'No' Votes in EU Nothing for Neocons To Be Elated About
by Leon Hadar
happened to be in Paris on the same day that the French people rejected
the proposed European Union Constitution – a vote that was described
by analysts in the French capital as a defeat for US-led globalization
and American-style capitalism.
arriving a few days later in Washington, and reading neoconservative
op-ed commentaries and watching the pundits on Fox-News television,
I had no choice but to conclude that both the anti-EU Constitution
votes in France and Holland were nothing less than a great victory
for the United States.
course, many of the American foreign policy "experts"
who were spinning the French and Dutch votes as reruns of the collapse
of the Berlin Wall, were also the same guys who had predicted that
Americans would find weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in Iraq,
uncover the links between Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, and
would be welcomed as "liberators" by the Iraqis. So in
a way, I shouldn't have been too surprised that Washington's Faith-Based
Community would once again impose their wishful thinking on the
reality in Europe and elsewhere.
the new scene in the neocon-produced Theater of the Absurd. Recall
that only recently, we were asked to believe that the coming-to-power
in Baghdad of a radical Shiite political-religious bloc with links
to Iran marked the triumph of Western-style liberal democracy. Now
we are expected to buy into the notion that it's a Great Day for
the US of A when a coalition of radical left-wing anti-globalization
activists, veteran communists, anti-immigration groups, and ultra
nationalists in France and Holland – anti-Americanism is the only
idea that unites them – succeed in winning the support of the majority
when similar coalitions of neo-communists and right-wing nationalists
win votes in Russia, American officials and pundits tend to bash
them as an alliance of Reds (Communists) and Browns (Fascists).
not very difficult to discover the source of the European fantasies
concocted by the neocons. After all, French President Jacques Chirac,
the major political loser in the French vote, and German Chancellor
Gerhard Schroeder had opposed the US decision to invade Iraq after
insisting that Washington should deal with the alleged WMD threat
from Saddam by continuing to pursue weapons inspections through
the United Nations.
US lawmakers and commentators have continued to maintain the position
of the French and German governments reflected supposedly deep-rooted
anti-Americanism, pro-Arab appeasement, anti-Semitism, etc. The
way the neocons see it, Messrs Chirac and Schroeder were the symbols
of the Axis of Weasel, and have become the targets for never-ending
bashing, ridicule, threats and boycotts. But by opposing Bush's
unilateral move to oust Saddam, Chirac and Schroeder not only acted
in accordance with the views of the majority of their citizens and
to protect their perceived national interests; in fact, their position
on the Iraq war was backed by the majority of the public in Old
and New Europe, not to mention most publics and governments around
the world – and many Americans.
according to recent polls, most Americans share the view that the
war against Saddam wasn't worth the costs involved. In short, they
seem to agree that the French – Oh, mon Dieu! Quelle horreur! –
had it right when it came to Iraq.
the notion that Messrs Chirac and Schroeder are "anti-American"
is preposterous. In the context of European politics, both represent
strong pro-Atlanticist and pro-globalization positions, certainly
when you compare their views to those of the political groups and
figures who have been leading the anti-Constitution opposition in
Europe. One of the reasons that Chirac lost the vote was his backing
for Turkish membership in the EU, a long-standing US position, while
Schroeder's popularity dropped after trying to push forward a few
economic liberalizing measures.
if the chances of mending the transatlantic split and Euro-American
cooperation on such issues like the Middle East and the global economy
seemed quite uncertain before the recent political crises, one can
only expect them to get worse now that large segments of the European
public seem to have expressed their displeasure with what they consider
the American or Anglo-Saxon model of capitalism and their opposition
to bringing pro-US allies like Turkey and Ukraine into the EU. And
against the backdrop of a global reality in which the Western alliance
is gradually fading away and the US and Europe are becoming geo-strategic
and geo-economic rivals, the gloating in Washington over the political
problems across the Atlantic doesn't make a lot of sense. But common
sense is hard to find in the U.S. capital these days.
Hadar [send him mail] is
Washington correspondent for the Business
Times of Singapore and the author of the forthcoming Sandstorm:
Policy Failure in the Middle East (Palgrave Macmillan).
© 2005 Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. All rights reserved. Reprinted
with permission of the author.