Thursday, December 22, 2005

strange stuff: Not Little England's case for the EU

OK, many many posts on Europe in a row not good for my sanity, but it's only fair to link to Chris' critique of part of my ideas. However, I'm not sure Chris has understood exactly what I'm getting at, probably as I haven't explained myself properly. It's not opposition to China specifically, nor Russia, India or the US. It's the recognition that over the next 50 years, these will be the dominant power blocks. It's going to be either this, multipolar world, or a unipolar world, with the US as the dominant hyperpower. I'm not sure what is the most likely of the two, but I am pretty sure one or the other is very likely compared to other possible futures.

Without the EU, we'd have no choice but to join the Anglosphere and promote the idea of the US as hyperpower, making a unipolar world more likely. With the EU, we have a different option. It's not perfect, but at least we're a fairly big player within it, at least we're actually listened to, and not just a junior partner, a 'poodle' to use the current vernacular.

The other part of Chris' analysis is about Chirac. Can we all, across the blogosphere agree that we just don't like the man? He won his election by default, he's not popular in France and is increasingly marginalised. So, while this:
In the words of Jacques Chirac:
"Reasons of international balance justify strengthening links between Europe and China, I’d even say between Europe, Russia and China."
So one of the current leaders of the EU, and a good representaive of a strong current within it's rulign structures, want's an EU that is the exact opposite
of what Mat is proposing
Is true, but it's only one perspective. Chirac's vision is losing ground; 'New Europe', the people Thatcher et al worked hard (and rightly so) to get in, aren't particular fans of Chirac's social model, nor necessarily agree with his worldview. However, Chirac does have a point.

China is not a nice place, it doesn't have a nice government, and the Chinese Firewall is just nasty. But things are changing in China, things are improving, and, as in the UK in the 19th Century, the growth of an urban middle class will, eventually (I hope), bring democratic changes. Is France's playing of realpolitic necessarily moral or correct? No.

But it is undertandable. The whole point of a multipolar world is that with multiple powers, changing alliances of mutual advantage are necessary. The EU, with China and Russia, can balance American hegemonic tendencies (and if anyone doubts that elements within the US administration has hegemonic tendencies, I give you PNAC), but it doesn't mean a permanent alliance with the illiberal powers; it means we have other options ither than simply allying ourselves with one power. The Americans know there are other options.

So, essentially, the EU is a chance to be a global player, and Britain has the opportunity to be a leading light within the EU. If we want a say in the globalised world, we need to be allied with or part of a big player. I, personally, prefer to be part of the EU, and reform its problems. If you prefer the Anglosphere, fine, I respectfully disagree. But I can't see any other player in town. If you do, please feel free to let me know...

3 comments:

Andrew said...

Without the EU, we'd have no choice but to join the Anglosphere and promote the idea of the US as hyperpower, making a unipolar world more likely.

This doesn't follow at all. Just because there are going to be large countries that are dominant, it doesn't necessarily make sense to form into large blocs to dilute that dominance in some way. Certainly, it is one option, but it is far from inevitable. You're also conflating several issues here. Just because those countries are likely to be economically dominant, it doesn't mean that we should form grand political alliances. To challenge economic dominance, we need economic alliances.

With the EU, we have a different option. It's not perfect, but at least we're a fairly big player within it, at least we're actually listened to, and not just a junior partner.

This isn't at all true. Apart from the rebate, can you name a time in the last 30 years that we have persuaded the EU to choose an option that we have proposed? We are not listened to, as empirical evidence shows - the EU looks nothing like our ideal model for such a union. The reason we have any influence at all is because of the various veto's, which we have steadily given away. Now it may be that the Eastern European nations will vote with us more often than not. And it may not be. Maybe they'll get a taste for vast state subsidies as well. I'd rather not rely on other countries sticking up for our national interest.

The EU, with China and Russia, can balance American hegemonic tendencies (and if anyone doubts that elements within the US administration has hegemonic tendencies, I give you PNAC), but it doesn't mean a permanent alliance with the illiberal powers

This sort of comment always vaguely disturbs me. Recent decisions aside, the Americans are a pretty decent lot. They might not always be, granted, but for now, they tend to do the right thing. Setting up another power bloc to challenge their dominance seems to me to be a recipe for another cold war, especially with language like this.

And one final point: I always find it odd that people with very strong isolationist foreign policy leanings crave this 'influence' so much on the world stage. After all, what does it matter whether Britain dominates or not? Whether we are heard or not? As long as we are able to continue trading, who gives a crap where we are in the global influence leagues?

chris said...

Looking at where the EU is, where it is going, and where I would like us to be then yes moving with the Anglosphere is a much better bet than the EU.

The current US hegemony will not last, the new blocks will rise and whether the UK allied closer with the US or EU is going to make no difference to that.

So we should be backing the power blocks that are most likely to aid liberty, that is the US and India.

The EU prefers China and Russia, as can be seen by it's attempts to get the arms embargo on China lifted and cooperate with them on Galileo, a system specifically set up in opposition to the US's GPS. It seems to be willing to ignore what they are because of what they are not, since they are not america. The EU's strategy seems more based on jealousy of American economic might than any other motive. This is not a good way to bring about a better world.

I quoted Chirac because despite the fact that he has basically no mandate and is only clinging on to power to avoid jail he still has more influence over the EU than any British politician. He is more in tune with EU institutions than any of les rosbif ever will be.

This can be seen from the recent budget negotiations. Blair was in a position to block them until he got CAP reform. He had the carrot of giving up the rebate. What happens, CAP is untouched and the rebate reduced anyway.

We have less influence over the EU despite being in it than we do over the US as it's junior partner. We can at least sometimes get stuff out of the US, like over Kosovo.

Martin Keegan said...

This all sounds like it would be nationalism if pursued in the name of a nation state rather than the EU.

Anyway, it's surely not your contention that there we should be prepared to sacrifice everything for this vision? If not, do you really think satisfying this vision is worth suffering the ills I describe in that post of mine?