An amazing thing has happened. Some of you may recall that recently in Downeasts comments section a Mr. Marc Cogen , Professor in International Law at Ghent University was mentioned. Fellow Belgian blogger De andere kijk and I said a.o. that Mr. Cogen was last allowed on Belgian TV prior to OIF, where he defended the upcoming liberation of Iraq by US troops. This was really too much for Belgian commie television, and Mr. Cogen was not invited anymore. Ironically, Professor Cogen was then Chairman of the Belgian Association for the United Nations! (current chairman is Professor Dr. Jan Wouters - note by MFBB).
Since then, the Belgian TV audience has been fed nothing but the continuing anti-American drivel. For academic assistance Mr. Cogen's colleague, Professor Rik Coolsaet, who is virulently anti-American, was so kind to be on permanent standby. While Professor Cogen does not have an own website, Professor Coolsaet has, so you gather that like in the US, in Belgium the loudmouths can all be found on the same side of the political spectrum. FYI, Prof. Coolsaet is the author of the book: AL-QAEDA – THE MYTH. The Root Causes of International Terrorism and how to tackle them. In short, the Prof thinks Al-Qaeda exists only in our imagination and - yawn - we all have to thank it to ourselves. Ok, enough 'bout Ricky.
Anyway, what I wanted to say is that Prof Cogen has made a reappearance on Belgian TV!!! On Saturday night, February 26th, he was a panel member in De Nachtwacht (The Night Watch), a discussion program on Flemish TV.
The Nachtwacht every week puts forward a thesis by some important dude which is then challenged by other important dudes (I have not been called yet). This week Dutch journalist of leading Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad Henk Hofland propounded that:
"American soldiers still have no business in the Middle East. One can never turn 350 million Arabs to democrats by pointing guns at their head. And so the West can only serve as a good example and the people in the Arab World must liberate themselves on their own of dictatorial regimes AND Muslim fundamentalism".
(MFBB would wager that Mr. Hofland thinks Mubaraks U-turn has been brought about by "the good example of the West". But I digress.)
Well, Mr. Cogen replied a.o. the following:
Dialogue alone will not work. Europe is talking with the Arab world for 30 years now, with a lot of diplomats, experts and committees. The result? Very few reforms, and no solutions. I find it amazing how Europe keeps believing in something that yields no results. And they have the same attitude towards Africa, where the problems are even greater. Europe believes that by throwing money and experts at the problems, they will disappear. The hard conclusion should be that with some regimes, talking is useless. Even economic sanctions do not help, as they reinforce the local dictatorship, and make only the people suffer, and not the elites.
Excellent post about the event at LVB, who has more or less become Belgium's top political blogger.
Mr. Cogen is not the only sane person at Ghent University though. Professor Boudewijn Bouckaert is another ardent supporter of US international policy. Bouckaert is also a law professor, and is currently Erasmus lecturer at Harvard University. In 2003, he had this to say about the widening gap between the States and Europe (quote translated by Luc Van Braekel):
Continental Europe is evolving towards a socialist economy where the state absorbs and redistributes the largest part of the national product. The private sector is tolerated as a cow to be milked to the limits of the sustainable. Entrepreneurs are diabolized by the socialist-bureaucratic elites as scrooges, polluters, tax evaders etc.
Got some time, read the whole thing. Furthermore, you may be interested to know that Mr. Bouckaert is also the Chairman of Nova Civitas, a Flemish pro free market think tank.
Nova Civitas's homepage sports a.o. the following statement:
The principles of Nova Civitas are :
• that freedom is linked to responsability;
• that the family must be revalorized as cornerstone of a free society;
• that the economy should be de-feodalized, and the free entrepreneurship should be protected;
• that the rule of law must be upheld.
But what is perhaps more telling about Nova Civitas are the sites they link to. And immediately after the US Presidential elections, Nova Civitas also called for nothing less than a European Republican Party:
In almost all newspapers, magazines and television programs, the [US] elections were a pretext to a true orgy of anti-americanism. The Americans were depicted as dumb, fat, superficial, retarded, reactionary, etc. The president was shown as a moron, completely manipulated by a cabal of oil barons. [...] The leftist political and intellectual elite, that has Europe in a strong grip at this moment, will probably use Bush's victory to make the gap between the US and Europe even larger, and boast about the superiority of the euro-socialist model.
Nova Civitas is asking itself if wat is possible in the US, would also be possible in Europe. With each election, whether in the US or Europe, the same pattern emerges: the bulk of the population thinks more right-wing than the elite of leftist (socialist, green and left-liberal) politicians, subsidized artists and journalists that think they know better). The center-right forces in Europe are divided among different factions: christian democrats, liberals and nationalists, they often lack adequate leadership and power, and don't have enough intellectual backing because of the total dominance of the left in the human sciences. [...]
Everyone that rejects the perspective of a islamo-leftist dictatorship, must engage in the construction of a center-right European republican front. Therefore, we must take distance from differences that are unimportant but have grown historically, like between christians and atheists, between nationalists and globalists. We must have the courage to build a consistent center-right program, thereby facing the curses of the leftist intellectual elite. The historic reelection of president Bush can become the new start for a center-right Europe.
MFBB keeps thinking that in an age where distances have shrunk by cheap air transport and chatting with pals on the other side of the world, there is no more excuse for American and European conservatives to go their own ways. If you don't like being labeled as "conservative", make that rightwinger or libertarian or whatever, as long as it's right of center. We should cooperate. The Atlantic has become but a psychological barrier.