Monday, June 27, 2005

An interesting theory

The EU’s squidgy soft foreign policy has done a great deal of harm in the Middle East. It has been consistently anti-Israeli, a pro-western democratic state, for all its faults, to the point when accusations of anti-semitism have been thrown around.

It has turned a blind eye to the fact that EU money was going to the Palestinian Authority that was openly subsidizing terrorist groups such as Fatah and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade. It has insisted on keeping the late unlamented Chairman Yasser Arafat in the centre of the picture, even though it was clear that his malign influence was preventing any hope of a peaceful settlement or the creation of a democratic Palestinian state (as opposed to any old Palestinian state run as a private fiefdom by Arafat and his friends and relations).

A recent article on the TechCentral website by Rory Miller, Senior Lecturer in Mediterranean Studies at King’s College, London, enumerates many such examples.

The PLO and its successor the PA never quite renounced terrorism either against Israel or, for that matter, their own people but that did not prevent the EU from lending its support.

Indeed, the PLO and the PA and Arafat himself have always assumed that they do not need to try all that hard to negotiate or rein in the terrorist groups, because they will always have Western Europe’s support.

Progress became possible only after Arafat’s death and the uncertain first steps made by Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazren), under American pressure, to deal with the various heavily armed groups milling around in the area.

Mr Miller speculates at the reason for this behaviour on the part of the Europeans that has not only not helped the Palestinians but has, actually, set back the possibility of a Palestinian state and some kind of a decent life for its people.
“Some point to Europe's long-time indifference to the suffering of Israelis, which in turn has been attributed to a visceral anti-Israeli feeling within Europe due to guilt over the Holocaust and a belief that Israel is the last bastion of colonialism in the Middle East. Some go even further and blame anti-Semitism.

Others explain the European stance as an inevitable function of Europe's post-1945 world-view, which places a premium on negotiation and non-confrontation as well as a commitment to finding economic solutions to political problems. Still others attribute the European position to the fact that the EU, the largest financial donor to the Palestinian Authority since its creation, simply cannot bring itself to acknowledge the PA's failings.”
Some of us have preferred to view this as an inevitable outcome of the EU’s problem: the desire to create a common foreign policy without any common interests. The policy's central plank is, therefore, an opposition to whatever the United States might do.

Mr Miller comes up with an even more intriguing explanation:
“But there is another possible explanation, which goes something like this:Despite its long-time public support for Palestinian statehood the EU is secretly committed to preventing the establishment of a viable and sovereign Palestinian state. As part of this policy, it has turned a blind eye, and even excused, the worst excesses of the Palestinian leadership, knowing full well that in doing so it has not only diluted US efforts to stem Palestinian rejectionism, but has actually prolonged the conflict. It gives the Palestinian leadership little incentive to moderate its positions or meet its formal commitments.”
Not impossible, I suppose, but it is taking deviousness to extraordinarily self-defeating lengths.

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