George Handlery about the week that was. Is the real Europe to centralize power or to protect its member nations? Demonstrated good will can be taken as a sign of weakness. Some see the reactive push that responds to their shove as aggression. Ahmadinejad‘s election and nuclear issues. Who colonized whom? Too big to fail, or too big to be saved?
1. To some, voting to determine the composition the European Parliament is an exercise in futility. The writer does not share this view. The inclination to write off the institution is the result of its misuse by those that have shanghaied it. Europe needs an institutional expression that provides internal mediation and secures a voice in global affairs. The main question is the definition of what the Europe to be shall be like. Until now, the Left could dominate „Europe“ so as to achieve goals that could not be realized in the national constituencies. In the election of June 7, the parties of the right won. The result expresses the disappointment with what had been done in Europe‘s name. However, the judgment also stands for a new course that rejects PC, artificial homogenization and bureaucratic centralism. The results affirm the diversity of the constituent parts that is to be protected and not repressed by central institutions. It will be up to the new majority to correct the distortions created in the name of administratively imposed „solidarity“. The mandate is there. The need to act is undeniable. Will the opportunity be used?
2. The term „anti-European“ or „Eurosceptic“ should be used carefully. If you peel away the smears, you discover that the sceptics are not necessarily against a European entity. However, they are wary of the Europe the Euro-turbos intend to forge. What is wanted is an, in its size and activities, limited government. Suspect is the attempt to place an additional governing layer over the, existing and too extensive, national bureaucracies. Some Euro-fans wish for a Big Europe that will carry out projects they cannot realize in their national context. Such goals presuppose the reduction of the role of existing states. The sceptics want a Europe with the mission to secure the existence and way of life of the national states and regional entities that make up the continent. Meanwhile, the Left sees diversity blocking the path of big government as the enemy. Regardless of the similarity implied, the differences could hardly be greater. On June 7, the cause of a limited Europe had prevailed.
3. The pressure is on Israel. She is pushed to buy for the list price half of what she must have. And this from parties that, prior to the trade, do not clearly recognize her right to exist. (They will have reduced reasons to change their stance after they got their deal.) Once the agreement is concluded the next step is not necessarily the hoped for pacification of the Muslim/Arab world. Having scored a victory, and having gained an improved strategic military position, a more energetic old-style push to solve the region‘s remaining problem could result. Furthermore, once the US has managed to creep through under her own shadow by agreeing to something it promised not do, a new situation will have arisen. There will be no reason for Iran not to expect that, regarding her nuclear armament, no US and Western categorical rejection is meant seriously.
4. In the abstract, it can be argued that Israel is wrong about her settler‘s policy. Cajoling her in this matter is a tenable strategy and should be appreciated by Israel‘s neighbors. On the other hand, Washington needs to be reminded that dropping old allies for the sake of adding a quick trophy will be, admittedly, welcome by the foes of the damaged party. However, the favor is hardly likely to be appreciated and is even less likely to serve as a basis of trust.
5. Societies organized on a Moslem, Koran-determined basis are inclined to consider reactive measures triggered by their pressure as evidence of foreign aggression. The shove provoked by a push is taken to be as a sign of hostility. At the same time, the failing will for a timely counter punch indicates a weak enemy. This context and temporizing create a major hurdle for Obama‘s attempt to pursue a new American policy toward such entities.
6. It is true that Iran‘s approaching nuclear-power status intensifies Western efforts to settle the Israel/Palestine problem. However, the road to Tehran does not lead through „Jerusalem“. Iran is hardly making the sacrifice that getting the Bomb entails to present the Palestinians with a country. Persia is pursuing an extended role in the Middle East. The Palestinian issue is a PR weapon and not a real cause. However, once Iran has weaponized her nuclear capacity, the enforcement of any settlement becomes difficult. The Bomb will become a means to back up the Palestinians doing Iran‘s bidding, once they violate the deal. By playing this card, Iran‘s influence, already feared by some Arabs, will grow in the destabilized region.
7. (You will read this after Iran has voted.) If Ahmadinejad can cling to power, his position will be weakened. This, in itself, will compel him to show strength -especially in areas were it is lacking. Additionally, his campaign made the country‘s nuclear rise into the center piece of his policy. If he wins, it will be the work on the bomb that had distinguished him from his otherwise more persuasive opposition. This, too, will make concessions difficult and confrontation into a consequence of internal political considerations.
8. Seeking to pacify the Muslim world, Obama has made an overlooked statement. In itself, the lack of reaction is the result of the thought control and newspeak that regulates the bed in which public affairs discussions are made to flow. In the speech, Muslim societies were called the victims of past „colonialism“. Naturally, Western colonialism and outside determination by diverse Christians -Catholic, Protestant and Orthodox- was meant. Indeed, Muslims have „recently“ been on the receiving end of the colonial rule of the former. At the same time, if colonized, most Muslim were, much of the time kept dependent by powers that were themselves Islamic. Just think of the centuries of Ottoman Empire in the near and in the Middle East and in North Africa. Or Timur‘s sway over much of central Asia. Then there are the Moguls in India. However, there is more. As the result of the expansionism of Moslem states, many non-Moslems have been subjected to rule by the Prophet‘s deputies. On his own, the reader will think of the case of the 700 years of the Caliphate in the Iberian Peninsula. Let the list be completed by mentioning modern day Greece, Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia, Slovenia and parts of the Ukraine and of Hungary. These facts contradict the PC-revised record about victims/perpetrators, which makes the officially alleged implications into a fragile construct.
9. The discussion justifying government involvement that is designed to save stumbling enterprises has a core argument. It is that some businesses are „too big to fail.“ Therefore, they cannot be allowed to go under if the collapse of the national economy is to be avoided. In some cases, such actions have a point. On the other hand, the slogan „too big to fail“ provokes an extension of the concept. It is that some undertakings pursuing an outdated concept might be, regardless of their past merits, due to their sheer obesity, „too big to save“. It appears that if in the future a comparable crisis sneaks up upon us, the means of governments to rescue the responsible will prove to be insufficient.
10. Last week, in an evaluative commentary about the arrest, trial, review and release of Ms Saberi by the virtuous government of Iran, a pattern behind the events had been alleged. This week North Korea has made an opening move that imitates Iran‘s MO of extortion. Under dubious circumstances, two American journalists were kidnapped and arrested. Subsequently they were tried for damaging the DPRK‘s reputation (as though that could be topped by anyone). The two women got long forced labor sentences. Be prepared for the next move. Washington will make concessions in the nuclear issue in exchange for clemency extended to two innocent hostages. What a deal! Kim will let the girls go, the US will desist from pushing vigorously for increasingly harsh UN resolutions that react to Pyongyang‘s unfolding nuclear diplomacy. The play ends with Kim demonstrating his reasonableness by not waging his threatened war against the UN in case any sanction is imposed.