THE ROVING EYE Crisis? What crisis? Let's hit Syria
By Pepe Escobar
PARIS - The heads of state and government of the European Union (EU) just got together in Brussels for their Spring fashion show, sorry, politico-economic summit. No Gucci/Prada glam here; instead, a stuffy Sartrean huis clos. No pesky, noisy citizens allowed; only these Masters of the (European) Universe. And this after three horrendous crisis years affecting the eurozone.
Welcome to the way "democracy" really works in Europe; all major decisions in economic policy, budget and finance, which
directly affect over 500 million mostly disgruntled (and millions of unemployed) people, are taken in a cozy heart of darkness.
Former Belgian prime minister Guy Verhofstadt, now the head of the liberal group in the European Parliament, at least had the decency to remark, "Neither the European Parliament nor national Parliaments have a word to say about what the European Council and the European Commission decide."
Yes, compared to the EU behemoth, Kafka's castle is kindergarten stuff, so a run down of the cast of characters is in order.
The Council of Ministers - also known as European Council - is composed by heads of state and government and gets together at least twice a year to debate the EU's political priorities. It's currently presided by the spectacular non-entity Herman Van Rompuy. The council is composed of ministers from member-states; they are in charge of adopting legislation.
The European Commission (EC) is composed of 27 commissars (oh yes, shades of the good, ol' USSR). They are the EU's executive power - elected by the European Parliament.
The European Parliament is elected every five years by EU citizens (most of whom simply don't bother to vote). It shares legislative power with the Council of Ministers.
Then there's the European Central Bank (ECB), which (mis)manages the euro.
Welcome to "post-democratic autocracy"
So all these Masters of the (European) Universe have had three years to contain the eurozone fire. The balance so far; seven eurozone countries are in deep recession, and nine in stagnation.
At the fashion show, sorry, summit, there was a lot of talk about "policy mix"; that's EU jargon for stimulating demand in countries that are doing slightly better than others. There was also a lot of talk of "two-pack" and "six-pack". No, that's not beer-related. Or some fitness craze. It's more like a variation of Monopoly.
It all started with Germany intervening to "save" - sort of - the PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Spain), side-by-side with France still under King Sarko The First (former president Nicolas Sarkozy); what they decided was that a bunch of technocrats, as in the EC and the so-called Eurogroup (the finance ministers in the eurozone) would be in charge of these countries' economic and budgetary policies.
First came the "six-pack"; countries had to subscribe to a shady concoction known as the Treaty on Stability, Coordination and Governance - as in don't do anything funny without telling everyone else about it.
Then came the so-called "two-pack", adopted last week by the European Parliament; two rules, according to which states must submit their budget estimates to the EC even before their national Parliaments. The bottom line; European "democracies" now have zero deciding power over policies concocted in Brussels. The ruling powers are a shady troika; the European Council, the Eurogroup and the EC. Not to mention the cosmically opaque European Central Bank.
And these people have the gall to criticize the National People's Congress in China.
For insiders though, everything is fine and dandy. Olli Rehn, the European Commissioner for Economic Affairs, said with a straight face that, "If the six-pack and the two-pack were in place when the euro was launched, we would have never reached such a crisis." So why didn't any Brussels technocrat with a fat salary for life think about it then?
On the other side of the divide, Daniel Cohn-Bendit, the formerly heroic Dany Le Rouge and current co-president of the Greens in the European Parliament, defined the racket as "technocratic austerity". Better yet; the great German philosopher and certified European federalist Jurgen Habermas dubbed it "post-democratic autocracy".
From Paris to Scandinavia, there have been howls of angst about Europe having fallen into a black hole. One just has to hit the streets - and listen to the noise - to see which way the wind is blowing; populism (as in the latest Italian elections), and fascism (in Denmark, for instance, a new poll shows that the extreme right-wing DF party, anti-immigration and anti-EU, is already more popular than the center-left coalition currently in power; horrible news for current Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt).
Facing this Armageddon, the best the technocrat-infested EC can come up with is that we must "reintroduce people" in "the machine". It won't do; the machine has already run amok.
Round up the usual Kalashnikovs
As with all matters EU, if it can get more pathetic, it will. Out of nowhere, right in the middle of the Spring fashion show, sorry, European Council summit, irrupt British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President Francois Hollande.
So what was this Napoleon/Duke of Wellington remix up to? No less than commanding an Anglo-French offensive to torpedo the agreed European arms embargo and fully weaponize Syrian "rebels".
Some member-states representatives actually fell off their chairs. It took Iron Fraulein and German chancellor Angela Merkel to come up with a forceful "Nein" - as in, "just the fact that two have changed their minds doesn't mean that the other 25 have to follow suit."
In a measure of how "democratic" is the EU, even Catherine Ashton, the astronomically mediocre EU commissioner in charge of foreign and security policy, only knew about the David and Francois of Arabia shenanigans by reading the papers.
When she finally mustered her sang froid she told the summit that the end result would be an arms race in Syria. And Iran - what else - would win. Ashton once again had the wrong intel; Qatar and Saudi Arabia are already winning this arms race.
The fact is, not even Cameron - true to character - knows what he's talking about: "I'm not saying that Britain would like to supply arms to rebel groups. We want to work with them and make sure they're doing the right thing."
So now everyone is faced with the very likely possibility that Paris and London will simply ignore yet one more EU policy - which, by the way, they are signed up to - and start "doing the right thing", as in merrily weaponizing the Syrian "rebels", al-Qaeda-style Salafi-jihadis included, by May or June. That's exactly what Paris and London did in the case of Libya in 2011. And that's exactly what Desert Storm Hollande - supported by David of Arabia - did recently in his invasion of Mali.
For David and Francois, the rest of the EU is just a bunch of wussies. Crisis? What crisis? Crisis is for suckers. Playing Liberator is much more fun.