"Most people prefer to believe that their leaders are just and fair, even in the face of evidence to the contrary, because once a citizen acknowledges that the government under which they live is lying and corrupt, the citizen has to choose what he or she will do about it. To take action in the face of a corrupt Government risks harm to life and loved ones. To choose to do nothing is to surrender one's self image of standing for principles. Most people do not have the courage to face that choice. Hence, most propaganda is not designed to fool the critical thinker, but only to give the moral cowards an excuse to think nothing at all."
France is well aware of Iraq's Non Cooperation with UN Inspectors
An article in today's Le Figaro clearly starts with the following statement:-
"Hans Blix a mis en doute hier la volonté de Bagdad de coopérer. Le chef des inspecteurs de l'ONU a déclaré que l'Irak n'avait toujours pas pris une «décision fondamentale de désarmer» et n'était pas parvenu à une coopération entière avec ses inspecteurs."
My rough translation of which is as follows:- " Hans Blix has thrown in doubt the willingness of Baghdad to cooperate. The Chief Inspector of the UN stated that Iraq had not yet taken a 'fundamental decision to disarm" and was not fully cooperating with the inspectors."
France therefore cannot deny that Iraq is in breech of UNSC Resolution 1441for which they themseves voted, and which threatens serious consequences upon Iraq for such lack of full cooperation, let alone the incomplete weapons declaration and failure to allow secure interviews with their WMD scientists.
Can France seriously expect the international community to believe that such serious consequences, might merely be an extension of the inspection process through the 120 days until next July?
Are France's EU partners and Nato members ever again to be able to consider that country as a serious partner or reliable ally ever again? Are there none within France who realise the damage being done? I read their press but see little sign of such debate.
At least in Germany's case their opposition leader has been in Washington, visiting the Pentagon and as diplomatically as possible distancing herself from Schroeder's line. Germany too has the added advantage that they only joined the security council in January and were not therefore signatories to resolution 1441, which France is now so determinedly trying to pretend does not exist.
The article in the 25th February edition of the Financial Times to which the link above refers, concludes as follows:-
A popular compromise is for the Commission president to be elected by the European parliament. But this would be a first step towards a parliamentary form of government and, once in place, it would preclude evolution towards a presidential system.
In the short term it would be better to have the Commission president elected by an electoral college. Member states would then be free to choose how to appoint members to the college, whether by direct election or appointment by their parliaments. Over time, this arrangement could evolve into a fully fledged presidential system, as it did in the US in the first half of the 19th century.
The writers are professors of economics at Bocconi University in Milan and at the Graduate Institute for International Studies in Geneva and are research fellows of the Centre for Economic Policy Research
The early portion of the column casually discounts parliamentary democracy as being inappropriate for the EU.
Europe's intellectuals continue their determined assault on the Continent's democratic traditions and the drive towards tyranny continues apace.
Remember this quote from Professor Bertrand Badie's paper entitled "The Nation State One Player Among Many"
"The advent of citizenship has conferred on the national political community the status of a community with voting rights. In the context of the 19th century, and in the major part of the 20th, this was necessary for forging and perfecting democracy. There is no choice today but to admit that national political communities have fewer and fewer voting rights because the major decisions are no longer taken by the national political communities. Some of them are taken by the European Union, or even at world level........The national level will remain the citizen's level, but his freedom of debate will become totally illusory."
Note, we are not just to lose our right to vote, but also the freedom to debate.
When will some of these poltical theorists explain why democracy, parliamentary or otherwise, is unsuitable for Europe. My very ability to type this page, which instantaneously becomes available to be read by every internet connected citizen across the globe, let alone just within the existing or proposed EU, makes that position a nonsense. From here, within minutes I can register a vote on countless different websites expressing my opinion on pretty much every subject under the sun. The technology exists all we lack is the will!
It will be interesting to see how the vote goes today in Westminster and how many Labour MPs will vote against the Government. Victory is of course assured thanks to the Conservatives having retained their senses over matters not concerned with the future and leadership of their own party.
The concluding paragraph of today's Leading Article in The Times seems worth quoting:-
"Consider where Britain would be today if the Prime Minister had aligned himself with France and Germany. Consider the country’s position if Mr Blair had offered Washington sympathy but witheld real support. The United States would have toppled Saddam last Autumn. The UN Security Council, on which this country has a permanent seat, would have been rendered an impotent observer, once-warm political relations between America and Europe would have been plunged even further into the deep freeze and Nato would have been reduced from a military alliance of enduring value to a Cold War relic. It is hard to envisage, as Mr Blair was wise to appreciate, how any of this would have served Britain’s interests."
What is meant by those who make this accusation against the Anglo/American warmongers?
It sometimes appears, if any rational explanation is ever allowed to follow statements or questions such as that above, that the implication is that as George W Bush is from Texas, Dick Cheney has long associations with the oil industry, most notably by heading Halliburton, and the campaign contributions received by the Bush election campaign team from Enron and other such oil companies, make it likely, if not a racing certainty, that once into Iraq that countries total oil revenues will subsequently be diverted to flow straight into the private bank accounts of members of the present US administration.
Some suspicion of politicians and their motives is always healthy, but surely this suggestion is carrying matters too far. Once discounted it is possible to look at the proposition more logically, from which standpoint it would be hard to deny that the presence of most of the world's known oil reserves within Saddam Husseins reach, cannot possibly be ignored or discounted.
Why do Blair and Bush, or their ministers or spokespersons not seek to explain to their citizens how deep is their dependency on middle eastern oil. Both Europe and the USA have these last few weeks, been experiencing weather colder than the norm. How many old people would die this time next year from hypothermia if Saddam was allowed to control those supplies. How many younger people realise just how their carefree existence and addiction to excessive consumption would need to be curtailed if there was even a relatively short interruption in the flow of crude oil to the West's refineries.
Mindlessly extolling the virtues of peace without regard to the possible consequences has recently proved addictive to vast sections of western opinion, particularly in Europe. Give these same demonstrators the true facts about their oil dependency and maybe some reality might re-appear.
I have been attempting (without success) to post on the EU Futurum Future of Europe debate pages, the following contribution to their debate on the proposed new constitution.
I quote it in full as presented to the EU before its rejection:-
DEMOCRACY OR PAN-EUROPEAN TOTALITARIANISM
Pericles in his famous funeral oration for the slain warriors of democratic Athens, among many other ringing statements in favour of democracy, pertinently said the following:
Although only a few may originate a policy, we are all able to judge it. We do not look upon discussion as a stumbling block in the way of political action, but as an indispensable preliminary to acting wisely.
The above is quoted directly from Karl Popper's book The Open Society and its Enemies published in paperback by Routledge Classics (ISBN 0-415-23731-9). It should be required reading for all members of the convention chaired by Vallery Giscard d'Estaing on the future structures of the European State.
Others following these debates are also recommended to the book, but for those unable to obtain a copy, or spare the time to read it, I give below a brief summary of what I consider to be the most salient points as concerns the dangers Europe now faces if the convention proceeds as seems likely. In my opinion, never will the outcome of such a debate be likely to affect so many millions of people, and rarely can there have been such reluctance to openly discuss the frightening implications of the decisions being taken.
Plato is the early villain in Popper's analysis for the ever present drive against democracy and equalitarianism. The author describes, with detailed logic, the elitism, racialism and totalitarianism that can eventually result in a Society that follows the 'chosen people' concept, intrinsic to much of Plato's writings.
Popper makes an excellent case that the critical divide in governance of a geographic entity, whether city, nation (and it follows, super-state) is between collectivism and individualism.
The argument made by Plato that the state be placed higher than the individual and the suggestion that justice is synonymous "for that which is in the best interest of the state" now apparent in the structures of the EU, must be refuted at, virtually, any cost.
Anti-democratic forces malign the case for individualism by falsely asserting that collectivism is synonymous with altruism, while individualism is blackened by being equated to egoism.
"Who should rule?" Plato asks and gives his own reply, "the wise shall lead and rule, and the ignorant shall follow?" Popper proposes that the very question "Who shall rule?" itself, becomes the problem and proposes an alternative question.
How can we so organize political institutions that bad or incompetent rulers can be prevented from doing too much damage?
I would suggest that the above question is the one that the present convention on the future Europe should be considering.
As Popper argues "all theories of sovereignty are paradoxical". For instance we may have selected 'the wisest' or 'the best' as a ruler. But 'the wisest' in his wisdom may find that not he but 'the best' should rule, and the best in his goodness may decide that 'the majority' should rule.
By emphasising who should rule, or indeed on what basis our ruler should be appointed or by what limited constituency he should be elected, we are driven up a blind alley. We should be debating the checks and balances which should be imposed on those who rule us, bearing in mind that only by the best of good luck will any of our future leaders be anything other than reasonably competent. The majority will be incompetent and we will for sure, be subject to the occasional tyrant reaching the pinnacle of pan-European power. How could such a despot be removed? Popper asserts:
A theory of democratic control can be developed that is free from the paradox of sovereignty. The theory I have in mind is one which does not proceed, as it were, from a doctrine of the intrinsic good or righteousness of a majority rule, but rather from the baseness of tyranny: or more precisely it rests upon the decision, or adoption of the proposal, to avoid and resist tyranny.
Continuing with this theme Popper argues that there are two forms of government, those that can be got rid of without bloodshed (such as in general elections) and those that require a successful revolution to replace, or not at all. He labels the first sort 'democracies' and the second 'tyrannies'.
What facilities will the new European super-state supply for the replacement of its rulers… none that I have yet seen proposed, we would thus appear to be heading towards tyrannical, non-democratic rule as labelled by Popper!
Debating who should rule avoids the subject of democratic checks and balances, and leads to further problems clearly evident in the French system of government, such as, that the qualities of leadership may be believed to be identifiable at a young age and an elite education provided, tailored along the lines of those attributes considered important by the existent ruling clique. Self-perpetuating incompetent rule, or worse appears to me the inevitable result.
France nevertheless clearly remains a democracy within Popper’s definition, is this likely to remain the case for the Union of Europe if a French model is imposed on the already un-democratic institutions of the existing EU? The first draft constitution clearly places the State above the individual, inter alia, by granting rights beyond its gift to give, or power to protect.
It would be a major mistake for the new Europe to follow a Platonic pattern of government, but a mistake that daily appears more likely. The existing EU is already the kind of elitist, non-accountable, non-removable nightmare against which Popper warned when he wrote his book in the early nineteen forties. It is incredible how little Europe seems to have learned from those wartime years and the events leading to them.
I have frequently heard it boasted, the EU would not have advanced this far, (or?) to 'ever closer union', had democratic authority been sought at every step!
The present difficulties of the common currency and acceptance of the latest expansion amongst the general public, should amply demonstrate to the extreme federalists who make such remarks, that the limits of such non-democratic coercion have now been reached. Proceeding with further imposed integration, and consequent diminution of national democratic protections, could threaten the whole project of future European unity. Rumblings of discontent abound in all three of the major EU States I have recently visited!
I appeal directly to the Chairman of the convention, who, probably co-incidentally, incorporated my earlier minimum requirement in his initial constitutional draft, to read Popper’s excellent book and consider its implications. To achieve lasting renown, requires a bold step in favour of democratic fundamentals which will be strongly resisted by the various Brussels and National elites! Courage mon brave!
Should Europe’s new institutions be directly controlled by 'the majority' using the new tools available from the revolution in information technology?
Why is the major topic of discussion in the Convention, not about how the people of Europe may periodically remove their leaders and avoid the new organisations such as the ERRF and Europol becoming the instruments of a despot?
Are, perhaps, the tyrants already in control?
These are the questions that need to be addressed. Using Popper's labels of societies, they can be democracies or tyrannies, if the EU is to take on the full characteristics of a State, as the majority in Europe seem to believe is desirable, test whether this statement is true with a pan-European referendum. If the answer is Yes!, then build a Democracy for which all should wish, and of which they can be proud.
If No!, then at least the convention and its Chairman will not have lent their name, to the creation of perhaps the largest tyranny the world has yet to see!
Against whom will the name of Vallery Giscard d'Estaing be set in history… Pericles or Plato?... and for the creation of what kind of European Union, one of democracy and freedom or Popper's only alternative…?
By their friends shall shall we know them!
Germany's Bild newspaper reported the following last Monday.
"Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz praised German leaders for their anti-war stance, saying they were doing ``a good job,'' Aziz called German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder ``a clever politician'' and said Fischer was doing ``a good job'' by upholding his country's position in the U.N. Security Council, which Germany is chairing this month."
Yesterday it was the turn of President Chirac of France to bask in the praise of a despot.
The Washington Times reported the following "President Robert Mugabe, an international pariah for his increasingly authoritarian rule, yesterday ended a visit here for the Franco-African summit hailing the "tremendous hospitality" he found in France.
"We've had tremendous hospitality. We felt at home," he told Radio France Internationale (RFI), praising French President Jacques Chirac for inviting him despite a global outcry over Mr. Mugabe's poor human rights record.
"We leave with a very good impression of France," he added.
In Mugabe's view Mr Chirac is not just a great leader, but apparently of the sort of which the world needs more, the paper's article continues "Chirac insisted that we attend, because some members of the EU didn't want Mugabe to attend," the Zimbabwean leader told RFI, speaking of himself in the third person."He put his foot down on principles," Mr. Mugabe added, saying the world needed more leaders of great stature such as Mr. Chirac.
"That is the kind of leader we regard as very important for this stage ... in the international community," he noted.Unquote
Chirac recently tried to scare the world with the prospects of multiple mini Bin Ladens, now we have another self-opinionated bully terrifying us with the prospect of many Little Jaques Chiracs cropping up all over the place, telling us all to shut-up, wearing their bleeding hearts on their sleeves and waving their UN vetoes.