto on US actions. The debate is more about style:

    In fact, despite what many believe, there really isn't a debate between multilateralists and unilateralists in the United States today. Just as there are few principled multilateralists, there are few genuine unilateralists. Few inside or outside the Bush administration truly consider it preferable for the United States to go it alone in the world. Most would rather have allies. They just don't want the United States prevented from acting alone if the allies refuse to come along.

    So the real debate in the United States is about style and tactics. Some of the administration's critics, such as Holbrooke and Joseph Nye, say the United States should build goodwill by working hard for Security Council support. When that fails, the United States can go ahead and do what it wants, but the good-faith effort to accommodate allied concerns will have won the United States Brownie points. Some Bush administration strategists believe, on the contrary, that the best way to bring the allies along is by making clear that the United States will go it alone if necessary. They figure that key allies such as Britain and France won't want to be left behind, looking helpless and irrelevant.

    I would add that among those claiming an abolute need for UN approval many are really doing so as a cover or their general opposition to a war against Iraq. They don't believe their own rhetoric. They are just reaching for any debating point that sounds like it might be useful.

    By Randall Parker    2002 October 15 11:57 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    2002 October 07 Monday
    Robert Kagan: Power and Weakness

    I've posted references to articles that are a reaction to an essay by Robert Kagan about America and Europe. It seems appropriate to post a link to the Kagan article so that any interested readers can read it. Kagans's article from the June 2002 Policy Review, entitled "Power and Weakness", is quite a good essay. Its rather long but very rewarding and highly recommended. Here's an excerpt that encapsulates a central argument of this article:

    The current situation abounds in ironies. Europe’s rejection of power politics, its devaluing of military force as a tool of international relations, have depended on the presence of American military forces on European soil. Europe’s new Kantian order could flourish only under the umbrella of American power exercised according to the rules of the old Hobbesian order. American power made it possible for Europeans to believe that power was no longer important. And now, in the final irony, the fact that United States military power has solved the European problem, especially the “German problem,” allows Europeans today to believe that American military power, and the “strategic culture” that has created and sustained it, are outmoded and dangerous.

    Most Europeans do not see the great paradox: that their passage into post-history has depended on the United States not making the same passage. Because Europe has neither the will nor the ability to guard its own paradise and keep it from being overrun, spiritually as well as physically, by a world that has yet to accept the rule of “moral consciousness,” it has become dependent on America’s willingness to use its military might to deter or defeat those around the world who still believe in power politics.

    The biggest cause of the frictions between Europe and America is that many European intellectuals are unwilling to accept that the bulk of the rest of the world is a Hobbesian jungle that can't be tamed by international institutions and treaties. The Hobbesian jungle is in no way ready to engage in anything resembling the supranational institution building and the constraints on national entities that are characteristic of the EU. The EU is not a model for how to solve the political problems of the world. The conditions that made the EU possible (including, among others, a grinding defeat of Germany, lengthy partition, and a continued US military presence) are absent in the rest of world.

    Saddam Hussein's Iraq or the North Korean regime can not be neutered by voluntary international institutions - even more so since those institutions are dominated by the very types of regimes that are most in need of not just containment but replacement. But even if the international bodies were dominated by liberal democracies they still couldn't bring such regime's as Iraq's to heel any more than defenseless civilians could stop an armed band of thugs. Many nations are not even proper nation-states in the Western sense. They are just tyrannies ruled by an individual or a small ruling class and the governments exist quite apart from the people they govern. With technological advances generated by the Western nations making it easier for brutal regimes to develop WMD the Western nations can ill afford to engage in the kinds of political fantasies that are the basis for the European complaints about the United States.

    By Randall Parker    2002 October 07 07:18 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (3)
    2002 October 06 Sunday
    German Anti-Americanism is German Nationalism

    In an essay in The Weekly Standard entitled "The Angry Adolescent of Europe: Irresponsibility as the German way" writer Christopher Caldwell examines the motives and effects of the anti-American sentiment expressed by German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in the recent German elections. Caldwell finds German nationalism and not Europeanism at the bottom of it:

    Schroeder's anti-Americanism was foredoomed to get out of control. Whatever pacifist impulses it may have drawn on, it was primarily an expression of German nationalism. Schroeder likes the position of being Europe's hard guy against the United States: On his first visit to Washington after the election of President Bush, he delivered a harsh letter from the E.U. warning the president that America could not hold itself aloof from the Kyoto Protocol on global climate change. From the United States, Schroeder's actions may appear to be a "European" thing: Jealous of American unity and decisiveness, which they cannot imitate, Europeans have sought to impose their own bickering disunity--their any-crank-has-a-veto system--on us. But that would be wrong. In fact, Schroeder is wallowing in the very worldview that Europe is being constructed to prevent. The campaign was nationalist from the start. Last winter and early spring, Schroeder sought to scapegoat foreign bureaucrats in Brussels for his economic problems. He discarded this strategy only because it didn't work.

    What makes it clearest that Schroeder's position involves nationalism rather than Europeanism is that it has panicked France, and sent French politicians of all parties into a rage. For years, the Franco-German relationship--and hence the European Union--was built on an informal agreement: absolute equality in European institutions and a right to consultation on anything the other partner did. In French eyes, Germany has broken this deal three times: First (and probably unavoidably), when Helmut Kohl proposed German unity without seeking President Mitterrand's permission; second, when Schroeder cold-cocked President Jacques Chirac at the E.U.'s Nice summit in 2000, asking (by virtue of the unified Germany's larger population) for surplus representation on European bodies; and third, the present ugliness. Schroeder's use of Iraq to humble America had the side-effect of breaking up Europe's common defense policy. Germany may not be conscious of what a sacrifice George Bush made in asking the United Nations to okay an Iraq threat, but France is. Chirac even views Bush's U.N. speech as a giant diplomatic achievement for Europe, since he and Tony Blair had urged it. Viewed in this light, Schroeder's freelancing divides Europe, leaving the continent weaker, not stronger, against American influence.

    Caldwell has written a very nuanced analysis of recent events in German politics and what these events portend for the future. Caldwell expects to see more attempts to blame America as a way to divert attention from continued failures in domestic economic policy. I also expect see a stiffening of French nationalism as one response and ditto for nationalism in other neighbors of Germany. If the French start to feel more competitive with Germany it is quite possible the French leaders will seek friendlier relations with the US in order to increase US pressure on Germany.

    By Randall Parker    2002 October 06 02:07 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (25)
    2002 October 04 Friday
    European thinkers affected more by WWI than WWII

    David Gelernter, in an essay called The Roots of European Appeasement, argues that with the end of the Cold War Europe's elites have reverted back to a 1920s mindset. In this analysis European impulses toward appeasement are driven by a self-hatred and a hatred of European Civilization that is a legacy of the First World War:

    But suppose your attitudes were shaped, consciously or not, by the First World War and its aftermath. In that case, the lesson you'd take away would be very different: Whatever you do, never rush a war. Austria did not have to declare war against Serbia on July 28, 1914, but she was in a hurry to forestall proposed negotiations. Russia did not have to mobilize on the 30th, she was under no military threat, but she mobilized anyway. Germany did not have to go crashing into Belgium on August 4, she was in no danger of being overrun by hot-headed Flemings, but once she had mobilized (which she had to do because Russia had), her famous master-plan (to concentrate on the Western front, pivot through Belgium, and come down on France like a sledgehammer) would be exposed and rendered as useless as lightstruck film unless she hit right away.

    Some Europeans know these details and some do not. But what every educated European knows is that World War I could have been prevented if only Europe hadn't been in such a demented hurry to fight. And the graveyards of World War I are a permanent feature of the European landscape. In consequence and in tribute, many Europeans are against all war on principle--defensive or offensive, just or unjust, mandatory or frivolous; and they hate Western civilization into the bargain. Can you blame them? The contempt for Western ideas, morality, religion, and traditions that is so prominent among European intellectuals is not the sheer malice it sometimes seems. Europe has earned the right to hate herself. If things go wrong, a scratch can fester. A pardonable act of (at worst) bad judgment--to whoop up a war along with throngs of your fellow citizens--can turn to scalding remorse as the death toll rises and rises. And such quiet emotions as private remorse can reshape history, when you sum up over a whole civilization.

    This frantic compulsion to do nothing was countermanded by the Second World War and the Cold War--both of which centered on totalitarian tyrannies. That Iraq is more like these tyrannies than it is like Imperial Germany seems not to matter to the world's Continental Thinkers, who dominate the opinion-making elite nearly everywhere.

    The US, having come much later to the First World War, and having had a very different experience with it, does not have the same historical interpretation of war influencing its culture. While quite a few American intellectuals share the European view its not widely held by the American public at large. One is hard put to find a similar American experience. America's Vietnam debacle resulted in American casualties that were a very small fraction of what Europe experienced in the First World War. To find an even roughly comparable US historical experience one needs to go all the way back to the US Civil War. But Americans did not interpret that experience in any way analogous to how Europeans interpreted the First World War in large part because the causes and outcome of the US Civil War were so different.

    By Randall Parker    2002 October 04 12:11 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
    2002 October 03 Thursday
    V.D. Hanson: US-Europe rift to widen

    Victor Davis Hanson argues that the rift between Americans and Europeans is due more to differences in culture than to differences in military strength or any specific policy disagreements. He claims the Cold War basically required that rather different cultures ally in order to deter the Soviets and with the end of that threat it is natural that emphasis would shift toward highlighting the differences.

    These old American prejudices may no longer be shared by the elites who make our policy, but they are not for that reason to be dismissed. As it happens, such mistrusts are themselves deeply rooted in essential faultlines between the American sense of self and the European. Those differences lie in our separate histories and national characters, our different demographies, our different cultures, our different approaches to questions of class and economic mobility, our different conceptions of the individual and society, our different visions of the good life and of democracy—and our very different attitudes toward projecting outward our versions of freedom. All these historic antitheses may better explain the current acrimony than an imbalance of power—often more an epiphenomenon than the cause of rifts among nations.

    Volumes have been written on each of these subjects, but we can agree on the fundamental elements of American exceptionalism. The experience of the frontier encouraged a sense of self-reliance and helped to define morality in terms of action rather than rhetoric. Having no history of monarchy, fascism, or Communism, we retain our founders’ original optimism about republican government, considering it not only critical to our own singular success but a form of political organization that should be emulated by others. The absence of a common race and religion encouraged us to treasure a necessary allegiance to common ideas and values, an allegiance that has so far outlasted the attenuating doctrines of multiculturalism and “diversity.”

    Hansen concludes in stating that by ending a formal military alliance the US and Europe may be able to have more friendly relations.

    By Randall Parker    2002 October 03 06:11 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (1)
    2002 October 01 Tuesday
    Euroweenie feelings are hurt

    Fellow Americans you are very mean people:

    Although the European Union is a baroque collection of institutions, regulations and formalism designed to transform narrow national interests into collective policies, feelings still count -- and European feelings have been badly bruised in recent months. The Europeans say the administration views them as "Euro wimps" who don't pull their weight militarily, and who prefer prevarication to plain-speaking and appeasement to action. Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld's recent appearance at a NATO meeting in Warsaw, during which he snubbed the German defense minister because of Schroeder's strong opposition to military action against Iraq, was the latest insult.

    So let me get this straight: hurling insults at American unilateral Hitleresque cowboys is fair and justified but dare to snub a German defense minister and then important feelings will be quite hurt. American leaders and commentators are obviously a bunch of meanies. Okay, everyone clear on that? The Brussels Mandarins have very sensitive feelings. We must pursue a more gingerly foreign policy or they will feel really really hurt.

    While they welcomed Bush's decision to seek a new U.N. Security Council resolution on weapons inspections -- and give Britain's Blair credit for helping guide Bush in that direction -- they fear that the administration is only using the council as justification for military action, and will go ahead even without U.N. assent.

    "It was wholly legitimate for President Bush to go to the United Nations and to challenge the international community to make good on what it says it believes," said Patten. "But that's just not for one day. It's got to be for real."

    A reality check is in order: By the UN what is meant is the UN Security Council. Well, that really breaks down into the 5 permanent voting members: France, China, Russia, US, UK. What about those 5? Well, the first 3 spent the 1990s gutting the Iraqi weapons inspection regime in collaboration with Saddam. Those 3 currently are opposed to making a more effective weapons inspection regime while the hosannah chorus of international institution lovers sing about the evils of unilateralism. Its really hard to take this kind of hypocrisy seriously and yet the EU mandarins whose feelings are hurt speak with seeming oblivion to their hypocrisy while they ignore the fundamental fact that the UN will act contrary to the needs of US national security.

    Update: Just remembered one other thing about permanent UN Security Council member China: The USAF and RAF are busy trying to destroy the fiber optics network and radars that China sold to Saddam and helped him to install. This surely just scratches the surface of what those fine permanent UN Security Council members have been doing with Saddam over the last 10 years.

    By Randall Parker    2002 October 01 01:03 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    2002 September 24 Tuesday
    James Bennett: UK could secede from EU over pensions

    In response to a constitutional proposal to disallow withdrawal from the EU James C. Bennett examines an issue that might cause an EU constitutional crisis:

    Faced with the choice of economically disastrous fiscal implosion or electorally disastrous radical cutbacks in expected retirement benefits (the most over-obligated countries having almost no private retirement plans), the European Union proposes to, in effect, raid the piggy bank of the substantial British private pension system, by proposing a "harmonized" pan-European pension system, redistributing British private pension funds (and/or inflating the euro) to save Continental pensioners. Under a federal European constitution, this could be forced down the throat of Britain.

    It is safe to assume that any British government will either confront the European Union at this point, or be replaced by one that would. But confrontation in a majority-voting environment is useless. The only effective threat is to secede. Given that a substantial number of British voters already would like to quit the Union, and presuming they still feel the same way in 2015, it would be likely that a move to secession in such circumstances would be backed by the electorate. It is also likely that Britain would not gain the required unanimity of permissions from other European states.

    By Randall Parker    2002 September 24 02:55 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    2002 September 19 Thursday
    US liberty restrictions less than Europe post-9/11

    Jeffrey Rosen finds that liberty has been reduced in the US less than in various European countries in response to 9/11:

    In the course of researching the state of liberty and security after 9/11, I've been especially struck by how restrained America's legal response appears when contrasted with that of our European allies. Although they weren't directly attacked, the countries of the European Union passed anti-terrorism measures during the past year that are far more sweeping than anything adopted in the United States. In October, France expanded the powers of the police to search private property without a warrant. Germany has engaged in religious profiling of suspected terrorists, a practice that was upheld in a court challenge. In Britain, which has become a kind of privacy dystopia, Parliament passed a sweeping anti-terrorism law in December that authorizes a central government authority to record and store all communications data generated by e-mail, Internet browsing or other electronic communications, and to make the data available to law enforcement without a court order. In May, the European Union authorized all of its members to pass similar laws requiring data retention.

    Why the difference? The checks and balances that arise from the 3 separate branches of government.

    By Randall Parker    2002 September 19 03:45 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    2002 September 18 Wednesday
    American elite loses patience with European elite

    UPI Correspondent Martin Walker describes an informal meeting between American, British and continental leaders at Ditchley in the UK:

    "When the Europeans demand some sort of veto over American actions, or want us to subordinate our national interest to a UN mandate, they forget that we do not think their track record is too good," a senior U.S. diplomat said recently in private. "The Europeans told us they could win the Balkans wars all on their own. Wrong. They told us that the Russians would never accept National Missile Defense. Wrong. They said the Russians would never swallow NATO enlargement. Wrong. They told us 20 years ago that détente was the way to deal with what we foolishly called the Evil Empire. Wrong again. They complain about our Farm Bill when they are the world's biggest subsidizers of their agriculture. The Europeans are not just wrong; they are also hypocrites. They are wrong on Kyoto, wrong on Arafat, wrong on Iraq -- so why should we take seriously a single word they say?"

    Track records really do need to be referred back to more often. Who made what prediction in the past and how right or wrong were they? Should their latest proclamations be taken seriously or are their track records so bad that they should be laughed off the stage?

    By Randall Parker    2002 September 18 01:56 PM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
    2002 September 17 Tuesday
    U.S. envoy tries to convince Europe to be relevant

    John Wolf, assistant secretary for the Bureau of Nonproliferation in the State Department, paid a visit to Brussels and politely asked them to stop being irrelevant:

    In a politely worded snipe at Europe's tendency to place its trust in multilateral agreements and international law, he said it was important not to get lost in an "endless circular debate about the architecture of non-proliferation".

    "When you talk about Iran or Iraq or North Korea we're talking about real countries developing real weapons capabilities that pose real threats in the regions where they're located, real threats to the U.S. and our friends, real threats to Europe."

    He thinks we should try to not only slow, but even to stop and reverse the proliferation of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

    By Randall Parker    2002 September 17 10:57 AM Entry Permalink | Comments (0)
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