Friday, July 27, 2007

Sarkozy under fire for nuclear deal to secure nurses’ release

Sarkozy under fire for nuclear deal to secure nurses’ release

David Charter, Europe Correspondent, and Adam Sage in Paris

Nicolas Sarkozy faced a barrage of criticism yesterday for agreeing to build a nuclear reactor in Libya as concern grew over the price extracted by Colonel Gaddafi for the release of five Bulgarian nurses this week.
Opponents said that the French President had effectively exchanged the nurses and their colleague, a Palestinian doctor, for nuclear technology.
The outcome was also criticised in Libya, where officials said that the Bulgarian President’s pardoning of the nurses had violated the deal. Families of the children whom the medics were convicted of infecting with HIV demanded that Interpol should rearrest them. President Sarkozy responded that Arab states should be trusted with nuclear technology or the West risked a breakdown of relations so serious that there could be a “war of civilisations”. He denied a link between the deal to build a nuclear-powered desalination plant and the handing over of the group to his wife, Cécilia, on Tuesday.
They were freed after an agreement to pay $1 million (£500,000) to each of the families of 438 HIV-infected children. There was also an undertaking to revive Libya’s relations with the EU, including market access for Libyan goods, assistance with border management and scholarships for Libyan students in the EU.
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The European Commission and Bulgarian Government were forced to deny yesterday that a ransom had been paid for the release of the six, who claimed that they had been tortured. Noël Mamère, a Green Party MP, said of President Sarkozy: “He is running grave risks for the planet. And he is running the risk of turning France into the supplier of military nuclear capacity to some absolutely unacceptable regimes.”
Greenpeace said that the deal posed “an enormous problem of nuclear proliferation and is consistent with the French policy of irresponsibly exporting its nuclear technology”.
Claude Guéant, President Sarkozy’s chief of staff, said that the nuclear co-operation deal meant that “a country that respects international rules can obtain civilian nuclear energy”. The President added: “Nuclear power is the energy of the future. If we do not give the energy of the future to the countries of the southern Mediterranean, how will they develop themselves? And if they do not develop, how will we fight terrorism and fanaticism?”
A spokeswoman for the European Commission said that it had already provided €2.5 million (£1.7 million) of training and support to the hospital in Benghazi at the centre of the case and for the stricken children. A further €10 million of assistance would be provided over the next five years. She said that no direct payments had been made to the Libyan Government.
Sergei Stanishev, the Bulgarian Prime Minister, said that his country may write off the $54 million debt owed to it by Libya. He added that this would be a humanitarian gesture, not “paying ransom or admitting guilt”.
Bulgaria’s pardon of the medical workers as soon as they arrived on Tuesday brought an angry denunciation from the Libyan organisation representing the children’s families. “We deeply condemn and are deeply disappointed at the absurdity and disrespect shown by the Bulgarian presidential pardon,” it said. It called on Interpol to have police arrest the group “so that they can spend the rest of their sentences in prison”.
Boris Velchev, the Bulgarian Prosecutor-General, defended the pardon, saying: “When a person is transferred in his own country to serve the sentence imposed in another, it is the laws of the home country that are applied to him from then on.” Ashraf Alhajouj, 38, the Palestinian doctor, said yesterday that he and the nurses had been forced into confessing to infecting the children with HIV deliberately. “We were treated like animals. We were tortured in an awful way, with electricity. We were beaten, deprived of sleep,” he said. “We cannot forget. Only God can forgive. I will never forgive.”

Cecilia Sarkozy, left, met today with Aicha Gaddafi, daughter of the Libyan leader

(Patrick Kovarik/AFP/Getty Images)

Cecilia Sarkozy, left, met today with Aicha Gaddafi, daughter of the Libyan leader
Philippe Naughton

Libya demanded the complete normalisation of diplomatic relations with the European Union today as part of a deal for the release of six Bulgarian medics convicted of infecting Libyan children with the HIV virus, diplomatic sources said today.
The last-minute demand was made in overnight talks between Libyan officials and Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU's External Relations Commissioner who arrived in Tripoli last night hoping to secure an end to the medics' eight-year ordeal.
One source said that the Libyan Foreign Ministry had demanded the “complete standardisation of Libya’s relations with the countries of the European Union at all levels”.
Ms Ferrero-Waldner was accompanied to Tripoli by France's First Lady, Cécilia Sarkzoy, who is making her second trip to Libya this month.
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Press reports have suggested that Mrs Sarkozy is hoping to take the medics - five nurses and a Palestinian doctor, who also has Bulgarian nationality - on a French plane to Sofia.
But her husband, Nicolas Sarkozy, refused to comment today on reports that he might join her in Libya to drive the negotiations forward, although he said of the talks: "What I know is that it’s very tough."
On her first visit to Libya, on July 12th, Mrs Sarkozy had a 90-minute meeting with Colonel Muammar Gaddafi before meeting the nurses, who have been imprisoned since 1999. Today she met Aicha Gaddafi, the Libyan leader's 28-year-old daughter.
The six medics were convicted in May 2004 of deliberately infecting 438 children with HIV-tainted blood at a hospital in the Mediterranean city of Benghazi - although they now say that their confessions were made under duress. The highest judicial body in Libya last week commuted their death sentences to life terms in prison.
Libya’s latest demands come after a compensation package was hammered out giving the families of each HIV victim about $1 million, according to the Gaddafi Foundation. Sofia is seeking the extradition of the six under a prisoner exchange agreement it signed with Tripoli in 1984, and the expectation had been that the agreement would witness their rapid transfer to Bulgaria.
Relations between the EU and Libya have warmed considerably since 2003, when Tripoli decided to renounce ambitions to acquire weapons of mass destruction, and moved to settle issues concerning the Lockerbie affair. UN sanctions against Libya were lifted in September 2003, but Tripoli remains excluded from economic benefits extended by the EU to neighbouring states.
David Charter, Europe Correspondent of The Times, said from Brussels that any demands made by Libya would be discussed at a meeting of EU foreign ministers later today.
"It all seems to be part of a carefully choreographed series of events following the lifting of the death penalty last week - although with Libya you can never be sure how long it will all take," Charter said.
Mrs Sarkozy's part is less clear. "She is simply the spouse of an important EU leader who, we are told, has travelled to the EU with the full approval of the EU, although she appears to be freelancing," Charter added. "If she can bring them back, however, it would be an extraordinary ending to what has already been an extraordinary story."
In Paris a statement issued by the president’s office said that Mr Sarkozy spoke several times with Jose Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission, by telephone over the weekend in a bid to have the six freed and “repatriated immediately". Mr Sarkozy promised to work to free the medics during his campaign for the presidency earlier this year.
A European diplomatic source said that the French President had promised to help modernise the Benghazi hospital where the nurses and the doctor worked in exchange for their repatriation to Bulgaria.
The Bulgarian Foreign Minister, Ivailo Kalfin, said today that he was hopeful that the mission to Libya would yield a deal.
“We are at the stage now where the decision is clearly political,” Mr Kalfin said as he arrived in Brussels for the ministerial meeting. “I hope there will be good enough will from the Libyan side today.”

French President's wife in front line in negotiations
Publié le 26 juillet 2007
Actualisé le 26 juillet 2007 : 11h51
Commentary by Bruno Jeudy
Is Cecilia Sarkozy the new Lady Di? Her involvement in the Bulgarian nurses case has already earned her international fame, which has turned France's first lady into a media star, like the late princess, the champion of great humanitarian causes in the 1990s. Following her first visit to Libya, 12 July, Cecilia Sarkozy already made every front page in the international press. The image of the president's wife with the Bulgarian nurses should be seen all over the world, if she achieves their extradition.
Nicolas Sarkozy, who very much wanted a "real role" for his wife, has succeeded beyond his dreams. "Basically, my sole concern is Cecilia," he told journalists 14 July. In fact the head of state will not have had to wait long to define his wife's role. In less than two weeks, with these two surprise visits to Tripoli, Cecilia Sarkozy has spectacularly earned her stripes as her husband's "unofficial" envoy on the diplomatic and humanitarian scene.
Of course her sensational appearance on the scene initially irritated European governments. But, with his talent for persuasion, the head of state soon convinced European Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner of the virtues of France's intervention. So much so that following a conversation at the Elysee [president's office] Thursday she said: "we are agreed on everything."
Three days later the European diplomat accompanied Cecilia Sarkozy and Claude Gueant [secretary general of the presidency] on the French Republic's airliner. This was a way for the Sarkozy couple to silence criticisms about scoring a diplomatic success in which France has performed only one role among many.
What do these criticisms and complaints matter! With their perfect media skills, Nicolas and Cecilia soon realized the political benefit that they could derive from this operation. By pushing his wife into the front line in complex international negotiations, the head of state has inaugurated a diplomacy of the third kind, both personal and family-oriented. This method is not without risks, but it could prove very beneficial. If it succeeds, the president will kill two birds with one stone. He will extend his honeymoon with the public and enable his wife to assert her own personality vis-a-vis the French people, having hitherto remained somewhat enigmatic to the public.
All assets
The French Constitution accords no role or status to the head of state's spouse, and the first lady's involvement in such a burning issue is unprecedented in France. Internationally, spouses' political and diplomatic discretion is the rule, which a few exceptions, as in the case of Hillary Clinton.
But Cecelia Sarkozy has always given to understand that she would not confine herself to a role as a "hat stand." And she will not be "Mrs Small Change," like Bernadette Chirac. Neither will she venture into the field of parallel diplomacy, like Danielle Miterrand, who regularly caused embarrassment to the Quai d'Orsay [Foreign Ministry] - and her husband - with her remarks about Cuba or the Kurds.
"She knows how to organize dinners and to wear Dior and Saint-Laurent dresses, but she does not want to confine herself to that. The president has always said that he would use all the assets around him. Cecelia is one such asset. She is a considerable negotiator," according to Isabelle Balkany, deputy for Hauts de Seine and a close friend of the couple. Following her first visit to Tripoli, she took "this issue very much to heart," according to Elysee sources. "She acted as a complement to diplomats' action, using her own resources," according to one friend.
Yesterday, Secretary of State Roger Karoutchi, a close associate of Cecelia, offered the following explanation: "this is not a traditional diplomatic role; she is not negotiating the [missile] shield or missiles with Russia. She wants to take part in human, humanitarian, social action."
Will Cecilia fly next to the aid of Ingrid Betancourt, will we see her in Darfur? "We must not exaggerate. She will not do just anything," Isabelle Balkany said. "The most important things for her are her children and her family. But she wants to do something useful," according to Cecilia's confidante, who has recently received numerous text messages from France's first lady.

(Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images)
On their arrival in Sofia today the freed medics applaud Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU External Relations Commissioner who accompanied them from Tripoli
Andy Heath

Timeline: HIV medics' ordeal

1999 Nineteen Bulgarian healthcare workers detained in Benghazi. Accused of conspiring with foreign security services to infect 438 children with HIV, Libya’s first recorded cases. Thirteen are later freed

2000 Trial begins of six remaining Bulgarians and a Palestinian doctor similarly accused

2001 All defendants plead not guilty; allege use of torture

2002 Defendants acquitted of conspiracy; still face charges of causing infection
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2003 Aids expert Luc Montagnier testifies that Benghazi Aids outbreak predates arrival of the foreign medics

2004 Five Bulgarian nurses and Palestinian found guilty, sentenced to be shot. Bulgarian doctor acquitted. Defendants appeal

2005 Supreme Court orders retrial

2006 All six again handed death sentences

July 2007 Gaddafi International Foundation for Charity Associations - chaired by the son of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, the Libyan leader - announces undisclosed settlement between healthcare workers and affected families. Court later commutes death sentences, saying that families dropped demands for executions. Bulgaria requests they return home to serve sentences

July 22 EU commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner and Cécilia Sarkozy, wife of the French resident, arrive in Libya

July 24 All six medics released and return to Bulgaria

Libya: Bribery wins, for the moment
Jul 26th 2007
From The Economist print edition

Libya hopes to come in from the cold after freeing the Bulgarian nurses

THE final outcome of the long-running saga of five Bulgarian nurses and a Palestinian doctor nonsensically convicted of deliberately infecting some 400 Libyan children with HIV/AIDS but suddenly freed this week and flown to Bulgaria is bizarre. It reeks of bribery—yet may herald Libya's faster opening to the wider world.
Last December, after two trials that followed the nurses' original arrest in 1999, the six were again sentenced to death, though a bevy of distinguished AIDS scientists testified that the cause of the infections, which began even before the nurses had arrived in Libya, was almost certainly poor hygiene and the re-use of unsterilised needles in the hospital in the coastal city of Benghazi. The death penalty was commuted earlier this month to life in prison after a mysterious payment of $460m was said to have been paid via an international fund to the victims' families. No one seems yet to know exactly who has paid what.
In the saga's final act, France's president, Nicolas Sarkozy, and his sometimes estranged wife, Cécilia, took starring roles. The president had promised during his election campaign to make the jailed medics a priority of his foreign policy. Most unusually, earlier this month, he twice sent his wife and his chief of staff to Libya's capital, Tripoli, to lobby the country's leader, Colonel Muammar Qaddafi, for their freedom. The nurses and the doctor later flew to Bulgaria in Mr Sarkozy's presidential jet.
Officials of the European Union, which has long been immersed in the affair, have privately grumbled that Mr Sarkozy has stolen their glory. Benita Ferrero-Waldner, the EU's external-relations commissioner who had earlier brokered a deal on medical aid and reopening political ties with Libya, sounded taken aback by the late intervention of Mr Sarkozy's wife. The French president, quick to capitalise on his wife's success, flew to Libya the very day after the nurses' release, and promptly signed a French-Libyan agreement to co-operate on nuclear energy.
In the long run, Mrs Ferrero-Waldner's deal matters more. The Europeans all officially deny that ransom money was paid for the medics' release. But assistance is now expected to flow into Libya. The European Commission's president, José Manuel Barroso, suggests that a “normalisation of relations” with the EU is possible. Libya's foreign minister, Abdel Rahman Shalqam, says the deal will allow for “full co-operation and partnership”. Libya is expected to get EU aid to rehabilitate some hospitals, to encourage Libya to stem the flow of illegal immigrants into Europe, to help protect Libyan archaeological sites, to improve education and so on.
In recent speeches, Mr Qaddafi has said Libya cannot resist the tide of globalisation; there could be no going back to the “era of hostility and confrontation” when the West ostracised him for sponsoring terrorism. He has even promised that the day will come when his people no longer need him as their leader. Yet so far, despite the hopes raised three years ago after his decision to give up a secret nuclear-weapons programme, when investors started to flood in amid talk of deeper reforms, there has been no political loosening.
Mr Qaddafi has also complained that the United States and Britain have cheated Libya by not rewarding it properly for its nuclear about-turn and its decision to accept liability for blowing up an American airliner over Lockerbie in 1988. Following the medics' freedom, expect new calls for the release of Ali Megrahi, the Libyan agent sentenced to life in prison by a Scottish court in 2001 for the Lockerbie bombing. But it is far from sure, even if he were freed, that the Libyan people themselves would be granted greater economic or political freedoms.
Copyright © 2007 The Economist Newspaper and The Economist Group. All rights reserved.

Friday, July 20, 2007

German brain drain at highest level since 1940s

Heidi Klum

German brain drain at highest level since 1940s
By Tony Paterson in Berlin
Published: 01 June 2007

For a nation that invented the term "guest worker" for its immigrant labourers, Germany is facing the sobering fact that record numbers of its own often highly-qualified citizens are fleeing the country to work abroad in the biggest mass exodus for 60 years.
Figures released by Germany's Federal Statistics Office showed that the number of Germans emigrating rose to 155,290 last year - the highest number since the country's reunification in 1990 - which equalled levels last experienced in the 1940s during the chaotic aftermath of the Second World War.
The statistics, which also revealed that the number of immigrants had declined steadily since 2001, were a stark reminder of the extent of the German economy's decline from the heady 1960s when thousands of mainly Turkish workers flocked to find work in the country.
Leading economists and employers say the trend is alarming. They note that many among Germany's new breed of home-grown "guest workers" are highly-educated management consultants, doctors, dentists, scientists and lawyers.
OECD figures show that Germany is near the top of a league of industrial nations experiencing a brain drain which for the first time since the 1950s now exceeds the number of immigrants.
Stephanie Wahl, of the Institute for Economics, based in Bonn, said that those who are leaving Germany are mostly highly motivated and well educated. "Those coming in are mostly poor, untrained and hardly educated," she added.
Fed up with comparatively poor job prospects at home - where unemployment is as high as 17 per cent in some regions - as well as high taxes and bureaucracy, thousands of Germans have upped sticks for Austria and Switzerland, or emigrated to the United States.
Yesterday, the country'swoes were underscored by a report which disclosed that areas of unemployment-wracked eastern Germany were populated by a "male-dominated underclass susceptible to far right ideology" because of a dramatic 25 per cent exodus of young women aged 18 to 29.
More than 18,000 Germans moved to Switzerland last year. The US was the second most popular destination with 13,245, followed by Austria with 9,309.
Switzerland already has a resident German population of 170,000. Its presence has even provoked a xenophobic backlash in the country's tabloid press. Earlier this year, the Swiss newspaper Blick ran an anti-German campaign which spoke of a "German invasion" and quoted readers who claimed they found the German immigrants to be "arrogant and rude". Many immigrants, however, say the benefits of lower taxes and pay up to three times higher than at home far outweigh the occasional xenophobic outburst.
Claus Boche, a 32-year-old executive, left the west German city of Paderborn two-and-a-half years agoto take up a job with a Swiss management consulting firm. He now lives in Zurich. "Nearly everything is less bureaucratic and more go ahead than in Germany," he said. "I also pay about 40 per cent less tax. I have no plans to go back."
The current exodus hardly fits in with the official view of the German economy, which is said to be "booming". Although jobless figures for May were reported to be marginally up yesterday, Chancellor Angela Merkel's grand coalition government of conservatives and Social Democrats has taken credit for a steady 13-month decline in the country's unemployment to below four million.
However, the gradual economic upturn has so far failed to halt an exodus of the country's well-trained. Thomas Bauer, a labour economist from Essen, was scathing about Germany's employment conditions. "Germany is certainly not attractive when compared to other countries in Europe," he said. "The taxes are too high, the wages are too low and feelings of jealousy towards high-income earners is widespread. This is a special deterrent to the highly qualified."

The European Security and Defense Policy: A Challenge to the Transatlantic Security Alliance

The European Security and Defense Policy: A Challenge to the Transatlantic Security Alliance
by Sally McNamara
Backgrounder #2053

The terrorist attacks on New York and Washington in 2001, Madrid in 2004, and London in 2005 pro­foundly demonstrate the new security threats facing the West. Transnational terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and unstable or failed states present daunting challenges to the entire Euro-Atlantic community and require a long-term sustained response.

It is essential that Europe rise to the challenge of these new threats. Finding the right strategic and structural balance is equally imperative. A strong Europe of independent self-determining nation-states invested in NATO and protected by NATO will con­tribute far more to transatlantic security than will a deeply integrated European Union (EU) usurping NATO's role.

The European Security and Defense Policy (ESDP) has emerged as one of the biggest attempts to expand EU power to date, centralizing the most important tools of nation-statehood. The militarization of the European Union marks one of the greatest geopolitical shifts in the transatlantic alliance since the end of the Second World War. As a political initiative, it embod­ies the worst elements of European animosity toward the United States and would fundamentally under­mine the NATO alliance and the Anglo-American Special Relationship.

A Challenge to the Transatlantic Alliance

Since its establishment in 1998, the ESDP has been fashioned by EU elites into a military identity distinct from and independent of NATO. It has become a tool for projecting European power in the world and promoting the EU as a global actor. The EU has long used institutional program-building to advance its centralizing and integrationist policies, and the ESDP is critical to achieving "ever closer union."

The ESDP's Franco-British Foundations. When British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac heralded the ESDP at St. Malo, France, in 1998, it was reasonable to assume that Blair envisioned an ESDP very different from the one envisioned by Chirac--an ESDP that would complement NATO, not rival it. On the other hand, the French have long coveted a European defense identity specifically to counter American global power. Through a supranational foray into foreign policy areas such as military operations, the ESDP became Chirac's latest ruse to rival America. When EU elites talk about the balance of power, they mean that the EU should balance American hyperpuis­sance.[1] As Lady Margaret Thatcher stated:

France has for many years wanted to see an alternative military power to an American-led NATO. The European Union's plans for a separate integrated European defence pro­vided the French with a unique opportunity to achieve this goal.[2]

Rather than meaningfully address shared transat­lantic security challenges, the militarization of the EU through the ESDP actually presents a number of challenges by itself. The U.S. should not confuse its desire to see European countries take on more secu­rity and defense responsibilities, both in Europe and in the wider world, with the ramifications of further European military integration--especially in terms of America's ability to build alliances. The potential to destabilize the successful transatlantic security alliance has never been greater, and in that respect, the ESDP should not be viewed as an effective stra­tegic partnership.

Alliance-building is increasingly problematic for Washington under the ESDP. Turkey's membership in NATO and Greece's and Cyprus's memberships in the EU present a profound conflict for the two orga­nizations. EU access to NATO assets under the 2003 Berlin-Plus arrangements has (rightly) long been a matter of great concern to Turkey--one of the few NATO allies that is spending up to par on its defense--and remains a point of contention between these conflicting and competing alliances.

The EU's Operation Concordia in Macedonia was delayed precisely because of this conflict. Under the ESDP, Operation Concordia was scheduled to replace NATO's Operation Amber Fox on October 26, 2002. However, prolonged Greek-Turkish negotiations on mutual assurances between the EU and NATO meant that Operation Concordia was not launched until March 31, 2003.[3] This demon­strates the inherent problem with duplicate struc­tures and the serious political challenges for the U.S. in managing global alliances.

Central and Eastern European countries have long worried that divisions created by the ESDP might lead America to abandon its interests on the European continent. Because of their history, they have been the first to recognize the strategic threat to them and to wider Europe. NATO, backed by the United States, was a direct guarantor of their safety and security for most of the 20th century, facing down the Soviet Union from a position of strength.

Poland and the Czech Republic have both staked enormous political capital on moving forward with America's proposed ballistic missile defense installa­tions in their countries to shore up their bilateral alliances with the United States and make a solid contribution to NATO. However, they are equally engrossed in other challenges, as National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley has noted:

The new members have generally deferred to the precedents and policies of the old mem­bers. Preoccupied with neighbourhood affairs and accession subsidies, they have not ob­structed the more ambitious out-of-area for­ays of the core members.[4]

America must therefore shore up its bilateral rela­tions with these countries and encourage them to pursue security and defense agendas that are com­mensurate with the aims of the transatlantic alliance and their own broader strategic interests. For exam­ple, the European ballistic missile installations allow America to extend its own security umbrella and protect its European allies at the same time.

While the ESDP currently comes under the sec­ond of the EU's three policy areas, or pillars, it is tre­mendous institutional pressure from below that determines common political positions in advance of the European Council's quarterly meetings. Gen­eral guidelines, political direction, and strategic management of the Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) are set before the European Council meetings, with multiple committees and complex institutional arrangements predetermining much of the eventual outcome. The European Commission is fully associated with the CFSP, currently taking the right of policy initiative and managing the CFSP budget line. The fact that the European Defense Agency (EDA) already takes decisions by qualified majority voting is a major departure for such high-level strategic decision-making.

Under the proposed EU Reform Treaty, things will certainly get worse in terms of diminishing EU member states' sovereignty. The Reform Treaty proposes:

The Union's competence in matters of com­mon foreign and security policy shall cover all areas of foreign policy and all questions relat­ing to the Union's security, including the pro­gressive framing of a common defence policy that might lead to a common defence.[5]

Under the treaty, a beefed-up foreign minister would have the right to speak in the U.N. Security Council and the power to appoint EU envoys. The EU has already undertaken more than a dozen mis­sions under the CFSP's European Security and Defense Policy. With an enhanced profile and bud­get, a diplomatic corps, and the right to speak on Britain's behalf in multilateral institutions, the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Secu­rity Policy would not enjoy the official title of for­eign minister, but he would enjoy its powers and responsibilities.

The Special Relationship. The institutional and political constraints demanded by further European integration will severely limit Britain's ability to build international alliances and make foreign pol­icy. The biggest damage will be done to Britain's enduring alliance with the United States. British-based EU commentator Christopher Booker argues that the integration of British military arrangements with the European Union represents a fundamental threat to the Special Relationship:

The nature of this new military relationship with her European partners will make it in­creasingly hard for the UK either to fight in­dependently or to co-operate militarily with the US. That "special relationship" which has been the cornerstone of British defense pol­icy from the time of the Second World War up to the recent US-British coalition in Iraq will be at an end.[6]

British academic Richard North maintains that the "secret" realignment of the U.K.'s procurement policy demonstrates the gulf opening up between the U.K. and U.S.[7] North notes that two competing and "incompatible" high-tech warfare systems are being developed by America and Europe and demonstrates Britain's systematic realignment toward the latter. Tony Blair's decision to opt for the more expensive French Meteor missiles rather than the tried and tested American Raytheon missiles is just one in a long line of decisions highlighting the increasingly America-averse direction of British procurement pol­icy since the ESDP's inception. The sheer expense and unreliability of this deal also challenges the myth that Europe-wide procurement is the best way to address defense underspending in Europe.

Procurement is abstract, technical, and politi­cally nontoxic, rarely making the front pages, but this does not mean that a wider political agenda is not at work. "For those who would seek to see a European army replace NATO," as British Shadow Defense Secretary Liam Fox has observed, "defence procurement offers the perfect means of undermin­ing the Special Relationship by stealth."[8]

In fact, procurement goes to the heart of why the Special Relationship is special. In his seminal post­war "Sinews of Peace" speech, Winston Churchill said that interoperable capabilities, personnel exchanges, and doctrinal commonality were the lynchpins of the Special Relationship.[9]

The EU understands Churchill's thesis very well. The European Security and Defense College, estab­lished in 2005 for the exchange of key military per­sonnel among EU member states, will be critical to fostering shared camaraderie and doctrinal under­standing of the EU's approach to security and defense policy in the longer term. The development of personal and professional relationships between British and American military personnel has sus­tained the Special Relationship for many years, just as the U.S.'s International Military Education and Training program has been an incredibly successful tool of U.S. defense policy more generally.

The EU is also seeking to address another ele­ment of Churchill's thesis. Aware of its serious lack of overall capability and integrated capacity in intel­ligence, airlift, and high-tech weaponry, the EDA has been mandated to develop extensive defense capabilities, promote armaments cooperation, and build up a European military-industrial base.[10] The EDA has a long-term visionfor centralizing pro­curement at a European level and integrating mili­tary capacity-building.[11] As EU High Representative and EDA Chairman Javier Solana has said:

Given the lead times typically involved in developing defence capability, decisions we take, or fail to take, today will affect whether we have the right military capabilities, and the right capacities in Europe's defence tech­nological and industrial base, in the third de­cade of this century.[12]

With hard-pressed defense budgets and the enormous costs associated with modern high-tech weaponry, defense expenditures must take on a more global character. As the technological revolu­tion rolls on, the interoperability of defense systems will likely become not just desirable, but essential to joint military efforts. In this respect, jointly funded, interoperable projects which deliberately exclude non-EU countries should not be a policy goal of the European Union. In the age of digital warfare, pro­curement decisions are absolutely critical, but they are now just as political as they are strategic. With Europe's dual desire to create a stronger defense industrial base and to advance an alternate warfare system, the procurement agenda has become skewed against sensible military budgeting and more about the EU's political agenda.

As EU military planners continue their aggres­sive pursuit of an integrationist agenda, the Special Relationship will undoubtedly suffer as British inde­pendence as a military power (and buyer) is restrained. If Britain continues to relinquish the most critical elements of sovereign statehood to Brussels--the right to military action and autono­mous foreign policy-making--the British govern­ment will become little more than a local authority, either unable or unwilling to partner with the U.S. on military missions, even when they clearly serve Britain's national interest. As Heritage Foundation analyst Nile Gardiner has observed:

The most prominent casualty of a fully de­veloped EU Common Foreign and Security Policy would be the Anglo-U.S. special rela­tionship, forcibly consigned to the scrap heap of history. America's closest ally would be unable to operate an independent foreign policy and stand alongside the United States where and when it chose to do so. The con­sequences for America would be hugely damaging.[13]

Has the ESDP Been Successful?

The Western European Union's Petersburg tasks were later adopted as EU policy in the 1997 Treaty of Amsterdam and outline the operations that the ESDP can undertake: humanitarian and rescue tasks, peacekeeping tasks, and crisis management including the deployment of combat troops in peacemaking operations.

It would be wrong to say that the ESDP has not enjoyed some limited operational success in the low-level, modest missions that it has undertaken. Operation Concordia in Macedonia, the EU's first military operation, eventually took over from NATO after the prolonged dispute between Greece and Turkey. Followed by civilian policing missions Proxima and EUPAT, Operation Concordia employed large numbers of the same troops from the preceding NATO contingent, who merely oper­ated under a different insignia. Exactly the same can be said for Operation Althea in Bosnia: "when Euro­pean Forces (EuFor) took over nine years after NATO forces imposed peace on the war-torn coun­try, many of the troops simply changed their shoul­der patches."[14] However, both of these missions went relatively smoothly and contributed margin­ally to the West's joint overall success by putting Macedonia and Bosnia on a better footing toward increased stability.

The U.S. Department of State has interpreted the smooth handover of Althea to the EU and the com­petent handling of other civilian missions as a model for future NATO-ESDP cooperation.[15] Com­bined with the EU's willingness to go into areas like Aceh, where the U.S. does not have a primary inter­est, it has left successive U.S. Administrations with a somewhat favorable impression of the ESDP. This not only ignores the plethora of other international actors and existing structures (e.g., the African Union, Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and United Nations) that could undertake the same mis­sions, but also ignores the latent strategic threat posed by the ESDP and its shortcomings.

The military and civilian presence of the Euro­pean Union has been more about promoting the EU's integrationist agenda than about making a truly meaningful contribution to international sta­bility. The sheer lack of EU commitment to facing today's most serious foreign policy challenges, such as Iraq and Iran, demonstrates not only the ESDP's limitations, but, more important, the EU's pro­foundly different global outlook.

Iran is a particularly striking example. Not only is the European Union Iran's largest trading partner, accounting for 35 percent of Iran's total imports, but Germany, France, and Italy provide billions of dol­lars in government-backed export credit guarantees to minimize the risks to private companies of doing business with this unstable and unpredictable regime. The Wall Street Journal notes that total EU trade with Tehran has increased since the discovery of the Iranian nuclear program.[16] Italy and Ger­many currently rank as Iran's second and third larg­est trading partners, respectively, having moved up in the rankings in recent years.[17]

This makes a mockery of the two U.N. Security Council resolutions calling for graduated and tar­geted sanctions against Tehran. It makes a bigger mockery of the idea that the EU should be trusted to take the lead in negotiations with Iran over its ura­nium enrichment program as long as the EU contin­ues to provide a front for the business interests of its major member states and a buffer to a repressive and odious regime.

The sheer gulf that opened up across the Atlantic over Operation Iraqi Freedom saw EU elites not only critique, but also obstruct American foreign policy. EU candidate countries were even threat­ened with delays in their accession for supporting the war.[18]

Underlying this diplomatic crisis was the mes­sage that Europe's time had come to directly chal­lenge a sovereign U.S. foreign policy decision in an attempt to contain American leadership. It was also a direct challenge by the Brussels elite to the elected governments of the 12 EU member states that finally participated in the coalition of the willing in 2004. The United States should expect to see such challenges increase with further European integra­tion, which will greatly undermine America's stron­gest partners in Europe.

Limitations.It should also be noted that not all ESDP missions have gone smoothly. Sylvie Pantz, head of the EUJUST THEMIS mission in Georgia, complained of unnecessary red tape and bureau­cratic delays in the year-long mission, which took more than four months to acquire computers.[19] However, more than suffering minor embarrass­ments, the EU's behavior in Darfur in 2005 demon­strated the real nature of its uncooperative attitude toward NATO.

When the African Union (AU) requested airlift capacity from the EU, the U.S., and Canada in June 2005, it was widely expected that NATO would coordinate the response at Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe. However, the EU insisted on European "branding" for the operation by using the European Airlift Centre at Eindhoven. When agree­ment could not be reached, two separate airlifts were established for the AU to coordinate. As Defense News said in its analysis of the situation, the EU "shuns overt joint initiatives."[20]

It is increasingly obvious that the EU favors inde­pendent action and cooperates with NATO only when it needs NATO assets. The ESDP's guiding principles specifically outline the EU's "determina­tion to develop an autonomous capacity to take deci­sions."[21] Operation Artemis in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 2003 used no NATO assets and was the first EU mission outside of Europe, tak­ing place in the aftermath of deep transatlantic divi­sions over the Iraq war. France spearheaded this military campaign at the specific request of the United Nations, which then subsumed it a year later.

There are differing opinions over whether Arte­mis was successful or not. Denis Boyles argues that the recipe of "French troops and UN wis­dom. . . yielded not just an 'enorme statistique de mor­talite violente'--with some 50,000 dead and 10 times that number displaced--but also an enor­mous military and moral failure as well."[22] Interna­tional security experts Jean-Yves Haine and Bastian Giegerich argue that the EU's failure to guarantee Congo's continued stability since Artemis has been the bigger failure, combined with an overall lack of strategic vision and nightmare operational caveats that deploy the majority of EU troops as far away from the trouble as possible.[23]

Both scenarios demonstrate the limits of the ESDP. Moreover, the EU's desire to act is seemingly motivated less by altruism and more by its need to be seen as a global actor with clout on the interna­tional stage.

Capabilities. The world clearly needs European countries to increase their military and civilian capabilities and take on more responsibility for their security needs. However, how this is handled is crit­ically important.

Following the Feira Summit in 2000, the EU out­lined its goals for EU-level civilian crisis manage­ment capabilities and has not only met, but even exceeded expectations, with 5,700 police officers, 630 legal experts, 560 civilian administration experts, and 5,000 civil protection experts currently available to the EU.

Having outlined multiple areas of military defi­ciency in the 2001 European Capabilities Action Plan and emboldened by the rapid progress of the Feira goals, the EU set equally ambitious goals to arm, equip, and man itself. Member states have made available from their national resources a pool of 100,000 personnel, 400 combat aircraft, and 100 naval vessels under ESDP commitments, together with a host of other commitments to new EU struc­tures. Under the Headline Goal 2010, the EU now has fully operational, rapidly deployable battle groups, which can be deployed at the U.N.'s request using strategic lift equipment that the EU plans to acquire. This year, the EU also opened its own oper­ations center in Brussels, recently running a plan­ning exercise for a peacekeeping mission in the fictional African country of Alisia.[24]

At present, though, the European Union still has serious capability shortcomings. As a Brussels mili­tary planner said, "[T]he EU is still a paper tiger in defenses.. . . But as for the future, it is steadily slot­ting into place the instruments it needs for ESDP."[25]

And there is the rub. While the ESDP has been busy building separate doctrinal and operational structures to distinguish itself from NATO, it has failed to realize an increase in men or spending by EU member states. The serious manpower com­mitments to both the EU and NATO present the potential for acute conflict. Just five of the 21 EU- NATO members spend the NATO benchmark of 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) on defense.[26] The flatlining and even declining defense budgets of most major European coun­tries mean that valuable resources will merely be diverted from NATO to the ESDP.

The EU has adopted a twin-track approach to addressing its capabilities shortfall. Not only did it create multiple agencies, plans, and goals to realize operational capacity and separate itself as a deci­sion-making power, but it negotiated the 2003 Ber­lin-Plus arrangements on the EU's use of NATO assets and capabilities. The Berlin-Plus arrange­ments ensure EU access to NATO operational plan­ning and presume the availability to the EU of NATO capabilities and common assets. Berlin-Plus also ensures the adaptation of the NATO defense planning system to facilitate the availability of forces for EU operations.

If nothing else, the EU is a savvy negotiator. While creating duplicate institutions that under­mine NATO, the EU has ensured access to NATO's taxpayer-funded equipment.

Of course, Europe has called on NATO resources when it needed them. In the absence of increased defense spending and with the slow Europeaniza­tion of procurement policy, the EU has managed to negotiate the best of both worlds--a supranational public policy independent of American influence that is at least partly funded by America.

For example, Operation Concordia in Macedonia drew on NATO resources; but while Operation Con­cordia certainly complemented U.S. policy, Wash­ington should not mistake low-level operational success with the wider strategic threat that ESDP poses to the NATO alliance. In fact, it begs the ques­tion of why America should be expected to lend NATO resources to countries that explicitly reject American global leadership. Notably, NATO does not have any kind of quid pro quo arrangement for access to the EU's extensive civilian capabilities.

Most European nations need to continue their vast military transformations into modern, interop­erable fighting machines. With its existing expertise and American leadership, NATO's Allied Command Transformation (ACT) is a perfect vehicle for addressing these shortfalls and determining each member's exact contribution to NATO. Even NATO members without high-end expeditionary capabili­ties could often offer a specialized role to the alli­ance, such as the Czech Republic's nuclear, biological, and chemical defense capabilities.[27] ACT, not the duplicate European Defense Agency, should be the primary vehicle for cooperation and collaboration among NATO members in streamlin­ing and improving Europe's defense capabilities.

Many analysts point to the EU's profound capa­bilities shortfall as exemplifying why America should not really be concerned by the ESDP. How­ever, even though the EU lacks military capability when compared to NATO, it has made substantial doctrinal and organizational progress and has cre­ated an infrastructure dedicated to its progress, with plans for the assets to follow. As British Shadow Defense Secretary Liam Fox has argued, the estab­lishment of institutions is a prelude to an overall increase in the EU's capabilities, further decoupling it from NATO.[28]

Global Policymaking. The EU views itself as a global power with a significant role to play in for­eign affairs.[29] As Lady Thatcher noted, "the Euro­pean superstate is. . . designed by its architects to become a superpower."[30] The EU's determination to make decisions independently of NATO has not, however, kept it from prostrating itself before the United Nations. In fact, the EU mirrors much of the U.N. agenda and its global ambitions. The EU's 2003 European Security Strategy calls for "an inter­national order based on effective multilateralism"[31] and for strengthening the U.N. and its body of inter­national law to preside globally.

The European Parliament's 2006 year-long inves­tigation of America's rendition policy, based on the flimsiest of evidence, served less as an independent investigatory committee than as a Trojan horse intended to rein in the American-led war on terror­ism. The committee concluded:

[A]fter 11 September 2001, the so-called 'war on terror'--in its excesses--has pro­duced a serious and dangerous erosion of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as noted by the outgoing UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.[32]

As Europe develops the tools of military adven­ture and a foreign policy specifically around the idea that American power must be constrained, military action will become something that is taken only with the explicit approval of the international community, regardless of a nation's security. The EU's global view is fundamentally different from that of the United States, placing full faith in "multilateralism as the best means to solve global problems."[33] Speaking in New York in 2005, External Relations Commis­sioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner argued that security and prosperity are in fact dependent on effective multilateral systems.[34] For the United States, how­ever, security is not something subject to negotiation with bureaucrats in Turtle Bay or Brussels.


The EU continues to claim publicly that the ESDP complements NATO and that NATO remains the cornerstone of the transatlantic secu­rity alliance. However, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder blew apart that cosmetic cover story when he told a Munich security conference in February 2005 that NATO "is no longer the pri­mary venue where transatlantic partners discuss and coordinate strategies."[35] As Robin Harris, a former member of the Downing Street Policy Unit, has written, "The NATO Web site proudly boasts that there is a 'strategic partnership' between NATO and the EU. There is no such thing, only an incipient strategic competition between America and Europe."[36]

It is worth looking at the ESDP's constituent parts and how far they in fact merely replicate NATO instruments. The EU's crisis response battle groups are copied from NATO'sResponse Force (NRF). The purpose of the European Defense Agency is identical to NATO's Allied Command Transformation initiative. The EU's GALILEO global satellite navigation system is a carbon copy of Amer­ica's global positioning system. These EU structures are unnecessary and present a profound challenge to the future of the NATO alliance.

While numerous instruments allow for EU- NATO cooperation, the essential fact remains that the EU has created the ESDP with the sole purpose of acting autonomously in military and civilian mis­sions in competition with a military organization that it wishes to rival. Although they share 21 com­mon members, the EU-NATO relationship will always be contrived, as The Economist notes: "[T]he two bodies are like Siamese twins awkwardly joined together. They are many organs--soldiers, equip­ment and military planners--but their separate heads do not get on."[37]

If European powers genuinely wish to comple­ment NATO, they could do so very easily by spend­ing more on defense and rapidly modernizing their militaries. NATO has undertaken key transforma­tion initiatives to become a leaner, more effective fighting machine, using innovative instruments such as the NRF to face the strategic challenges of the 21st century. NATO's Allied Command Trans­formation presents a comprehensive plan to improve military effectiveness and interoperability, support alliance operations, and provide a "credi­ble, sustainable and agile organization."[38]

In that respect, Washington should be very wary of attempts to separate allies' procurement agendas from its own. The EDA's Steering Board recently announced a three-year, _54 million joint invest­ment program funded by member states under the EU's centralized direction. EU management of large investment projects in the military arena is worri­some too, "since NATO is the only defense organi­zation today with a proven track record of bringing large, strategic, multinational programs into exist­ence."[39] The collapse of the public-private consor­tium behind the GALILEO satellite navigation system and the EU's intention to step in and finan­cially support the failed project with up to _3.4 bil­lion of taxpayers' money demonstrate the EU's complete inability to manage large-scale multina­tional projects.[40]

NATO should also be reluctant to have its assets used in non-Allied missions for the very reason that the participation of non-NATO members in opera­tions using NATO assets raises huge questions about future technology transfers. Already a hot political topic, it adds yet another layer of tension to an increasingly divergent relationship.

The challenges of reforming NATO are many and should not be underestimated. However, the ESDP is part of the problem, not the solution. By its very design, the ESDP is a challenge to NATO's primacy. NATO ensures an interdependent, collective defense community, whereas the ESDP decouples, duplicates, and discriminates against wider transat­lantic interests.[41]

When the Clinton Administration warned against "the three Ds"--decoupling, duplication, and dis­crimination--it could not have predicted the turn of events over the past decade more accurately. Euro­pean decision-making is being deliberately decou­pled from transatlantic channels; force planning, command structures, and procurement policies are being duplicated; and non-EU NATO members are subjected to discrimination. As Lady Thatcher observed, "far from serving to strengthen the Euro­pean contribution to NATO, the EU countries under French inspiration have deliberately embarked upon the creation of at best an alternative and at worst a rival military structure and armed forces."[42]

What the United States and Britain Should Do

High-level American support for the ESDP has been lukewarm on both sides of the political divide. President George W. Bush's tepid endorsement at Camp David in 2001 following a meeting with Tony Blair was undoubtedly given on Blair's word that NATO would still be the primary security actor in the transatlantic alliance.[43] While these assurances were almost certainly given in good faith, they have since turned out to be false. The ESDP is neither what the British envisioned nor what NATO needs.

Both America and Britain should act to ward off damage to the Special Relationship by investing heavily in the bilateral relationship and continuing their close alliance, which was so forcefully reaf­firmed in the wake of 9/11. Specifically:


NATO's primacy should remain sacrosanct for addressing the 21st century's transatlantic security challenges. The United States should stress the importance of NATO as the cornerstone of the transatlantic security alliance and empha­size Allied Command Transformation's role in coordinating member states' transformation initi­atives and capability requirements. The United States must work closely with its European allies to ensure that the alliance's collective and broader needs are a primary focus of member states' ongoing modernization programs and should spend its foreign military financing budget as effectively as possible to fulfill its stated purpose of "promoting U.S. interests around the world."[44]

NATO members must commit to being full and active members of the alliance. The United States should ensure that current and future NATO alliance partners are prepared to dis­charge their membership obligations fully. Alli­ance members should commit to the NATO benchmark of spending 2 percent of GDP on defense and approve long-term and, where nec­essary, supplemental budgets to fund ongoing and future commitments.

The U.S. should orient its defense policy to strengthen bilateral and NATO ties with its European allies and explicitly withdraw from alliance-building with the ESDP. The Adminis­tration should prioritize the participation of more NATO allies in the International Military Educa­tion and Training program. It should also continue to develop the NRF and emphasize it as the primary actor for multilateral expeditionary operations.

The U.S. should reserve NATO resources exclusively for NATO missions. All European military missions should be funded exclusively by EU member states. U.S. taxpayers should not subsidize European military adventures.

The British government should withdraw from the ESDP immediately. In defense of the Special Relationship and to maintain the Anglo- American alliance, the British government should explicitly withdraw from further Euro­pean military integration.


Member of the European Parliament Roger Helmer (Conservative-U.K.) has said:

The CFSP and its military posturing threaten to undermine the Transatlantic Alliance. It is born out of jealousy and resentment and anti-Americanism. It is overweight with strategies and planning papers and staff colleges but desperately light on men and ships and tanks and guns and aircraft. The CFSP threatens the very foundations of security and leaves us all dangerously exposed in an unpredict­able world. This is yet another reason why my country would be better off out of the European Union.[45]

NATO has been the most successful security alli­ance in modern history and represents America's solid commitment to transatlantic security. It has secured peace in Europe and has grappled with the changing geopolitical environment better than any other multilateral institution. The creation of dupli­cate military structures with autonomous decision-making powers independent of NATO represents a major geopolitical rupture between Europe and Washington that serves neither side.

European countries disregard NATO at their peril. As independent nation-states, European nations have the ability to pursue any number of policy options and engage militarily in many contexts. However, the European Security and Defense Policy supranationalizes such huge swathes of public policymaking that such choices become increasingly difficult.

Instead, EU member states need to preserve pre­cious defense investment for those public policy programs that most directly contribute to their own safety, security, and strategic interests. It is equally vital that the U.S. recognize the value of dealing with its enduring allies on a bilateral level. Brussels has become an increasingly assertive trade partner, unafraid to square off against Washington; it is now trying to assert itself just as aggressively in foreign and military policy as well.

Sally McNamara is Senior Policy Analyst in Euro­pean Affairs in the Margaret Thatcher Center for Free­dom, a division of the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies, at The Heritage Foundation.

[1] Former Socialist French Foreign Minister Hubert Védrine (1997-2002) coined the word hyperpuissance, which means hyperpower, to define America's political, military, and economic strength after the Cold War.

[2] Margaret Thatcher, Statecraft: Strategies for a Changing World (New York: HarperCollins, 2002), p. 354.

[3] Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Southeast Europe Project, "Greek-Turkish Dispute Leads to Extended NATO Command of Peacekeeping Force," October 18, 2002, at (July 9, 2007).

[4] Stephen Hadley, "European Defence Policy: A Political Analysis," New Zealand International Review, Vol. 30, No. 6 (November 1, 2005).

[5] European Council, "Presidency Conclusions: Brussels European Council," June 21-22, 2007, p. 26.

[6] Christopher Booker, "Foreword," in Richard North, Ph.D., "The Wrong Side of the Hill: The 'Secret' Realignment of UK Defence Policy," Defense Industry Daily, August 2005, p. 2, at (June 22, 2007).

[7] North, "The Wrong Side of the Hill," p. 30.

[8] Liam Fox, Ph.D., "Security and Defense: Making Sense of the Special Relationship," Heritage Foundation Lecture No. 939, April 27, 2006, at

[9] Winston S. Churchill, "The Sinews of Peace," address delivered at Westminster College, Fulton, Missouri, March 5, 1946, at (June 22, 2007).

[10] European Defence Agency, "Background," at (June 22, 2007).

[11] European Defence Agency, "An Initial Long-Term Vision for European Defence Capability and Capacity Needs," October 2006, at (June 22, 2007).

12] Press release, "EU Defence Ministers Welcome Long-Term Vision for European Capability Needs,"European Defence Agency, October 3, 2006, at (June 22, 2007).

[13] Nile Gardiner, Ph.D., "Trends in the European Union and Russia: Implications for the United States," Heritage Foundation Lecture No. 996, October 28, 2006, at

[14] Nicholas Fiorenza, "EuFor, Backed by NATO; New Force in Bosnia Relies on Alliance Troops with Experience in the Region," Armed Forces Journal, February 2005.

[15] U.S. Department of State, Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs, "U.S.-EU Foreign Policy Cooperation," February 17, 2005, at (June 28, 2007).

[16] Editorial, "Europe and the Mullahs--How the EU Subsidizes Trade with Iran," Opinion Journal, February 20, 2007, at (July 9, 2007).

[17] American Enterprise Institute, "Global Business in Iran: Interactive," updated June 18, 2007, at (July 9, 2007).

[18] Adam Daniel Rotfeld, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs, "Special Guest: Primum Non Nocere," interview, The Polish Voice, April 4, 2003, at (December 7, 2006).

[19] European Information Service, "Interview: Georgia-Type Advisory Mission Could Suit Other Countries, Said Sylvia Pantz," European Report,July 23, 2005.

[20] Tigner Brooks, "Policies Diverge: EU, NATO Struggle to Find Common Ground on International Security," Defense News, November 20, 2006.

[21] European Council, "Presidency Conclusions: Nice European Council Meeting," December 7-9, 2000, at (June 22, 2007).

[22] Denis Boyles, "The Joy of Hopelessness¸" National Review, September 24, 2004, at (June 22, 2007).

[23] Jean-Yves Haine and Bastian Giegerich, "In Congo, a Cosmetic EU Operation," International Herald Tribune, June 12, 2006, at (July 9, 2007).

[24] Associated Press, "EU Says NATO Will Benefit from New European Military Center," International Herald Tribune, June 13, 2007, at (July 9, 2007).

[25] Brooks, "Policies Diverge."

[26] NATO International Staff, "NATO-Russia Compendium of Financial and Economic Data," December 18, 2006, at (June 22, 2007).

[27] Michèle A. Flournoy and Julianne Smith, Lead Investigators, European Defense Integration: Bridging the Gap Between Strategy and Capabilities,Center for Strategic and International Studies, October 2005, at 0510_eurodefensereport.pdf (June 22, 2007).

[28] Liam Fox, "The Europeanisation of Defence," Center for Policy Studies, June 19, 2006.

[29] European Commission, "The European Union and the United States: Global Partners, Global Responsibilities," at (June 22, 2007).

[30] Thatcher, Statecraft, p. 354.

[31] European Union Institute for Security Studies, "A Secure Europe in a Better World: European Security Strategy," December 2003, at (June 22, 2007).

[32] Transportation and Illegal Detention of Prisoners, European Parliament resolution 2006/2200(INI), February 14, 2007, at (June 22, 2007).

[33] See European Commission, "The European Union and the United States: Global Partners, Global Responsibilities."

[34] Benita Ferrero-Waldner,"Old World, New Order: Europe's Place in the International Architecture of the 21st Century," Euro­pean Union Studies Center, City University of New York, September 15, 2005, at (July 9, 2007).

[35] Agence France-Presse, "German Leader Stands by Contentious NATO Reform Plan,"February 15, 2005.

[36] Robin Harris, Beyond Friendship: The Future of Anglo-American Relations (Washington, D.C.: The Heritage Foundation, 2006), p. 91, at

[37] "NATO's Future: Predictions of Its Death Were Premature," The Economist, November 23, 2006, at (June 22, 2007).

[38] NATO Allied Command Transformation, "Vision Statement," at (June 22, 2007).

[39] Flournoy and Smith, European Defense Integration, p. 13.

[40] EurActiv, "Parliament Backs EU Funding for Ailing Galileo," June 21, 2007, at (July 9, 2007).

[41] The Clinton Administration voiced its objections to the ESDP through the Albright Doctrine, which warned against "decoupling, duplication, and discrimination" in the creation of independent European military structures.

[42] Thatcher, Statecraft, p. 355.

[43] Press release, "Joint Statement by President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair," The White House, February 23, 2001, at (June 22, 2007).

[44] U.S. Department of State, "Military Assistance: International Military Education and Training, Foreign Military Financing, Peacekeeping Operations," 2007, at (June 22, 2007).

[45] EurActiv, "Solana: 'CFSP Must Be Compatible with EU Strategy,'" March 30, 2007, at (June 22, 2007).

Tony Blair's domestic legacy: corruption and the erosion of liberty.

Delusions of Honesty
Tony Blair's domestic legacy: corruption and the erosion of liberty.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

When Tony Blair announced his resignation after 10 years as prime minister of the United Kingdom, his voice choked with emotion and he nearly shed a tear. He asked his audience to believe that he had always done what he thought was right. He would have been nearer the mark had he said that he always thought that what was right was whatever he had done. Throughout his years in office, he kept inviolable his belief in the existence of a purely beneficent essence of himself, a belief so strong that no quantity of untruthfulness, shady dealings, unscrupulousness, or constitutional impropriety could undermine or destroy it. Having come into the world marked by Original Virtue, Mr. Blair was also a natural-born preacher.

In a confessional mood, Mr. Blair admitted that he had sometimes fallen short of what was expected of him. He did not give specifics, but we were expected to admire his candor and humility in making such an admission. It is no coincidence, however, that Mr. Blair reached maturity at the time of the publication of the famous book "Psychobabble," which dissects the modern tendency to indulge in self-obsession without self-examination. Here was a mea culpa without the culpa. Bless me, people (Mr. Blair appeared to be saying), for I have sinned: but please don't ask me to say how.

There undoubtedly were things to be grateful for during the Blair years. His support for American policy in Iraq won him much sympathy in the U.S., of course. He was often eloquent in defense of liberty. And under Mr. Blair's leadership, Britain enjoyed 10 years of uninterrupted economic growth, leaving large parts of the country prosperous as never before. London became one of the world's richest cities, vying with New York to be the global economy's financial center. Mr. Blair did inherit a strapping economy from his predecessor, and he left its management more or less to the man who succeeds him, Gordon Brown. Still, unlike previous Labour prime ministers, he did not preside over an economic crisis: in itself, something to be proud of.

But how history will judge him overall, and whether it will absolve him (to adapt slightly a phrase coined by a famous, though now ailing, Antillean dictator), is another matter. Strictly speaking, history doesn't absolve, or for that matter vindicate, anybody; only people absolve or vindicate, and except in the most obvious cases of villainy or sainthood, they come to different conclusions, using basically the same evidence. There can thus be no definitive judgment of Mr. Blair, especially one contemporaneous with his departure. Still, I will try.

Mr. Blair's resignation announcement was typical of the man and, one must admit, of the new culture from which he emerged: lachrymose and self-serving. It revealed an unfailing eye and ear for the ersatz and the kitsch, which allowed him so long to play upon the sensibilities of a large section of the population as upon a pipe.

He knew exactly what to say of Princess Diana when she died in a car accident, for example: that she was "the people's princess." He sensed acutely that the times were not so much democratic as demotic: that economic egalitarianism having suffered a decisive defeat both in theory and practice, the only mass appeal left to a politician calling himself radical was to cultural egalitarianism. He could gauge the feelings of the people because, in large part, he shared them. A devotee himself of the cult of celebrity, in which the marriage of glamour and banality both reassures democratic sentiment and stimulates fantasies of luxury, he sought the company of minor show-business personalities and stayed in their homes during his holidays. The practical demonstration that he worshiped at the same shrines as the people did, that his tastes were the same as theirs, more than compensated for the faint odor of impropriety that this gave off. And differences of taste, after all, unite or divide men more profoundly than anything else.

No prime minister had ever been at once so ubiquitous and so inaccessible. Instinctively understanding the dynamics of the cult of celebrity, Mr. Blair was both familiar (he insisted on being known by a diminutive) and distant (he acted more as head of state than as head of government, and spent three times more on his own office than did his predecessor). Having invited 60 ordinary citizens into Downing Street so that they could give him their views, and so that he could say that he listened to the people, he proceeded to address them via a huge plasma screen, though he was in the building. So near, and yet so far: this was a grand vizier's durbar for the age of virtual reality. With Mr. Blair, communication, like time's arrow, flew in one direction only.

Tony Blair was the perfect politician for an age of short attention spans. What he said on one day had no necessary connection with what he said on the following day: and if someone pointed out the contradiction, he would use his favorite phrase, "It's time to move on," as if detecting contradictions in what he said were some kind of curious psychological symptom in the person detecting them.

Many have surmised that there was an essential flaw in Mr. Blair's makeup that turned him gradually from the most popular to the most unpopular prime minister of recent history. The problem is to name that essential flaw. As a psychiatrist, I found this problem peculiarly irritating (bearing in mind that it is always highly speculative to make a diagnosis at a distance). But finally, a possible solution arrived in a flash of illumination. Mr. Blair suffered from a condition previously unknown to me: delusions of honesty.

Mr. Blair came to power promising that his government would be "purer than pure," an expression both self-righteous and somewhat foolish, given the fallen nature of man. The Tories preceding him in government had become notorious for acts of corruption that now appear trifling. Indeed, one objection to those acts--for example, asking questions in the House of Commons in return for payment, handed under the table in used banknotes wrapped in brown paper envelopes--was the derisory sums involved. What kind of person would risk ruin for amounts of money that honest people could make in a week or two?

Soon after Mr. Blair took office, however, a billionaire named Bernie Ecclestone offered the Labour Party a $2 million donation if the government exempted Formula 1 motor racing, which he controlled, from the ban on cigarette ads at sporting events. The government granted the exemption. After public exposure, Mr. Blair declared himself to be such a "straight kind of guy" that it was inconceivable that he had involved himself in such an unsavory arrangement--though clearly he had. It was his capacity to believe his own untruths that proved so persuasive to others; it was among his greatest political assets.

Such scandals--involving favors granted to rich men, followed, after exposure, by protestations of injured innocence--punctuated Mr. Blair's tenure with monotonous regularity. One of the more notorious was the letter that Mr. Blair sent to the Romanian prime minister, Adrian Nastase, encouraging him to sell the state-owned steel producer Sidex to billionaire industrialist Lakshmi Mittal; it would help Romania's application to join the European Union, Mr. Blair argued, if a British company bought the steel producer. But Mr. Mittal's company was not British; of its 125,000 employees, only 100 worked in Britain; indeed, Mr. Mittal himself was not British. He had, however, donated $250,000 to Labour shortly beforehand.

Far from being purer than pure, Mr. Blair was laxly forgiving of impropriety in others, provided that they were loyal or politically useful to him. The case of Peter Mandelson is particularly instructive. When first a minister, Mr. Mandelson borrowed a large sum of money from another minister, Geoffrey Robinson, a multimillionaire, in order to buy a house. Not only did Mr. Mandelson fail to tell the bank that lent him the rest of the money for the purchase that the money he had in hand was not his own (in less well-connected mortals, that would be considered fraud); the government department that Mr. Mandelson headed at the time was investigating Mr. Robinson's own business affairs for suspected improprieties.

Public exposure forced Mr. Blair to accept Mr. Mandelson's resignation. But the prime minister soon reappointed Mr. Mandelson to the cabinet. Mr. Blair accepted Mr. Mandelson's resignation a second time, however, when it emerged that he had pushed through the passport application of one of the Hinduja brothers, Indian businessmen accused of corruption in India, after a $2 million donation to Labour. Mr. Blair then rewarded Mr. Mandelson with the lucrative and powerful post of European commissioner. What is one to conclude from this?

Having come into power deeply critical of the previous government's use of private consultants, Mr. Blair promptly increased spending on them at least tenfold, ensuring the loyalty of senior civil servants (traditionally a professional cadre, not political appointees) by allowing them to cross back and forth between public and private employment, enriching themselves enormously at public expense in the process. Thus Mr. Blair played Mephistopheles to the civil service's Faust, introducing levels of corruption and patronage not seen in Britain since the 18th century. Huge sums of money have disappeared, as if into a black hole, into such organizations as the National Health Service, where bureaucracies have hugely expanded and entwined their interests so closely with those of private suppliers and consultancies that it is difficult to distinguish public from private any longer. Spending on the NHS has increased by two and a half times in the space of 10 years; yet it is hard to see any corresponding improvement in the service, other than in the standard of living of those who work in it.

Mr. Blair even became the first serving prime minister in history to find himself questioned by the police in Downing Street, under caution of self-incrimination, in the course of a criminal investigation--in this case, into the selling of seats in the House of Lords. Small wonder that for much of the population, truth and Mr. Blair now appear to inhabit parallel universes. Reflecting the country's mood is the famous remark that Gordon Brown made to Mr. Blair: "There is nothing that you could say to me now that I could ever believe."

Mr. Blair proved unusually expert in the postmodernist art of spin. A political advisor to the government perfectly captured this approach on Sept. 11, 2001, when she said that it was "a good day to bury bad news." In other words, you can get away with anything if the timing is right.

At the outset of his tenure, Mr. Blair said that his government would be tough on crime and on the causes of crime. He wanted to appeal--and succeeded in appealing--to two constituencies at once: those who wanted criminals locked up, and those who saw crime as the natural consequence of social injustice, a kind of inchoate protest against the conditions in which they lived.

Mr. Blair's resultant task was to obfuscate, so that the electorate and even experts could not find out, without great difficulty, what was going on. For example, Mr. Blair's government, aware of public unrest about the number of criminals leaving prison only to commit further serious crimes, introduced indeterminate sentencing--open-ended imprisonment--apparently a tough response to repeat offenders. But the reality was different: the sentencing judges still had the discretion to determine such criminals' parole dates, which, in England, are de facto release dates. The sentences that criminals would serve, in other words, would be no longer than before the new law.

Another way to confuse the public was to corrupt official statistics. Last year, to take one example, the government dropped three simple but key measures from the compendious statistics that it gathers about people serving community sentences--that is, various kinds of service and supervision outside prison: their criminal histories prior to sentencing, their reconviction rates, and the number given prison sentences while serving their community sentences. Instead, it introduced an utterly meaningless measure, at least from a public-safety perspective: the proportion of people with community sentences who abide by such conditions as weekly attendance for an hour at a probation office.

The police also received encouragement to keep crime numbers down by not recording crimes. The crime rate has fallen in part because shoplifting has ceased to be a crime, for instance. Police now deal with it the way they do with parking violations: shoplifters get on-the-spot fines worth half, on average, of the value of the goods that they have stolen.

The problem of unemployment in Britain illustrates perfectly the methods that Mr. Blair's government used to obscure the truth. The world generally believes that, thanks to Labour's prudent policies, Britain now enjoys low unemployment; indeed, Mr. Blair has often lectured other leaders on the subject. The low rate is not strictly a lie: those counted officially as unemployed are today relatively few.

Unfortunately, those counted as sick are many; and if you add the numbers of unemployed and sick together, the figure remains remarkably constant in recent years, oscillating around 3.5 million, though the proportion of sick to unemployed has risen rapidly. Approximately 2.7 million people are receiving disability benefits in Britain, 8% or 9% of the workforce, highly concentrated in the areas of former unemployment; more people are claiming that psychiatric disorders prevent them from working than are claiming that work is unavailable. In the former coal-min- ing town of Merthyr Tydfil, about a quarter of the adult population is on disability. Britain is thus the ill man of Europe, though all objective indicators suggest that people are living longer and healthier lives than ever.

Three groups profit from this statistical legerdemain: first, the unemployed themselves, because disability benefits are about 60% higher than unemployment benefits, and, once one is receiving them, one does not have to pretend to be looking for work; second, the doctors who make the bogus diagnoses, because by doing so they remove a possible cause of conflict with their patients and, given the assault rate on British doctors, this is important to them; and finally, the government, which can claim to have reduced unemployment.

But such obfuscation is destructive of human personality. The unemployed have to pretend something untrue--namely, that they are sick; the medical profession winds up humiliated and dispirited by taking part in fraud; and the government avoids, for a time, real economic problems. Thus the whole of society finds itself corrupted and infantilized by its inability to talk straight; and that Mr. Blair could speak with conviction of the low unemployment rate, and believe that he was telling the truth, is to me worse than if he had been a dastardly cynic.

Tony Blair's most alarming characteristic, however, has been his enmity to freedom in his own country, whatever his feelings about it in other countries. No British prime minister in 200 years has done more to curtail civil liberties than has Mr. Blair. Starting with an assumption of his infinite beneficence, he assumed infinite responsibility, with the result that Britain has become a country with a degree of official surveillance that would make a Latin American military dictator envious. Sometimes this surveillance is merely ludicrous--parking-enforcement officers' wearing miniature closed-circuit security cameras in their caps to capture abusive responses from those ticketed, say, or local councils' attaching sensing devices to the garbage cans of three million homes to record what people throw away, in order to charge them for the quantity and quality of their trash.

But often the government's reach is less innocuous. For example, in the name of national security, the government under Mr. Blair's leadership sought to make passport applicants provide 200 pieces of information about themselves, including bank-account details, and undergo interrogation for half an hour. If an applicant refused to allow the information to circulate through other government departments, he would not get a passport, with no appeal. The government also cooked up a plan to require passport holders to inform the police if they changed their address.

A justification presented for these Orwellian arrangements was the revelation that a would-be terrorist, Dhiren Barot, had managed to obtain nine British passports before his arrest because he did not want an accumulation of stamps from suspect countries in any of them. At the same time, it came to light that the Passport Office issues 10,000 passports a year to fraudulent applicants--hardly surprising, since its staff consists largely of immigrants, legal and illegal.

As was often the case with Mr. Blair and his government, the solution proposed was not only completely disproportionate to the problem; it was not even a solution. The government has admitted that criminal gangs have already forged the U.K.'s new high-tech passports. The only people, then, whom the process will trouble are the people who need no surveillance. No sensible person denies the danger of Islamic extremism in Britain; but just as the fact that the typical Briton finds himself recorded by security cameras 300 times a day does not secure him in the slightest from crime or antisocial behavior, which remain prevalent in Britain, so no one feels any safer from the terrorist threat despite the ever-increasing government surveillance.

Mr. Blair similarly showed no respect for precedent and gradual reform by Parliament itself, which--in the absence of an American-style written constitution--have been the nation's guiding principles. By decree, he made the civil service answerable to unelected political allies, for the first time in history; he devoted far less attention to Parliament than did any previous prime minister; the vast majority of legislation under his premiership (amounting to a blizzard so great that lawyers cannot keep up with it) passed without effective parliamentary oversight, in effect by decree; one new criminal offense was created every day except Sundays for 10 years, 60% of them by such decree, ranging from the selling of gray squirrels and Japanese bindweed to failure to nominate someone to turn off your house alarm if it triggers while you are out; he abolished the independence of the House of Lords, the only, and very limited, restraint on the elected government's power; he eliminated the immemorial jurisprudential rule against double jeopardy; he wanted to introduce preventive detention for people whom doctors deemed dangerous, even though they had as yet committed no crime; he passed a Civil Contingencies Act that permits the British government, if it believes that an emergency anywhere in the world threatens serious damage to human welfare or to the environment in Britain, to confiscate or destroy property without compensation.

That Mr. Blair should have turned out to be so authoritarian ought to come as no surprise to those who listened to the timbre of some of his early pronouncements. His early emphasis on youth; his pursuit of what he called, grandiosely, the Third Way (as if no one had thought of it before); his desire to create a "New Britain"; his assertion that the Labour Party was the political arm of the British people (as if people who did not support it were in some way not British)--some have thought all this contained a Mussolinian, or possibly Peronist, ring. It is ridiculous to say that Tony Blair was a fascist; but it would be equally absurd to see him as a defender of liberty, at least in his own country.

Mr. Blair found the Muslim threat far easier to tackle abroad than at home, perhaps because it required less courage. Intentionally or not, he pandered to domestic Muslim sentiment. During the general election, in which the leader and deputy leader of the opposition were Jewish, he allowed Labour to portray them as pigs on election campaign posters. The Jewish vote in Britain is small, and scattered throughout the country; the Muslim vote is large, and concentrated in constituencies upon which the whole election might turn. It is not that Mr. Blair is anti-Semitic: no one would accuse him of that. It is simply that, if mildly anti-Semitic connotations served his purposes, he would use them, doubtless persuaded that it was for the higher good of mankind.

Further, Mr. Blair's wife, Cherie, is a lawyer who now practices little, but who by convenient coincidence--immediately before a general election, and at a time of Muslim disaffection with Labour over the Iraq War--appeared before the highest court in the land, defending a 15-year-old girl who claimed the right to wear full Muslim dress in school. It turned out that an extreme British Islamic group backed the case legally and financially.

Mr. Blair also presided over the extension of mail voting in Muslim areas, despite having been warned about the likely consequence: that frequently, the male heads of households would vote for all registered voters under their roofs. Indeed, it is difficult to resist the conclusion that Mr. Blair supported voting by mail because of this consequence, which would tip the vote toward the many Labour candidates who were Muslim men themselves. Pro-Labour fraud became so widespread that the judge leading a judicial inquiry into an election in Birmingham concluded that it would have disgraced a banana republic. The prime minister also proved exceptionally feeble during the Danish cartoon crisis, and repeatedly said things about Islam--that it is a religion of peace, for one--that he must have known to be untrue.

Mr. Blair, then, is no hero. Many in Britain believe that he has been the worst prime minister in recent British history, morally and possibly financially corrupt, shallow and egotistical, a man who combined the qualities of Elmer Gantry with those of Juan Domingo Peron. America should think twice about taking him to its heart now that he has stepped down.

Dr. Dalrymple, a physician, is a contributing editor of City Journal and the Dietrich Weismann Fellow at the Manhattan Institute.