May 21, 2018 at 12:23 pm (tWP) (, , , , , , )

This article manages to summarize the most damning prejudices of the current groupthink bubble of Brussels:

  • NATO, originally, was less squeamish about values (…) The end of the Cold War definitely changed things: democracy now is a strategic necessity. The consolidation of democracy in central and eastern Europe has become a key objective of NATO and EU enlargement.

Entirely true but done for capricious normative ideological reasons rather than strategic ones. Logically, if the EU member states keep alliances with non-EU authoritarians, that means that such bonds CAN work. If the Cold War was a much more dangerous period and it required ignoring normative qualms in favour of strategic pragmatism, then it stands to reason that such a doctrine is more efficient.

  • That the governments of Hungary and Poland are, at the very least, weakening democracy in their countries is beyond doubt.

True but the same is true for Western Europe and the US where civil servants break laws to undermine incoming administrations, where the police regularly enforce modesty laws, blasphemy laws, bans perfectly harmless activists and hinders free speech more and more, and certainly where Brussels forces 2nd referenda, vertical protectorate structures (Bosnia, Kosovo) as well as ‘caretaker’ governments (Italy).

  • Whatever populists claim: the choice is between democratic and non-democratic government.

Since the described governments generate a fair amount of controversy, the very term ‘populism’ is erroneous. Far more ‘populist’ are the ‘democratic’ governments who lie about the consequences of mass immigration or moral interventionism in their fanatical pursuit of political correctness. Additionally, fringe parties who question the EU and/or NATO are by no means necessarily authoritarian. UKIP and many libertarian movements are actually quite dismissive of governmental authority. It is a slander to classify ‘populists’ as such.

  • The purpose of NATO today is to defend not just the territorial integrity of its members, but also the model of society that they have constructed on their territories.

This is entirely true but not consistent with democracy or sovereignty. If a certain society decides to be conservative or Marxist, the EU and NATO then are constitutionally forced to move to curb that choice. The ostracism of the Haider coalition government is exhibit A of that trend.

  • In European society, the state is to guarantee security, prosperity, and democracy for its citizens. This triad cannot be disentangled: a citizen can only benefit from security, prosperity and democracy together or not at all.

This is very interesting. It is first and foremost untrue since plenty of authoritarian regimes actually experience less insecurity – for obvious reasons – and greater prosperity than open liberal societies. But it is also interesting given that catastrophic mass immigration and the disastrous reckless belligerence that ‘democratic’, ‘liberal’ and ‘non-populist’ policies have caused of late. Regardless of regime, citizens depend far more on policy-making.

  • Security from violence doesn’t mean much if one dies of hunger, just as wealth doesn’t mean much if the government can take it away, or even imprison you, arbitrarily.

Rule of law does not mean much if it is conditioned by an ideological police, and freedom doesn’t mean much if disastrous policies come attached. A propos of wealth, in the BBC there are now public proposals to artificially cap the salaries of male employees and redistribute the income through the female staff. Arbitrary?

  • If an ally no longer upholds this European way of life, then what exactly is NATO supposed to defend?

The territorial integrity and sovereignty of its members.

  • A government that undermines its country’s democracy thus ipso facto puts its security at risk too.

Is that a threat? Once again, many non-democratic states are safer than many democracies …including in Europe.

  • The more authoritarian a government becomes, the more it puts the bond of solidarity in the Alliance into question.

Not really: Haider’s Austria and Brexit Britain have been put under greater pressure than Erdogan’s Turkey.

  • To put it very starkly: which democratic government could justify to its citizens putting its forces in harm’s way in order to defend an eventual dictatorship in another NATO country?

But it is others that are ‘populist’ and put allied solidarity at risk…

  • Russia definitely will not hesitate to use any opportunity that presents itself in order to weaken NATO, if only to stop the Alliance from interfering in its strategic design of re-establishing predominance in the former Soviet republics.

Inverted responsibility: Russia was the one that was already predominant in its periphery and NATO was the one that “used any opportunity to weaken it”.

  • Hence Russia actively supports various populist actors.

…because NATO and the EU support various liberal/progressive/?populist? actors in Russia and its periphery.

  • populist tactics include Euroscepticism. It is both acceptable and necessary in a democratic polity to criticise EU policies, and even the EU project as such. But when countries decided, by democratic means, to join the EU, they subscribed to a set of objectives and limitations. If a government no longer is willing to abide by them, it cannot expect that its country’s status in the EU will remain unaffected, even if such were the free and informed democratic choice of its citizens (which today is questionable).

This is disingenuous. As was the case with NATO, the EU’s declared and practiced goals changed during the years. In several cases it is obvious that a number of members – chiefly the UK – were simply stunned by the rapid subversive trends emanating from Brussels. This is precisely why the opt-out mechanisms (for which the pre-Brexit UK governments were routinely berated by Brussels officials) were enacted, to begin with.

Worse still, the parenthesis implies that there have not been ‘informed and democratic’ Eurosceptic choices (because of populism? Because of Russia? Both?). Where was such cynicism when ‘constitutional treaties’ were pushed through in spite of strong popular resistance or when referenda were repeated to serve the convenience of the European project?

  • if the EU adopts sanctions against a government that violates the basic principles that it subscribed to when joining the Union, this does not constitute a violation of the sovereignty of the state in question… Democracy is as important, if not more, to merit the solidarity expressed by Article 5.

This is a frequent excuse on the part of federalists in Brussels. The truth is that, often, many new ‘basic principles’ are inaugurated without popular feedback while membership is in place and that the EEC was never supposed to become an abrogation of nation-states but rather just another international organization, in the eyes of the European peoples. Ultimately, is it easier to force different cultures to abide by the same standards or to relax those standards? Of course, when certain societies start questioning those ‘basic principles’, they are called populist and their ‘informed and democratic decision’ is put in question…

Of course, many principles are advisory and non-binding in nature. The main problem is with the very logic behind this reasoning. If indeed the EU is bound by enforceable basic principles, then necessarily, as people regularly disagree ideologically and vote for different parties, by definition, the EU does NOT represent, nor will it ever represent ALL the citizens. If that is so and one adds democratic elections putting ‘populists’ in power frequently, then membership in the EU should be a regular inconstancy with states dropping in and out of membership.

Here of course, we arrive at the crux of the rabid bias behind this article: that ‘true’, ‘genuine’, ‘legitimate’ democratic elections can NEVER empower Eurosceptics; much the same logic behind the American leftist derangement syndrome regarding Trump. If the Left is the ‘true’ representative of ‘the people’, the people can never elect someone the Left despises. If that occurs, there must be foul play at work.

  • certain governments not only violate the EU’s values, they also actively undermine EU policies, notably the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP). What is worse, they appear to be doing so under the influence of foreign powers such as Russia and China.

True but again, when certain governments expand and go well beyond the common policies (or undermine them), under the influence of, say, the US, no one seems particularly concerned. That would be the same ally that is regularly found spying on European governments and the EU institutions themselves. Intelligence gathering is not shocking but rather that geostrategic alliances are judged according to normative standards rather than objective ones.

  • In full contradiction with their nationalist rhetoric, some governments have willingly become instruments of outside actors

Speaking of contradictions then, if the ultimate goal is a European federation and the extinction of national sovereignties, why don’t EU politicians run for office promising their constituents that they will be ruled by Brussels and by nationals of foreign states?

  • not only proto-authoritarian but even some fully democratic governments are undermining the EU in this way,

So, not all populists are [proto]-authoritarian? I thought that had been established…

  • it has become increasingly difficult for the EU to take a resolute and united stance in issues involving China and Russia

Of course, it could be that successive enlargements adding more actors to the deciding table, more disparate national cultures to the decision-making process, and increasingly confrontational policies towards the neighbourhood, are the phenomena to blame for an increasing lack of coordination and cooperation… but let us not allow the utopian dream to be questioned, lest we act in contravention of the already agreed upon EU Treaties’ ‘basic principles’…

  • Certain governments even undermine EU positions on general human rights policy, directly affecting the core of the Union’s value-based foreign policy.

Again, so why aren’t all rebels expelled? Would any core EU members be expelled if they broke the rules? Because it is a safe bet they sustain and arm more human rights abusers than the eastern ‘proto-authoritarians’.

  • A multispeed EU is in the offing anyway, and it is the (suboptimal) solution if there is no other way to advance European integration (and it must advance, for there still are areas in which only a stronger EU role can safeguard the national interest of the member states).

This is called a contradiction in terms: if European integration continues to impose itself on more and more areas of sovereign decision-making, how can it possibly augment the emphasis on safeguarding the national interest? It is after all EU officials themselves who keep denouncing ‘nationalism’ as a peril. That does not go hand in hand with claiming to defend the national interest.

  • NATO and the EU can no longer be disentangled. If one weakens the bond between nations in the EU, ipso facto one weakens ties in NATO.

So, those states that decided it was wisest to remain members but of one… Were they populist? Were they “weakening the bond between nations”? Which other international organisations are now sacred to the point that apostasy is sin? If only the EU and NATO are sacred, is it now blasphemy to maintain parallel structures such as EFTA or the Council of Europe? Like the Francophonie?…

  • Even without the suspicion surrounding Trump’s links to Russia …  and his apparent links with Russia

What links? Do actual factual ‘links’ with less than recommendable regimes in MENA and the Eastern Neighbourhood count as ‘suspicious’ if said links favour pro-EU politicians? No, I would think not…

  • at a time when the US is less than fully invested in Europe’s institutions, they are actually isolating themselves.

But not the EU/NATO when they decide that no one else but them can pontificate or judge democracy and human rights? These institutions are, by the way, the ones that embargo and sanction the most in the entire world and on issues such as Kosovo independence or the Crimea annexation, it is very much Brussels that is isolated.

  • by artificially stirring anti-EU feeling they are rendering their citizens more vulnerable to Russian propaganda.

All countries propagandise. As for ‘artificial’, a very curious word to use by someone who speaks on behalf of an organisation that spends billions promoting itself… What? No faith in the ‘natural’ unsponsored views of its citizens and potential sympathisers?…

  • In a reversal of history, a strong democratic EU can act as a beacon for democratic forces in the US

This is perfectly delusional since north-Americans are the ones who possess a cultural distrust of the power of the state, not Europeans. Even if it were to take place, this is one more proof that what is being defended in this article and by the EU institutions in general, is a private ideology and NOT the overall national interest of the member-states.

  • The European Commission is keeping up the pressure on governments that violate the Treaties, including, most recently, by proposing to leverage financial support in the next Multi-Annual Financial Framework

Is this in the national interest of those member states too? Would those citizens share that view?

  • People must understand that in reality neither Russia nor any other outside actor has anything to offer to a citizen of the EU.

Not biased nor extreme in the slightest. What happened to all the talk of anti-isolationism and international cooperation?…

  • Or would anybody opt for a Russian pension plan?

Crimeans did. Fairly certain a number of Ukrainians would too, at this stage…

  • This means investment in the economy, but it probably also means that a new deal in European social policy is the indispensable bulwark against foreign intrusion.

Except the kind of foreign meddling that effectively abrogates sovereign competencies and subverts the national interest, that kind is not intrusive in the least.

  • the equality of European citizens,

then they complain the EU is equated with the USSR in the east…

  • and thus the cohesion of European societies and the stability of European politics,

Yes, EU multicultural policies and NATO radical interventionism have worked wonders for European social cohesion and political stability.

  • unanimous decision-making on foreign policy (CFSP, not defence or CSDP) should be abandoned in favour of decisions by qualified majority voting.

Yet additional emphasis on the national interest and defence against foreign intrusion, no doubt.

  • giving up on individual short-term interests guarantees everyone’s interests in the long-term.

This is true but not in the form of the EU/NATO. Brussels characterises itself, in fact, by the very opposite: by populist and emotional appeals to humanitarian principles and international pacifism which are always popular among voters, IN DETRIMENT of cold and rational approaches to the harsh reality of international politics. NATO is more vulnerable today with liabilities such as the Baltic or Balkan bantustans as members, not safer; and its interventions are always portrayed as humanitarian crusades, yet invariably end in disaster.

In the long term, the post-modern iterations of NATO and the EU have been hurting the national interest and security of its members.


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