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March of the Falsettos

Events appear to be developing rather faster than I thought they would. Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that they are snowballing.

I doubt very much whether either Monsieur Chirac or Herr Schroeder have spent any time in the blogosphere but, judging from the news in the UK Times their reaction to the ‘Axis of Weasels’ slur was to take it deadly seriously:

At a meeting in Brussels with the Prime Ministers of Belgium and Luxembourg, President Chirac and Gerhard Schroder, the German Chancellor, want to clear the way for a common European defence system that would start with a core of volunteer states.

To be honest, I am trying very hard to suppress my natural inclination to double over in hoots of derisive laughter. Perhaps they will rent a seedy, run-down office, kit themselves out with a set of overalls and call themselves ‘Yankbusters’. It is hard to imagine what else they could do with armies that consist of time-serving pensioners and conscripted students.

There is nothing new about the idea of a common EU defence pact, of course, only now the French (and it is primarily the French) appear to be driving the issue with an unseemly haste. It bears all the hallmarks of panic and, given the growlings emanating from Washington of late, that panic may be more than a little justified:

Although the Germans have qualms about a confrontation with Nato, the French are not hiding their aim to achieve their long-standing goal of unhitching the United States from European defence. This has become more pressing with the reported plans of the US to punish France for its stand on the war in Iraq by excluding it from Nato decision-making.

I don’t suppose that the French are under any real illusion as to the capacity of Belgium to ride to their rescue. No, this is just the French doing what the French have always done; desperately seeking alliances in order to advance their own national interests. Not having the sufficient wherewithal to rule the world (as they believe they rightly should) they seek instead to project their influence by building blocs which must be configured in such as a way as to enable the French to dominate them. Mock we may, but for the French political classes this is as serious as a heart-attack and, possibly, a last throw of the dice.

Panic, however, is not merely confined to Paris. Tony Blair can see exactly where this is heading and it’s giving him the the big-time jitters:

“I don’t want Europe setting itself up in opposition to America. I think it will be dangerous and destabilising.”

Mark those words. Blair has a very clear idea of the stability he wants and knows every bit as surely that this isn’t it. Blair, being neither pro- nor anti- anything, is the consumate internationalist. Harmony is what he seeks. At home he has adroitly neutralised all opposition by gathering everybody into a big tent of consensus. Abroad he hoped to be the golden bridge that brought the USA and the EU together to sing melodiously from the same hymn-sheet in a global choir of co-operation.

It’s all off-key now and the discord is grating harshly on the ears. The American Star Tenor that Blair adores simply cannot work with the pushy European falsettos he hopes to please and now everyone is about to flounce off in a huge huff, leaving only the Fat Lady. She isn’t singing yet, but she’s clearing her throat.

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12 comments to March of the Falsettos

  • Ted Schuerzinger

    David Carr wrote:

    I don’t suppose that the French are under any real illusion as to the capacity of Belgium to ride to their rescue. No, this is just the French doing what the French have always done; desperately seeking alliances in order to advance their own national interests.

    Hmmm. Didn’t Humphrey Appleby make a similar comment regarding Britain on a famous episode of “Yes, Minister”?

  • John J. Coupal

    But, think of the upside..

    The soldats would all have an earring, and get to wear cool berets.

    That would scare the Bejeebus out of any opponent on the battlefield!

  • This doesn’t mean anything. There already is a German-French brigade and a Danish-Polisg-German corps. If this particular cooperation leads to anything at all it will be another multinational force within NATO.

    Also, all German troops are subordinated to NATO; they can’t be simply pulled out just to play footsie with the French.

  • There are a few pundits who believe Blair might be angling for the as-yet-nonexistent presidency of the European Union. Some of those have opined that France and Germany might look favorably upon that, as it would facilitate parting Britain from its alliance with the United States.

    If this is the case, we should have evidence of it quite soon.

  • Poor man. sounds like he never got over that student bar job in Paris.

  • Jacob

    Ralf,
    “This doesn’t mean anything.”

    That’s not unusual for things Chitac says or does.

  • And that’s a good thing, Jacob.

  • Tom Kince

    Wow! Something I can finally agree with the French on:

    the French are not hiding their aim to achieve their long-standing goal of unhitching the United States from European defence.

    I would very much like to unhitch European deadbeats from the U.S.s pocketbook. You want defense, pay for your own.

  • JohninLondon

    Recent events have shown that the UK is probably the only European country with any credible miltary capability. The Franco-German initiative will prove to be a non-starter without Britain. Thank God.

  • David Packer

    The idea of a Euro “defence” force is not about building a credible military force to defend the Belgian empire from outside aggression.

    Any serious outside aggression will be bought off with Danegeld, the EDF is for suppressing internal dissent. Small, mobile forces, trained in peacekeeping would not deter any serious aggressor.

    However, training for peackeeping is remarkably similar to training for dealing with irregular forces like some future British or Danish awkward squad.

    Making sense yet?

  • A_t

    JohnInLondon, recent events haven’t shown anything at all about German or French military capabilities; all they’ve shown is that they were unwilling to deploy said capabilities in this situation.

    If you employ the same logic, then only the US, the UK and Australia have any significant military power at all in this world, seeing as Russia, China, Pakistan, India, Israel etc. didn’t take part in the action.

    & David Packer, ditch the paranoia! Find more realistic things to be scared of. There are plenty, believe me.

  • David Packer

    At last! Someone accusing me of paranoia.

    I really do hope that I am being paranoid, however, I seem to remember folk that predicted the arrest and prosecution of people for selling goods in imperial measures being called paranoid…