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Two articles from over the Pond

Posted by Helen Wednesday, September 03, 2008 , , , , ,

Though the American media and blogosphere on the left seems to be taken up with dishing dirt - some relevant, most not so - about Sarah Barracuda, with the occasional irruption of fingernail-gnawing comments of what an utterly bad choice she was and how this will give the Dems the election, other matters do turn up as well, though mostly on the other side of the spectrum.

Oh, before I leave the subject of Governor Palin, here is an interesting reading of the situation by the highly regarded "maverick" blogger Spengler.

On to what really matters and that is what to do about Russia (and if there is one politician who knows about that country, it is the Governor of Alaska). John O'Sullivan produces a jeu d'esprit in the New York Post in which he envisages that famous 3 a.m. phone call for President Obama but as he says the situation would be much the same for President McCain, though he is unlikely to be quite so wimpish. Also, I don't think President Obama will make Hillary Clinton his Secretary of State. But as to what the Europeans might do if there is another crisis, the description is fairly accurate.

"Maybe the Germans can lean on them," mused the president, remembering his warm reception in Berlin.

"Germany won't agree to using force without a UN resolution. It's a constitutional thing with them," chimed in the secretary of state.

"I'm not talking force, Hillary," replied the president. "That's Bush-think. No, we have to respond with diplomacy and, as a last resort, sanctions."

"Maybe the Germans can impose oil and gas sanctions on Russia," said Mrs. Clinton sweetly. "Sit in the dark and warm themselves by burning the money they've saved until the Kremlin crumbles."

"Well, there's a united Europe today," replied the president, brightening. "Sanctions by the whole European Union would worry the Russians. Aren't they a possibility?"

"We'll know for sure in two weeks, sir, when the European Summit meets to discuss the crisis. But the signs aren't good. Poland and the Baltic states want a strong response, but they lack the clout of Germany and France. I'd say a moderately worded rebuke to Moscow is the best we can hope for."
Mr O'Sullivan's conclusion is entirely predictable and is obviously correct, since it is completely in line with what this blog has been saying for some time.

Multilateral forces can work only if there is a clear agreement of what the purpose is and who provides those forces. The European Union, on the other hand, without managing to provide an alternative by way of power, soft or hard, has an entirely negative effect on Western ability to deal with crises:

If the next US president wants effective multilateralism, he must re-establish NATO as the sole supplier of European security. Otherwise, when the phone rings, he'll have one rival to call instead of 25 allies.
There is, presumably, the possibility of re-creating NATO in a completely different form, which would leave out a number of West European countries.

One of the editorials in today's Wall Street Journal is also on the EU's inability to deal with the situation created by President Medvedev's refusal to live up to any of the agreements, supposedly sealed, signed and delviered by President Sarkozy, whose country holds the rotating presidency.

"Stop! Or we'll say stop again!" just about sums up the outcome of Monday's grand summit, whether it is the comedian Robin Williams's line or not.

We are glad to see that the newspaper is not falling for Sarkozy's bully tactics with which he tries to masquerade his own incompetence:
Mr. Sarkozy also insisted that his efforts to reach a cease-fire had borne fruit. The Georgians might disagree. Russia has used the agreement's vague language to justify a continued presence in Georgia far beyond the original conflict zone. The cease-fire called for international talks about the separatist regions, but that didn't stop Mr. Medvedev from recognizing their independence.

The most cynical comment of the day was Mr. Sarkozy's attempt to use the conflict to bully the Irish over their rejection of the EU's Lisbon Treaty in June. "This crisis has shown that Europe needs to have strong and stable institutions" like those it would have gotten under Lisbon, Mr. Sarkozy said.

No, what Europe needs is political will. Rather than scolding Irish voters, Mr. Sarkozy would do better to name and shame those member states whose desire to curry favor with Moscow keeps the EU from taking a firmer stand.
The one problem is that the Wall Street Journal still considers that Europe and the European Union are one and the same, thus assuming that "Europe" can have such a thing as political will.