Tuesday, May 31, 2005

A Wayampi-Wallisian-Parisian Alliance... for the “Yes”!

In the run-up to the French referendum, "euro-skeptical" commentators worried that French authorities would try to fiddle the vote. They remembered in particular how in the 1992 vote on the Maastricht Treaty, the 70% “yes” vote from France’s overseas dominions and territories (or “Dom-Tom”) helped to carry the day, and they expected that, for instance, the Wayampi tribespeople of French Guiana [hat tips to Eursoc and EU Referendum blog] would be called upon to do their part again. Well, it seems like they might indeed have been. According to the official Ministry of Interior statistics, the commune of Camopi in French Guiana - the heart of the Wayampi area of settlement (see here, for instance) - brought in a total of some 312 votes for the “yes” as against a mere 17 for the “no”. In percentages, that’s 95% for the “yes” as against 5% for the “no” – a split that in places like Ukraine, for instance, would have the OSCE making a prima facie case for electoral fraud, but in far off Amazonian territories administered under neo-colonial conditions is apparently not cause for concern. The pacific Islands of Wallis and Futuna, with their French-appointed “High Administrator” and “three traditional kings with limited powers”, also came through splendidly, turning out a 90% “yes” vote.

But it is not only the Wayampi, Wallisians, and Futunans who are known to be convinced Europeans – but also, of course, France’s urban elites in places like Paris. In a detail the significance of which was little noticed outside of France, Paris and Lyon, France’s two largest cities, were permitted to keep their polling stations open until 10 PM Sunday night, two hours later than the rest of continental France. Predictably, both municipalities voted overwhelming for the “yes”: 66%-34% in Paris and 61%-39% in Lyon. Not exactly Camopi, but not bad nonetheless. Predictably as well, in light of the extra two hours that their residents were given, they had unusually low abstention rates: a mere 25% in Paris and 28% in Lyon, as compared to 30% nationwide. On my rough calculation, made by assuming that the national rate of participation applied also to Paris and Lyon, this little subterfuge resulted in a swing of some 20,000 votes to the “yes” column (i.e. the extra two hours brought in some 40,000 additional votes for the “yes” and some 20,000 additional votes for the “no”).

Forthcoming: More Post-Referendum Analysis

Did Jacques Chirac "hear the message" of the French "no" vote? If one is to judge by his choice for new Prime Minister, the answer is (another) resounding "no".

In the run-up to the French referendum, "euro-skeptical" commentators worried that French authorities would try to fiddle the vote. They did. Not enough by a long shot to change the outcome. But they did.

Our friends at EURSOC are concerned by the cheerful crowing at the extremes - the National Front and France's motley crew of Marxist-Leninist and Trotskyist outfits - over the victory of the "no". I have a more optimistic view: France's silent majority has spoken.

I'll be back starting later today (noon-ish EST) to start tackling these issues...

Monday, May 30, 2005

Joschka's Debacle: The French "Non" and the Father of the EU "Constitution"

The new myth that will permit the Europeist elites – and the American media that is most sympathetic to them – to ignore the meaning of the French rejection of the proposed EU “constitution” is that the massive victory of the “no” represents a rejection of French President Jacques Chirac and the policies of his presumably now outgoing Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin - but not, strangely enough, of the text on which the French electorate was called upon to vote. French Socialist Party Chair François Hollande wasted no time in laying down this line last night in his official declaration [link in French]: “even if it was not the moment to do so,” Mr. Hollande said, the French had again expressed their “anger” against and “exasperation” with Mr. Chirac. Mr. Hollande thus managed not only to show contempt for the French people as such – in recent years seemingly a requirement for forming part of the Socialist Party leadership, which following every electoral loss takes to the airwaves to explain to the French just how stupid and “unjust” they have been – but in this case even for the membership of his own Party, which, following the counsels of Party dissidents such as Laurent Faubius and Henri Emmanuelli, rejected the text by a margin roughly twice the 10% national figure. It is perhaps not out of line to call attention in this context to Mr. Hollande’s characteristic expression of profound and sincere befuddlement

of which he had ample occasion to make use last night.

Mr. Hollande was joined in his befuddlement by the Chair of the Socialist group in the European Parliament, the German MEP Martin Schulz. Interviewed on the public television channel France3, Mr. Schulz held that not only was the French vote a vote against Jacques Chirac and not against the proposed “constitution”, but that the anticipated “no” vote in the Netherlands on Sunday will likewise be a vote against the power-that-be there (and not, of course, though this would appear the more plausible hypothesis, against those that sit in Brussels like Mr. Schulz). Displaying all the subtlety, grace and democratic conviction that once inspired Silvio Berlusconi to compare him to a concentration camp guard, Mr. Schulz concluded that such results did not, then, have to be “taken into account”.

But if last night’s “no” vote is to be understood as a personal defeat for any high profile European politician, it is not so much, despite his conspicuous engagement in the campaign for the "yes", Jacques Chirac as that politician who originally coined the oxymoron “constitutional treaty” and thereby set his European partners down the path of trying to create a juridical monstrosity that would correspond to this novel and incoherent expression. Some five years, one “constitutional convention”, and tens of millions of euros of European taxpayer money later – the money being spent, among other things, in a massive campaign of propaganda aimed at convincing these same taxpayers that the monster was being created to respond to their own ambitions - it is the half-baked “federalist” ideas of one Joseph Fischer that yesterday took a major hit.

For Fischer's would-be seminal May 2000 Humboldt University speech in English see here and for the German original see here. English readers will note the somewhat more banal expression "constituent treaty", but this is not what the German version says. In German, Fischer spoke of a "Verfassungsvertrag": literally, a "constitution-treaty", i.e. two things at once and two things, moreover, that in the ordinary acceptation of the terms cannot be combined. A constitution, at least in the sense of modern democratic constitutions, implies a single unified "constituent power": namely, the people in whose name it is promulgated. A treaty implies the continued separate existence of the sovereign states and the respective "peoples" (from whom the sovereignty of the states is supposed to proceed) that enter into them.

Given the prominence of the anti-American and anti-market French "left" in the "no" campaign, even many a "euro-sceptical" pundit will be inclined to say that the French voted "right for the wrong reasons". But there is much post-referendum evidence to suggest that in fact a very large portion of the French electorate, cutting across ideological boundaries, recognized in time the threat to their liberties that Joseph Fischer's monster represented.

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Weekend Policy

Just a reminder that Trans-Int rests on the weekend.

Newcomers might want to check out the links in the sidebar, which include thematic dossiers on popular topics previously treated on Trans-Int. I've just added a "Pascal Lamy File" where you may find out some things you didn't know about the incoming Director General of the WTO.

Friday, May 27, 2005

IRIS [the French "Institute for International and Strategic Relations"] on "ZOG"

Discussing Matthias Küntzel’s treatment of the Böckler Foundation controversy in “Looking Behind the Scenes of German Holocaust ‘Remembrance’”, I cited the query of one “M.”, a Böckler Foundation doctoral fellow convinced that the Iraq War was the product of Zionist control of the American government and who was looking for some literature that might help support his thesis. ““Are there any other books like They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel’s Lobby…?” M. asked his fellow participants on the Böckler mailing list. The volume in question is by Paul Findley, a former US Congressman. The fact that it was first published some 20 years ago seems not to have affected its timeliness in the opinion of M. And if one is to judge by the spanking new edition of the Findley volume published in 2003, M. is apparently not alone. Whence does this sudden renewal of interest in Findley’s volume come? Well, a simple Google search for “‘Paul Findley’ and ZOG” provides us some clues. ZOG, as will be recalled from Karl Pfeifer’s piece on “‘Israel Shamir’ and the Austrian Left”, is an acronym much favored in anti-Semitic, including self-styled Nazi, milieus. It stands for “Zionist Occupation Government” – by which is meant not the Israeli government, by the way, but the American one and/or the network of Zionist forces that are supposed to control the latter.

But Findley’s work is not only highly respected by radical Islamists and the members of the “Stormfront White Nationalist Community”. As Gudrun Eussner points out to me, it is also admired by the foreign policy specialists of France’s prestigious state-funded Institut de Relations Internationales et Stratégiques [Institute for International and Strategic Relations], known by its own acronym IRIS. Thus, in a contribution reproduced on the IRIS website [link in English], IRIS board member Luc Debieuvre notes approvingly: “But ‘the Middle East policy of the US is made in Israel and not in Washington’, former US Representative Paul Findley used to say (as cited by Pascal Boniface in his latest book Towards a Fourth World War?).” And in the same vein: “Sharon knows the combined strength of the Jewish lobby, the neo-conservatives and the Born Again Christians in the Bush administration. He knows he does not need to worry.”

Who is this Pascal Boniface from whom Luc Debieuvre takes the Findley quote? Has Debieuvre inadvertently cited a source from the French “far right”? A Lepeniste? Such a faux pas could surely put M. Debieuvre in difficulty with the powers-that-be at his research center. Well, M. Debieuvre need not worry. Pascal Boniface, formerly the leading foreign policy expert of the French Socialist Party, is in fact the Director of the IRIS.

It will also be of interest to regular readers of Trans-Int to know who the Honorary President of the IRIS is. None other than the incoming Director General of the WTO: Pascal Lamy.

(Vielen Dank Gudrun!)

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Karl Pfeifer on "Israel Shamir" and the Austrian Left

(With Update on "Israel Shamir" and the UN)

At the close of "The Parallel Universe", I alluded to anti-Semites who allow that The Protocols of the Elders of Zion might be a forgery, but insist that the content is, nonetheless, "true". These are the pioneers of what has become the "fake but accurate" argument. One such is the increasingly prominent anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist who goes by the name of "Israel Shamir" - although, according to investigations conducted by Searchlight Magazine, since 2001 his legal name is Jöran Jermas. "If the Protocols would have no relation to reality, they probably wouldn't be as popular as they are," Shamir writes, "The Jews are sufficiently powerful to dream of domination, and some do." Now, Shamir/Jermas has received a ringing endorsement from a leading "Middle East specialist" of the Austrian Social Democratic Party (SPÖ). The SPÖ is, along with the Austrian People's Party (ÖVP), one of Austria's two major political formations.

The Austrian writer Karl Pfeifer has the details below. Many thanks to Karl for passing on his piece. I've converted footnotes into direct links to the materials referenced.

"Israel Shamir" and the Austrian Left

by Karl Pfeifer

The Austrian left-wing publisher Promedia has brought out a book, “Flowers of Galilee”, by the Swedish anti-Semite Israel Shamir. Shamir, who in 2001 changed his name to Jöran Jermas and has claimed to be “one of Israel’s leading intellectuals”, is no stranger to the pages of various media that have exposed his links to other anti-Semites and loony conspiracy theorists. [1]

Despite the man’s bogus claims and dubious connections, Fritz Edlinger, the general secretary of the Austro-Arab Friendship Society and the former representative of the Austrian Social Democrats [SPÖ] on the Socialist International’s Middle East Committee, has edited the book and written a foreword in which he insists that Shamir is a “leftist and a radical democrat”.

The ravings on his website give an insight into just what kind of “intellectual” Shamir, who professes to be a Greek Orthodox Christian – he previously claimed to be a Jew – really is. For example, he writes: “The Jewish supremacy forces and the greed worshippers united again to crucify Christ. The US, this New Rome, again gives hand and agrees to become the executioner. Now it is our turn to decide. …they will destroy the Mother Earth herself, turn her into waste lands of Mordor. They need this victory to bind us together by the dark forces of domination. Let us deny them, this time.”

Elsewhere, he rants that “The Jews are forever fighting Christ and the Church; there is no chance for peace in the Holy Land unless the position of the Synagogue is undermined and the Jews saved by the Church”
[3] and repeats the infamous blood libel that Jews have used the blood of Christian children whom they murdered to produce unleavened bread.[4] Bizarrely, Shamir has also claimed that even if the notorious Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion are a forgery they are nevertheless true. [5]

Edlinger has included in the book a German translation of Shamir’s article “The Shadow of Zog” – an acronym for “Zionist Occupation Government” employed by hate groups and anti-Semites around the world – in which Shamir says: “ The Occupation Regime in Iraq was installed by the US army in the interests of Zionists, and it may be rightly called ZOG, Zionist Occupation Government if anything. However, this ZOG is also a Zog, a servant of Darkness and Annihilation, for its first step was the destruction of Baghdad’s libraries and museums. […] The problem is, the US people have no way out of the Zionist takeover. […] The prominence of Jews in Western discourse causes the same sort of trouble that you would experience if you were to refuel your diesel car with petrol.”

Shamir, the author of this shameless anti-Semitic frenzy, is not reticent about collaborating with fascists. Indeed, despite being more or less unknown until recently, his articles are published and his books praised with increasing frequency on revisionist websites and in revisionist print media.

Shamir himself notes on his German homepage that the ZOG article was translated into German for the so-called Deutsche Kolleg,
[7] an intellectual outfit whose active leaders, Reinhold Oberlercher and Horst Mahler, found their way from the radical left to the Nazi right. The purpose of the Deutsche Kolleg is to act as a Nazi ideological and linguistic training center.

Today, it is not crude fascist-type street politics that mainly characterizes anti-Semitism but rather heavily coded and implicit arguments – almost always accompanied by a pre-emptive disavowal of any anti-Semitic intent – to the effect that the world’s problems, including September 11 (and even the Tsunami) have their origins in the policies of and the existence of Israel, that Israel can get away with it because the USA gives it carte blanche, and that the USA does so because its own government is under pressure from, or is itself, ZOG. This kind of argument, in turn, is a key ingredient of simplistic, black and white, assessments of events in the Middle East, especially the Israel-Palestine issue.

Horst Mahler, who calls himself a “national Marxist”, openly propagates a “red-brown alliance”. The fact that Austrian leftists can publish Shamir’s crude anti-Semitic rubbish suggests that this approach has already gained a small measure of success.


It will come as no great surprise, but it might be of some interest, nonetheless, that one of the other organizations to lend legitimacy to Shamir/Jermas is...the UN. In June 2001, the UN held an "International Media Encounter on the Question of Palestine" in Paris. The ostensible "theme": "The Search for Peace in the Middle East". Shamir figured among the invited speakers. The program is here, and here is what the UN had to say about its distinguished guest. Shamir shared the honor with, among others, Phyliss Bennis, author of the then just published Calling the Shots: How Washington Dominates Today's UN - a book the inanity of whose thesis would be massively demonstrated by essentially everything that has happened on the international stage in the intervening years. Between the two of them, Mr. Shamir and Ms. Bennis were well chosen to articulate just that chain of phantasms so ably summarized by Karl Pfeifer in his article. (Ms. Bennis is, incidentally, a frequent speaker at UN-sponsored events. Perhaps she believes that she too is a marionette of "Washington"?)

The event was moderated by Shashi Tharoor, at the time the interim head of the UN's Department of Public Information and in the meanwhile a full-fledged Under-Secretary-General of the organization. Tharoor read a welcome message from his boss: Kofi Annan.

Shamir/Jermas provides his own account of the event here, including his explanation for what he described as the media's "bias in covering the Palestinians": "The reason is obvious. Too many of our media lords subscribe to the notion of Jewish supremacy, and they are spread around the globe."

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Reading List Update

Note that I have, as promised, updated my annotated reading list on the "völkisch" (or ethnic-national) ideology. It's down below or here by clicking, and eventually I'll put either the list itself or a link in the sidebar.

The Parallel Universe: European Media and The Koran Desecration Story

Marc Schulman on American Future and Joe N. at No Pasaran have noted the absurdity of an Agence France Presse (AFP) report concerning “18 Saudi Muslim Scholars” who are demanding that “those involved in the alleged desecration of the Quran at the US detention facility of Guantanamo Bay be tried by an Islamic court.” But the problem is not only in the Arab world.

Indeed, in a somewhat subtle fashion, the AFP report itself gives evidence of this fact: How, after all, can anyone be involved in an “alleged desecration”? This language is not that of the “18 Muslim Scholars”. It is the language of the AFP and, moreover, it is the article’s lead sentence. So from the outset the AFP report predisposes the reader to lend credence to the allegation and even – by way of its “those involved” – creates the impression that there are known suspects who could potentially be hauled before an Islamic court if only the US would cooperate and satisfy the demand of the “scholars”. It is not until the second to last paragraph that one learns that Newsweek retracted its story and even then one only learns this by way of wording that will give much cause to pause to the leery but ill-informed reader – i.e. the virtual entirety of the readership that takes AFP (and, notably, precisely in the Arab world) as an authoritative source. The magazine retracted the story, we are told, “after its source developed doubts”. Well, when a source “develops doubts” – especially in connection with allegations that have had such grave consequences – couldn’t that be because pressure has been applied? And, seeing as we’re talking here about the United States, it will not take much nudging and winking for a reader properly nourished on anti-American or anti-Bush phantasms to imagine whence such pressure might have come. There is no specification of the fact that the source “developed doubts” about something he is supposed merely to have read. No mention that the source remains anonymous. No acknowledgment that the entire construction of what is supposed to have happened and gone wrong in the development of the Newsweek report is based entirely on the unsubstantiated and, in effect, unsubstantiable claims of the Newsweek editors themselves.

Joe N. notes that the BBC has, in the meanwhile, taken to referring to the Koran desecration allegation without any mention of the fact that the source that invested it with credibility – i.e. not the released Jihadis who have long been saying anything and everything about the conditions of their detention, but Newsweek – has retracted it. As if the retraction never happened. In the last 48 hours, I have heard no less than three reports by other major European electronic media outlets – the Spanish state television TVE, the Swiss francophone television TSR, and the trans-European cable news network (broadcasting in 7 different languages) Euronews – that do the same. It is especially disappointing and worrisome that Euronews would do this, not only because of its trans-European reach, but also since it tends to be more serious and balanced than the big state-owned European broadcasters.

The Koran desecration story is in the process of passing into the lore of supposed American “outrages” against Arabs and Muslims. It is taking on the status, for all intents and purposes, of an established fact – and this, astonishingly, despite the retraction. And when I say it is taking on this status, I am referring not to the Arab media (about which I am not in a position to judge), but the European media. For the latter – remember Charles Enderlin’s famous defense of his role in the France2/Al-Dura affair – “fake but accurate” is increasingly becoming the order of the day.

This is an ominous development: because the “fake but accurate” mantra was not in fact first invented by CBS and the NYTimes during last year’s American presidential campaign. “Fake but accurate” has a long tradition: notably in anti-Semitic circles where the mantra is commonly applied to none other than the authoritative text of modern anti-Semitism: The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Ayaan Hirsi Ali on the “Left” and “Multiculturalism”

The Somali-born Dutch parliamentarian Ayaan Hirsi Ali has long been the object of death threats from Dutch Islamists. Since the murder last November 8 of Theo Van Gogh, she is under 24 hour police protection. Hirsi Ali describes herself as an “apostate” from Islam. In an interview published in last week’s issue of the French weekly L’Express [link in French] she says: “Since the September 11 attacks, I no longer believe in God. In the eyes of the fundamentalists who threaten me, that justifies my being put to death. They accuse me of ‘insulting’ the Prophet, of saying that Islam oppresses women, of ‘collaborating with the enemy’, that’s to say, with non-Muslims.”

Hirsi Ali’s break with Islam has been widely publicized. Perhaps less known is her break with the “left”. Originally, a member of the Dutch Labor Party, Hirsi Ali left the latter to join the classical liberal (I think this term will now be understood by Trans-Int regulars. In case of doubt, see discussion here.) VVD. L’Express asked her why. Here is her response:
Because the left is exactly like the Muslims! I wanted to give priority to the defense of immigrant women who are victims of domestic violence. They said to me: “No, that’s not a priority! The problem will take care of itself when the immigrants have jobs and are integrated.” It is exactly what the Imams say who demand that we accept oppression and slavery today because tomorrow, in Heaven, God will give us dates and raisins…. I think we need first to defend the individual. The left is afraid of everything. But fear of giving offense leads to injustice and suffering. The sexual revolution, the affirmation of individual rights, improving the living conditions of immigrants – these were once the great causes of the Dutch left. In their eyes, the simple fact of belong to a minority gives one the right to do anything. This multiculturalism is a disaster. All one has to do is scream “discrimination” and all doors are open to you! Scream ‘racism’ and your opponents shut up! But multiculturalism is an inconsistent theory. If one wants to let communities preserve their traditions, what happens when these traditions work to the detriment of women or homosexuals? The logic of multiculturalism amounts to accepting the subordination of women. Nonetheless, the defenders of multiculturalism do not want to admit it.

Monday, May 23, 2005

The "Völkisch" Ideology: An Annotated Reading List

Following the excellent suggestion of J. Francis Lehman, here is the first ever Trans-Int reading list, dedicated, of course, to the "völkisch" or "ethnic national" tradition of German political thought or, more simply put, the "völkisch ideology". As I have said before, the pickings in English are relatively slim and, as you will be able to gather and for obvious enough reasons, they are mostly related in one way or another to those 12 years in German history during which the "völkisch" movement wrought its most disastrous consequences - otherwise known as "The Third Reich". It is a pity that there is virtually nothing (in English, that is) on the ramifications of "völkisch" thought since 1945: not only in Germany, but indeed in European politics and law more generally. As a matter of fact, I am working on such a volume.

I'll say a few words on each of the items listed and provide an Amazon link. Beware that I am reconstructing some of my observations from more or less distant memory, so they will sometimes have a distinctly subjective tinge. The words "highly recommended" beneath an item mean: highly recommended.

Probably, the standard reference in English on "völkisch" thought is George Mosse. Mosse wrote numerous volumes that broach the theme, usually in connection with the Third Reich. Two of the best known are The Crisis of German Ideology : Intellectual Origins of the Third Reich

and The Nationalization of the Masses: Political Symbolism and Mass Movements in Germany from the Napoleonic Wars Through the Third Reich.

I must say that back in the day when I was reading Mosse, I tended to come away from his books somewhat disappointed. But even if the analysis may leave something to be desired, Mosse's books are packed with revealing details and they are probably the best place to start in English for someone new to the issue of "völkisch" thought.

Perhaps the most eminent German historian of "völkisch" thought and the "völkisch" movement is Wolfgang Wippermann of Berlin's Free University. Unfortunately, there is only one book by Wippermann available in English, but it is a very good one indeed: The Racial State: Germany 1933-1945.

(Highly Recommended)

Co-authored with the equally eminent British historian Michael Burleigh, The Racial State includes a concise historical introduction to "völkisch" thought (Chapter 2: "Barbarous Utopias"). Thereafter it provides a highly detailed documentation and analysis of the ramifications of the "völkisch" ideology in the system and practice of the Third Reich.

Originally written in French, Leon Poliakov's The Aryan Myth is another standard work.

As the sub-title - "A History of Racist and Nationalistic Ideas in Europe" - implies, Poliakov's volume casts its net very wide. Probably too wide. "The Aryan Myth" - i.e. that of the superiority of the so-called "Aryan" or Germanic peoples - is not quite the same thing as the "völkisch" ideology, even if it is true that historically they have tended to go together. It is a major weakness of Poliakov's work that he fails sufficiently to distinguish the two. Moreover, Poliakov has a tendency to see "völkisch" racism at work in virtually any author who happens to have written in the German language and used the terms "Volk" or "Rasse" [race]. Thus, for example, even Kant - one of the great defenders of enlightenment ideals and republican political principles - turns up in his survey. To my mind, this is a serious error and reflects the fact that the notion of "völkisch" racism lacks precision in Poliakov's usage. Nonetheless, as with Mosse's work, Poliakov's is full of interesting details. It is up to the reader to separate the wheat from the chaffe.

One of the oddities and "challenges" of the process of European integration involves the fact that the nations comprising the EU have been founded upon very different notions of nationhood: in some cases, per the "völkisch" tradition, an ethnic notion; in others, a strictly civic one. Despite valiant academic efforts to deny the obvious - notably, by the most widely cited French "specialist" in the matter, Patrick Weil - the contrast is at its starkest precisely in the cases of those two nations that are together fancied the "motor" of European integration: Germany and France. The standard English-language academic text on the matter - it does not deny the obvious, but studies its historical roots and recent ramifications - is Rogers Brubaker's Citizenship and Nationhood in France and Germany.

A very useful volume, if there is, nonetheless, a weakness in Brubaker's treatment, it is that it is in fact more about citizenship than nationality. In the case of a "civic" conception of nationality, the two are identical. In the case of a "völkisch" conception, they are not. Thus, much of Brubaker's analysis is structured by the distinction between two types of citizenship laws: those constituting the so-called ius sanguinis - or "right of blood" (i.e. if you are born of a citizen of state x, you are a citizen of state x) - and those constituting a so-called ius soli or "right of the soil" (i.e. if you are born on the territory of state x, you are a citizen of state x). Obviously, the application of the ius sanguinis to ascribe citizenship has a certain, let's say, "affinity" with the "völkisch" ideology. But it is not the same thing. A state can very well introduce elements of a ius soli (in 1999, Germany did) and still have its existence as a state founded on "völkisch" principles. Conversely, states can employ elements of a ius sanguinis - in fact, those states most identified with the ius soli (France and the US, for instance) do employ elements of ius sanguinis as well - without having anything to do with "völkisch" principles.

As I have tried to emphasize in my remarks on "völkisch" thought, the "völkisch" ideology is based on fundamentally irrational premises: above all, on the premise of a kind of mystical unity of "cultures" and "peoples" (in a quasi-biological sense). Not surprisingly, then, some of the most fervent partisans of the "völkisch" movement have been genuine nutjobs. Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke presents some of the essential references of "esoteric racism" - Guido von List, Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels, as well as the father of the contemporary "Anthroposophy" movement (think twice before sending your kids to "Waldorf" schools) Rudolf Steiner - in his brilliant study The Occult Roots of Nazism: Secret Aryan Cults and their Influence on the Nazi Movement.

(Highly Recommended)

Forthcoming: The “Völkisch” Ideology - An Annotated Reading List

A few weeks ago Trans-Int regular J. Francis Lehman suggested my putting together some reading lists on topics covered in Trans-Int, with click through links to an online bookseller. An excellent idea. The "Völkisch" or "ethnic-national" ideology is a subject to which I often return on Trans-Int, especially in connection with German politics and history. I'll be back later today with an annotated list of some English-language offerings that provide useful background.

A Transatlantic Turning Point?

The big news today in transatlantic matters is obviously the crushing defeat suffered by the German SPD in North Rhine Westphalia. The SPD’s “Locust” campaign did not save them in NRW. This is not to say that the theme "Kapitalismuskritik" - “critique of capitalism” - will now go away. On the contrary, at least all the early signs indicate that the SPD is committed to making "Kapitalismuskritik" - and thus so too the "Amerika-kritik" that is of a piece with the latter, whether it is openly stated as such or not - its battle horse also in the national election campaign.

The NRW results provide reason to doubt that this will be a winning strategy. Keep in mind, however, that if the SPD decides to go full-throttle on the "Kapitalismuskritik", it might be able to poach substantial numbers of voters in the eastern provinces from the post-Communist PDS. The latter has become a sort of refuge for the economic "losers" of German reunification. If the SPD can succeed in channeling their resentments toward an external "enemy" - the American capitalist "locusts" and "bloodsuckers" - the NRW results need not have sounded the death knell of the "red-green" coalition. Unfortunately, such a strategy has been known to work before in German history.

In any event, we will know by next year – or maybe even this one. In a startling move, the SPD has announced that it will push for early elections. To get them, Schröder must first lose a no-confidence vote in the German Bundestag, an institution in which the “red-green” coalition – despite the fact that it has now lost control of the last province or “Land” in which it formed the government – still holds a majority! Thus, Chancellor Schröder and SPD Party Chair Muntefering are, in effect, requesting a sort of fictive no-confidence vote, in order to enable early elections – a move the constitutionality of which is highly open to question.

Just in time for these important developments, Ulrich Speck, following in the footsteps of the great Barcepundit, has started an English-language version of his German-language Kosmoblog. Ulrich has some reflections on the repercussions of the SPD’s North Rhine Westphalia debacle here. And, of course, there is lots of coverage and an animated discussion of the NRW election results over on Medienkritik.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Looking Behind the Scenes of German Holocaust "Remembrance"

Megalomaniacal prestige projects like Peter Eisenman’s newly inaugurated Holocaust Memorial in Berlin are essentially designed for the benefit of foreign, not German, audiences. Eisenman’s “field of pillars” responds to the same – essentially political – imperative as that which I have described in connection with Daniel Libeskind’s “Jewish Museum” project: “Germany has not only to commemorate [the Holocaust]. Germany has to be seen to commemorate by the rest of the world” (source). 2711 concrete pillars spread over 5.5 acres of prime real estate at the heart of Berlin are hard to overlook. The impact of such reputedly artistic efforts at “memorialization” upon the actual historical “memory” of the German public – or, more exactly, its historical knowledge, since we are mostly here dealing with generations that did not themselves live through the events in question – can be gauged by some other figures: such as the 50% of young Germans between 18 and 24 who (according to a poll taken recently by the German public television network ZDF ) did not know that the term “Holocaust” refers to the mass murder of European Jews. Or the 51% of Germans who (according to a poll conducted by the University of Bielefeld last year) considered that “what Israel is doing to the Palestinians” is “no different” from “what the Nazis did to the Jews in the Third Reich”. Or the 68% who (according to the same University of Bielefeld poll) agreed that Israel is waging a “war of extermination” – an expression most commonly associated with Nazi Germany’s military campaigns – against the Palestinians.

The banal day-to-day treatment of “the Jewish question” in German society – its treatment not in monuments constructed by the state, but in the everyday conversation of private individuals – is, of course, less known to the world outside Germany. In a recent issue of the Berlin weekly Jungle World, the Hamburg-based political scientist Matthias Küntzel provides a disturbing look, so to say, “behind the scenes” of Germany’s official culture of state-sponsored Holocaust “remembrance”. What he finds there is not the seemingly profound regret and humbled assumption of “responsibility” expressed in the official ceremonies, but rather, as he puts it in the psychological terms of his title, “Unschuld und Abwehr” – roughly “Innocence and Defensiveness”.

The object of Matthias Küntzel’s study is a discussion on a German mailing list provoked by the message of one “M.” who – the date was February 2003 – held, in effect, that American build-up for a military intervention in Iraq was the product of Zionist influence in the White House and indeed over American society more generally. “Are there any other books like They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel’s Lobby…?” M. asked, referring to one of his sources.

Of course, such “theories” were not rare at the time, and they have become even more common since. But what caught the attention of Matthias Küntzel was the reaction provoked on the list when some of the other contributors suggested that by invoking some vast Zionist conspiracy in order to explain US foreign policy M. might perhaps be falling prey to a classical anti-Semitic phantasm. What makes the reaction even more revealing is the identity of the participants. These were not self-styled neo-Nazis or skinheads. They did not come from the margins of German society. These were doctoral students enjoying the financial support of the prestigious Hans Böckler Foundation (part of whose funding, incidentally, is provided by the German state).

Matthias Küntzel writes:

To my mind the defining feature of the Böckler debate…was not the defense of M. [by, on Küntzel’s account, the majority of the other participants]…but rather the brute resentment expressed toward those who raised the reproach of anti-Semitism. Numerous statements mobilize exactly those topoi that Martin Walser popularised in his infamous speech at the St. Paul Church in 1998 [when the German novelist Walser complained that Auschwitz was used as a “moral cudgel” against Germans - JR]. It was precisely Walser who thereby revealed the close proximity of anti-Semitic consciousness and defensive reactions against the charge of anti-Semitism.

Symptomatically, it was not the Saddam friend M. who one demanded should be expelled from the mailing list, but rather his most incisive critics.... Thus we find in the contribution of one of the Böckler fellows an “urgent” appeal no longer “to react reflexively and with the bad conscience of Nazi descendants” to the charge of anti-Semitism. One doctoral student describes “anti-Semitism” – the central motive force of the Shoah – as “just a stupid buzzword, with which one tries to get one’s opponent to shut up in case he is not ‘politically correct’ and pro-Israel.” A third statement complains that “the anti-Semitism cudgel” has “just been hauled out.”

Matthias Küntzel’s article enters into very murky territory: namely, the psychology of contemporary German anti-Semitism and the “defensiveness” or defense mechanism to which his title alludes. Those who would like better to understand the rage of a large part of contemporary German public opinion toward Israel - whose very existence, after all, was a direct consequence of the Holocaust - would be well served by following him there. I’ll try to come back to this point, with some further excerpts, at a later date.

(Note: For a related earlier post, see "The Neue Wache: Germany and Historical Revisionism".)

Thursday, May 19, 2005

M-11 Revisited

Islamist responsibility and sole Islamist responsibility – i.e. without the complicity of ETA – for the March 11 attacks in Madrid has become an article of faith for Spain’s ruling Socialist Party and its allies in the media, both national and international. When I say an “article of faith”, I mean this quite literally. Spain’s crusading “anti-terror” judge Baltasar Garzón famously declared that any collaboration between ETA and the Islamists was “metaphysically impossible”. That being the case, facts apparently do not matter. It might not be very reassuring for Spaniards that the country’s leading investigative judge would adopt such an attitude.

To question this article of faith is clearly not acceptable in polite company. The Guardian’s Sunday paper, the Observer, even called those reckless enough to do so a bad name: “conspiracy theorists”. Well, Earth to the Guardian: the M-11 terror plot was what in legal terms is known as a "conspiracy", so the only way to explain it is by precisely a “conspiracy theory”. The question is not whether there was a conspiracy or not, but rather just who – what persons and/or organizations – was involved in it.

Following revelations in Spain’s El Mundo newspaper, the “proofs” that were supposed conclusively to demonstrate Islamist responsibility for the attacks are now coming undone. Barcepundit, with help from Fausta, makes the details available to the English-speaking public – and adds some of his own invaluable analysis – here, here, and here [best read in that order].

BTW, on the political front, there is a further development in Spain that bears very close watching: namely, the Spanish Socialist Party’s effective rupture of its “anti-terrorism pact” with the other major national party, the PP [Popular Party], and its making common cause with the smaller “nationalist” – i.e. regional “nationalist” (or, in other words, ethnic-nationalist) – parties in offering to open negotiations with ETA. A precedent is being set and the significance of it - recall Zapatero's plea before the UN General Assembly for a "Dialogue of Cultures" - extends well beyond Spain. I hope and expect we will be hearing much more about it on Barcepundit in the days and weeks ahead.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

What's Called "Freedom"?: Kleine-Brockhoff, die Zeit, and the "Bush Doctrine"

(With Update)

Thomas Kleine-Brockhoff of the German weekly die Zeit has published a long essay encouraging Germany's "red-green" coalition to rally to what Kleine-Brockhoff understands to be George W. Bush's foreign policy doctrine of "spreading freedom", and die Zeit has generously made the essay available in English. Especially in light of the influence exercised by die Zeit in German political debate, prima facie this has to be seen as a positive development for transatlantic understanding. But appearances can be deceiving. I suspect that the Kleine-Brockhoff essay might rather be the occasion for further transatlantic misunderstanding: a misunderstanding so profound that it is not perceived as such. The question is: "What's called 'Freedom'?". Marc Schulman of American Future has published a post on Kleine-Brockhoff and I've posted a long skeptical response in his comments section.

The link is here - and I suspect the debate will be over there.

And here is the link to the Kleine-Brockhoff essay in full. Kleine-Brockhoff is, incidentally, a defender of the "Bush lied!" thesis - he published a glowing review in the pages of die Zeit [link in German] of Joe Wilson's The Politics of Truth - though his current position seems to be that "Bush lied!"... for more or less a good cause.


The debate on the Kleine-Brockhoff piece has continued for a bit over on Marc Schulman's American Future. I think I may have been a touch unpleasant. Nonetheless, I hope the discussion has brought out some additional details that will be of interest. That link again is here.

And below are some clickable links to the background pieces involving die Zeit that I cite in my comments.

From Trans-Int:

"If You Don't Like The Patriot Act, You'll Love This"

"The Legend of the Squandered Sympathy"

From Medienkritik:

"New Low for German Weekly Zeit"
[Note: This concerns an article co-authored by Kleine-Brockhoff; scroll down for English]

"Stupid Texan Cowboy Beats Smart German Chancellor"

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

If This is Not "Hate Speech"...

This is "out of area" for Trans-Int and I'm sure it will soon be picked up on by the blogs that specialize in this sort of thing, if it has not already been. But given the extent to which EU generosity and indulgence toward the Palestinian Authority has been documented on Trans-Int (see the "EU and Palestine" file in the sidebar), it is not entirely irrelevant. In any case, it is sufficiently mind-boggling that it should not be missed. Courtesy of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), here is how Palestinian preacher Ibrahim Mudeiris chose to commemorate the defeat of Nazi Germany on his Friday sermon on PA television. I will only note in passing that certain prominent EU member states - and the OSCE Media Representative - make the suppression of so-called "hate speech" a focal point of their media policy and that the EU does not hesitate to pose political conditions for the receipt of EU financial aid.

Why not in this case?

(Hat tip MK.)

Schadenfreude and Realpolitik: France and Iraqi Violence

The French media is, of course, responding enthusiastically to the recent uptick of violence in Iraq. Thus yesterday’s Le Monde (dated 17 May 2005) offers a full page under the cheerful title “Iraq, Afghanistan: American disillusionment and worries”. The subtitle of the main article [link in French] reads: “the American authorities seem surprised by the clear intensification...of combat and attacks”. Just why the American authorities should be “surprised” by an intensification of combat they have themselves ordained, namely in launching Operation Matador, is a puzzle that the reader will have to figure out for him- or herself. As for the rest, the coverage in Le Monde provides no evidence of any American “disillusionment” or “worries” or indeed of any “surprise”. The not-so-subliminal message of the headlines is in fact not related to the actual content of the articles, but rather to the moral lesson that the Le Monde editors clearly believe should be derived from the latter: namely, that “the Americans” should be “disillusioned” and should be “worried”. As for the reference to the Americans “seeming to be surprised”, it is Le Monde’s archly roundabout way of saying: “we are not surprised” – or, in other words: “We told you so!”

The continual expressions of Schadenfreude in the French media and among the French political establishment about every real or imagined reversal of what are perceived as “American fortunes” in Iraq – the violence suffered by Iraqis and the obstacles placed in the way of Iraqi democracy are secondary matters, mere alibis – masks another story: namely, the real effects of France’s own policy and, more generally, Franco-German obstructionism on the security situation in Iraq. In his reflections on the Franco-German “Great Game” on the American Future blog, Ulrich Speck notes that: “the Paris-Berlin alliance shouldn’t be underestimated. Even if its power is purely negative – anti-US – it can still do a lot of damage.... European resistance to American policies can raise the costs to a very high level, as in Iraq.” This is an important point that does not receive sufficient attention. If the situation in Iraq is difficult by comparison, say, to other recent examples of “international” intervention – notably, in Bosnia and Kosovo (whose ease and “success”, by the way, have been greatly exaggerated) – French and German policy choices are obviously themselves a major variable – arguably, the major variable – explaining this difference.

France was a significant contributor to so-called “peace-keeping” (sometimes “peace-making”) forces in Bosnia from 1992 onwards and many French soldiers lost their lives during the Bosnian conflict from 1992-1995 and in the “stabilization” missions that followed it. In this 2002 interview with the Bosnian newspaper Oslobodjenje [link in French], then French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin acknowledges a figure of some 80 French dead in Bosnia. Contrary to popular misconceptions fed by self-aggrandizing American politicians like Richard Holbrooke, it was in fact Germany that pushed for foreign intervention in Bosnia to halt what was almost universally depicted in the European and American media as “Serb aggression”. French diplomatic and especially military circles were well known to have sympathies with the Bosnian Serb or, in other – political, rather than ethnic – terms, “Yugoslav-loyalist” forces. Nonetheless, France – more or less – went along with the program. Germany itself, due to constitutional constraints that would subsequently be eliminated by a landmark Constitutional Court ruling during the Kosovo conflict, sent no troops. A well-known joke that circulated in Germany at the time held that Germany was determined to fight in Bosnia “to the last Frenchman”.

France and Germany chose not to contribute to the stabilization of the situation in Iraq. Indeed, by adopting an attitude that is so openly hostile to the coalition presence in Iraq and hence implicitly to the political project of Iraqi reconstruction with which the latter is linked, they have clearly discouraged other countries from contributing as well.

There is, moreover, another respect in which French policy may well have positively - and not only by omission - contributed to the revival of what the French media has baptized the Iraqi “resistance”. The last several months has seen a disturbing pattern emerge, according to which overtly anti-American, “pro-resistance” journalists and aide workers are taken hostage and then, following secret negotiations with their home governments, set free: the “two Simonas”, Giuliana Sgrena, and the two French journalists Christian Chesnot and Georges Malbrunot. A journalist from the French lefty paper, Libération, Florence Aubenas – who, oddly, disappeared just days after Chesnot and Malbrunot were set free – is still being held hostage. When Chesnot and Malbrunot were set free and repatriated to France in December, French authorities denied having paid any ransom, but admitted to having conducted negotiations – euphemistically described as a “political dialogue” by current French Foreign Minister Michel Barnier – with the hostage takers. On what points exactly did the French negotiators satisfy the demands of the latter? We do not know. Given the large affinity between France's Iraq policy and the objectives of the Jihadi/Baathist alliance in Iraq, there was indeed virtually nothing in the way of political concessions that France could have offered, and on the one point on which France could have made a concession to the Islamists - namely, on the issue of the headscarf ban - it did not do so.

What we do know is that the terror attacks in Iraq would not be possible without financial resources.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

It Is Done, But…: A Specification

The process of consultations in the WTO on the future Director General of the organization is done. This process is intended to establish a leading candidate, without, however, taking any formal vote. The last challenger to Pascal Lamy, the Uruguayan Carlos Perez de Castillo, has withdrawn his candidacy. The Kenyan Ambassador Amina Mohammed, chair of the three-person selection committee that conducted the consultations, has announced that she will recommend to the 148 member states that they appoint Lamy as the new Director General, to take office September 1. Polite statements have been issued by the appropriate diplomatic representatives – among others, US Trade Representative Rob Portman – welcoming Lamy’s expected ascendance to the WTO post.

BUT: it is not until May 26 that the General Council of the WTO will meet formally to make the appointment, and the WTO operates by consensus. There is still, then, a theoretical possibility that the Lamy candidacy could be blocked.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Some Links of Interest

In case you missed them:

A couple of weeks ago, Ulrich Speck published a long essay on his Kosmoblog titled "Große Spiele. Zum Zustand der deutschen Außenpolitik.": "The Great Game: On the State of German Foreign Policy". It is a pity that it is not available in English, since even the best American journals of international politics have yet to provide anything like the careful decrypting of the motives of German foreign policy under the “red-green” coalition that Ulrich undertakes. (I use the word “decrypting” advisedly, by the way, since Ulrich’s point of departure is precisely the lack of transparency of “red-green” foreign policy, in contrast, say, to the highly publicized foreign policy objectives of the Bush Administration.) In the meanwhile, however, Ulrich has sketched out some of the elements of his analyses – with particular emphasis on the role of France in this “Great Game” – also in English in conversation with Marc Schulman and various other commentators via this post on the American Future blog.

Also, the British Association of University Teachers (AUT) has more mail. Armand Laferrere has some questions for Sue Blackwell, one of the initiators of the AUT's boycott of two Israeli universities. His letter is on EURSOC.

It Is Done

"Uruguayan Candidate Yields to Lamy on WTO"

The traditional pro-trade, i.e. business, press in the States has ignored this story at their peril. I must say, with a certain hint of chagrin, so too have the "right-wing" - i.e., essentially, in this day and age, not anti-American and typically pro-market - sectors of the sphere. (A collegial shout-out, nonetheless, to Eric at No Pasarán and the fine folks at Hispalibertas, who prove on a daily basis that in Spanish at least the word "liberalism" has not yet lost its sense. Addendum: And to Chrenkoff! [My bad for not passing on the link earlier.])

Lamy Calling?

If the rumors reported in this article by Alan Oxley from TCS are correct, Pascal Lamy could be announced as the next Director General of the WTO by later today. An article in this morning's Le Figaro [link in French] suggests the same, noting that India, which hitherto insisted that the head of the WTO should come from a developing country, has swung into the Lamy camp. According to Le Figaro, citing diplomatic sources, there is "little doubt" about the outcome.

Imagining what a WTO under Lamy's leadership might be like, Alan Oxley notes:

Getting by is what matters in Europe, not the basic principles. This has always been the EU's approach to the WTO. It values the WTO as an organization to manage awkward trade problems with big players, like the US, Japan and now China, not as an organization to require big players to stick to the free trade rules.

So when the EU bows to pressure from the World Wide Fund for Nature to overturn free trade rules to use trade coercion to enforce environmental standards or from organized labor or Oxfam to use trade coercion to enforce labor rules, it calls on the rest of the world to go along. It doesn't tell those NGOS that WTO rules don't permit that.

So why should India, China and the US be content to have as boss of the WTO someone who believes that?

I would only add to this that when the EU bows to pressure from the World Wide Fund for Nature, it is in fact largely "bowing to pressure" from certain of its own, notably wealthier, member states - or even indeed "pressure" from itself. As Ray Evans notes in his "The Atlantic Rift", Germany and Holland are major contributors to the WWF. And as this 2003 document [pdf-file] shows, the WWF's European Policy Office in Brussels is funded to the tune of some 618,000 euros, representing 28% of its total budget, by the European Commission itself. This sort of incestuous relationship between European institutions and so-called "non-governmental organizations" - they would often be more appropriately labeled "para-governmental organizations" - reveals what a sham supposed "civil society" is in the EU.

Today could be a very dark day for free trade. In the future, states that resist complying with EU policy prescriptions may well hear Pascal Lamy, the Dirty Harry of world trade, gently reminding them: "We have a revolver and the finger is on the trigger."

(Note: For background to this post, see "Lamy's Got a Gun", parts I and II, and "Lamy's Got a Friend".)

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Ray Evans on "The Atlantic Rift: Is the Gulf Now Unbridgeable?"

In "Lamy's Got a Friend", I referred to a highly interesting article by Ray Evans on transatlantic relations and the WTO, while regretting the fact that it is not available on line. Now it is. With the kind permission of Ray Evans, here is his "The Atlantic Rift: Is the Gulf Now Unbridgeable?". The piece first appeared in the January-February 2005 issue of Quadrant, "Australia's Independent Review of Literature and Ideas".

The Atlantic Rift: Is the Gulf Now Unbridgeable?

by Ray Evans

On Nov 9, 2004, Robert Kagan, regarded as a member of the neo-conservative group identified with Deputy Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and other influential officials in the Bush Administration, gave the Bonython Lecture in Melbourne. The theme of his presentation was the overriding need to repair the gulf between the US and Western Europe, meaning essentially France, Germany and their supporters within the EU. [1]

Kagan’s formula for mending the breach was for each of the estranged parties to give a bit in order to meet at some sort of half way house where the integrity of the West could be restored. He spelt out the sort of moves which he believed could lead to a rapprochement.

However, the question which immediately arises is whether a rapprochement is possible; and if it is not possible, what are the consequences, particularly for Australia.

There is no doubt, of course, that there is a wide gulf between France and Germany on the one hand, and the US on the other. The UK is, for the most part, on the American side of the fence. Prime Minister Tony Blair has been President Bush’s most important ally in the war in Iraq, and has incurred a great deal of hostility from his own party, and also from the Conservatives, because of his support for the US in Iraq. President Bush was so annoyed with the continuing carping from the Tory Opposition over Iraq that he pointedly declined to meet party leader Michael Howard. On the other hand, however, Tony Blair has been an outspoken critic of US policy on the Kyoto Protocol, and we read that the Queen herself is now concerned about US failure to sign onto the decarbonisation programme which is at the heart of Kyoto. The Kyoto Protocol is at the heart of the EU’s quest for legitimacy within Europe itself.

Coupled with commitment to the Kyoto Protocol, EU legitimacy is also buttressed by a deep anti-Americanism which came to the fore during the German elections of 2002 when Chancellor Schroeder came from well behind in the polls to snatch victory on an anti-American platform.

The recent US elections revealed a great deal about the Atlantic rift. The funniest incident was the attempt by the London based Guardian to swing Ohio to Senator John Kerry. Apparently the plot was devised by a group of Guardian sub-editors after they had completed their evening’s work and were having a few drinks before going home. They selected Clark County as an important part of Ohio which had narrowly supported Al Gore in 2000, but was at risk of swinging to Bush in 2004. They asked Guardian readers to write to residents of Clarke County, urging them to vote against George W Bush and for John Kerry. Names and addresses from the Clarke county electoral role were provided and a number of eminent British citizens accepted the Guardian’s invitation, including Prof Richard Dawkins, author John le Carre, and Lady Antonia Fraser amongst them. But to no avail. Clark County swung decisively to George Bush and Mark Steyn wrote:

Alas for the Republican Party, Lady Antonia and her chums never got round to writing to New Jerseyites and Pennsylvanians and Oregonians, or we’d be looking at a Bush landslide. Instead, Republicans had to settle for a little less.
Why are these divisions arising and what do they portend? In his Bonython Lecture Robert Kagan referred to the end of the Cold War, to the collapse of the Soviet Union, and thus to the consequent freedom for the Franco-Germans to pursue policies at odds with US interests. But there is much more to this growing gulf between Franco-Germany and the US than the end of the Cold War.

One of the most perceptive books on global politics to have been written in the last ten years or so is Samuel Huntington’s The Clash of Civilisations and the Remaking of World Order. One of his observations on the causes of war is this:

Millennia of human history have shown that religion is not a “small difference” but possible the most profound difference that can exist between people. The frequency, intensity and violence of fault line wars are greatly enhanced by beliefs in different gods
The most dramatic fault line in today’s world is that between militant Islam and the West. What has become clear since 9/11 is that the West is not united, but divided, and the division is seen most clearly between Franco-Germany on one side and the US on the other. This division has great consequences for the war against Islamic terrorism

Before speculating on the forces which are driving this division it is useful to consider an arena in which the contest between Franco-Germany and the US has been visible for at least ten years. That arena is the WTO and the attempt by the EU to turn the WTO into an instrument of extraterritorial power for the global enforcement of European environmental policies, most notably the decarbonisation program embodied in the Kyoto Protocol.

The WTO’s predecessor, the GATT, was one of the key institutions established at the end of WWII. The Americans, with Secretary of State Cordell Hull, and the British with John Maynard Keynes as UK representative at Bretton Woods, were the prime movers in building the GATT legal structure. The five basic elements of the GATT structure were:

1. The MFN principle, defined in Article I, which meant no discrimination between GATT members.

2. Equal treatment of products after crossing the border.

3. No interference in the sovereign rights of member states, which meant no interference in production and processing methods of goods. (Article I)

4. Barriers to imports on health and safety grounds, as in quarantine decisions, had to be justified on internationally accepted sound science. (Article XX, the exceptions clause)

5. Trade barriers were accepted as part of the reality of world trade, but such barriers were to always in the form of tariffs based on market prices. Quantitative restrictions were to be rejected. (Article III)

Article I forbids the use of specific trade sanctions against particular countries as a method of enforcing environmental or labor market policies, for example, extraterritorially. Article XX is the exceptions clause which legitimises the banning of particular imports from particular countries, as in quarantine procedures. The Uruguay Round tightened Article XX procedures and definitions. It has been the long-standing ambition of the Europeans to expand Article XX so that trade sanctions can be used as an international police power to be used to enforce EU policy objectives. The developing countries have repeatedly, and with increasing determination and coherence, resisted the EU (and the US) attempts in this regard - notably at the WTO meeting held in Seattle in 1999.

It has been apparent, ever since the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997, that the EU has envisaged the use of trade sanctions as a means of imposing upon “recalcitrant” nations, the decarbonisation policies which are at the heart of the Kyoto Protocol.

Late in October 2004, Pascal Lamy, the retiring EC Trade Commissioner, spoke at a farewell luncheon. He made some very important remarks which reveal the extent and durability of EU ambitions in this regard.

“There are now more good trade specialists with Oxfam and Greenpeace than in trade unions,” he said. “In a few years we will have to assess whether the free ride that China got in Kyoto is sustainable and they will have to accept more standards and restraints. I think the Chinese recognise this.”

Making some points on Europe he said: “We will get to the point where everyone, as with the British and German model, where you have the same minister for trade and the environment. If you did that in France tomorrow there would be screaming and fires in front of the mairies. But it will happen.”

Pascal Lamy is deluding himself if he believes China, or India, will accept decarbonisation as a policy imposed at the point of trade sanctions. I doubt very much that the Howard Government would do so. But that is very clearly what Pascal Lamy is talking about. You will find on his website a long and rather tortuous lecture, entitled “The Emergence of Collective Preferences in International Trade: Implications for Regulating Globalisation” given in Brussels, on 15 September 2004. A careful reading of this lecture shows, once again, that the EU is setting the stage for the imposition of trade sanctions, or alternatively, the establishment of trade preferences, on the basis of the environmental policies adopted by the disfavoured or favoured nation respectively.

So while the EU, or more precisely France and Germany, attack the US for “unilateralism” particularly in relation to Iraq, the EU itself is setting the scene for unilateral trade restrictions or trade preferences which will be imposed to achieve policy results which they deem desirable. Once again, Kyoto is the most critical issue on this agenda.

Now, if the EU really does go down this road, it will split the WTO, and the world will divide into two trading blocs. One bloc will be based on Washington, essentially a Pacific Bloc, and one based on Brussels and Bonn (where the Kyoto Secretariat is based). There is no doubt where Australia will locate itself, the debate concerning, and now successful conclusion of, the US FTA made that point clearly. Where the UK will find a home is now at the very centre of British politics. Charles Moore, the distinguished British journalist, fulminating in the London Telegraph recently over 26 huge windmills which are to be installed on the Romney Marsh, argued:

State industrial planning doesn't work, but we seem to ignore this lesson when it comes to the environment. We are in a world of “targets”, just as self-defeating as old Soviet five-year plans. The assumption, highly debatable, is that the Earth is being destroyed by climate change. The solution, highly improbable, is that the Kyoto treaty will make a difference to this threat. The effect, absolutely certain, is that voters will be made to pay.
At present, many voters seem to like this idea, particularly in northern European countries, where the legacy of Protestantism is that what causes you discomfort must be good. But I wonder how much longer this will last, as people start to feel the effects in their own lives.

This brings me back to my earlier question regarding the main issues in play between the US and the Franco-German alliance. The most striking difference which confronts the antipodean visitor to the US and Europe is the religious difference. America is still at heart a protestant country. Church attendance is very high, about 60 percent. In Europe Catholicism is still a force, but as Rocco Buttiglione found recently, those who express traditional Catholic views on abortion, for example, pay a political price. Bruce Johnston, writing in the London Telegraph recently , said this:

Rocco Buttiglione, the European commissioner-designate rejected by Brussels because of his Roman Catholic views on abortion and homosexuality, plans to form a religious lobby group to “battle for the freedom of Christians” in Europe.

Mr Buttiglione bowed to pressure a week ago and withdrew from the commission team proposed by the incoming president, Jose Barroso, after vehement opposition from Left-wing members of the European Parliament. Scandalised by the hostility shown by MEPs towards his religious views, the Italian minister for Europe now hopes to create a Christian network to exert pressure on “totalitarian” institutions such as the Strasbourg-based body.

In Rome last week, Mr Buttiglione said: “There are a lot of people, including politicians, who have been ringing me not only from inside Italy, but also from Spain, britain, and Germany.”

Protestant churches in Northern Europe, where Protestantism began, are virtually empty, as are Anglican churches in England. Protestantism has been displaced by Environmentalism as the religion of the European upper classes. Government subvention of environmentalist NGOs is massive. The WWF in particular receives hundreds of millions annually from the German and Dutch Governments, and is now enjoying subventions from the Australian Government.

In the US, environmentalism is also a force, but it is a force precisely in those counties which voted overwhelmingly for John Kerry. In Manhattan, for example, George Bush received only 17 percent of the vote. In Palo Alto, where you will find some of the most expensive real estate in the world, George Bush did only marginally better. But in every state between the Pacific and Atlantic coasts, George Bush either won, or improved his vote on 2000.

So although American elites, like their European counterparts, are increasingly supportive of Kyoto and other global governance measures designed to save this or that species, or rain forest, or whatever, middle America is indifferent or hostile to these ambitions. Although most attention was focussed on Florida in 2000, it was George W’s clear win in West Virginia, traditionally a strong Democrat and union state, which, with Florida, pushed him over the line. The reason Bush won West Virginia in 2000 was he made it clear that a Bush Administration would not ratify the Kyoto Protocol, a position the President has resolutely maintained.

I think the religious differences between America and Franco-German Europe are likely to increase rather than diminish. The Republicans have built up a coalition which is based on religion (including both evangelical Protestants and Conservative Catholics), on market based economic principles, and on a deep sense of patriotism. This coalition, like all coalitions, contains within it tensions and contradictions. But it appears now to be a winning coalition, with enough coherence and vitality to succeed in 2008.

Quoting Charles Moore in the London Telegraph again:
The point about Christianity in America is not that it is extreme or fundamentalist (though such people certainly exist), but that it is pervasive and people seriously try to live by it. They therefore respond favourably to someone such as Mr Bush who, they believe, tries to live by it, too.
They see September 11, rightly, as an anti-Christian act, and that makes them rally to the man who wants to punish it. In all their political and social attitudes,
they think of their religion more than most Europeans do. This does not mean that they all come to the same conclusion – many, because of their Christian abhorrence of inequality, vote Democrat. Nor does it mean that they all try to impose religious law on others. But it does mean that a leader who is both a Christian and a conservative can speak a language that resonates.
Organisation relates to this. Religion in America is probably the biggest building block of a very patriotic and community-minded society, one in which there is much stronger local government, far higher individual and business contributions to charity, a stronger desire to be respected by neighbours and much less welfare dependency than in Europe.

So we live in a world which is facing very different threats and challenges from the world of 1988, the year before the collapse of the Berlin Wall. In particular, if the Europeans are determined to rewrite the rules of the WTO so that they can, under the cloak of WTO legitimacy, impose trade restrictions on environmental grounds, particularly with respect to the decarbonisation policies of other countries, then the WTO will be finished as an effective organisation, and other trading arrangements will have to made. This will be a sad conclusion to what has been an extraordinary period in the history of world trade. But the success of the GATT and its successor the WTO has always been conditional on the continuing support of the two major economic powers, the US and Europe. If Europe withdraws its support then that’s the end of that arrangement.

How will that effect Australia? The FTA with the US comes into force on 1 January 2005. Discussions with Japan for trade liberalisation have been going on for some time. We are contemplating an FTA with China. India cannot be far behind. So although the demise of the WTO will cause consternation and uncertainty around the world, with undoubted economic consequences, it is fair comment to suggest that the disruption will be less than some might fear and that new arrangements, and agreements on rules for governing international trade will come quickly into effect.

It is an event for which we should now be actively planning. The better prepared we are, the possibility that the EU will, in the end, hesitate to bring down an organisation that has done so much for the world’s peoples, is enhanced. But the religious forces I have outlined are not a passing fad. Environmentalism has been a strong force in Germany for more than a century, and was an important element in the coalition which brought Hitler to power in the 1930s. In Australia the passion for saving “old-growth” forests was an important factor in the defeat of the Court Government in Western Australian in 2002 and played a critical role in the loss of four Labor seats in the federal election of 9 October 2004.

Protestant Christianity in America is very deeply entrenched as the religion of the pilgrim founders, and as a consequence of 9/11, is today politically aroused. The stage is set for increasing tensions between the US and its allies and the EU. Those tensions will be articulated in the language of Environmentalism and, particularly, global warming and decarbonisation.

If we are about to enter a bipolar world then Australia itself will be divided, as it was during the Cold War. The trigger will be the Kyoto Protocol and its de-carbonisation project for the world. We will be returning to the religious disputes of the 16th and 17th centuries.

Some years ago the late Aaron Wildavsky wrote:

Global Warming is the mother of all environmental scares. In the scope of its consequences for life on planet Earth and the immense size of its remedies, global warming dwarfs all the environmental and safety scares of our time put together. Warming (and warming alone), through its primary antidote of withdrawing carbon from production and consumption, is capable of realising the environmentalists dream of an egalitarian society based on rejection of economic growth in favour of a smaller population eating lower on the food chain, consuming a lot less, and sharing a much lower level of resources much more equally.[2]

Presiding over this society will be a priesthood of lawgivers, imposing a uniformity of religion which will brook no dissent. Premier Bob Carr is our current trend setter in this role, and it takes little imagination to discern how an heir to this tradition will, unchecked and unconstrained, behave in 2050.


[1] See the CIS website,

[2]Introduction to Robert Ballings' "The Heated Debate" (1992 Pacific Research Institute)

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

The Neue Wache: Germany and Historical Revisionism

It is a good question whence comes the revisionist spirit expressed in UN General Assembly Resolution A/59/26 (“Remembrance and Reconciliation?”). It is not hard to imagine that representatives of many Arab countries found the wording of the resolution to their liking. Historical revisionism with respect to the Holocaust and the Second World War serves, after all, to de-legitimate the state of Israel. But I am afraid that it is Germany itself that has been at the forefront of historical revisionism for roughly the last 15 years. When I say “Germany itself”, I do not mean skinheads and the odd Holocaust denier here and there. The latter are marginal phenomena. (In fact, the extent of outright Holocaust denial is typically exaggerated. At least outside of the Middle East, the outright denier is a very rare affair. What there is, is quite a lot of more or less insidious quibbling over the exact numbers.) When I say “Germany itself”, I mean what I say: i.e. “official” Germany or, in other words, the German state.

When, on Sunday, Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, President Horst Köhler and other German political dignitaries lay wreaths to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the capitulation of Nazi Germany, they did so before a Kathe Kollwitz Pietà at the so-called “Neue Wache” Memorial in Berlin.

In the German Democratic Republic, the Neue Wache, which lies in the eastern part of the city, served as a memorial to “the Victims of Fascism and Militarism”: a formula that clearly referred to the Nazi regime and its crimes. After Reunification, in 1993, the Neue Wache was re-opened as the “Central Memorial of the Federal Republic of Germany”. The inscription had been changed. Instead of the “Victims of Fascism and Militarism”, it is now dedicated to the “Victims of War and Tyranny [Gewaltherrschaft]”. The substitution of “Tyranny” for “Fascism” served to establish an equivalence between the Nazi regime and the Communist regime of East Germany. The substitution of “War” for “Militarism” served to evade the question of responsibility: notably, of German responsibility for the Second World War and hence for the carnage it entailed. (The same question could, of course, also be posed in this context with respect to the First World War.)

Thus, although it is true that when Chancellor Schröder and President Köhler lay their wreaths before the Kollwitz Pietà they paid tribute to the victims of Nazi crimes, this is only part of the truth. They also – silently, without having to say any words that might provoke unease outside of Germany – paid tribute to many of the perpetrators of those crimes. Grandiose – indeed downright megalomaniacal – would-be "artistic" expressions of remorse for the Holocaust, such as Peter Eisenman’s just inaugurated “field of pillars” or Daniel Libeskind’s “Jewish Museum” (about which I have written extensively here and, in German, here), may obscure this fact. But they do not change it. They also, incidentally, obscure the tens of millions of non-Jewish victims of Nazi aggression and persecution in Czechoslovakia, Poland, Greece, Yugoslavia, the USSR, France, etc., etc., etc.

Revisionism, He Said?

In “Remembrance and Reconciliation?”, I wrote of the “revisionist” spirit that animates UN General Assembly Resolution A/59/26. Surely, it is at least exaggerated to put the entirety of the UN General Assembly – the resolution passed by acclamation – in the same company as notorious revisionist historians such as David Irving and Robert Faurisson? Well, here is a citation from the concluding chapter of Faurisson’s Ecrits Révisionnistes or “Revisionist Writings”:
Whatever storms and vicissitudes may arise now or in future, the revisionist historian must hold firm. To the cult of tribal remembrance built on fear, vengeance, and greed, he will prefer the stubborn search for exactitude. In this manner he will, albeit perhaps unwittingly, do justice to the true sufferings of all victims of the second world war. And, from this viewpoint, it is he who will refuse to make any distinction between them on the basis of race, religion, or community. Above all else, he will reject the supreme imposture which gave the crowning touch to that conflict: that of the Nuremberg and Tokyo trials, and of the thousand other proceedings since the war in which, still today, the victor, without in the least having to answer for his own crimes, has assumed the right to prosecute and condemn the vanquished.

Here again is the wording of the General Assembly Resolution:

[The General assembly] Declares 8–9 May as a time of remembrance and reconciliation and, while recognizing that Member States may have individual days of victory, liberation and commemoration, invites all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system, non-governmental organizations and individuals to observe annually either one or both of these days in an appropriate manner to pay tribute to all victims of the Second World War.

The emphasis on “all” victims in the Faurisson passage – as well as on “true” sufferings, whatever that is supposed to mean – is Faurisson’s. The Faurisson volume is, incidentally, kindly put on line by an openly revisionist website whose offerings also include such pearls as “Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Communist Dictator”, “Terror Bombing [the Allied bombing campaign is meant - JR]: The Crime of the Twentieth Century”, “The Myth of German Culpability”, “Jewish Race War Claimed 20 Million German Lives”, and so on.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Remembrance and Reconciliation?

Today is the 60th anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany – reason enough to break my usual weekend silence. The UN General Assembly in its resolution A/59/26, titled “Commemoration of the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War” [pdf-file; if the UN link does not work, try here], has designated today and tomorrow (when Russia celebrates VE Day) “a time of remembrance and reconciliation”. Of course, today is not in fact the anniversary of the “end of the Second World War”. The war in the Pacific theatre would continue for several months. It is the anniversary specifically of the defeat of Nazi Germany – an event that the General Assembly apparently does not regard as worthy of commemoration, since it is nowhere mentioned in the resolution. Such odd imprecision gives one reason to doubt the sincerity of the stated commitment to “remembrance”.

But reconciliation? If the history of Nazi Germany teaches us anything, it is that there are certain enemies with which “reconciliation” is not possible: or at least not possible without the sacrifice of one’s own liberties – without, in effect, surrender. Nazi Germany had quite simply to be defeated, without any concessions being made to its supposed “cause”. That is why what we commemorate today is precisely the unconditional capitulation of Nazi Germany. Britain and France had tried the “conciliatory” approach with Nazi Germany in 1938: they did so initially at the cost of Czechoslovakia and they would subsequently pay a heavy price themselves. Of course, reconciliation with the German people would be possible. But most certainly not on May 8, 1945 and never with those parts of the German people that remained committed to the program and “ideals” of the Nazi regime.

The spirit of, so to say, retrospective appeasement and revisionism that animates the GA Resolution is made even clearer, if we consider the entirety of its first operational paragraph, which,
Declares 8–9 May as a time of remembrance and reconciliation and, while recognizing that Member States may have individual days of victory, liberation and commemoration, invites all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system, non-governmental organizations and individuals to observe annually either one or both of these days in an appropriate manner to pay tribute to all victims of the Second World War.
Note that the Resolution merely “recognizes” that some states might want to consider May 8 a day of victory. Apparently, the GA as such cannot bring itself to do so – and this even though the UN has its origins precisely in the Allied coalition that defeated Nazi Germany (and which was officially known as... "the United Nations").

But note especially the “invitation” to pay tribute to “all victims of the Second World War”. What does that mean: “all victims”? Does it mean just anyone who happens to have been killed or died as a result of the War? Does it mean, then, that we should also “pay tribute” to, say, the members of SS Einsatzgruppen who were responsible for the systematic murder of Jews and partisans on the territory of the Soviet Union – since some of them, after all, were also killed in battle? Does it mean that we should “pay tribute”, for instance, to those Wehrmacht soldiers who died in brutally suppressing the Warsaw Ghetto uprising? Does it mean that we should “pay tribute” to those Luftwaffe pilots who were shot down during the bombardments of Rotterdam, Belgrade, Coventry, and innumerable other European towns and cities? Does it mean, finally, that we should also pay tribute to Himmler, Goebbels, and, yes, Hitler himself, since they all died, if albeit at their own hands, as a result of the War? Is there no longer any distinction to be drawn between the victims of Nazi aggression and genocide, on the one hand, and the practitioners of the same, on the other – so long, namely, as some of the latter were killed in executing their crimes? Have the ones and the others, merely by virtue of their deaths, joined some grand fraternity of “victims”?

Well, according to the UN, the answer to all these questions is apparently “yes”. Thus, the UN Press release announcing the passage of Resolution A/59/26 reads as follows:
In other business, the Assembly adopted a resolution commemorating the sixtieth anniversary of the end of the Second World War, and declared 8 to 9 May as a time of remembrance and reconciliation and invited all Member States, organizations of the United Nations system, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and individuals to observe annually either one or both of those days in an appropriate manner to pay tribute to all who lost their lives in that War.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

More on the AUT

Last week I posted an open letter to the Association of University Teachers (UK) from Emanuele Ottolenghi. Emanuele has more on the AUT boycott campaign and his proposed response - "We should all wear the badge of shame that the AUT wants to impose on our Israeli peers with great pride and in the full confidence that we are not only in the right, but that truly free academia stands on our side and against the AUT." - in this comment on National Review Online.


Due to some sort of Blogger glitch, which seems now to be resolved, the front page of the site was not working most of the day yesterday. My apologies.