Behind the Headlines
by Justin Raimondo

May 24, 2000


While the value of the Euro is taking a tumble in the financial markets, politically the idea of a federal European Union is on the march: leftists and "moderate" conservatives all over Europe are marching to the tune of "Ode to Joy," the European anthem adapted from the final movement of Beethoven's 9th Symphony. A federal union has long been the goal of European socialist parties, who see in it a device to impose socialism from above and smother any reactionary recalcitrant tendencies who insist on such outmoded and dangerous ideas as nationalism, separatism, and private property. Euro-skeptics, as opponents of the rising European mega-state are dubbed, have been pointing to the "cold monster" of bureaucratism run amok as a dire threat to liberty and the very concept of a distinctly national culture – and certainly Joschka Fischer, the German Foreign Minister, has given us plenty of ammunition.


In a startling speech given at Berlin's Humboldt University, taking off his Foreign Minister's hat – "although I know this cannot really be done" – he called for the radical acceleration of the EU's scope and power: the direct election of a European President, the federalization of Europe according to the principle of "subsidiarity," and the "division of sovereignty" between the constituent nation-states and the rising power of the EU. Looking to absorb Eastern Europe, Fischer declared that the present process of European integration is at a "standstill," and that the authors of the pan-European initiative need to be more aggressive in their pursuit of what he calls – with a typically German flair for ponderous melodrama – "the European finality." Such Wagnerian rhetoric, coming from a German government official, was enough to send the French minister of the Interior through the roof. Jean-Pierre Chevenement, the left-wing leader of the anti-Maastricht Citizens' Movement and a populist voice within the government, averred:

"We are in the presence of a German tendency to imagine or Europe a federal structure based on its own model. At the bottom of this, Germany is still dreaming of the German Holy Roman Empire. It has not yet healed from the historical accident of Nazism."


Them's fightin' words. But Fischer's speech was provocative in the extreme, and he knew it: he certainly knew he was making headlines, and even alluded to them in his speech, before they were ever written:

"And all the Euroskeptics on this and the other side of the Channel would be well advised not to immediately produce the big headlines again, because firstly this is a personal vision of a solution to the European problems. And, secondly, we are talking here about the long term, far beyond the current intergovernmental conference. So no one need be afraid of these ideas."


But anyone listening to that speech – and especially citizens of countries occupied by the Germans during World War II – is bound to be suspicious, at the very least. His or her ears will certainly perk up upon hearing the refrain "especially for Germany" repeated like a mantra throughout Fischer's peroration. In touting the economic, political, and cultural benefits that will accrue to Europeans once the EU is enlarged and engorged with power, Fischer invariably adds that the results will be beneficial "especially to Germany." He waxes particularly eloquent when describing the process of Eastward expansion, but you can't blame Monsieur Chevenement and others from instantly thinking: Lebensraum!


Indeed, there is an ominously triumphalist tone to the Fischer speech that is all too familiar on that side of the Atlantic. The EU is likened to the spirit of History itself, and identified with the idea of ever-ascending levels of progress – to be achieved, of course, by the Euro-crats and legislated into existence:

"Quo vadis Europa? is the question posed once again by the history of our continent. And for many reasons the answer Europeans will have to give, if they want to do well by themselves and their children, can only be this: onwards to the completion of European integration. A step backwards, even just standstill or contentment with what has been achieved, would demand a fatal price of all EU member states and of all those who want to become members; it would demand a fatal price above all of our people. This is particularly true for Germany and the Germans."


To advance integration is to go "forward," and all other sentiments are merely nostalgia for a world that is already dead, and about to be buried. The Future Belongs to Us. Now where have we heard that before? Chevenement shocked the French elites, and aroused such a political storm with his remarks that he was forced to either apologize or else reconsider his future employment prospects. Although he was properly contrite – declaring "I like Germany a lot" – he had it about right the first time around. The militaristic faux-nationalism of the French Socialist government, which disdains everything American and dreams of building a rival superpower to contend with the US on the world stage, was here trumped by the voice of an authentic French nationalist, who sees Europa's capital city, Brussels, as being more than halfway to Berlin. Is there really nothing to fear from an idea that would accomplish Germany's objectives during the last war – without a shot being fired? French patriots have plenty of reasons to fear the EU – as do patriots of all the nations of Europe.


If you want to see what the future of Europa, the mega-state, will have to mean, then listen to Fischer – who narrowly pulled his "Green" party of Germany into the "humanitarian" crusade to bomb the daylights out of Yugoslavia – tell us why the EU needs to "integrate" and complete the process of "communitzation" not only economically, but in terms of forging a common European foreign policy:

"It was not least the war in Kosovo that prompted the European states to take further steps to strengthen their joint capacity for action on foreign policy, agreeing in Cologne and Helsinki on a new goal: the development of a Common Security and Defense Policy. With this the Union has taken the next step following the euro. For how in the long term can it be justified that countries inextricably linked by monetary union and by economic and political realities do not also face up together to external threats and together maintain their security?"


The Europeans, who once huddled under NATO's shield, are flexing their military muscles, beefed up as they are by a constant source of US taxpayer dollars in foreign aid and other subsidies. Now the Eurocrats want what every aspiring government must have, and that is its own armed forces. The EU's deficiency in this department was keenly felt by the aspiring Eurocrats of Fischer's ilk, who had to stand by while the hated Americans did their dirty work for them. It isn't enough that they're stiffing us in Kosovo, refusing to pay up on their prewar pledges of "burden-sharing": now the socialist governments of Europe are banding together to present a common front – against whom? Who or what does this "external threat" consist of?


Is it Russia – a defeated, dismembered nation, nuclear-armed but unable to subdue even the brave but ill-equipped Chechens? Nah. The threat from Moscow is not that Russia will invade, but that it will implode and cause increased instability on the EU's eastern frontier. In any case: just how "European" is a Union that encompasses Istanbul but not St. Petersberg. Anatolia but not the Ukraine?


But then – who? The Chinese? They aren't in much better shape than the Russians: the fragility of the Beijing regime has never been greater, and China is seething with the spirit of rebellion. It is all the gerontocrats of the old Stalinist regime can do to hold on to power, let along try to extend it. The Brits – if they manage to stay out of the Eurocrats clutches – could be a thorn in the EU's side, albeit a small one. In spite of Tony Blair's attempt, in Sierra Leone, to make the first new addition to the British Empire in God knows how long, the only real military danger or "external threat" posed by the islands of the UK would be as outposts of American power. . . .


Given the radically protectionist economic policies pursued by, for example, the French Socialist-led government of Lionel Jospin – which include new barriers to the importation of American culture, as well as manufactured goods – we can expect a similar if more radical policy from the EU. With the seizure of power by the Eurocrats, it won't be long before this new European super-state will come into open conflict with the US – and the days of the US as the world's only superpower will be over.


Before you start celebrating, think of it this way: instead of one gang lording it over us all, however incompletely and ineptly, there will be two of them: and not only that, but they'll be at each other's throats from the British Channel to the Red Sea, battling for Africa, competing for oil profits in the Caucasus and playing balance of power games with Moscow and Beijing.


And here's the scary part: the rise of a European superstate would put antiwar activists in an almost impossible situation, for we would have a much harder time making the case for peace in the face of such an aggressive and potentially dangerous enemy. For the reality is that a nuclear-armed and fully-empowered EU would indeed represent a deadly and dire military threat not only to the US but to the peoples of the world. Contrary to the windy delusions of all too many right-wing European intellectuals – who feel obligated to bend the knee to the European Idea, somehow without bowing before the golden idol of the EU – European federalism does not represent some vague notion of European cultural solidarity, but a coalition of the uncrowned princes of Europe, the heirs to the Congress of Vienna and would-be legatees of Charlemagne. It is indeed, as Chevenement put it, a "new Holy Roman Empire" which, like the original, is neither holy nor Roman.


It's full consolidation, as Fischer and his fellow EU "patriots" would have it, promises to be the unholy birth of a power that can only be malignant. For here, combined in one vessel, are all the ancient intrigues and ambitions, the bloodbaths and the persecutions, the suffering of a continent diseased by rampant statism and riven by religious and ethnic hatred. An explosive combination, but if the force of the explosion can be diverted outward – the classic device of rulers throughout history – then Europa can emerge, like Pallas Athena, from the brow of Zeus fully armed. With the sudden appearance of an "external threat," look at how suddenly and magically Joschka Fischer has conjured a new kind of politically correct patriotism. While practically no one – including Fischer – goes into ecstasies of Euro-patriotism whenever they hear "Ode to Joy," with the sudden appearance of the unnamed "external threat" a kind of ersatz patriotism comes into instant existence.


This started out to be a column about Jorge Haider, the much vilified leader of Austria's Freedom Party (FPO), and widespread sentiment in Europe in regard to the EU-imposed sanctions that enough is enough. I have written on the subject of Haider before, and I won't repeat myself here except to say that Haider is no more a Nazi than any one of a number of conservative Republicans who want to get rid of the welfare state and seek some limits on immigration. Aside from Haider – and the concerted attack on him, including not only his politics but his reportedly unconventional sex life and even his personal travel plans – the Freedom Party is the Austrian equivalent of the GOP in terms of ideology and its stolidly middle class base. Posing a real challenge to a bipartisan elite that hands out jobs and special privileges to party members, the FPO calls for free markets, protection from rising crime, and some assurance that they will not be overwhelmed by the flood of refugees coming in from the east. In Herr Fisher's Europa, this is backward thinking: he uses terms like of "enlargement," "extension," and "expansion," but the Austrians are being overwhelmed by a floodtide of immigration – instead of expanding, Austria seems to be shrinking in the face of the coming onslaught. And it isn't just in Austria: throughout Europe, but particularly in France and Belgium, right-wing populist movements are mobilizing against the centralizers, defiantly asserting their particularism, appealing to history – and to nature – as the basis of their stubborn separatism. There is a campaign on now to ban them, just as Serbian nationalist parties have been banned in Bosnia: the idea is to demonize them as neo-Nazis, just as they smeared poor Haider, and make the propagation of all nationalist or separatist ideologies a hate crime.


As the EU comes trolling eastward, intervening in who knows how many ethnic, religious, and territorial disputes that go back to the 12th century, the era of renewed European wars of conquest begins. The Albanian presence in the Balkans will be expanded and given free rein, and the Turkish influence extended right up to the gates of Vienna. This is the new multicultural Europe, and this time the Saracens will not be turned back. Instead, they will be welcomed, and the Serbs and other Orthodox Christians treated like invaders. If we could look into our historical periscope and see Europa as envisioned by Herr Fischer, say, ten to twenty years from now, perhaps sooner, what we would see is . . . Kosovo.


This is what makes the Fischer speech so alarming, for in it he proposes a radical acceleration of the EU's evolution, and his sense of urgency is clearly communicated. He raises the possibility – while again claiming not to speak for the German government – that even if all the EU members are not ready for a unified federation, with a single head of state and a constitution, then it is up to a few "avante garde" states to take the lead. He envisions a "core" of European states committed to making the EU a real political entity, who would sign a "treaty within a treaty" and agree to a division of sovereignty – in effect, a merger. He clearly holds up the possibility of a Franco-German accord, and even raises the idea of several smaller countries taking this course – Belgium, seat of the Eurocratic elite, is particularly avid. This would be a radical – and ominous – development that could prefigure a period of wars, repression, and turmoil throughout Europe.


The rise of the EU as a superpower rivaling and possibly threatening the US is a case of karma if ever there was one. It is almost a kind of physical law, in the sense that every action has an opposite and equal reaction. In spite of the Hegelian fever dreams of a few neoconservative eggheads, history is far from ended. The dialectic of hegemonism, and counter-hegemonism, the cycle of intervention and retribution continues as before. The pretensions of the "one dispensable nation" as our Secretary of State puts it are about to be rudely shattered – and if not for the prospect of World War III, it might almost be worth it.

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