Well, as you probably know, they're arguing up in Brussels about the proposed new European Union constitution. What they're arguing about is the division of powers among the 25 states (soon to be 27, with Bulgaria and Romania added within a few years to Malta, Cyprus, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Slovakia, Poland, and the three Baltic States, whose admission to the EU is already scheduled). Three years ago, in the Nice Treaty, the amount of power each state would have in the Council of Ministers was agreed to, and Spain and Poland were given virtually the same amount of power within the EU as the four big states, Germany, France, Britain, and Italy. The new proposed carve-up would take power away from Spain and Poland.
What they're really arguing about is how many votes it would take to veto an EU measure or law or policy or whatever. Spain and Poland want measures to be hard to pass and easy to veto in order to force the biggest countries to ally with at least some of the smaller ones in order to achieve their goals. France and Germany want measures to be easy to pass and hard to veto in order to be able to achieve their goals with as few allies as possible. The proposal up right now would require the approval of 50% of the EU states with 60% of the total EU population to pass a measure. Spain and Poland are holding out for 66% of the population.
Jack Meoff (oops, I meant Jacques Chiraq) contributed this pearl to the discussion: "(The Nice system) does not respond to a certain vision of Europe of the founding members, based on history, experience, and culture." And then they call America arrogant.
Meanwhile, the EU's proposed military unit is still most definitely on the drawing board, and I will be willing to bet it never comes into existence. By the way, Spain announced that its 1300 soldiers in Iraq will stay there at least until June 30, 2004. Spain will maintain its 400 troops in Afghanistan and will cut back its 1800 troops in the Balkans to 1000, as the situation there seems to be much calmer than it was just a couple of years ago. Way to go, Spain; that's the way a real ally behaves.
By the way, they got the guys who allegedly killed the seven Spanish intelligence agents. Catalunya TV made a big stink because, like, the evil nasty Americans who made the arrests kicked down some doors and pointed guns at people and tied their hands behind their backs and put them in the back of this Army truck. How brutal and retrograde and prepotent. Now, see, if it'd been Saddam who arrested 41 people and ran them all through paper shredders, as he was wont to do, none of our local Enlightened and Illustrated would have said a thing.
Trivia: It's estimated that there are between 300,000 and 1,000,000 bodies in Saddam's mass graves. The folks digging them up say there are so many that they'll be years in uncovering them and will probably never finish. Their priority is excavating graves from different periods in Saddam's career in order to better document what happened in Iraq under his rule. It's turning out that we don't really know all that much about what was going on in Iraq under Saddam, thanks to the journalists of the world (including CNN, who at least publicly admitted it and apologized, though after the fact, and other American media outlets) who were operating under strict Iraqi censorship, not to mention paying off the regime, and didn't bother informing us of that little fact while they pretended to inform us about what was actually happening there.
It's becoming clearer and clearer, at least to me, that Saddam was a monster who had to go and we should have overthrown him as soon as the Cold War was over and we could get away with it. George Bush I's decision not to wipe out Saddam and the Baath Party in 1991, in retrospect, is one of the dumbest decisions of the past twenty-five years.
As you know, the idiot French are going through the no-Islamic-veils-in-school crap again. See, their school system is secular (wonderful, just like America's) and therefore no one can wear stuff that "ostensibly" shows their religious belief, like veils, yarmulkes, and the like. Or, presumably, a "What would Jesus do?" T-shirt. The Socialists wanted to ban all visible references to religion whatsoever, like a crucifix or a St. Christopher's medal or a Star of David. They eventually decided to permit such "intimate and discreet affirmations of faith."
Now, this is nuts. What is the government doing interfering with people's religion in such a way? But La Vanguardia loves it. Here they go, from one of today's editorials:
(It) is a veritable monument to integration and tolerance...Definitely, France has decided in favor of integration, of tolerance, and, of course there could be no other way, Cartesianism. The respect for republican principles and the demand for unity and national cohesion form an inalienable part of the political, social, and cultural heritage of our neighbors to the north.
France? Integration? Tolerance? France? Telling kids they cannot, as a private and individual decision, wear the symbols of their religion is integration and tolerance? If I were the Vangua's editorial writers, I'd read Merde in France or the Dissident Frogman a little more frequently.
Seriously, though, look at this tremendous job of ass-kissing of the French provided by the Vangua. Can you imagine an editorial comment in La Vanguardia praising the United States for doing anything? No. But let the French repress a right that's protected in the First Amendment to the US Constitution, and La Vanguardia kneels down, puckers, and gets its lips and nose all brown. They even claim that this repression is a sign of integration and tolerance!
Have you heard about the ridiculous shit that's going on in Geneva? It seems they're having a world summit on the Information Society. Kofi Annan is very mad about the Internet. He thinks there's way too much Internet space taken up by frivolous First World leisure and entertainment content which is irrelevant and aimed at the consumption of privileged sectors. Uh, Kofi, as Internet users, the people who actually pay to keep it going, we'll decide what's relevant, thank you.
There's been some talk about setting up a solidarity fund for hardware, software, and technological structures for the African countries; at least, that's what they want. That is, another handout their corrupt dictators can embezzle. And, get this, Brazil and India and others are proposing that the United Nations should take over and regulate the Net.
Over my dead body. We, the people who actually use the Internet, are the ones who actually run it. It's the closest thing to functional anarchy that the world has ever seen. But it's just not solidarious and enlightened and illustrated enough for the Perenially Indignant. They want Brazil and India censoring my website. I don't, thank you, and I am serious enough about this issue to decide my vote on it. Any politician supporting any sort of government takeover of the internet, and especially a takeover by the United Nations, the International Association of Corrupt Brutal Third World Dictators, is not going to get my vote and is going to get all the shit from me that I can dump on his head from this small corner of the blogosphere.
John Le Carre, one of the most overrated authors of recent times (his books are boring and his characters not credible--for lefty spy novel authors, give me Graham Greene, and for lefty crime fiction, I'll take Dashiell Hammett) apparently has a new America-bashing novel out. Rafael Ramos, La Vanguardia's Liar in London, has this to say in a piece in today's Culture or Lack Thereof section.
The irony is that the United States and John Le Carre found themselves with the same problem after the fall of the Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union: replacing the old villains with contemporary ones, but who are equally perverse. ...Le Carre has decided to let it all hang out and write the most ideological of his novels, a virulent attack on the Iraq war and the new world order that Washington is trying to impose, based on its selfish interests and total ignorance of international legality. (Says Le Carre to the BBC), "The pretexts used to justify the war on Iraq are nonsense. It's a colonial adventure like all those in history, disguised as a crusade for liberty and the Western way of life, set up by some fantasizing Judeo-Christians who have taken over the communications media and dedicate themselves to exploiting post 9-11 paranoia"...The writer is no fan of the State of Israel, and he makes this clear.
Anybody else out there who's not going to be reading Le Carre's latest?