An Area of Darkness Far Too Grave To Leave To Lounge Lizard in Brussels – Or the Greedy French. But Darfur is a black mark on us all though!
Sharks drown if they cease to move forward; unable to breath. Similarly, the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CSFP) crafted by the European Union, must keep moving – if for nothing else than to justify Brussels taking a role in an area of darkness that it has not previously delved. If it were to stop for breath then observers would notice that it is ramshackle, unmanageable and ill-conceived. But the cracks are policy-papered over and the whole edifice keeps moving; previously, only circuses draw such credibility from their mere mobility.
However, the evidence of chicanery over the EU’s joint and ragged response to international crises are a testament to the inoperability of any common policy. There are those who would use examples such as Europe’s schizophrenic response to Darfur as an argument for working harder to create a single policy. This response is deeply woolly-headed at best, and perverse at worst. The behaviour of individual nations in the sphere of foreign policy is both right and understandable, indeed is supported by Sean Gabb in his excellent book reviewed this month. However, for a nation such as France then to claim the moral high ground is stomach churning, particularly after the statements made by its junior Foreign Minister Renaud Muselier, "In Darfur, it would be better to help the Sudanese get over the crisis so their country is pacified rather than sanctions which would push them back to their misdeeds of old.” He also denied reports of a deliberate genocide: "I firmly believe it is a civil war and as they are little villages of 30, 40, 50, there is nothing easier than for a few armed horsemen to burn things down, to kill the men and drive out the women", he foolishly added.
This is all of a part with post-war French foreign policy. Driven by a combination of graft and naked self-interest, it has driven the country to consort with almost every blood soaked dictator in Madame Tussaud’s. From the Khmer Rouge through to Saddam Hussein via Mugabe and now the Sudanese junta they will consort with anyone who can afford to pay off bribes to Total Fina Elf, and therefore provide senior politicians with slush funds to keep their own domestic projects on the road.
The fall of former Interior Minister Charles Pasqua (see opposite) is a case in point. This man, the thug behind de Gaulle, is finally seeing some form of justice after years of hiding behind parliamentary immunity.
What does all this have to do with the CSFP? Simply put, if France has no intention of doing anything other than fill its own gullet, can any other EU country seriously feel required to fall into line behind them? Today we see the UK dividing its loyalties on either side of the Atlantic, and Germany starting to flex its muscles. There are problems with every response to every crisis. Britain’s attempt to have it both ways seems to be doomed to failure though as is pointed out by Richard North, but will ultimately result in a government being held accountable. Has Blair been fooled buy the French over the latest addition to the draft Constitution? (again, by the French). Probably. Will British taxpayers be expected to fork out for a new Eurofighter project simply to keep the political classes in London, Paris and Berlin happy, deceived by their own defence dogma? Certainly!
Yet, unlike in other fields of government, Security policy is sharp and immediate in the minds of the population. Talk to a man in a pub about social welfare for farm animals and the eyes will glaze over. Talk to him about armies and wars and he will have an opinion, normally a very strong one.
Because of the immediacy of the subject matter, it is the only area of EU policy that cannot be formulated behind closed doors and in the half-light of meetings between Whitehall’s experts in Brussels and their opposite numbers. Publicity will require that nations act in national, rather than multinational, interests. That this is the case is an unalloyed good thing as it forces our governors to engage with their subject populations, these days an act as rare occurrence.
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