DO EVEN SOCCER TEAMS EVER ASK TO BE RELEGATED?:

February 2, 2007

Britain will never join an EU army (Liam Fox, 2/02/07, Daily Telegraph)

At a practical level, those who favour a greater role for the EU have three essential problems – the lack of defence spending among EU members, the lack of a common approach to foreign policy and the question of democratic accountability.

I often refer to the fact that Britain spends just 2.5 per cent of its GDP on defence, the lowest figure since 1930. Yet, while this is low by Britain’s standards, it is much more than many of our European partners spend. Germany spends only 1.4 per cent of its GDP on defence. For Spain, the figure is a mere 1.3 per cent, and Holland 1.7 per cent. Austria spends just 0.7 per cent and is considering reducing it further.

This is theoretically not an insurmountable problem, but to overcome it requires a revolution in thinking, and a transformation, particularly among low-spending countries, which shows no signs of even stirring on the horizon.

The idea that any of the EU states would ever be willing to contemplate spending on a scale that would match the level of protection afforded by the American defence umbrella is laughable. It is an issue that is likely to grow in significance when the British public awaken to the fact that, in combined Nato missions such as Afghanistan, British taxpayers and troops are carrying a disproportionate burden because too many of our European allies are unwilling to shoulder their fair share.

The second problem relates to foreign policy. Defence policy inevitably follows foreign policy: it is about projecting the force when needed to support your foreign policy objectives. Any common defence policy must act in step with a co-ordinated foreign policy. History teaches us that national self-interest will usually trump supra-national aspirations. Events in the Balkans since 1990 have shown how difficult it is to merge individual countries’ foreign policy objectives.

The crisis in the Balkans cruelly exposed the gap between EU rhetoric and the ability to act effectively. Unable to keep a peace that did not exist and unwilling to involve themselves in conflict, Europe’s Hour had indeed come, but it failed to live up to the challenge. It was America that was the prime mover in saving the Balkans from Euro-paralysis.

Better to follow America than”lead” Europe.

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RATHER, THE END OF REALISM AND TRANSNATIONALISM:

January 23, 2007


ARE WE NOT EUROPEAN? WE ARE DEVO:

January 23, 2007

Kosovo breakaway could raise Scot Nats’ hopes (Simon Tisdall, January 23, 2007, The Guardian)

The breakaway British region of Scotland could be among the beneficiaries of this week’s expected UN recommendation that Kosovo be granted provisional independence from Serbia, leading in time to full sovereign status. If the plan backed by the US, Britain and Germany is formally accepted by the UN security council, it will be taken as an important international legal precedent by would-be separatist movements from Georgia to Moldova to Chechnya, and possibly also the Scottish National party.

Martti Ahtisaari, a former Finnish president who is the UN’s point man on Kosovo, will put forward his proposals on Friday, when he meets the Kosovo contact group in Vienna. If he follows the expected script and backs independence, the implications will be explosive not only for Serbia but for EU unity and Russia’s touchy relations with the west.

Kosovo has been part of Serbia since the Middle Ages. By comparison, the Act of Union binding Scotland and England dates back a mere 300 years, to 1707. Serbs view Kosovo as integral to their history and nationhood. Most are adamantly opposed to a breakup, as shown by nationalist success in Sunday’s election. But opinion polls suggest many English voters view the prospect of Scotland’s secession with equanimity.

To each “species” his own niche.


SCRATCH A NATIONALIST…:

January 15, 2007

EU’s surprise far-right coalition (Alix Kroeger, 1/15/07, BBC News)

The first full session of the European Parliament this year gets under way on 15 January, with the inclusion of a new far-right group. […]

They say they are in favour of the “recognition of national interests”, a “commitment to Christian values… and the traditions of European civilisation”, and the traditional family. They oppose a “unitary, bureaucratic European super state”.

They call themselves Identity, Tradition, Sovereignty – or ITS, for short.

Most of the parties in ITS are vehemently anti-immigration, but they reject the “far-right” label. They say they are near the centre of the political spectrum.

“We got 25% of the vote at the last European election,” points out MEP Philip Claeys of Belgium’s separatist Flemish Interest party.

“We can hardly be described as extremists.”

The leader of ITS, Frenchman Bruno Gollnisch, is awaiting the verdict of his trial on charges of Holocaust denial.

…find a racist.


YOU CAN SERVE THE INSTITUTION'S BUREAUCRACY OR ITS PRINCIPLES–HO CHOSE BADLY:

December 17, 2006

Kofi’s stain: UN chief wronged U.S., coddled dictators and ignored corruption (NILE GARDINER, 12/17/06, NY Daiuly News)

[A]nnan has been no friend of the American people, or of the Iraqi people. At every opportunity, he has undermined U.S. global leadership, most recently making a habit of deriding America’s decision to remove Saddam from power as “illegal.” People of good will can debate whether that decision was right or wrong – but it was Saddam, not Bush, who thumbed his nose at a dozen UN resolutions and systematically oppressed the Iraqi people.

Annan has a long track record of cozying up to dictators. He has consistently failed to condemn African tyrants such as Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe or Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan. And aside from a few perfunctory criticisms, he has been noticeably quiet about the threats against Israel posed by Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Annan gave only a low-key response to Iran’s state-sponsored Holocaust denial conference, which sparked international outrage this week. To his credit, incoming Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has already strongly denounced it.

As a result of this and more, the UN’s standing as a moral authority on the world stage – not exactly stellar at the start of Annan’s tenure – has plummeted during his 10-year reign. He was forced to disband the UN Commission on Human Rights after Western complaints over human-rights abusers (Cuba, Libya, et al.) running the show. Yet his “reform” solution, the much-vaunted Human Rights Council, is just as bad. It has been unwilling even to condemn the regime in Khartoum over the crisis in Darfur.

Even worse, amid a culture of weak and permissive leadership, UN peacekeepers entrusted with protecting some of the world’s most vulnerable people have raped and abused hundreds of refugees in the Congo, Sierra Leone, Haiti and other war zones. Before he became secretary general, Annan was in charge of UN peacekeeping operations during the Rwanda slaughter and the mass killing at Srebrenica, in Bosnia. Suffice to say, in that capacity, he did not earn the top job.

The free world should not shed a tear at Annan’s departure. Rather, let New York bid good riddance to the most weak-kneed secretary general in the history of the United Nations, a shameless appeaser of despotism and tyranny. He may well be remembered as the Neville Chamberlain of our time.


BUT WE'RE EXCEPTIONAL EVEN WITHIN THE ANGLOSPHERE:

November 27, 2006

The Exceptionally Entrepreneurial Society (Arnold Kling, 27 Nov 2006, Tech Central Station)

Edmund Phelps is the 2006 winner of the Nobel Prize in economics. Shortly after his award was announced, Phelps published an essay on how capitalism in the United States differs from the system in Continental Europe. Phelps wrote,

There are two economic systems in the West. Several nations — including the U.S., Canada and the U.K. — have a private-ownership system marked by great openness to the implementation of new commercial ideas coming from entrepreneurs, and by a pluralism of views among the financiers who select the ideas to nurture by providing the capital and incentives necessary for their development. Although much innovation comes from established companies, as in pharmaceuticals, much comes from start-ups, particularly the most novel innovations…

The other system — in Western Continental Europe — though also based on private ownership, has been modified by the introduction of institutions aimed at protecting the interests of “stakeholders” and “social partners.” The system’s institutions include big employer confederations, big unions and monopolistic banks.

In Continental Europe, large banks control the bulk of investment. The United States has a more vibrant stock market, many more banks, venture capital firms, and other financial channels.

In Continental Europe, large established firms have access to funds from the large banks, but newer enterprises have a much more difficult time raising money. In the United States, the more competitive financial system gives more opportunity for entrepreneurs to raise start-up capital. […]

If the United States is exceptional because of our entrepreneurial culture, then our natural allies may not be in Continental Europe, in spite of its democratic governments and high levels of economic development. China seems more dynamic than Europe, but I would argue that China’s government-controlled financial system ultimately is not compatible with American-style entrepreneurship. Instead, we may have more in common with other nations of the Anglosphere, as well as such entrepreneurial outposts as India, Israel, and Singapore.

For the half century following World War II, the United States focused on democracy as the cornerstone of foreign policy. Democratic nations were our allies, and promoting democracy abroad was a top priority. However, it may be that American exceptionalism mostly reflects entrepreneurship. In that case, we have less in common with European social democracy than we thought previously. And, if our goal is to have more countries that look like America, then having them adopt a democratic political system may not be necessary and will certainly not be sufficient.

One wouldn’t expect a libertarian to grasp the fact, bit neither democracy nor capitalism are sufficient. They’re means, not ends.


WHY IS DEMOCRAT PROTECTIONISM EMBARRASSING TO THE GOP?:

November 14, 2006

A Setback for Vietnam Trade Bill (STEVEN R. WEISMAN, 11/14/06, NY Times)

In an embarrassing legislative setback for the administration, the House of Representatives defeated a measure late Monday that the president had sought to normalize trade relations with Vietnam, four days before President Bush was scheduled to leave for his first visit to that country. […]

The legislation received a majority vote but fell short of the two-thirds needed for passage under special rules that speeded its consideration in the House. The vote came on the first day of the lame-duck session in which the outgoing House, still controlled by a Republican majority, met to pass crucial bills by the end of this year.

The legislation received 228 votes in favor and 161 against, but it needed 32 more votes to pass on Monday. House Republican leaders said they would bring the legislation back in the next couple of days under normal procedures, which require only a majority, or 218 votes, for passage.

Though perhaps symbolic, the defeat in the House was an embarrassment not only for Mr. Bush but also for the departing Republican leaders, who had earlier in the day expressed confidence that they had the two-thirds needed for the bill to pass in the House.