Monday, April 19, 2004

Among Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s many contributions to the conduct and character of American security policy was his introduction last year of the term “New Europe.”

With just two words, he deftly parried those who inveighed against U.S. action in Iraq absent Franco-German approval by observing the French and Germans (together with their poodles, the Belgians and Luxembourgers) do not speak for all Europeans — and most especially not for those Central and East European newcomers to freedom, who remembered all too well the Saddamlike totalitarianism of the Soviet Empire.

This indisputable fact prompted outrage and protests from Paris and Berlin and scorn from U.S. press and intellectual elites. John Kerry seems to have it in mind when repeats, mantralike, his charge the Bush administration foreign policy is “the most arrogant” in memory. Yet, the discomfort Mr. Rumsfeld caused seemed to delight most Americans, by providing an opportunity to twit the sanctimonious Old Europeans and their devotees.

Unfortunately, Old Europe is poised to have the last laugh. The European Union is about to foist a draft constitution on all its New European members and Great Britain that will virtually ensure that, from now on, the French and Germans will be able, among other things, to enforce a single foreign and defense policy. Inevitably, the party line will more closely resemble their anti-American predilections than the trans-Atlantic reflexes of our traditional and new-found friends there.

Events of the past few days illustrate what is at stake. On Friday, British Prime Minister Tony Blair once again illustrated just how special is the British-American “special relationship.” He stood literally shoulder-to-shoulder with President Bush after a White House meeting to reaffirm Britain’s commitment to the War on Terror and its resolution to see it through to a successful conclusion, in Iraq and elsewhere, come what may.

Contrast that with Socialist Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero’s statement Sunday upon assuming the Spanish prime ministership, made possible by the deadly March 11 terrorist attacks in Madrid. The premier established that the ranks of Old Europe would be swollen, and New Europe’s depleted, as the Zapatero government fulfilled his campaign promise to remove all Spanish troops from Iraq “in the shortest possible time.”

If the EU Constitution becomes binding on all member nations — including those of New Europe who will shortly become full-fledged members, we are unlikely ever again to see the sort of independent, let alone reliable, support for America that has been among the finest moments in Great Britain’s storied history. It is hard to imagine Winston Churchill or Margaret Thatcher allowing their country’s foreign — or for that matter any other — policy to be dictated by the Continent’s political lowest-common-denominator, let alone by unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats in Brussels.

Neither, one would think, would Tony Blair. And yet, Mr. Blair displays in this matter the addled socialist tendencies of Old Labor (a legacy the prime minister sought to obscure when he first ran for that office by dubbing his party “New Labor”) that have made his robustness on combating terror all the more extraordinary. He is actively campaigning for surrender of British sovereignty and seems convinced that, all other things being equal, he will succeed in foisting the EU Constitution on the people of Great Britain, perhaps via an election and referendum later this year.

The negative implications for the United States are not hard to discern. Page One of Sunday’s New York Times featured an article about American judges discovering to their surprise that international tribunals are second-guessing and in some cases overruling their decisions. Georgetown Law Professor John Echeverria told the Times, “This is the biggest threat to United States judicial independence that no one has heard of and even fewer people understand.”

Although the article focused on obscure courts created by the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), a similar interference in our jurisprudence is predictable as the European Court of Justice (ECJ) flexes its muscle. Last fall, the Conservative Party’s “shadow” attorney general and minister for constitutional affairs, Member of Parliament Bill Cash, observed: “Together with legal personality for the [European] Union, [the creation of an ECJ capable of defining its own jurisdiction] would turn the Union from a creature of the member states into their master.” He could have added, it may become the master of nonmember states, as well.

After all, even without a constitution, the European Union has been hurting U.S. interests. Its trade bureaucracy has taken to disallowing mergers between some U.S. companies and levying immense fines on others. Its Galileo satellite navigation system is being designed not only to compete with the American GPS, but to interfere with its signals. And a new, autonomous European army is taking shape outside of NATO. Inevitably, it will compete for resources and otherwise serve to undermine the Atlantic Alliance.

Bad as things may be at the moment, though, the vital interests of the United States will be even worse served by a constitution that authorizes the European Court of Justice to see to it that New Europe, Great Britain and all other member states will “actively and unreservedly support the Union’s common foreign and security policy in a spirit of loyalty and mutual solidarity … [and] ensure that their national policies conform to the positions of the Union.”

It behooves the Bush administration to help its Polish, British and other real friends across the pond to strangle this Old Europe monster in its crib.

Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy and a columnist for The Washington Times.

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