Monday, November 29, 2004

Western Europe and terrorism

Two interesting articles in last Thursday’s Wall Street Journal Europe (yes, indeed, it was Thanksgiving Day) addressed this subject and came to a very sad conclusion. The main problem, as most of us have realized, is a lack of will to fight the scourge. Worse, there has been a tendency among the leaders of west European countries to appease terrorists, terror masters and, while we are on the subject, dictators.

It is crucial that we examine this issue. We are told endlessly that the problem in Europe is lack of co-ordination between the various countries and poor exchange of information between the national police organizations. This alleged weakness has been the excuse for ever tighter and more oppressive legislation (those of our readers who have not done so, might like to read the Queen’s Speech and ponder over the raft of dictatorial legislation it outlines) and, of course, more and more integration in matters of security as seen in the Hague Programme, otherwise known as Tampere II.

Yet, what use are all those internal passports (a.k.a. ID cards), that centralized EU police force, all those many harmonized regulations administered from Brussels or the Hague, if our leaders openly hand over money and shake the hands of terrorists and dictators? What happened to the EU’s supposedly moral attitude and desire to spread democracy, freedom and human rights all over the world? Whom will those rapid deployment groups go in to support in the various countries unfortunate enough to excite Mr Solana’s attention?

First, let us look at the editorial: The Accidental Prime Minister. It seems that Spain’s Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero told Time Magazine in September that he did not want to be a great leader. Well, he has certainly been successful so far.

His panicky withdrawal of Spanish troops from Iraq looked like a desperate appeasement of terrorists rather than a principled stand. And all for what? It is quite clear that the Al-Quaeda cells have been operating in Spain since before 9/11 and the Madrid explosions had little to do with Iraq. Furthermore, he has not bought the country peace: there have been attempted and thwarted attacks since then. The fact that the Spanish police force has managed to prevent further outrages says much about their ability and little enough about Zapatero’s.

Zapatero’s anti-Americanism, anti-westernism are driven by old-fashioned ideology, which impels him to demand that the EU’s sanctions against Cuba be lifted and links with the Venzuelan thug Chavez be strengthened. He is, indeed, a man of modern western Europe.

As the WSJE puts it:
“Mr Zapatero is entitled to his views. But the Spanish people would be justified in asking just what do they get out of their leader appeasing terrorists,coddling up to dictators and whittling away Spain’s global standing?”
The problem is that we could say that about most west European leaders in general. There is no question, for instance, but that the EU’s principled though belated stand on Ukraine came as a result of the unequivocal American attitude and pressure from the new member states of Eastern Europe and the Baltics. Long before Donald Rumsfeld made his famous comment about new and old Europe, it was obvious to those of us who have looked at the subject that, while the structure and the economic order will not change with EU enlargement, the so-called common foreign and security policy will. Or, at the very least, it will experience quite serious strains and stresses.

The other article in the WSJE is by Ewa Björling, a conservative member of the Swedish parliament’s standing committee on foreign affairs. It is entitled Aiding the Palestinians and deals with the disgraceful way in which the Swedish government (just like the EU and the various member states) continued to supply the Palestinian Authority with money, though it became increasingly more obvious that the money was diverted from its true purpose, that is help for the Palestinian people, into private accounts and aid for terrorists.

Among other things she tells the story of Professor Sune Persson’s report:
“In 1997, the Swedish International Development Co-operation Agency (Sida)commissioned Sune Persson of Göteborg University, an internationally known expert on Middle Eastern affairs, to provide a status report on the Palestinian Authority and its relationship with the citizens under its jurisdiction. His conclusions were unequivocal: ‘To continue to support Arafat and his corrupt regime is indefensible. As regards support for the peace process in the Middle East, Arafat’s dictatorial one-man show is becoming an embarrassment.’

Prof. Persson’s closing recommendations were that ‘Swedish aid to the West Bank and Gaza should be cut back. Aid to the Palestinian civil society should continue. No Swedish development funding whatsoever should be given directly to the corrupt Palestinian Authority.’

A few days before this report was to be presented, it was classified as secret. It has long been unclear who ordered this step or why. The present minister for development co-operation insists that it sas Sida’s decision. Other sources claim the foreign ministry was responsible. Due to this uncertainty, a colleague in parliament and I took the matter to the Swedish parliament’s committee on the constitution for scrutiny. What we have long suspected, however, has now been confirmed by the author of the report: that the decision was taken by ‘someone’ in authority at the foreign affairs ministry.

The decision is all the more remarkable in view of the fact that shortly afterwards, despite the conclusions of the Persson report, Pierre Schori visited Arafat in Ramallah, promised a further 158 million crowns (€17.6 million, £million) in aid to the Palestinian Authority, and invited him to visit Stockholm. Until recently, Mr Schori was Sweden’s ambassador to the UN; at the time, he was the minister responsible for development co-operation.”
Dr Björling struggles in vain, trying to understand what motivated her government to suppress a reliable and authoritative report and to continue to pour money into the coffers of a corrupt and oppressive organization, led by its corrupt and oppressive Chairman, who channelled much of the money to terrorists and used some of the rest to buy support in the world. (Sounds familiar, by any chance? What about the oil-for-food scandal?)

Arafat’s death, according to Dr Björling, and, indeed, according to many commentators, should be a new beginning. If the European governments do want to play a significant and positive role in the Middle East, they should look carefully at what has been done so far by them – a destruction of any possibility of peace, support for tyranny and terrorism, much of it in order to oppose, as usual the United States – and think through their future policy.

As Dr Björling concludes:
“The donor countries must as a matter of urgency refocus their aid. Other channels must be created, and the aid must be conditional upon promised reforms being implemented. Further resources should be withheld until this condition has been met. A new approach to Palestinian aid on the part of the donors is one of the most important instruments we have for helping to resolve the conflict in a constructive manner.”
And, of course, for weakening terrorist organization. The trouble is that, without knowing what Sweden will do, we have already seen the EU’s attitude. Far from looking at its past record, it has been congratulating itself on finally managing to play a real role in world affairs, citing, for reasons known to Solana and his journalistic henchmen alone, the Middle East as an example. Self-criticism and analysis do not exist in these people’s vocabulary.

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