Considering what a total farce its mission to Chad has become, the EU is getting a very easy ride from the media. Only yesterday, the BBC allowed an EU spokeswoman to intone how the deployment its force had been delayed because of the latest fighting, without a shade of criticism over the four month delay. Nowhere, in fact, does there seem to be any mention of the inability of the EU to get its act together.
Somebody who has noticed, however, is Geoffrey Van Orden, defence spokesman for the Conservatives in the EU parliament who notes that Javier Solana's claim that the mission has been suspended because Chad is not peaceful enough for a peace-keeping force puts this whole enterprise into perspective.
It was never clear, he says, how a ramshackle force of 3,700 soldiers from 14 countries, for which there was little enthusiasm, was going to protect 400,000 refugees spread across 200,000 square miles of arid ground. Far from proving the need for an EU mission, the fresh streams of refugees from the capital only underline the misguided nature of the planned deployment.
From the start, he adds, this enterprise was all about flying the EU flag in order to chalk up another few points to prove that the EU had a military role to play.
The news agency Reuters also offers some analysis - from Bjoern Seibert, author of a study on the EU deployment. He reinforces the myth that the EU deployment was halted by force majeur, stating that the recent two-day assault by rebel fighters in armed pickup trucks had the hallmarks of a pre-emptive move against the European mission.
"It was a really good moment for the rebels to strike," said Seibert, arguing that the rebels appeared to see the arrival of European troops as impacting on the fragile balance of power in Chad. "The (EU) force would have shouldered some of the security responsibility that burdened Deby, provided him with a strategic pause, which would have allowed him to concentrate his forces in defeating the rebels," he added.
Nevertheless, Seibert also concludes that the EU "force", backed by around ten helicopters, would be under-strength for its mission to protect civilians in a vast operations area of 350,000 square kilometres, with underdeveloped infrastructure. And, "given the increased instability on the ground, such a force level seems even more inadequate," he adds.
Any which way you cut it, therefore, the EU's attempts to send a mission to Chad have been a dismal failure yet, as so often, the failure goes unremarked. No wonder there is so little public passion in the ratification of the Lisbon treaty. Not only are we not told that the EU is now our supreme government, we are also not told how bad it is.