Friday, February 7, 2003

previous entry | main | next entry | TrackBack (0)


REVISIONIST BULL@#$! AT THE GUARDIAN: Andrew Sullivan links to a Jonathan Steele essay in today's Guardian on Europe's reaction to Iraq that is impressive in mixing equal amounts of perceptive realpolitik assessment and odious crap. The realpolitik part is pretty accurate:

"The crisis showed the EU not only has no common foreign policy among today's 15 members, but its chances of ever getting one when it is enlarged to 25 are virtually nil. The pursuit of a common foreign policy was always an illusion, and if the Rumsfeld/"gang of eight" double whammy have brought a dose of realism, so much the better. As long as there is no United States of Europe or a European Federation foreign policy, Europe will never be more than a series of 'coalitions of the willing' on whatever is the major issue of the day."

So far, so accurate. Then we get to the truly reprehensible part of the story -- his explanation for why Central and Eastern European states are siding with the United States on Iraq. Sullivan dismisses it, but I can't let it go, it's so offensive. Definitely worthy of a fisking:

"In 1989 there were those who thought these newly liberated countries would be bastions of new thinking. But the west was an attractive-looking club and they were anxious to join the winning side in the cold war."

What fools those Eastern Europeans were!! Wanting such petty things as freedom, democracy, and personal enrichment!

"While the EU insisted on a slow and complex process of economically painful adjustment, joining Nato was relatively easy and the US used a mix of fear, flattery and economic incentives to get them to sign up."

Yes, that's why these countries joined NATO -- the U.S. bullied them into it. The possible alternatives -- fear of Russian revanchism, desire for self-defense, German enthusiasm for expansion, a wish for these countries to cement their status as stable democracies -- are certainly not compelling.

The EU insists on complexity? Mon dieu! That turn of phrase is a nice way of obfuscating the real explanation for the slow process of EU expansion -- a fear of being flooded with cheap agricultural exports that would further imperil French farmers.

"After all, eastern Europe's elites had spent 40 years accommodating themselves to superior power."

Yeah, that Vaclav Havel is a real kiss-ass.

"Neither the reform movement in Czechoslovakia in 1968 nor Solidarity in Poland in 1981 challenged their countries' links with Moscow."

I'm pretty sure that's wrong -- at least with Czechoslovakia. If memory serves, right before the invasion, Dubcek visited other dissident Eastern European states (Romania and Yugoslavia) as a signal to Moscow. We all know Moscow's response.

"It was only when Mikhail Gorbachev told them in 1987 that they need not follow the Soviet lead that they began to break loose. It was therefore inevitable that after the USSR collapsed these countries would sense the new reality that Europe belongs to the US."

Gee, those "complex" western European policies like Ostpolitik should have convinced those elites that western Europeans never kowtow to power.

"The fact that ex-communist leaders such as Aleksander Kwasniewski, Gyula Horn and Ion Iliescu led the way is not a paradox so much as proof that the survival instinct usually trumps vision or principle."

As I pointed out before, the economic rewards of EU membership far outweigh the more nebulous benefits of siding with the U.S. on Iraq. And this statement certainly jeapordizes the smoothness of their accession. So don't say their actions are about survival -- risks are being taken here.

"The anti-Vietnam war movement which taught a generation of Europeans about the arrogance of US power passed eastern Europe by. Isolated inside the Soviet empire, and suspicious of Moscow's propaganda line even on the occasions when it was right, they did not notice that the US was also an imperial nation."

I'm sure that if those unenlightened citizens living under communism had heard about the U.S. opposing a communist dictatorship with force of arms elsewhere on the globe, they would have just filled the streets to protest. [You saying Vietnam was a good idea?--ed. No, but saying that Eastern Europeans living under communist domination would have opposed it is a pretty dumb-ass statement, neh?]

"The imminent threat of war in Iraq has raised the issue of independence from the US to the top of the agenda. During the cold war it was a question which dared not speak its name. Now it is in the open and whether they are old or new, big or small, European nations must face this old/new question in the coming days.."

So true, Jonathan. But not for the reasons you think.

posted by Dan on 02.07.03 at 10:25 AM