Monday, September 17, 2007

Booker in the WSJ

Not content with the mere Sunday Telegraph, Booker today is published in the Wall Street Journal under the title, "The Big 'Terminological Inexactitude'" – a piece primarily written for American readers on the EU constitutional reform treaty.

Monnet, Schuman and Spaak (right) - the 'fathers' of the European Union
The piece, however, is subscription only so, for the benefit of EU Ref readers, we replicate it here (complete with Americanised spelling):

One of the time-honored rules of British politics is that a politician must never be directly accused of telling a lie. Winston Churchill, on one legendary occasion, got round this rule in parliament by accusing an opponent of uttering "a terminological inexactitude".

Yet in recent weeks British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has repeatedly uttered an untruth so brazen that all the normal rules are suspended and commentators have not hesitated to accuse him of the forbidden "l" word. The cause of Mr. Brown's deceit is that European Union "Reform Treaty", barely distinguishable in its contents from the previously proposed "Constitution", which French and Dutch voters chucked out two years ago. No other EU leader tries to hide the fact that the two documents are, as Luxembourg's Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker put it, "99 percent the same".

The British prime minister implausibly claims the opposite for the simple reason that he and his party were elected to power in 2005 on the promise that the U.K. would not ratify the constitution until it had been put to a referendum. Labour was left off the hook for a while when following those votes in France and the Netherlands the constitution went into abeyance. But now it's back, leaving Mr. Brown with a nasty dilemma. He knows that if he was to keep the promise on which his party was elected, the odds are that he'd lose. To save him from such embarrassment, he's determined to bluff it out by pretending that the new treaty is indeed new and poses no threat to British sovereignty.

To appreciate just why it has been so important for EU leaders to get their constitution regardless of their peoples' wishes, one must grasp the fundamental principle on which those behind the "European project" have worked toward their ultimate goal. The process favored by the visionaries who first dreamed of a "United States of Europe" as far back as the 1920s was the very reverse of how the US was launched. When the founding fathers gathered in Philadelphia in 1787, their idea of building a nation was to start with its constitution and let the new Union grow from there. The Europeans chose the opposite strategy. They knew it was always going to be a much longer haul to place long-established nation states under the rule of a new form of supranational government.

That is why, as long ago as 1941, one of those visionaries, Italian ex-Communist Altiero Spinelli, proposed in his Ventotene Manifesto that the shapers of the new Europe should stealthily build up the structures of their new government over a long period without consulting the people. Only when the process was all but complete would they summon a "constituent assembly" to draft the constitution, which, Spinelli argued, the people would then acclaim by referendum as their "crowning dream".

A similar strategy was conceived after World War II by the Frenchman Jean Monnet who was to become known as the "Father of Europe". In 1952, when he set up the European Coal and Steel Community, he described it as only the embryo of that "government of Europe" he had been cogitating since the 1920s. What came to be called the "Monnet Method", enshrined by Monnet's friend Paul-Henry Spaak in the Treaty of Rome in 1957, was that process whereby the powers of the new supranational government could be steadily expanded, beginning with mere economic co-operation in a "Common Market" but gradually working up toward full political integration. Each new advance becomes the nucleus for the next step in integration. Over the next 40 years Monnet's strategy was followed, treaty by treaty, as the European Economic Community became, first, the European Community and then, thanks to Spinelli, prime mover behind the Treaty of Maastricht in 1992, the European Union.

Only by 2001 did EU leaders feel they were at last close enough to their ultimate goal to draft a fully fledged constitution, putting the all-but final touches to the new supranational government by giving it a permanent president and foreign minister, and with the European Council acting in effect as its Cabinet. According to Spinelli's original script Europeans should have greeted the constitution with "acclamation". When, however, the French and Dutch gave the tortuous 400-page document a resounding thumbs-down, EU leaders were baffled as to what to do next - until this year they came up with their masterstroke.

Why don't we, they agreed, just revive the rejected constitution under another name? By calling it a "Reform Treaty", making a couple of cosmetic changes, it can then be rammed through in a few months. So short was the timetable set for agreeing the treaty (to be signed in December) that there would be little chance for any popular opposition to gather momentum as it did in 2005.

Only in Britain has this cynical maneuvering provoked real national anger, compounded by Mr Brown's "terminological inexactitude" that the new treaty is different from the constitution. The Conservative opposition, most of the press, even the trade unions are now demanding that the prime minister should honor the promise on which he was elected. If just one country fails to ratify the treaty, EU leaders will be back with the impasse they faced two years ago. So it is a gamble they cannot afford to lose. If they get away with it, however, they will have taken another giant step toward that "United States of Europe" those visionaries first dreamed of 80 years ago, a government set up regardless of the wishes of the people it seeks to govern. They will be on the verge of pulling off what, over the past half-century, has amounted to a slow-motion coup d'├ętat, one of the strangest and most far-reaching in history.

Mr. Booker, a columnist for the London Sunday Telegraph, is co-author, with Richard North, of "The Great Deception: Can The European Union Survive?" (Continuum, 2005).
The point, we hope, that comes over from the piece is that this current treaty is not an isolated event – as the "colleagues" want us to believe – but part of a continuous process, all dedicated to achieve that single end point of European political integration. By doing it slowly, step-by-step, they hope we won't notice until it's too late.

But… we noticed, and we don't like what we see.


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