In the French debate regarding the referendum of the European Constitutional Treaty, it’s common to listen to followers of both tendencies saying that voting with them is a way of fighting George W. Bush. The Bush administration has become the center of such an argument among Europeans, that it’s been used by the followers of both tendencies. For the “no” followers, favoring this project means offering Washington a liberal Europe, based on the Anglo-Saxon right and submitted to NATO. For the “yes” followers, rejecting it means destroying the formation of a strong enough Europe capable of balancing the American power.
In an alarmist tone, atlanticist Dominique Moisi denounces in the International Herald Tribune the French temptation to say “no” by referring in Washington to the balance of powers. If France says “no”, it would then favor the neoconservatives who want to prove that Europe is insignificant and that France is the “driving force of the European self-destruction.” But, if it says “yes”, it would favor the “realists” that support Rice and count on Europe to “democratize” the Middle East and Asia. It is not clear whether those who oppose the Empire are more enthusiastic about one project or the other. Anyway, the text is clear on the perception atlanticists have about the European project: Europe must be united to help the American imperialist policy by making it less brutal. Condoleezza Rice replaced Colin Powell in the role of the less-harming-evil, not because Miss Rice changed when she was transferred from the National Security Council to the State Department but because the policy of the United States has been designed, based on the principle of the “kind policeman” (the Secretary of State) and the “bad policemen” (the Secretary of Defense, the National Security Adviser and the President).
The French authorities’ ambiguous discourse, depending on whether the speech is given to their own people or the foreign population, does not facilitate the comprehension of its own point of view or the analysis of the Treaty. Thus, the French Minister of Foreign Relations, Michel Barnier, sells the text to the United States in the Washington Post. During a press conference, in which he was talking about, among other topics, the negotiations with Iran, the situation in the Darfur region or the selling of weapons to China, he strongly defended the Constitutional Treaty. In order to defend the Treaty before the Americans, he announced it would permit, above all, the development of the European cooperation in the fields of judicial cooperation, and the fight against terror, as well as in foreign policy which will give Washington a unique partner that will help it to win the war against terror. These reasons completely contradict the statements of Michel Barnier in France when he presented the Treaty as a necessary tool for the independence of the European foreign policy.
The image the neoconservatives have of a possible French “no” is completely different. In the Korea Herald and the Taipei Times, Melvyn Krauss, of the Hoover Institution, affirms the French do not reject the European Union or the Constitutional Treaty but Jacques Chirac, his support to Iraq and his political project. The United States must be glad for this. The extension weakens France in Europe and the “no” to the referendum will separate Germany from France to benefit the British and isolate Paris.
In Die Welt, German philosopher Jürgen Habermas does not support neither the atlanticists nor the independent Europeans. For him, this division, which led Donald Rumsfeld to talk about the old and the new Europe, is an indication of the lack of trust between member populations, and the collective identity. In a convincing tone, the philosopher explained an axiom: to form a people, the Europeans must first accept their double heritage, that of their Christian history and of the neutrality of its political institutions, a point of view he says he shares with Benedict XVI.
At the beginning of one week, Recep Tayyip visited Israel and proposed a Turkish mediation between Israelis and Palestinians. The visit took place in a moment in which Turkey moved away from Israel to come closer to the Arabic countries, something risky for Washington. The Washington-Ankara-Tel Aviv axis was weakened greatly due to the policy of the Bush Administration in the region which provoked a strong opposition among the Turkish. The support of several Israeli leaders to an independent Kurdish State in Iraq did not make things better. Soner Cagaptay, from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and Asaf Romirowsky, from the Middle East Forum, try to give back the readers of the Jerusalem Post their confidence regarding the state of this relation. By ignoring all political disagreements between Ankara and Tel Aviv, both authors prefer to talk of a doubtful destiny community between both countries to urge the rapprochement between Israel and Turkey.
The very same trick had been already used with Russia; the common history or the parallelism of these histories should be enough to hide deep political disagreements. Likewise, the ties between Russia and Israel will be the result of a common fight against the Islamite terrorism. The war against terror is no longer tackled by Russia, which abandoned this rhetoric. In an interview granted to the Egyptian governmental daily Al-Ahram, Russian president Vladimir V. Putin praised the Arabs for understanding that Russia was not anti-Muslim as people are usually led to think. He also affirmed that the Kremlin was looking for a peaceful solution in Chechnya and reminded that the vote of the Chechen Constitution, which must be useful to pacify the region, was validated by the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Arab League. In addition, he considered that Russia and the Arab countries have identical problems: their development and democratization are hindered by foreign influences, which use the democratic aspiration as a tool.
To understand what will happen in Palestine when Sharon’s Government redeploys the Tsahal while evacuating Gaza, Vremya Novostyey interviewed two personalities which participate in the process, a Palestinian and an Israeli.
For the chief negotiator of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Taieb Abdel-Rahim, the implementation of the plan depends on whether the quartet will maintain itself. Condoleezza Rice questions the Russian presence. But, no matter what, the Palestinians expect a lot from Moscow whose return to the region is noticeable to check that the international commitments to support Palestine are implemented and to arm the security forces.
On his side, the patron of the Israeli counterespionage services, Ilan Zohar, points out that the risk the extreme wing Jews represent for the current process should not be underestimated. Tel Aviv is not looking for a way out by bringing possible internal violent actions to mind for the extreme wing Jews organizations are a fact.