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U.S. can sit back and watch Europe implode

by Mark5019 / February 27, 2005 2:22 AM PST

A week ago, the conventional wisdom was that George W. Bush had seen the error of his unilateral cowboy ways and was setting off to Europe to mend fences with America's ''allies.''

I think not. Lester Pearson, the late Canadian prime minister, used to say that diplomacy is the art of letting the other fellow have your way. All week long President Bush offered a hilariously parodic reductio of Pearson's bon mot, wandering from one European Union gabfest to another insisting how much he loves his good buddy Jacques and his good buddy Gerhard and how Europe and America share -- what's the standard formulation? -- ''common values.'' Care to pin down an actual specific value or two that we share? Well, you know, ''freedom,'' that sort of thing, abstract nouns mostly. Love to list a few more common values, but gotta run.

And at the end what's changed?

Will the United States sign on to Kyoto?


Will the United States join the International Criminal Court?


Will the United States agree to accept whatever deal the Anglo-Franco-German negotiators cook up with Iran?


Even more remarkably, aside from sticking to his guns in the wider world, the president also found time to cast his eye upon Europe's internal affairs. As he told his audience in Brussels, in the first speech of his tour, ''We must reject anti-Semitism in all forms and we must condemn violence such as that seen in the Netherlands.''

The Euro-bigwigs shuffled their feet and stared coldly into their mistresses' decolletage. They knew Bush wasn't talking about anti-Semitism in Nebraska, but about France, where for three years there's been a sustained campaign of synagogue burning and cemetery desecration, and Germany, where the Berlin police advise Jewish residents not to go out in public wearing any identifying marks of their faith.

The ''violence in the Netherlands'' is a reference to Theo van Gogh, murdered by a Dutch Islamist for making a film critical of the Muslim treatment of women. Van Gogh's professional colleagues reacted to this assault on freedom of speech by canceling his movie from the Rotterdam Film Festival and scheduling some Islamist propaganda instead.

The president, in other words, understands that for Europe, unlike America, the war on terror is an internal affair, a matter of defusing large unassimilated radicalized Muslim immigrant populations before they provoke the inevitable resurgence of opportunist political movements feeding off old hatreds. Difficult trick to pull off, especially on a continent where the ruling elite feels it's in the people's best interest not to pay any attention to them.

The new EU ''constitution,'' for example, would be unrecognizable as such to any American. I had the opportunity to talk with former French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing on a couple of occasions during his long labors as the self-declared and strictly single Founding Father. He called himself ''Europe's Jefferson,'' and I didn't like to quibble that, constitution-wise, Jefferson was Europe's Jefferson -- that's to say, at the time the U.S. Constitution was drawn up, Thomas Jefferson was living in France. Thus, for Giscard to be Europe's Jefferson, he'd have to be in Des Moines, where he'd be doing far less damage.

But, quibbles aside, President Giscard professed to be looking in the right direction. When I met him, he had an amiable riff on how he'd been in Washington and bought one of those compact copies of the U.S. Constitution on sale for a buck or two. Many Americans wander round with the constitution in their pocket so they can whip it out and chastise over-reaching congressmen and senators at a moment's notice. Try going round with the European Constitution in your pocket and you'll be walking with a limp after two hours: It's 511 pages, which is 500 longer than the U.S. version. It's full of stuff about European space policy, Slovakian nuclear plants, water resources, free expression for children, the right to housing assistance, preventive action on the environment, etc.

Most of the so-called constitution isn't in the least bit constitutional. That's to say, it's not content, as the U.S. Constitution is, to define the distribution and limitation of powers. Instead, it reads like a U.S. defense spending bill that's got porked up with a ton of miscellaneous expenditures for the ''mohair subsidy'' and other notorious Congressional boondoggles. President Ronald Reagan liked to say, ''We are a nation that has a government -- not the other way around.'' If you want to know what it looks like the other way round, read Monsieur Giscard's constitution.

But the fact is it's going to be ratified, and Washington is hardly in a position to prevent it. Plus there's something to be said for the theory that, as the EU constitution is a disaster waiting to happen, you might as well cut down the waiting and let it happen. CIA analysts predict the collapse of the EU within 15 years. I'd say, as predictions of doom go, that's a little on the cautious side.

But either way the notion that it's a superpower in the making is preposterous. Most administration officials subscribe to one of two views: a) Europe is a smugly irritating but irrelevant backwater; or b) Europe is a smugly irritating but irrelevant backwater where the whole powder keg's about to go up.


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The EU is going to find
by dirtyrich / February 27, 2005 12:39 PM PST

that despite all their talk of uniting into a single European community, that it will just boil down to the same old cultural hate that has been present the past 1000 years. Unlike larger nations that naturally include multiple social groups, the European nations have largely been comprised of a few social groups, leading to a heightened sense of cultural dominance, and the multitude of nations within a small area leads to an exagerated focus on European issues. The Brits don't suffer as much from this problem due to their recent experience running much of world and are more able to see the entire forest instead of just a few trees.
Until the societial structures of Europe are destroyed and remade... the childish competition between the nations will continue to drive their policy and futures.

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You guys have NO IDEA what you're talking about.
by Ziks511 / February 27, 2005 1:18 PM PST

The unalloyed cultural diversity in Europe is far beyond anything that you experience in the US today. You mostly get the rich and easily assimilated, try a population of 10% North African Arabs like some cities in France or large numbers of Turks in Germany.

Your comments may have been accurate about Europe before WW2 they're certainly not accurate now.

Rob Boyter

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Old World
by duckman / February 27, 2005 10:26 PM PST

What makes you think Europe has changed so much since 1950 that it erases 2000 years of history ?

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I lived there for 4 years from1997 to 2001and watched and
by Ziks511 / March 2, 2005 4:57 PM PST
In reply to: Old World

read the news from England, Germany and France.

(You want peculiar looks when you go into a book store, go ask for Le Monde at WHSmiths in Basildon)

Walking down Oxford street in London is the most multi-cultural experience I am ever likely to have. It isn't just every color face you can imagine, its also every style of national dress, including lots of Hejabs. Never saw anything like it in the US or in Canada.

Rob Boyter

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Knowing nothing about Europe firsthand
by Roger NC / February 28, 2005 4:24 AM PST

I can't say if they'll intergrate well or not.

You mostly get the rich and easily assimilated,

But what the hell are you talking about there? I seriously doubt that even 25% of the total legal, much less illegal, immigration into the US is rich, or even well off. The most likely to fit in this group besides a few truly wealthy (and probably fleeing legal problems as governments change) are special skills and talents employees. And quite a few of them are probably in the university systems.

Here's some numbers by year of what groups legally enter USA. Look at where many or most of them are from, even for just 2003 and tell me how many of them you think are likely to be rich?

Meanwhile, 10% of the US population was foreign born in 2000..... They're all rich?

European countries may have specific problem culture clashes, some we don't even, but you can't seriously accuse the USA of accepting only the rich. I know much of the world self-proclaimed experts (snobs mainly) considers USA citizens as racist whites in general, but it ain't so buddy. While prejudice of all sorts exists unfortunately, it's not always the ruling factor as so many USA critics seem to believe.

The unalloyed cultural diversity in Europe is far beyond anything that you experience in the US today.

Maybe so, I will not claim expertise there. But how about in terms of each individual country, not Europe as a whole? Once the EU has succeeded into reducing the individual country's government to an equalivalent of states in the USA, then I'd accept that clumping together. They're not there yet.

Doing a bit of hit and miss reading on different countries and immigration in Europe, I noticed that Turks seem to have a large presence relative to other foreigners. I'm not sure of the site's agenda if any but...

Not counting the tens of thousands of illegal immigrants whose very clandestinity places them outside the statistics, there are currently more than three million immigrants, descendants of immigrants, and naturalised citizens and political refugees from Turkey in Western Europe. This is the largest non-European immigrant group in the Union. Although its members are found in practically every Member State, Germany alone harbours two-thirds of the community.

And that seems in line with some other snippets I scanned looking around at immigration factors.

On a digression, is Turkey trying to buy it's way into the EU by courting France?

It seems that the french vision of the EU being guided by France at the helm feels threatened by the inclusion of Turkey in the EU.



click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

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10.4 million were refugees (rich refugees)
by kmarchal / February 28, 2005 5:14 AM PST

According to the United Nations Population Division,(7) in 2000 there were 175 million international migrants in the world?1 in every 35 persons?up from 79 million in 1960.(8) Nearly 50 per cent were women, and 10.4 million were refugees. Between 1990 and 2000, two thirds of the growth in migrants took place in North America.

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I was referring to legal immigration into the US
by Ziks511 / March 2, 2005 5:13 PM PST

from the countries which are flooding Europe, mostly Middle Eastern countries, India and Pakistan. I was not referring to illegals or to refugees.

Even Mexican and Central American illegals have more in common with US society than a Middle Eastern migrant or guest worker. And there are floods of illegal Asians in Europe too.

Rob Boyter

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Still, so ignoring the illegal immigration
by Roger NC / March 5, 2005 8:50 AM PST

I still doubt that MOST of US immigrants are rich.

And by not referring to illegals or to refugees you skew the numbers anyway, to make a point?

But even if you ignore illegals, why ignore refugees when claiming the USA has mostly rich immigrants and therefore little assimulation problems?

I suspect all the "little this and that" neighborhoods (ie, little China, little Russia, little Italy, etc in huge metro areas) contradict your claim we have mostly rich immigrants.

I have no doubt there are illegal immigrants in Europe, how does that affect the claim of mostly rich immigrants to USA?



click here to email semods4@yahoo.com

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The situation in Europe has always been one of national
by Ziks511 / March 5, 2005 9:22 AM PST

identities pulling in different directions. France because of its attitudes seems to exert a ceaseless pull in the direction favoring itself, Germany because it was the economic powerhouse until reunification was a counterbalancing force and one which other countries could coalesce around. With Germany's weakened position that is no longer the case, but I give Germany another 10 years to integrate the former East German population and to clean up the mess left by the Communist governments and I suspect Germany will be stronger than ever. Turkey is slated for admission to the EU, and not surprisingly is cosying up to the strongest element in order to grease its entry but France already has a massive problem with its Muslim population and is very reluctant to open the gates to more.

I don't know the ratio of illegal immigrants comparing the two regions (the US vs the EU). Its easier to get illegals into Europe than it is to get Mexican illegals into the US. The current preferred method is from Yugoslavia or Albania by very very fast boat across the Adriatic and into Italy. Reputedly each boat can make two or three trips a night.

Europe has always been a place rife with smugglers of all types of goods and peoples. A little information in this connection. Did you ever wonder why Cigarette Boats were called Cigarette Boats? Not because of their shape but because they were invented to smuggle cigarettes into Franco's Spain. Well, they're using the grand-daddies of all cigarette boats to smuggle people and drugs and probably terrorists into Europe through Italy, and unfortunately this is giving the Mafia which was on the verge of being on the ropes in Italy a new shot in the arm. This won't make any friends but a case could be made for the admission of Turkey, and the expulsion of Italy as the source of many of the EU's crime and terrorism problems.

Best source of info on this is the Economist, a superb if unrelievedly right wing weekly from Britain. It also has the funniest captions on its photos that I've ever seen. By far.

Thanks Roger, always nice to lock horns with you. No, really, I'm serious.

Rob Boyter

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The European countries have always had
by dirtyrich / February 28, 2005 7:10 AM PST

small populations of foreigners from other European, Arab, or African countries.
But the culture that runs and guides the society is very close to what it was pre-WW2... sure, its been updated to keep with the modern times, but the guiding principles are the same.
The whole concept of the EU, in practice, has been less about the development of a European Community than a way for a few nations (France and Germany in particular) to achieve political dominance over their neighbors. This was evidenced in the attempt to limit the voting power of numerous Eastern European members, seriously favoring the French and Germans.
As always, the Europeans myopic view of the world is limiting their concerns to the power balance in Europe, and not on the effect of terrorism across the world.

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(NT) (NT) Right again
by duckman / February 28, 2005 9:12 PM PST
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(NT) (NT) Not in my experience !!!!
by Ziks511 / March 2, 2005 5:06 PM PST
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Well, I'm just basing my conclusions on
by dirtyrich / March 2, 2005 7:34 PM PST

my knowledge of European history and current events. I see LOTS of similarities.

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Been there lately, seen the multicultural British Parliament
by Ziks511 / March 5, 2005 1:40 PM PST

in action, seen the Assemblee Nationale in Paris with its array of deputies clearly of Algerian or Tunisian or Morroccan descent? Seen the Dutch parliament with its members from a variety of ethnic origins? How about the Football pitch? Ruud Gullitt is a striker for one of the English premiership clubs. Sounds like a good Dutch name doesn't it, and of course it is and he's a good Dutch boy even though he has dark skin and dreadlocks.

Your conclusions are 30 years or more out of date, so are your assumptions.

My favorite politician just for the violence he does to preconceptions is the East Asian immigrant with the strong ?Pakistani? accent who is a Scottish Nationalist Party MP in Westminster.

Most Americans in my experience have very little experience of living anywhere but the United States and very little knowledge of anything but the American experience. There's nothing wrong with that until you start running other countries down, slagging other countries off for not seeing things with American-approved eyes. I posted a rant in October about the narrowness I found in my own experience having now lived in 2 countries other than the US. My greatest detractors here were the first to tell me how full of Horse-Sh*t I was, and that it was a defect of my upbringing, and that no other American shared my narrowness, that Americans were not only tolerant to a fault (all appearances here on Speakeasy notwithstanding) but were very familiar with the changes that had happened around the world. They were also kind enough to tell me that all those other countries opinions were wrong or just didn't matter a @#$%.

If you see lots of similarities between 70 years ago and today in Europe then you must see lots of similarities in the US between now and 1935. Now I'm beginning to see political resemblances between now and the Hoover era (no social security, limited taxation resting squarely on the lowest sectors of the population, Wall Street run amok while the poor have to work for less than poverty wages), but no one can tell me that the United States or the Congress or the Senate nor even the complection of the current Administration could be mistaken for the Hoover or Roosevelt or Truman or Eisenhower or Kennedy or Johnson or Nixon eras.

If things look the same to you now as they were 70 years ago, Dirtyrich, check yourself into a hospital and get checked out medically as soon as possible, because not only are you color blind and deaf, but I fear for your sanity too.

Rob Boyter

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(NT) (NT) Wait and see, and I hope to God you are right
by dirtyrich / March 5, 2005 1:48 PM PST
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(NT) (NT) The universe is unfolding (not imploding) as it should
by JP Bill / February 27, 2005 11:02 PM PST
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what is the point?
by Henry Zack / March 5, 2005 9:39 AM PST

As far as I can see the only thing is that our Country turn down the international rules and hence make it hard to form allies. Not anything encouraging in my opinion at least.

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(NT) (NT) with allies like France and Germany who needs enemy's
by Mark5019 / March 5, 2005 9:45 AM PST
In reply to: what is the point?
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(NT) (NT) And your point is?
by Henry Zack / March 5, 2005 10:01 AM PST
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well my point is this
by Mark5019 / March 5, 2005 11:03 AM PST

France and Germany aren't worth the time.
the real allies are england Australia, iseral to name a few more to name but you grt the idea

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