Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Europe and the Mediterranean: Dreams and disilussions on both sides of the pond


by  Marc Cogen

The overall-theme of the KAS-BGU conference is the foreign policy of the European Union and this session deals with the Mediterranean. Whether the treaty of Lisbon will change significantly the existing working methods or even foreign policy orientations is highly doubtful taking into account the structural characteristics of the European Union for several decades. The Union is based on a series of treaties, a complex network that falls under treaty law in international law. At law schools In Europe the European Union is taught as a separate branch of law, namely European law, although it cannot be denied that the Union is based on and works with treaties. Even the so-called Constitution is a treaty and stills resides under the rules of treaty law. This puts international lawyers in an advanced position of being able to look at the European Union as it is: a treaty based organization of states.


Let us first look at the EU side of the pond.

Historical determinism, denial of free choice and democracy.

Whether the European Union is the most appropriate formula for Europe is still debated, notwithstanding its triumphalism and proclaimed successes. Too many politicians and academics in Europe, dealing with the European Union, are biased in the sense that they see the European Union as a kind of historical determination – they borrowed the concept of historical determinism from old-style Marxism – and this belief blinds them for the many EU mistakes. It may even exclude free choice in the end. If the Union is an inevitable ever-closer Union, free choice is not possible anymore. European treaties are used as instruments of political projects without the democratic accountability and transparency inherent of democracies. One example is the unfolding Greek drama. Remember, the European Monetary Union was part of the Treaty of Maastricht (1991), including the stringent Maastricht criteria. Greece and some other states did not even fulfill the Maastricht treaty criteria but were admitted on political grounds anyway. This could already count as a material breach of the Maastricht treaty according to treaty law. Then came the news that Greece and some other European states had not faithfully implemented the Maastricht monetary criteria after admission. Again a material breach of the Maastricht treaty. To make things even worse, the panicking political leadership of the European Union now decided for a bail-out plan of not less than Euro 750 billion, again without consulting the voters, and again contradicting the stringent Maastricht treaty criteria.





European policies.

As in many European member states, the European Union is run by the political Left which stands for democratic socialism. Yes, the political Left also rules Europe and the


EU. Its policies are defined by subsidized mass transfers, free college tuiton and an ever worsening educational project, extended maternity leave, early retirement and utopian pacifism as a foreign policy. As one observer wrote: ‘… no wonder that Turkey begged and even humiliated itself to get inside this more perfect union’ (Victor Davis Hanson, NRO, May 14, 2010). But Europe’s socialist model – I am not speaking about the former USSR – led to modest growth, high and long-term unemployment, few technological innovations compared to the United States. Yes, Microsoft is located in the state of Washington in the United States, not in France or in Spain and Google is located in California, not in Bohemia or Flanders.

But the political Left, ruling large swaths of present-day Europe, has no real commitment to democracy, including the EU project. One of the main reasons for the decline of Europe is the disconnection between political leadership and voters. If the political elite of Europe has trusted its fate entirely to the European Union, voters are only seen as an obstacle in ‘… the way forward towards an ever closer Union’, at whatever price and costs. The last time I spoke in Jerusalem on the issue of the Lisbon treaty – it was two years ago - I already pointed out that the EU leadership would only accept a choice between ‘yes’ and ‘yes’. Ask the French, Dutch and Irish peoples about what happened to them after their national referendums. The then Prime Minister Tony Blair took no risk and simply refused a referendum. That’s how European governments create their ‘ever closer Union’ and their ever growing problems. Have treaties not become the instrument or the excuse to exclude voters and to concentrate powers at the European level? If so, democracy is circumvented and survives only in name.

Free debate is undermined in the public sphere – both in universities and in newspapers – in the name of democracy and peace. Critical voices are sidelined in a discrete way or labeled as extremists or ‘right-wing populists’. This imposed censorship by the European Left contradicts freedom of expression, one of the core values of our society. At the same time the political Left appeases European jihadists who never liked freedom of speech unless they could attack the West or Israel. The more the European Left tried to appease radical Islam and its ever growing Muslim underclass at home, the more Europe became vulnerable and irrelevant. Now let us turn to the non-EU side of the pond.


The non-EU side of the pond.

Few people, even in academia, ever heard of it. Yet the ‘Mediterranean Union’ was proclaimed by one of the founding fathers of the Union, France, as a very important step forwards towards peace and stability in the Mediterranean. In true EU style, the multilateral union approach was launched in Paris in July 2008. Now, two years later, the grandiose union is already derailed by ambiguities on both sides of the pond. If we read the latest press releases, Arab states see a Mediterranean Union as a new political opportunity to attack Israel while EU Commissioner Stefan FUELE said that the Med Union was a ‘project based’ club without ambitions of conflict resolution. Now, the Spanish presidency of the EU and the two co-chairs, Egypt and France, have agreed to postpone the summit, scheduled for June 2010, to November 2010 in Barcelona. Last month, talks in Barcelona aimed at adopting a water management for the region ended already in failure, again due to a row on the Israel/Arab conflict.

So let us look at the perceived obstacle in the Mediterranean, the Israel/Arab dispute. If there is one common denominator between the European Left and the Muslim/Arab-Mediterranean states it is anti-Semitism. One observer (Melanie Phillips) noted that ‘… the treatment of Israel by the left-wing Western intelligentsia is unique in its irrationality and moral and historical inversion. It takes a nation (Israel) that is the historic victim of aggression and blames it for endangering peace in the Mediterranean and causing Islamic extremism worldwide’. Anti-Semitic propaganda is poisoning the minds of the Arab and Muslim worlds, tolerated by the opportunistic calculations of the European Left. These anti-Semitic acts go unpunished and therefore gain a level of acceptance in the eyes of large sections of public opinion, at both sides of the pond. The way to deal with it is prosecuting the propagandists of anti-Semitism wherever they are. The appropriate legal label is ‘the anti-Semitism against Israel case’. The conflict between Israel and Arabs would have been long over were it not for the radical hatred of the Jews that was articulated and given assistance by Nazi propagandists and continued after the Second World War by radical Islamists (Jeffrey Herf). But European intelligentsia tolerated and silently accepted this propaganda. Also Israel shares part of the responsibility. The silence of Israel regarding anti-Semitic propaganda is one of the problems we face, and the remedy is that Israel should take the lead in developing legal policies that punish anti-Semitic propaganda in full public and open to the world press. At least it would encourage those governments, who have had enough of the hate propaganda emanating from the Mediterranean, to act accordingly.


Marc Cogen

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.








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