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EU and international disintegration

5.28.2005

The west seems to be facing a large degree of disintegration in the coming few days. Today the NPT renegotiation summit will end in failure to secure global consensus on the nuclear question in the face of renewed focus and danger associated with nuclear development. Tomorrow it looks highly likely that France will vote no in what has been one of the most confusing and sullied debate in a long time.
I have been attempting to follow the French debate for a while and each time I read something new it seems to completely contradict the last statement of ‘fact’. Consequently I am drawn to consider if, after nearly sixty years of western integration, the wheels are starting to come off. The last great war to engulf Europe left a great deal of political and economic scars. The resulting integrationary process aimed initially at containing a German resurgence brought about a huge boon in economic prosperity among those that were in early. The resulting disparity between the social democratic Europe on the west and the communistic Europe on the right meant that 1989 left a huge deal of learning to be done. We learned from German reconciliation and from other agenda pursued in the nineties. Time has come when Europe and the broader west reaches a crossroads.
The American government of GWB II has made it patently clear that no aspect of attaining the national interest is off limits, from torture to intervention to war, the result ahs been a degree of insecurity and discomfort with American hegemony and unilateralism. The fact that America controls both physically and ideologically the economic system disseminated to the world has only increased our unease. These guys are driving and there is no one shotgun (not even the UK who are truly no more than hoping for some consideration as deputy superpower or hoping to maintain some allusion to power).
This has forced Europeans to look inward and out to find some definition that can be consistent with the modern reality. The result of such an attempt was the Treaty. This treaty however was intended to be a tidy up not a direction setter. As soon as Gisgard decided to follow some political agenda versus institutional sustainability then he raised the prospect of vicious debate among member constituents. The left in Europe is becoming more prominent in opposing all attempts at entrenching capitalism but for the treaty its too late. The treaties economic provisions date from the Treaty of Rome. The social dimension is new and debatable.
The broader point I am trying to make is that since we began to see a unilateral disengagement from the western consensus by the US government Europe was destined to feel threatened. We are not going to be a counterbalance to America and in our hearts we know this, so do we become some progressive, social democrat alternative or do we intend to go our separate ways. Many in Europe have become averse to risk in the last few decades. This is understandable as a result of our semi-stable social fabric. Now we are asked a question that is risk laden and without an easy answer. A yes means one uncertainty and a no means another.
The reaction is to disengage toward secure ground and so the world begins dividing into self-reliant blocs of with us and against us type characters. This is truly not what was envisaged by global integration. It is unlikely to happen on Monday but the trend is developing. Such disintegration is typified by U.S. attempts to abolish the U.N. and other organisation of state equality.
I am not decided on the treaty though I feel a deep unease at the fact that only the left splinters over Europe except in the U.K. Workers no longer seem tolerant of corporate cannibalism or even liberal a la carte capitalism. A distinct unease is moving from extreme left toward the centre. It is unease over corporate activity and domination, unease at the power they exert over all our lives and most of all the capacity they have to destroy lives in a single announcement to the stock exchange. The left is moving slowly onward with a message of controlled corporate activity, voters want security and stability. This is not new to any political culture, what is new is the fact that increasingly our international system cannot give it. We have begun to see a disengagement and disintegration from international law and consensus. The conclusion to draw from this is that no longer are states representing our interests which are best served by a joint approach and unity of purpose but following the line of the corporate lobby which requires disharmony and disunity to flourish in a competitive environment.
Red Rover

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