20 September, 2010

Council5 : European Council secretly decides on secretive G27 Foreign Policy Process

'This is the beginning of a process for a European Foreign Policy,' declared the President of the European Council, Mr Herman van Rompuy. He was speaking at the curt and unilluminating press conference after leaving the secret conclave of leaders of the European Council on 16 September 2010. It was reportedly a stormy meeting. However the public does not know for sure, because the alleged shouting match took place in private.

The European Council wants ownership of the EU's foreign policy, Mr van Rompuy said. It would be implemented by other European institutions including the European Commission and the External Action Service. Policy declarations covered the Balkans, the Middle East and the Eastern Partnership.

Unfortunately, he did not explain why such foreign policy should be conceived and determined in secrecy. After all, we are dealing with public policy. When it comes to public policy Robert Schuman said that all the Councils and Committees and other bodies should be open to the public and subject to intensive public scrutiny. Economic and political integration must be 'based on a democratic foundation,' Schuman wrote in his book Pour l'Europe, p145.

What we have instead is an attempt to create public policy in secret. That is an oxymoron.

It is also a very dangerous idea. The world is convulsed by major global problems. Secretive banksters involved in trillion dollar frauds have sapped the economy. The legalities of sub-prime loans and toxic packages are still subject to court cases, affecting actions of all political leaders. Will further trillion dollar deals among the financial elites be again conducted in democratic obscurity? Should international budget matters amounting to thousands or millions of euros be subject to democratic scrutiny while those amounting to billions or trillions of dollars not get any? Shouldn't they get a few thousand times more scrutiny?

Other multinational trading companies have larger budgets than many nation States. They thumb their noses at international laws. Is this the time for leaders to make foreign policy without any democratic control?

'We can only be strong if we are united,' said Mr van Rompuy. However, it should be recalled that the European Community and the EU is not the G27. Uniting the leaders in secret (if that can be done) is not the same as European democracy. It is pure inter-governmentalism. It will not bring a coherent foreign policy. It will leave Europe vulnerable and weak.

Firstly, what do European leaders mean by European Foreign Policy? They seem to mean the policy that 27 people plus one chairman make in a closed room as far away from the eyes and ears of democrats as possible. Secret agreements between heads of government do not make Community foreign policy. It has little or no democratic legitimacy, no supranational foundation. It is purely an intergovernmental agreement. And not even that, because the other ministers are banned from the discussion.

The Founding Fathers knew that inter-governmentalism was too fragile for the present dangerous world. The Council-style decree has not been subjected to democratic criticism. It has received no democratic assent. It has not even been debated. Strength comes from public consent after a full debate and democratic law.

Council communiques are not the Foreign Policy of the European Union, that is, the values and interests of 500 million people with their jobs, families, organizations and values. The leaders may think themselves clever. But how can even the greatest brains work out what is in the interest as far as some citizen in the far-off Arctic and the islands of Greece? The idea that heads of government can formulate a foreign policy by themselves simply lacks democratic legitimacy. Unless they show a democratic assent, citizens must conclude there is at least a good possibility they are doing it all for themselves or their own PR glory.

It is Gaullism writ large. Charles de Gaulle said in 1946 that the State must repose on the interest and sentiment of the nation. However he wasn't interested in finding out what that was. He wasn't willing to listen. That was why he was kicked out. Then, ten years later, he seized power again in what another president called a permanent coup d'Etat.

A leader or leaders with flawed character will create flawed foreign policy. De Gaulle thought he was the only one who could decide foreign policy. De Gaulle did not tell his ministers what his foreign policy was .... until he pronounced it. Once this decree was made, his ministers had to rush around and tell everyone how good and great his decisions were. This often strained their "diplomatic skills" to find a positive spin.

He decided without telling his ministers that the United Kingdom, and by implication the candidate countries, Norway, Ireland and Denmark, should not be members of the Community of Europe. He did not tell anyone until he announced it. Not to parliament. Not to the Quai d'Orsay. Not to the foreign ministries of the candidate countries. Probably not to his wife or his dog.

He announced it to journalists, based on a planted question, at one of his fawning press conferences. He decided on another occasion that France should expel NATO Strategic Headquarters from French soil. Because of the reputation of Schuman in foreign affairs, France had gained this prestigious prize, so de Gaulle tried to undo it. It was only recently that France rejoined the NATO military structures. It was de Gaulle's expensive folly.

At other times he just popped major strategic policy out in a speech such as when in 1967 on an official visit he cried: 'Vive le Quebec libre!' inciting Quebec to break away from the Canadian federation. His diplomats then had to try to explain what he meant and support the Gaullist policy. Gaullism was foreign policy without the control of democracy.

The Council is now announcing a neo-Gaullist path of foreign policy. It is by decree of the political cartel of the Council. I am sorry to have to tell them that we are dealing with 27 democracies not 27 countries bound in an autocratic Gaullist federation from the Urals to the Atlantic. This is not the time of Charlemagne. It is the new era of supranational democracies.

Secondly, secret foreign policy deals were denounced in recent history as the cause of wars. After World War One, the US President Woodrow Wilson identified as one of the causes of war the lack of open treaties openly agreed. The League of Nations was set up to make sure that treaties and international agreements did not have hidden clauses like the German Rapallo agreement after the war.

Thirdly, foreign policy formulation even by so-called democrats is too often undemocratic. It can be harmful, and even worse. Who knows what the so-called democratic leaders get up to in secret? The Rapallo agreement in 1922 on secret German rearmament was not made by Hitler but by a democratic Weimar government. Germany plotted with the Soviet Union to re-arm against the international community, making it easy for the seizure of power by Hitler.

Should we trust today's so-called democratic leaders? Do they really know what is the common European interest? Are they even working for the long-term benefit of a nation or for the TV news exposure and tomorrow's press headlines?

They wouldn't do anything as sinister as Rapallo, would they? Well, first remember that the German democrats probably thought they were doing good. They acted to support the German armament cartels. Then look at what we have now. The present Middle East policy is typically one of trillion dollar cartels and should be exposed to a full democratic debate.

Those at the European Council were the leaders or their successors who promised that after the French and Dutch public had rejected the Lisbon Treaty there would be a full democratic consultation about the next step. What did they do? They simply brought in the Constitutional Treaty that had been rejected by other means (without further referendums). They merely changed the name to the Lisbon Treaty while the contents stayed practically the same.

The easiest word for this is hypocrisy and there are a lot of harder words I could use. The conclusion is that the so-called democratic leaders simply cannot be trusted to keep their word.

Fourthly, their method proves they are pseudo-democrats, what Schuman called counterfeit democrats. If they had reformed their ways, if they were really democrats, they would have opened the doors of the European Council to the press. They didn't. Why? They did not want the public -- whom they are supposed to represent -- to see their real interests and character. There were rumours and documents in circulation, Mr Barroso confirmed later, that there was sharp exchange of words amounting to a shouting match going on. A very unseemly sight to see on television, enough to frighten the children.

Fifthly, under the Lisbon Treaty there is no democratic or independent parliamentary control worth speaking of. The leaders like to meet in party political conclave before the European Councils, they do not meet with other democratic institutions. They do not meet with the public. Why?

Political parties are the largest lobbyist groups in Europe. They are not very successful in getting public support or even votes at elections. They have little funds, except the money they get from the taxpayers. Yet policy and ideology is pliable enough to accept funding directly or indirectly from the rich and from powerful international corporations, even sovereign funds from abroad. Who is making the policies of the parties? Certainly not the public.

Parliament provides no real forum for debate. It is composed of the same coalition of major parties. It lacks public support. More people refuse to vote than vote for any of its parties. The proportion of people refusing to vote out of disgust or disinterest is increasing at each election.

Why before the European Council do the leaders meet in separate, equally secret groupings as members of political parties, conservative, liberal, socialist, etc? It is to reinforce party political policy, to force it through the European Council. Is this democratic? Consider that 98 percent of the European public are not members of any political party and you will see that this not a representative way to approach a European Council.

It is a political cartel at work. This is the same process used by economic cartels to 'fix' the market and cream off huge illegal profits. Politicians are not going to talk about anything else but pushing through party ideology. That is both unjust and undemocratic. Politics based on ideology is a failed cause. Witness the failed ideologies of the twentieth century. Parties vote in blocks and are now subject to other factors.

Sixthly -- and here we come to another dangerous bit -- secret foreign policy is easily corruptible. The European Commission regularly gives fines of around one billion euros for illegal cartel activities. 'Respectable' US firms and many European ones have had to cough up because they were caught out in illegal activities. If you had a billion euros and wanted to avoid another fine, what would you do? How do lobbyists work? They try to influence Commission officials, maybe MEPs etc.

However the most effective means to influence policy is to influence either the government minister or the political party the minister belongs to. Then the minister becomes, wittingly or unwittingly, an advocate of an industrial group or labour union or consumer group. Thus democratic control is especially needed to determine what happens inside meetings of ministers. A minister can easily convince or delude him- or herself. He may think that what he is advocating is good for an industry and is good for the country. One American politician, an industrialist appointed Secretary of Defence, said that 'For years I thought what was good for the country was good for General Motors and vice versa'. That sort of thinking is shortsighted self deception.

Seventhly, how should foreign policy be composed? Foreign policy should be totally inclusive of all sections of society. Is this possible, critics may ask. Certainly, but only under a supranational democracy. All policy issues must pass through five democratic institutions who should be subject to democratic accountability. Each institution should check the others. A real European foreign policy should be organized in the following fashion. The citizens have to permit a European foreign policy first in one sector. That sector has to be designated for its importance. The Commission in full dialogue with all sections of organized civil society identifies what is the specific guideline that should be promoted as policy. It agrees to an overall framework, whether an Energy Community, a coal and steel community, or a transport community. This has to have the full assent of the all the people. (The weakness of the Lisbon/constitutional Treaty system is that it tries to include all sectors and it does not have popular assent, having ignored the referendums.)

Specific parts of the foreign policy are defined by acts of European law that are democratically agreed upon by the five supranational institutions. For example, one strand could be based on a regulation that identifies the reduction of Carbon or energy use in manufacturing, or forbidding the use of a dangerous product. It might ban a chemical product as dangerous or carcinogenic.The foreign policy would be that no such chemicals should be imported into the EU by foreign firms. It could define methods so that Europeans would not be endangered by imports.

The Community approach requires that principles and values are defined in law. Any citizen, organisation or institution has the right to challenge any violation against these European values in any court of the land.

That is a universe away from the neo-Gaullism that the European Council is trying to promote.

13 September, 2010

Plan D needed more than ever: Democracy, Dialogue and Debate

On 13 October 2005, European officials launched a Plan D for Democracy, Dialogue and Debate.

They did this as a response: the European people had made their view clear -- they did not want the European Constitutional Treaty. The overall view was confirmed by referendums in The Netherlands and France. One such 'NO' should have been sufficient. The public was against the confused and confusing alternative presented to them. It was not an improvement to the previous treaties, no matter how much they had been despised, ignored and distorted by past self-serving nationalist leaders (like de Gaulle and others).

Referendums promised for the United Kingdom and elsewhere were unceremoniously and undemocratically abandoned. Why? We can now see that further massive Noes would have made the later strategy of the political cartel (that was not interested in democracy) even more difficult.

A Debate ??? Never did any of the institutions -- as far as I am aware -- publish the original documents describing how the Founding Fathers defined European supranational democracy.

While with one side of their mouth they used the words Democracy, Dialogue and Debate, with the other they plotted to install a political cartel.

How did the politicians act? Did they destroy the failed and rejected treaty? Did they ask how European democracy could be improved? Did they examine how the Community system had proved so successful since the Schuman Declaration of 1950 and examine how this longest peace and prosperity had been achieved? Did the party politicians promise that the next treaty they would propose would be so eminently democratic that it would pass muster even if 27 States held referendums? (The fully functioning democratic Community system could assure this.)

Not at all. They did the opposite. They devised a scheme that imposed what had been rejected. They rendered all public debate impossible. The ministers themselves described their disreputable grand design as to ensure 'incomprehensibility' to make it deliberately 'unreadable' and 'impenetrable'.

How on earth could people who describe themselves as democrats -- in fact the representatives of 27 democratic States -- collude so shamefully in deceit? Power tends to corrupt, absolute power absolutely.

In the democracy-darkened corridors of the Council, where de Gaulle's henchmen used to strong-arm the small countries and make 'package deals' of wine lakes and meat mountains to bribe voters, all made the deal. All were suborned. Was there not a single honest leader amongst the 27 leaders of government and State who objected to this duplicity and fraud? Apparently not. Pseudo-democrats deceived themselves together. The two or three major political parties made a cartel by a pact of blood.

They should not deceive themselves. It was not an innocent deal. All Europeans will pay the cost of this democratic injustice in the future. Cartels fleece the customers, blunt wise action and end in tears, too often unforeseen bloodshed.

The political cartel cut the Constitutional Treaty into a series of amendments to the existing treaties. They tried to pass the whole thing off as merely amendments to treaties that did not require democratic assent. Amendments, they said hypocritically, do not require a democratic debate with the people. Really? That would seem to depend on their importance. This is especially the case when the 'amendments' seek to destroy the democratic heritage of more than half a century.

Then they refused to publish the consolidated text. That was a deliberate act to stop citizens discussing its contents. They told parliaments to whip the party members of parliament without even a full text in front of their eyes.

In spite this censorship, some universities and private organizations did try to assemble the texts from the confusing jig-saw bits. They found they could not even publish a definitive text. The text of the Treaty -- affecting 500 million citizens -- was passed around like some sort of Samizdat, the clandestine, banned literature illegally distributed inside the Soviet Union! The public was allowed little or no dialogue or debate on the political powers described in the Lisbon Treaty. What a travesty of any sort of democracy!

The little the public understood was that it was the same as the Constitutional Treaty that had been roundly rejected as unworkable, confusing, anti-democratic and gave powers to a self-selected elite in the form of a political cartel. Parliament would lose its power to sack the Commission. It would open the doors to a new wave of corruption among political parties.

The Council cartel maintained Lisbon was different from the Constitutional treaty because it left out reference to the European Flag. Oh really? Who was objecting to the European Flag? Practically no one! It did not harm anyone. Is this the crux of the constitutional treaty? Isn't it rather that it replaced the democratic philosophy and democratic law of the Founding Fathers by a confused and confusing hodgepodge with its multiplicity of high-paid presidents? Is this talk of Lisbon being a different treaty from the rejected Constitutional Treaty not just dishonest duplicity? Judge for yourself. Has the European Flag disappeared from public and private buildings, official letterheads and documents?

Such distortion and dissimulation is contrary to the conscience of any honest person. It is contrary to the principles of democracy, as enunciated by Robert Schuman and the founding Fathers of supranational European democracy. It is also contrary to the founding document of Europe, its Magna Carta, the Europe Declaration. The European institutions have refused to publish this key document on democracy for decades. That is a corrupt practice.

In order to pass a treaty that the people had refused, the cartel politicians did not hesitate to change the national constitution of France, ignore firm pledges for referendums and act contrary to the views already expressed with some clarity.

The European Commission and institutions started this debate. They declared it was necessary. We are happy to contribute to the Debate and Dialogue on Democracy with those responsible.

Your comments are welcome.

06 September, 2010

Diplomacy1 Will Europe continue its thirty years of energy and foreign policy FAILURE?

Thirty years ago, the European Communities succumbed abjectly to energy blackmail. It was a shameful act. In fact, a series of shameful events that European leaders would like to forget. My purpose today is to help them remember. At stake is Europe's survival and dealing with its Achilles' heel -- energy.

Under pressure of the Arab-led oil-exporting Cartel, OPEC, which had deployed the 'Oil Weapon,' European leaders meeting at Venice unilaterally changed their foreign policy. They acted out of fear that the oil, their drug of predilection, would again be withdrawn.

Even today some books like to rewrite the Venice Declaration of 1980 as the start of European diplomacy. It was a humiliation! If it is an example, then it shows what principles the new European diplomatic service should NOT follow. With hindsight, everyone can judge this disgraceful episode. Europe appeared like a bag of fighting cats. The leaders were noted for their selfish opportunism to grab the last drop of oil, the devil take the hindmost.

The first casualty of this encounter was truth. That was the price extracted for blackmail. If Europe’s diplomatic service is to act as a reflection of Europe and its values, it should not propagate untruth and encourage and support other, foreign States’ distortions and crookedness. Europe should not bend the truth to the will of others. That is moral cowardice. Yielding to blackmail leads to moral bankruptcy and decline.

The leaders of the European Union as the world's largest economic power cannot afford to act like a bunch of scared school kids. The real answer is to think smart. The whole point of a Community foreign policy is to avoid single States of Europe being attacked and blackmailed. Solidarity around European values brings strength, respect and good judgment. The Community system is a way to unite based on common European values. Truth should be foremost, even at the cost of temporary problems. It has major long-term benefits. The European Community created a system that made 'war not only unthinkable but materially impossible.'

Member States should forge the truth together by discussion among themselves. Among a democratic Community there should be at least one courageous Statesman who values truth. Another could supply shrewdness. A third could help with experience and infrastructure. Europeans have the means and resources not only to solve problems but to give a lead in world politics.

It is no longer the case of the old adage that a diplomat is a person sent to lie for his country. Those days should be over. We have learned that lies, like those of Hitler and Stalin, brought about Europe’s disasters, slavery and mega-deaths. We are faced with major global problems that need honest solutions.

Europe needs to set a firm goal: energy independence by 2020. It is a realistic goal according to some of Europe's top industrialists. Oil will only increase in price as it runs out. Europe must help save the planet from ecological disaster, fueled by petroleum

In the early 1970s European States behaved like a bunch of scared mice who had been found eating someone’s cheese. In this case it was Europe’s addiction to oil. Individually the European States were easily intimidated by the drug-masters.

Tension was rising between Arab States and Israel. In summer 1972 the Saudi King Faisal warned his fellow-Arabs that ‘it is dangerous even to think of the idea’ of using oil supply as a weapon to force European States and USA to change their democratic foreign policy. The USA could survive without Arab oil, he said. The Arabs were also dependent on the West for military support, goods and services. ‘You can’t drink oil,’ other oil-exporting States affirmed.

Alternative plans were afoot, reversing that position. In October 1973 on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year when Jews were fasting and praying, Egypt and Syria, heavily armed with Soviet weapons and with the collusion of other States, launched a massive attack against Israel. Israel was taken unawares.

This was clearly a genocidal attack on Jews living in Israel. General Shazli gave this order to the Egyptian troops a few months before battle was joined:
‘The Jews have gone beyond all limits in arrogance. We, the sons of Egypt, are determined to throw them back, to sweep through their positions, killing and destroying them, to cleanse the shame of the defeat of 1967, and to regain our honour and pride.

Kill them wherever you find them. Beware lest they deceive you, for they are a treacherous people. They pretend to surrender to you so that they can overcome and kill you in a foul manner. Kill them. Do not pity them. Show them no mercy.’
(In 1967, in the Six day War, Israelis had defeated Nasser’s blockade and overthrown the Arab forces that outnumbered Israel three to one.)

President Sadat said he was 'willing to pay one million men as the price of this battle.' More than Egypt was involved. The 1973 Yom Kippur war was planned and launched by a coalition of forces extending far beyond Egypt and Syria. Yet only a few days later Israel had beaten back this vicious, cowardly attack. Instead of being wiped out, Israeli forces even crossed the Suez Canal where the road to Cairo lay open.

That heroic reversal of open aggression was the signal for Saudi Arabia to act. On 18 October 1973 the Saudis deployed its Oil Weapon against the West. Yes, ‘weapon’ is another word for war against Europe and USA. In effect the Saudis and others were attacking the most vital interests of USA and certain European States. They threatened a total embargo. Abu Dhabi and other oil-exporters followed the next day. Arab States as far away as Libya and Algeria continued this embargo well into mid 1974. They ordered immediate cuts of oil deliveries to US and European States. Industry and transport ground to a halt.

The supply side war was followed with economic war. The oil cartel OPEC (Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries) doubled the price and then doubled it again. This had a devastating effect on the balance of payments. It hit the developing countries as much or more as the industrialized world.

The Developing countries paid 150 percent more: $12 billion dollars for oil in 1973 and $30 billion in 1974. In Africa the result was a long sequence of debts, aid, corruption and wars.

Who were the Saudis and its coalition mad at? Any nation that they deemed friendly to Israel.
A joint Arab committee of OPEC divided its customers into three categories: States “friendly,” “hostile” or “neutral.”

What if America, and the West reacted in unison at the blackmail, indirectly amounting to a declaration of war? If the United States, Europe or Japan took any countermeasures, Saudi Arabia then threatened, it would cut its output by 80 per cent. The Saudis calculated that it would paralyze not only the West but probably the world economy. It was like emptying the petrol tank of the planet. Or igniting a flame as it lay spilled. Most of the world’s petroleum came from this area. Japan, heavily dependent on imported oil, later issued a humiliating communique about its change in Middle East policy.

France and Britain had already trimmed their foreign policy to be more Arab-friendly. In 1972 France was 77 percent dependent on Arab oil; Britain around two-thirds. Italy imported nearly 80 percent of its oil from Arab sources: Germany three-quarters. (The USA imported only 12 percent its oil from the Middle East.)

Among their dire enemies, guess who was considered top of the Arab list? Holland and Denmark! Were they enemies of the Arab countries? Hardly. They were not known for their massive arms exports to Israel. It was the USA that supplied Israel with arms. Did they have massive Jewish populations that supported Israel? No, they had citizens of all persuasions who could tell right from wrong. The countries mainly re-imported their fuel from other States. That let them be more impartial in their judgements.

Impartiality was Europe's foreign policy mistake according to OPEC. The Arab oil-exporters demanded that Europe should unilaterally change its policy towards Israel. The oil bullies did not want anyone big or small to stand up for the victim. The biggest enemy was not Holland but TRUTH.

In a democracy, foreign policy is not imposed by outside forces but the citizens themselves decide what their policy should be. A subservient government can be thrown out at the polls. The people have to decide how and when and with what sacrifices they wish to preserve their basic freedoms. It also depends on leaders acting wisely.

Unfortunately, Charles de Gaulle who had seized power in 1958 blocked the means for a common European decision. Previously Gaullists acting in conjunction with the large communist vote in the National Assembly had made sure that the agreement for a common foreign and defence policy on supranational, democratic basis — the European Political Community — was stopped.

Experienced parliamentarians had worked out the plan for the Political Community at the Council of Europe. The Gaullists and the Communists (aided by the Soviet Union) made sure it was the subject of one of the most passionate public debates of modern times. The Community plan had been agreed by all governments of the Six. All the leaders of the European Community and their Allies supported it. It had been confirmed in all their parliaments, except France’s.

In the National Assembly the large bloc votes of Gaullists and Communists were opposed to it. It was not even voted down in the French Parliament. The Gaullists merely supported a motion in August 1954 that the question of this Defence Community ‘be not put.’ Europe’s foreign policy system was frozen. A procedural motion had left Europe open to blackmail and war.

Around this time in the 1950s, the European Community's Wise Men issued a report. It warned of dangers of Europe relying on external energy suppliers. More than just the economy was at stake.

The report, An Objective for Euratom, was clear. The Wise Men, Louis Armand, Franz Eztel and Francesco Giordani, said that unless Europe developed a policy of Energy independence, that also provided cheap energy then Europe would be condemned to a victim of ever-increasing energy costs. That would render Europe economically at risk against its main competitors. Recovery was highly vulnerable. At that time the problem lay not so much in the powerful undemocratic forces of energy suppliers but in the ever-increasing need for energy in a modern economy. Alternative energy sources inside Europe were urgently needed.

A quarter of century later, after de Gaulle was dead, his egotism and obstinacy still had lasting effects. His veto and his policy incoherence had stopped a Community diplomacy in its tracks. It practically broke the European economy.
To be continued.