Eye on the EU: The Trouble With Iron and Clay
The Lisbon Treaty was rejected Thursday by Irish voters. What does their vote mean for the EU and for the WEU Ten? Guest columnist Mishael Meir — an attorney with interest in EU legal development — answers this question.
Ireland’s No vote on the Lisbon Treaty tells us just how brittle the EU structure really is. The existing EU treaties gave rise to a power-thirsty oligarchic government that overlays 27 sovereign democracies. It’s quite a brittle blend of iron and clay, an iron fist attempting to rule over the pliable clay of democracy.
Having bullied the vote on the Lisbon Treaty out of citizens’ hands from all but one democracy, the EU heads of state concocted a bait and switch: get Ireland to say yes by hiding their plans for expansion of the EU military and security mechanisms until after the Irish had voted. See here, here and here. Up until the vote results came in early Friday morning, EU leaders had been huddled behind closed doors, divvying up the power they hoped would soon be handed over by the member states under the Lisbon Treaty.
As reality sets in and finger pointing begins, the EU leaders may again pressure the Irish to reconsider and hold a second referendum, just like they did in 2001 when they agreed to insert stronger provisions to preserve Ireland’s neutrality as incentive for the Irish to approve the Nice Treaty on their second vote. More immediately, the EU will press its member states to continue with the remaining ratifications through 2008. Without these outcomes, the EU won’t be able to assess how much work is needed to fashion yet another means to what they call institutional efficiency. See here. But more on that later.
What could deepen this crisis even further is that the EU could see more. No votes in coming months. Thus far, 18 state parliaments have voted Yes, Ireland’s citizens have voted. No, and eight parliamentary votes remain. Citizens in the UK and the Netherlands will bring increasing pressure on their governments to allow them to vote instead of their parliaments. See here and here.
Without getting the Irish on board and collecting the remaining ratifications, it will be nearly impossible for the EU to enact the failed constitution/Lisbon Treaty under yet another treaty or by legislation. See here. That’s because for EU power to have legitimacy, it has to have at least the semblance of democratic consent. See here. It doesn’t look like it is going to get it.
Meanwhile, the WEU Ten Is the Only Alliance Standing
Without the Lisbon Treaty, the Western European Union alliance remains the only existing military alliance of EU states. The EU will have to determine which direction to go — whether to build their military framework around the WEU Ten or continue by separate treaty among a select group of states with something similar to the Lisbon Treaty’s permanent structured cooperation. As I have said here before, if a tragedy hits the EU while it is in disarray, the WEU Ten will be all it’s got.
At that time, the WEU Ten will have to determine which way they will go. The prophet Daniel predicted that the revived Roman Empire would be a brittle kingdom:
40 Finally, there will be a fourth kingdom, strong as iron for iron breaks and smashes everything and as iron breaks things to pieces, so it will crush and break all the others. 41 Just as you saw that the feet and toes were partly of baked clay and partly of iron, so this will be a divided kingdom; yet it will have some of the strength of iron in it, even as you saw iron mixed with clay. 42 As the toes were partly iron and partly clay, so this kingdom will be partly strong and partly brittle. 43 And just as you saw the iron mixed with baked clay, so the people will be a mixture and will not remain united, any more than iron mixes with clay. (Daniel 2:40-43)
Which among the peoples of these 10 kingdoms won’t remain united? Which ones may refuse to go along with the rule of an iron fist and be ‘pulled out’ (Daniel 7:8)? I suggest looking at the cultures and recent histories of the EU and its member states.
EU’s Toxic Brew
What intrigues me most about the failure of the draft constitution treaty and now the probable failure of the Lisbon Treaty is the toxicity brewing in EU culture. Consider for a moment how essential a people’s culture is to the type of government they are willing to accept.
Two examples of opposites come to mind. Putin was able to rip out Russia’s democratic reforms in a very short period of time because, essentially, the Russian people yearn for the economic order enabled by autocratic rule and also for the glory of their former empire.
The other example is how fascism never took root in France during the 1930s despite the numerous fascist movements that formed there. Scholars attribute this to the French people’s deep identity with democracy, something that was not as fervent in the hearts of the neighboring peoples of Germany, Italy and Spain, despite the high levels of unemployment and other troubles that existed in France as well as in these fascist states.
And consider this. Most of the 18 states that have ratified the Lisbon Treaty are either small former Soviet satellites that are desperate for military security and/or they are countries where either fascism, appeasement to fascism, and/or large Marxist political parties is in their recent history. In other words, many of the 18 find oligarchic rule with weak democratic military control much more tolerable than countries like the UK or Ireland do. See here and here.
After spending the past two decades handing over increasing areas of their sovereign power to the EU, it seems to have become ingrained in EU heads of state that consenting to power transfers from national governments to a central EU authority is a rather noble thing to do. We’ve seen their resort to euphemisms like ‘institutional efficiency’ to justify their collusion in sucking away more and more power from their own people, free of the hassles of democratic intrusion. See here.
We’ve seen large numbers of EU leaders behave, without apology, like bullies, manipulators and deceivers to get what they want from their people. See here, here, here , here, here and here. We’ve seen them revel in the glory of the empire they have built and dream of expanding further. All of this is happening with little protest from the European people or media. See here.
It makes you wonder what will emerge from this toxic brew of iron and clay. As Herb would say, stay tuned.
— Mishael Meir (E-mail Mishael at email@example.com)