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One must not misoverestimate one’s enemy

Posted by Helen Monday, May 23, 2005

We are indebted for that word to one of our most faithful readers and commenters, Mikhael Gennser, who pointed out that the Bush neologism “misunderestimate” can be turned round.

I have finally managed to look at the infamous advertisements run by some of the Dutch MEPs, that have caused an outcry in that country.

It is difficult to tell what is fuelling the growing Dutch opposition to the Constitution: it could be a general discontent with the way Dutch and European politics are going; it could be the now officially acknowledged miscalculation over the euro; it could be the shambles of the Eurovision song contest (is that not a perennial problem?).

It would be very good to think that it is, in fact, the outrageous pro-Constitution video, fronted by four MEPs that convinced a number of those who had not intended to vote, to go out on June 1 and say no to the whole caboodle.

The pictures and words are clearly comprehensible even if one’s knowledge of Dutch is limited. In effect, they are saying that without the Constitution there will be more Holocausts, more Srebrenices, more Madrid bombs.

The Dutch are very sensitive on the first two issues, having been accused of collaborating under the Nazi occupation (though their record is no worse and often better than many others’) and being the ones who supplied the particular battalion that first disarmed the men and boys of Srebrenice, then effectively handed them over to the Serb militia. They were never seen again alive.

To be fair, again, the Srebrenice debacle happened under UN auspices and, while the Dutch government conducted and exhaustive enquiry, produced a report and resigned, the UN and its leadership merely shrugged its collective shoulders.

It is, nevertheless, an odd one to bring up, not least because the Yugoslav war was the largest in post-1945 Europe and coincided with the creation of the European Union.

The EU was around during all the years that the Al-Qaeda cells grew and multiplied in Spain and it is not quite clear how it could prevent another possible bomb attack similar to the one in Madrid last year.

One can go on arguing the historical imbecility of all this propaganda and, indeed, we all have, not least the people who responded to Margot Wallström’s stupidity over Theresienstadt.

The question does remain as to why the yes campaign considers it a good idea to keep coming up with these arguments. Do they really believe what they say: that only further integration and the creation of a European state will stand between us and another Franco-German war, another Holocaust, another massacre, another terrorist attack?

If they do believe it, how do their minds work? Have they looked at the history of the specific events? It looks like the answer to that might be no, as there is a marked tendency to refer to such events as the Holocaust as something that just happened as a result of bad karma, presumably, not as something that was brought about by real people, influenced by real ideologies.

The yes campaigners, or, at least, some of them, presumably, do genuinely believe that without the EU Germany will invade France (or, alternatively, the French will invade Germany, specifically the Ruhr); that without the constitution gas chambers will become functional again across Europe; that a yes vote in France or the Netherlands will guarantee that terrorists will never strike again.

And yet, they are allowed to run around unsupervised and even to make public pronouncements. It is a rum world.