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Axis of Feeble

So the French, German and Russian leaders have had a summit meeting in St Petersburg. After having had an object lesson in the severe limits of their diplomatic and political influence on the world stage, it strikes me that these three leaders have decided that the only way to be taken seriously is to get together and take each other seriously.

When Jacques Chirac says:

It is good that the Saddam Hussein regime has fallen. The fall of a tyrannical regime is a positive thing. We said for a long time that he had to be brought down. We did not defend him, but said it should not be done by force.

He is, to put it bluntly, a liar.

France and Russia were major supplier of arms to Iraq (far greater than the US or UK ever were) and were major beneficiaries of Ba’athist rule there. The meeting in Russia is nothing more noble that a tactical huddle of debtors prior to going to the receivers (The US and UK) of a bankrupt company (Ba’athist Iraq).

Although I cannot resist mocking this triumvirate of gilded irrelevences, there is indeed a serious message emerging from this meeting.

It should be clear once and for all that Blairite fantasies about being both Euro-Fedarist and Atlanticist are just that… fantasies. Of course this is going to be spun as something other than an ‘anti Anglosphere summit’ but who are they fooling? Europe is dividing again and that should be clear to anyone not willfully blind.

Britain is on the side of history’s winners. However Tony Blair has the power to snatch strategic defeat from the jaws of victory if he does not get over his mindless attachment to ‘Old Europe’ and discredited bodies like the UN. After the last of the fighting dies down in Iraq, thing are not going to gradually return to the way they were antebellum.

I really do not know if Blair is psychologically able to grasp the fact that the paradigm has shifted (I hate that word ‘paradigm’ but for once it the most appropriate term). Although I dislike him intensely, I am not sure he will make the wrong move… I really do not know: the jury is still out on how capable he is of actually making a major meta-contextual shift.

The world has changed. Get used to it.

20 comments to Axis of Feeble

  • Arjuna

    What is public opinion in England about joining the E.U.? I had always thought they were a bit nervous about it.

  • The UK has been a member of the EU for many years… however British opinion is still one of the most dubious about the whole project.

  • I think that Germany and France will also soon part company.

    I aagree with Walter Russell Mead when he says:

    “Germany has long borders with Poland and the Czech Republic. It has a long and complicated history in Central and Eastern Europe, and it desperately wants to see these countries integrated into the stable institutions of the European Union. Germany wants new Europe in the club, even if that makes the club less anti-U.S. Germany now has to find a way to pick up the pieces. It must take the car keys away from Chirac and go back to driving the European car in its own slow and careful way. Germany might choose Paris over Washington; it can’t choose Paris over Washington and Warsaw”.

    Chirac threatened and insulted the Eastern European countries, while Schröder and the whole German political establishment wants to see them in the EU. If the Polish people decide in their referendum that they don’t want to join it would be a political and diplomatic disaster for Germany. That’s why we’ll have to turn on Franhce soon, and if Schroder is too blind to see it he’ll have to go.

    Btw, what is a “Euro-Fedarist”? Were you thinking of “Pederast” and “Federalist” at the same time, provided there is a difference? 🙂

  • Liberty Belle

    Ralf Goergens: Federast is a made-up term that expresses a degree of disgust and loathing at the notion of forced integration of a highly successful and militarily powerful nation into a membership of failed states. Tony Blair is determined to force Britain, against the will of the electorate, into the suicidal euro and the triple-suicide EU “constitution”. He wants to be the unelected president of a non-country “Europe”.

  • Byron

    For anyone who would like to see a good breakdowon of international arms sales to Iraq, check out the Dissident Frogman’s chart:

    Dissident Frogman

    And his source for the data:

    Stockholm International Peace Research Institute

    Most illuminating.

  • Byron

    82% from USSR, France, and China. 1% from the US, 0% from UK, and 0% from Germany.

  • Byron

    Anyone know of any similar comparative data on oil-related contracts with Iraq? It wouldn’t surprise me to see France at the top of the list.

  • Byron

    Having posted that, I’ve thought of a question I would like to pose. Perhaps someone with better historical knowledge of Iraq can explain this apparent paradox.

    I have been under the impression that historically, Saddam was pro-West, anti-Soviet, much like the Shah of Iran was. I thought the US supported him b/c he was a strong Arab leader who served as a bullwark against Soviet invasion of the oil-rich Middle East. However, if that is true, then how does Saddam have so much Soviet military hardware? 57%, to be precise. Obviously, all his air force are Migs and Su’s, and all his tanks are T-xx’s. If he was so anti-Soviet, how did he end up with so much Soviet hardware?

  • “forced integration of a highly successful and militarily powerful nation into a membership of failed states”

    I agree that there should be no forced integration, but Germany has, troubles or not, still a higher GDP per capiata than Great Britain. Hardly a failed state.

    Besides, Great Britain had to hit real lows before the Thatcher revolution could take off. The same will hapen in “Old” Europe, once Germany, France and others experience their own Winter of Discontent

    From the link:

    “By the end of the summer of 1976, the British economy had become so weakened that the Labour Government had to seek a loan from the International Monetary Fund”.

    Once the need for reforms becomes unbearable, liberalisation will finally happen. I trust the free market to solve our problems.

    PS: “Liberty Belle” sounds cute. Got any plans for next weekend yet? 😉

  • Byron,

    Saddam was seen as a secular socialist the West could do business with. As long as he seemed to be a reliable bulwark against Iran, his connections to the Soviets were tolerated. A lot of that hardware was probably sold by the Soviets for commercial rather than political reasons.

    I’m no export on this matter either, though. Maybe somebody who is will provide a better explanation.

  • The period of American support for Saddam was based on him balancing Iran. It never really had anything to do with him being anti-Soviet, because he wasn’t anti-Soviet.

    As Ralf says, in the years just after the Iranian revolution there was deep concern that it was the first of a series of such revolutions in the region which would turn the lot of them into theocracies. Saddam was bolstered because he was secular, and later was supported because he was in a war with Iran. And the first President Bush let several intact Republican Guard divisions escape in 1991 with their equipment because he didn’t want Iraq so weakened that it could be conquered by Iran.

  • Chris Goodman

    Ralf are you German? Could you answer a very difficult question about Germany for me. I feel I have a reasonable sense of the political mood in Western and Southern and Eastern Europe, but Germany is a blank for me. Nationalism? West/East divide? EU? Greens? Feelings about France/Britain? Schroder? Cultural obsessions? Hopes? Fears? There have been so many amazing mood shifts in Germany over the centuries. What is the mood now?

  • Ralf/Liberty Belle,

    Yes, the correct slur is ‘Federast’ and it happens to be my personal favourite when used to describe British EUphiles.

    And (how’s this for a kicker?) I belive the term was actually coined by Jean-Marie Le Pen.

  • Russ Goble

    Ralf wrote: “Besides, Great Britain had to hit real lows before the Thatcher revolution could take off. The same will hapen in “Old” Europe, once Germany, France and others experience their own Winter of Discontent”

    While this sounds logical and is certainly something to hope for, I actually don’t think it’s a slam dunk to occur. Japan has been suffering from some truly nasty structural economic problems whose solutions are obvious to a great many people. Yet, the Japanese political class has been completely unable to come to grips with their econoimic problems. They really haven’t reformed all that much. They’ve done some things to keep things going, but they are in about year 13 of an economic malaise and haven’t had much in the way of dramatic political shifts. They’ve elected new parties to power, which is something considering they were a one party state for a long time, but they still haven’t actually changed things.

    Moreover, the French and Germans have an idealogical need to not go down any Thatcherite path. The ruling elite in those countries (and this counts double for the EUcrats) believe their welfare states and their open hostility to competitive capitalism is “the way to go.” They despise American capitalism. What’s worse, they’ve added a nationalistic flavor to the argument: European socially responsible capitalism vs. Anglo-American capitalism. Like I said, it’s idealogical. And from what I undestand, the Christian Democrats of Germany, even if they were to regain power aren’t anywhere near as classically liberal as Thatcher’s Tories. Am I correct on that?

    So, anyway, France and Germany have an ideological necessity NOT to do any sort of reforms that would resemble what Thatcher did, or God forbid, do anything that resembles America. But it is those type of reforms that are required to get their economies growing with any sort of vigor. And from what I can tell, the parliamentarian systems in Europe really stack the deck against parties that want to reduce the size and scope of government. Again, am I correct in this?

    Anyway, just an observation.

  • Larry

    I recommend against laughing at this meeting. A thousand years of western history shows that the rise of a hegemonic state impells other States to unite against it.

    It’s happening now, and it looks to me like an important, and historic, inflection point.

  • Chris Goodman

    For an opposing view about Europe Russ see the article called “An Alternative View of Euro-Sclerosis” by Samuel Brittan. It is on the net.

  • Chris Goodman

    Opps I mean “A different view of euro-sclerosis”

  • The trio may be morally bankrupt but they are hardly irrelevances. They command great economic and military power between them. In the circumstances, I am pleased at GWB’s “softly, softly” approach to them. He knows he has to be nice to Russia anyway. Resurgent Fascism there would be disastrous.

  • Jacob

    About Iraq and Russia:
    Egypt, Syria and Iraq took the line of Nazer – non alignment – which actually meant: they were client states of USSR. They had socialist parties (Baath), socialist domestic policies, dictatorship, anti “imperialist” foreign policy – i.e. anti US.
    They were fully Soviet clients, including armament and military instructors. The Soviets financed the Aswan damm in Egypt, encouraged Egypt and Syria to start the six day war against Israel, and planned, and trained them for the 1973 war.
    The US tried, unsuccessfully, to lure them away from the Soviet embrace; it tried to maintain correct and polite relations with them, as it did with the USSR and China.
    As was noted, there was some American support for Saddam, since the US was very mad at Iran about the hostages episode – several dozen US diplomats were held hostages in the sieged US embassy in Teheran for more that 400 days, following the fall of the Shah’s regime, in 1979.
    I don’t know if the US actually encouraged Saddam to attack Iran, but it surely wasn’t sorry he did. Iraq and Saddam had a long feud with Iran – and Iran under the Shah was a close ally of the US, so it is only natural that Iraq sided with the USSR.
    Iraq, a former British colony, severed it’s ties with the West in 1958 when the monarchy was overthrown in a military coup, led by a left leaning, socialist-nationalist clique, of which Saddam was a prominent member.

  • Roger Sweeny

    The Samuel Brittan article, “A Different View of Euro-sclerosis” can be found at