Thursday, June 02, 2005

A New Ozymandias

The reverberations from France's 'non' and the Netherlands' 'nee' continue to resound with frightful connotations.

Luxembourg seems to be retreating from voting yes, which would mean a third founding country of the European Union voting no if the current lead completely vanishes[from 36% lead to only 14% now]. Prime Minister Tony Blair of the UK's Foreign Secretary has postponed the second reading of the bill that would call for a referendum vote on the proposed EU constitution while Mr. Blair himself has called for reflections on where Europe should go. As I alluded to in previous post, Poland is vacillating on when to hold its referendum.

What is amazing is how people with a vested interest in the passing of this overweight book keep trying to spin things in a positive way. All twenty-five countries of the current EU need to say yes to this monstrosity for it to take effect. Two EU countries have said no. The Dutch PM has said he will withdraw from the Dutch parliament the resolution calling for a vote on this constitution in deference to how the Dutch people voted. President Chirac of France when the extent of the no vote was realized in France also acquiesced to their voices, though now he has sacked his PM[the one who said there would be no re-vote] and put Dominique de Villiapin as his new PM. But that has not stopped some from trying to spin things to be more positive.

Marco Incerti, of the Centre for European Policy Studies, which is funded by the Commission, said of the Dutch referendum: "This vote will strengthen the hand of those who are calling for an end to the ratification process. The treaty may not be dead, but it is on its deathbed and has gone deeper into a coma."

Talk about faint praise mixed with gallows humour. Will the proposed EUC next pine for the fjords? Is it getting better? Or perhaps it is an ex-constitution.

Here is another chap who fails to get it:
But these referendums are not the foundations of a serious alternative or a new kind of politics. They are a warning that Europe's politicians have failed to give Europe's anxious citizens an overarching explanation of how governments can help to manage their place in the globalised market economy of the post-cold war era.

What did President Reagan say were warning words, oh yes: "I am from the government and I am here to help." Rights and everything that springs from such rights should not flow from the top down[ in earlier times it was called the Divine Right to Rule] but from the consent of the governed who are invested in certain inalienable rights that can not, except by force, be wrested from the people.

The French and German public may go along with our economic agenda if we present it as the road to full employment and prosperity, but not if we constantly lecture them on the necessity of giving up their job security and letting deregulation open the window to the chill winds of laissez-faire competition. A touch of humility before embarking on these lectures would also not come amiss.
While this writer suggests that the UK basically roll over and defer to their economic betters Germany[12% unemployment and Schroeder's party at the local level has been eviscerated] and France[where vinters are rioting while others are on strike and President Chirac's approval rating is hovering around 39%] just to convince these two countries to listen to what the UK has to say on economic policy even though by rolling over the UK would have surrendered that high ground it needs.

Some in Europe are waking up to what is at stake while others are desperately clutching at their disintegrating EU teddy bear hoping it can still drive away the boogie-man called the United States. Alas just focusing on being anti-American is not a strong enough tie to bind the various European countries into this political chimera that the elites of Europe hope to control.

So I will end with Shelley's poem Ozymandias

I MET a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command 5
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings: 10
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains: round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

TimesOnline.uk Article by Anthony Brown and Rosemary Bennet
The Guardian Article by Martin Kettle
The Guardian Article by Robin Cook


mark said...

Your writing is fascinating. I've never read so much drivel in such a short space and it's amazing how able you are at totally misunderstanding the meanings of the quotes you have cited in this article here. Remember: Preview is your friend.

First of all, it's far too simplistic just to read the result of the French referendum as a "no" to Europe, full-stop. It isn't. Remember that it was BOTH the far right AND the far left that campaigned against the constitution. The far left saw it as, economically, a capitalist, "anglo-saxon" constitution, which it wasn't really. Equally, the far right saw it as giving more power to Brussels, which is also largely untrue. For some voters it was also a protest vote against the government, firstly because it hasn't solved France's economic problems, but also conversely, because it has tried to introduce unpopular benefits reforms, aimed at solving the economic problems about which others protest.

You've misread the signals from the British Government. They had to find a form of words which would allay the Tories, including the irritating Liam Fox (Shadow Foreign Secretary) and the likes of the Daily Mail, while at the same time throwing an olive branch to their European counterparts in Berlin and Paris, and not prematurely declare the constitution dead (even though it obviously is now) before a meeting of the European Council at the end of next week.

Basically, they've got to say something to satisfy all their critics but they've been deliberately ambiguous in order to satisfy both the pro and anti Europeans.

A question: in what way is the EU constitution a 'monstrosity'? I accept that it's far from perfect, but when you're trying to find a document that 25 different countries can agree on there obviously has to be compromise from all sides.

The Dutch Prime Minister has INDEED said that he would withdraw the WHOLE CONSTITUTION from before the Dutch parliament, AS A RESULT of how they voted. I.E., THEY'RE NOT GOING TO RATIFY IT.

Chirac sacked Raffarin because he was an awful Prime Minister and widely despised. He has failed to make any progress regarding the French economy (it's his job, not Chirac's), and that's largely why he was sacked. Obviously Chirac also wanted to draw a line in the sand and it was easier for Raffarin to take the fall rather than Chirac himself. de Villepin is no better, however, and his appointment is a clear shot across the bows at Nicolas Sarkozy, Chirac's political protégé, but also now his arch-rival, as the new leader of Chirac's centre-right UMP party.

I don't really see how you can take issue with the comments of Marco Incerti (who says that the constitution is pretty much dead), nor the next person that you quote (who says that it is a fairly simple protest against the ruling classes in Europe).

Robin Cook certainly DOES NOT suggest "that the UK basically roll over and defer to their economic betters Germany and France". All he says is that we have to show a little humility and sensitivity in coaxing these two countries along the path of economic reform. Barking and lecturing at them simply won't work; we need to take much more of a softly-softly approach.

Finally, the founding principles of the EU are not antiamericanism. The EU is principally a free trade area - the largest in the world, and the European Community (ie the customs union) is the First Pillar of the European Union, the second and third pillars being of significantly less importance. You can read more about the structure of the EU here.

In future, it may pay to read the quotes you cite again before totally getting the wrong end of the stick. Otherwise, you can end up looking rather foolish.

WABOOBA said...