February 11, 2003
I'm back

I'm back from a nice skiing trip to the Colorado Rockies, and aside from a sore shoulder, I have survived the entire expedition without any accidents. I got back earlier today, but had to go straight to the office, so I do feel a tad tired. Full-scale blogging will resume tomorrow. During my stay in Colorado I got a lot of snow, a heat wave and icy cold weather up on the mountain. When it's 15 below (in Fahrenheit) and there's a wind blowing, it gets real cold real fast. But that was just one day, and it did not impinge too much on the skiing.

It has certainly been an eventful period. I am amazed at how recklessly the French and the Germans are frittering away the NATO alliance. That NATO would be losing relevance did not come as a big surprise, but still it's astonishing to see the cavalier attitude these two countries are taking to the alliance that has kept them free and prosperous for the last half century. The new Franco-German axis is born of desperation. The Germans are desperate because they've lost any foreign policy clout they had before the last general election, and now that Schröder has become a big loser domestically, he has to try to cling on to some semblance of international respectability. He does not appear to care where he gets his tender loving care from internationally; it's clear he won't get it from the US, so he tries to ingratiate himself with Saddam. The French are desperate too: their entire post World War II policy of trying to counteract Anglo-Saxon power and influence is in complete tatters. America is by far the most powerful nation in the world, and regardless of the merits of America's case, in French eyes there needs to be a countervailing force. Even if this means de facto support for Saddam, that's fine. It's the price one has to pay in terms of Realpolitik. So we have a new Franco-German axis born of different sources of desperation. With Schröder so weak, it's Chirac who can drive the debate within Europe, and what he's trying to do there is to transfer the traditional French paranoia of Anglo-Saxon influence to the European stage. He's setting up a simple litmus test for Good Europeans: you can't be both a Good European and sympathetic to America. The negative self-definition of French identity (i.e. defined by what it is not:American) is being foisted on Europe, or at least, the French are trying. It's not going to fly, as the letter of support by eight European heads of state showed. But it's the big chance for France to cement its vision of a European identity on the wider EU before the new entrants get all sorts of ideas of their own. And that's another reason it's not going work, because this Franco-German Axis is treading on the sensibilities of too many of the smaller countries. They won't suddenly become rabidly pro-American, but I suspect they'll see Franco-German domination within the EU as a bigger threat than anything America might do. France and Germany are painting themselves into a corner here, and getting out of it is going to become harder the more they paint. They'd be well advised to open the windows and the let the paint dry for a while before trying to redecorate again.

The big winner out of all this could be Russia. How? Tune in tomorrow. I'm going to bed now.

Posted by qsi at February 11, 2003 10:33 PM | TrackBack (0)
Read More on France , Germany , The Blog

Good to have you back!

I don't think that France and Germany can dominate the EU anymore. Certainly not when there are 25 members. If this means a certain devolution of powers to the mmeber-nations all the better.

All we really need the EU to be is a free trade zone, with a flag and a hymn (and a good hymn it is).

Posted by: Ralf Goergens on February 11, 2003 10:57 PM

Glad you're back as well. I'm seriously looking forward to posts on the NATO meltdown and what it might mean for your country.

Hope you enjoyed your trip to America. Would look forward to some of your impressions about the homeland as well.

Keep up the the good work and (forgot to mention this earlier) congrats on getting the link from Den Beste.

Posted by: Ron Campbell on February 12, 2003 04:54 AM

Welcome back Peter. In your absence I have been blogging this NATO thing without your guidance. Now that you are back on the scene, we will be waiting for you to make sense of it all for us.

Posted by: Michael Gersh on February 12, 2003 06:57 AM

As an hymn the 9th symphony stinks. An hymn is supposed to galvanize your soldiers (or athletes) into giving the best of their themselves. Thus it should say how great is the ruler (God save the Queeen), the country ("the land of the free") or speak about "ferocious soldiers coming until our own arms to cut the throats of our sons and wives" (Marseillaise words). Do you imagine yourself assulting a machine gun nest after hearing that "all men are brothers". Of course if one day we are wat war with martians...

Posted by: JFM on February 12, 2003 05:31 PM

Thank you all for the welcome back. As always, the vacation was far too short, but at least it helped me relax for a bit. What I really want is a device that can transcribe my thoughts directly into a digital format... I could have done a lot of blogging while on the ski lifts. It's this last step of having to type that's usually the problem, and if I could write as quickly as I can think I would be a whole lot more productive. Perhaps something for a research project...

Posted by: qsi on February 12, 2003 11:01 PM
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