compulsory reading, Europe, US Politics

Quicklinks, Tony Blair, And The Borg

Sorry for the apparent recent lack of updates. Not that there’s not enough stuff I’d like to comment on, I just did not find the time lately.

But there’s exciting news, too. Look to your left, my gentle readers, and you’ll find a seamlessly integrated second blog called “Link Of The Minute.” This is where I hope to post even when I don’t find the time to put my simple opinions into overly complicated writing. The “Quote Of The Minute”, on the other hand, has moved to the right (and will also be blog powered soon, now that I have found a way to integrate more than one blog on one page with Javascript. It’s actually quite simple – here’s how the magic happens.

Alright, more tomorrow. Expect me to be rather critical of the “European-defence-summit” in Brussels tomorrow. The history of this summit is just one more example how elections even in a small country like Belgium could have important international ramifications. But not this time, I suppose, as the US are apparently trying to play divide et impera by beginning to mend things with the German government while bashing France – think of last week’s “there will be consequences, and it will hurt”-statement by Colin Powell, who is coming to Germany in May, and statements from “beltway-insiders” who suddenly seem quite relaxed about the future of US-German relations.

Given this seeming American recognition that it is not in the US’ interest to force Germany to opt for an all-francophone foreign policy, I do not quite understand today’s “resistance is futile”- declaration by the American ambassador to Europe, the British PM Tony Blair.

All he is doing is increasing the perception that the coming world order is indeed one in which Jean-Luc will have to become Locutus of Borg. If this is what he wants to achieve, then fine. But what is really needed right now is someone who explains that a unipolar world would not be a unilateral one.

Especially for the British PM it ould be important in days like these not to repeat the mistake Churchill made after WW2, by outlining three spheres of British interest – being the US’ junior partner, the Commonwealth, and Europe, in that order.

The US never wanted a junior partner telling them how to run the world during the cold war. They wanted to use a British membership in the EU to gain influence in Brussels. Early in the 1960s the US government told the British that they would have their “special relationship” with Germany instead if the UK would not join soon. Well, it took more then ten years to get in, as Général deGaulle understood precisely what was at stake.

So he vetoed the British membership in the EU until the common agricultural policy was finally agreed upon – in a way that favoured France and would seriously disadvantage the UK once it entered the EU. So the British influence in Europe was severly hampered by this and the fact that the 1970s brought economic gloom rather than glory.

To cut a long story short – Churchill’s three spheres seemed to be a good idea back in 1945. But they turned out to be a horrible mistake. And while everyone knows that history does not repeat itself in detail, I might – as I already said last December commenting on Blair’s European ideas and the Turkish application for membership – repeat itself in structure.

Whatever Blair’s judgment about the extent of American primacy in the West – it does not matter at all if resistance is actually futile or not: there will be resistance if it is perceived necessary. Blair’s talk raises the chances it will.

And so it looks like the British government is – again – underestimating the European dynamics. It looks as if Capt’n Tony should have watched more StarTrek – NextGeneration” recently – instead of dubbing “The Simpsons” ;-).

Ah, thinking about all this, a very good book regarding the British-European relations post 1945 is: Stephen George, An Awkward Partner: Britain in the European Community. Well… I liked it a lot.