Monday, May 07, 2007

A European Council on Foreign Relations?

George Soros, the billionaire, spent $27.5 million in 2004 to try to defeat George W. Bush. Clearly, the man is a huge success in political terms. He is now pouring money into Barack Obama's campaign. If I were Obama and his advisers I'd feel a little worried.

Soros also funds other organizations like MoveOn.org, dedicated to the overthrow of the, in their minds, illegitimate Bush administration and American hegemony, while they are at it, and Human Rights Watch, whose purpose appears to be to write anti-American and anti-Israeli reports. His activities in the former Communist countries are separate and have, actually, produced useful results, where he has not been thrown out.

Clearly, the man has decided that he cannot win in the United States - money does not necessarily buy political power in a democracy. So, he has turned to Europe (whatever that might mean to him) and announced that he will set up a European Council on Foreign Relations. He announced this, yesterday at a conference in Oxford and added:
Europe has to be interested in recreating what used to be called the West, based on the principles of international cooperation. Out of this idea came the idea of founding a European Council on Foreign Relations.
Well, that's nice. Is this the equivalent of the one telephone number that Henry Kissinger used to long for?

After all, it is not clear where the Council will be set up and whom it is going to advise in the way the original one advises the State Department or other parts of the American government (usually rather badly). So, is the European Council going to be in Brussels, advising Javier Solana and the incipient EU diplomatic corps? Or is it going to compete with the German Council on Foreign Relations or our own Chatham House or Foreign Policy Centre?

Answer seems there to be none but one thing has emerged immediately - this will be a sinecure for Professor Tim Garton Ash, who is advising Soros on the project. What does Professor Garton Ash say?
"Our resources are similar to the United States, but we punch pathetically below our weight," Timothy Garton Ash, a professor of European Studies at Oxford University who is helping Mr. Soros with the plans, said in an interview. "The idea is to contribute a European voice. It's still in the making."
Who is this "we" one wonders.

According to Bloomberg:
Garton Ash said that the new institute would concern itself with global inequality and climate change. Soros said that integrating China into international institutions was a reason why the group would be needed.
Why he thinks that Europeans are going to decide what China does or does not do remains a mystery. But that's the problem with all these "internationalists" - they rarely know what goes on outside their own backyard.

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