Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.

Freedom's Fidelity

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Semi-Random Euro-Thoughts

Meant to post this last week, but never got to it. Anyway, just some observations on European politics.

First, note that George Bush, Tony Blair, and John Howard of Australia were the three most supportive leaders of deposing Saddam Hussein. They have all been re-elected in the past year.

On the other side, Jacque Chirac is looking at approval ratings of a dismal 22% and Germany's Gerhard Schroeder's party, campaigning on an anti-American platform, continues to suffer electoral defeats.

Meanwhile the Netherlands political landscape has taken a turn to the right over (justified) fears of out of control immigration. While the rest of Europe can't quite figure out what to do about its growing Muslim populations that refuse to assimilate - in some instances a blind eye is turned toward some of their primal rituals such as honor killngs. This is to say nothing of Europe's EU schizophrenia.

In other words, I don't know exactly what is going on in Europe. But perhaps, they are starting to face what they've avoided over the last 3 years or so. Namely that, as members of Western Civilization they are smack dab in the middle of a war. That the bill for maintaining huge welfare states while avoiding military spending is coming due in the form of increasing unemployment, stagnation. As well the free riding of the US military presence in Europe is coming to an end.

Convoluted politics? Identity crisis? Check out what is going on in the Netherlands, perhaps this is a representative snapshot of Europes' internal conflicts that badly need some reconciliation.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is supposed to be on the run, but, as one last spring snowstorm turned Amsterdam's lacy bridges and gabled canal houses into a confectioner's delight, she seemed to be everywhere. On television the slim, pantsuit-clad, Somali-born legislator demanded that the Dutch intelligence service investigate the honor killings of Muslim girls. In the pages of newspapers she harangued the health authorities to examine schoolgirls for evidence of genital mutilation. At prize ceremonies she warned European governments that women in their Muslim communities remain under threat.

Seven months ago, Hirsi Ali's implacable campaign against what she views as Islam's oppression of women prompted a Muslim fanatic to ritually slaughter Theo van Gogh, her Dutch collaborator on the film Submission. The murderer used his knife to affix a five-page letter to the corpse promising the same treatment for Hirsi Ali and another Dutch politician who has criticized Islam. The murder sent Dutch society into paroxysms of rage and fear, sparking dozens of attacks on mosques and schools. But it didn't seem to faze Hirsi Ali. In a series of defiant interviews, the former refugee refused to be intimidated. When a group of Muslims tried to block her from making a sequel to Submission, she fought back in court and won. Like a dark avenging angel, she seemed to loom over Holland's wintry Dutch, her ubiquitous media presence a virtual guarantee of further conflict.

...The backlash against Hirsi Ali has astonished and disappointed many Dutch feminists, who continue to count themselves among her biggest fans. Margreet Fogteloo, editor of the weekly De Groene Amsterdammer, said flatly that Mak is crazy. "People like him feel guilty because they were closing their eyes for such a long time to what was going on," she said. In what appears to be a Europe-wide pattern, some feminists are aligning themselves with the anti-immigrant right against their former multiculturalist allies on the left. Joining them in this exodus to the right are gay activists, who blame Muslim immigrants for the rising number of attacks on gay couples.

The woman who has stirred so many emotions is slight and doe-eyed, with a soft voice and small hands. Her life is itself a testament to the fluidity of Muslim politics: Today's radical feminist was once a teenage Islamist.

Read the rest.

As for EU schizophrenia, it looks like it could be the beginning of a schism between the rulers and the ruled. Via Vinod come these telling comments regarding the EU.
It was a crucial mistake to send out the entire constitution to every French voter, the architect of the EU's first constitution Val'ry Giscard d'Estaing has said in an interview.

In an interview with the New York Times, his first since the French rejection of the constitution two weeks ago, the former French president apportions most of the blame to president Jacques Chirac for failure in the referendum campaign.

One crucial mistake was to send out the entire three-part, 448-article document to every French voter, said Mr Giscard.

Over the phone he had warned Mr Chirac already in March: "I said, Don't do it, don't do it."

"It is not possible for anyone to understand the full text."

Telling comments. The problem with the EU constitution was not the constitution itself, but rather that they actually made the document that voters were voting on available to the voters. In other words, if what was actually being voted on was kept in the dark, they may have voted 'yes.'

Add to that this comment from Luxembourg PM and the current president of the EU Council. (From, seems the articles go behind pay walls awfully quick)
"Referring to the French and Dutch No, Mr Juncker said "I really believe neither the French nor the Dutch rejected the constitutional treaty", adding that "unfortunately, the electorate did not realise that the constitutional treaty was specifically aimed at meeting their concerns and that's why we need to have a period of explanation to explain this to our citizens".

Whoa! Do those sentiments drip with arrogance or what. The mentality of European politicians seems not to have changed, they still believe that Europeans want (need!) a nanny state, that the citizens require elite politicians, much smarter than themselves to make decisions for them.

As I said, the politics of Europe seem incredibly convoluted from this side of the ocean, and it has been difficult for me to wrap my brain around all of these goings on, connect the dots and come away with a single explanatory narrative. It seems to me though, that perhaps the Europeans are starting to do some self-examination, perhaps they are tired of being told what to do and how to think by bureaucrats, and perhaps they just want a little bit more say in their own fates. We can all hope.


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