Thursday, May 20, 2004

An ironic situation


So Mr Blair and Herr Schröder met last night in Downing Street, with two items at the head of their agenda - the proposed EU constitution and plans for the handover of power in Iraq. The irony of this situation is almost unique and should not pass without comment.

On the one hand, there are these two great European leaders earnestly discussing the restoration of sovereignty to Iraq while, on the other hand, they are working out how to give what is left of their own to an unaccountable supranational government based in Brussels.

Half listening to Radio 4’s PM programme yesterday, as one does, I heard a pundit talking about handing over power to the provisional Iraqi government, and whether this would mean giving control of the jails to it. Said our man, “sovereignty is about authority”, the power to run things. That is about as neat a definition as I have heard, and is the crux of the issue on the constitution.

Both Blair and Schröder clearly recognise that, if Iraq is to be an independent nation, it must have the power to run things. It must have the authority to make decisions, and the power to make them stick. It must have sovereignty.

Why then, since these men are so clear about the meaning of sovereignty, are they so keen to give up their own, and why then, in seeking to do so, are they so keen to deny that which is undeniable – that that is what they are doing?

All we learn of the detail of the talks, however, is that the two leaders had a "positive and constructive exchange of views". Could perhaps they now have a similar "positive and constructive exchange of views" with their own populations, and explain why its is that what is deemed essential for the Iraqis should be denied to their own peoples?

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