Let me make it clear that, even though I share Mr. Van Rompuy's nationality, I think it's a great thing that Farage was able to pull this off. As readers of this blog know, I absolutely LOATHE Barack Hussein Obama - but he has one merit over his European "counterpart": he was democratically elected. Van Rompuy was not. The former Belgian Prime Minister owns his appointment to a backroom deal in a secret meeting, last November, of the 27 heads of state of the European Union.
I will dwell somewhat on the frighteningly undemocratic character of this appointment later on, but first I will make it clear that I still support the notion of a European Superstate. Over the past seven years, I have expressed this opinion on these pages several times and have handed out the arguments in favor of it.
A politically, economically and militarily united Europe will be far better suited to face the challenges posed by the world's major power brokers, both the existing and the emerging ones. To our American readers of whom I still have to meet the first one sympathetic to a United States of Europe, I would pose the question: "have you forgotten your own history"? Have you forgotten that only by amassing strength between your thirteen original states you were able to bring the War of Independence to a favorable conclusion? Have you forgotten that in America too, there was tremendous skepticism between the Federalists, who wanted to take the Articles of Confederation a step further, and the anti-Federalists, who wanted to keep Washington weak and dependent on the states? Have you forgotten how foolish it was, in the years between 1776 and the passing of your Constitution in 1788, that several of the thirteen had an own petty army and ditto navy, an own ambassador in European countries, and an own currency? Have you forgotten that George Washington himself was an outspoken proponent of a strong federal state?
Considering all this, I would ask you then if you think that the United States would have become a hyperpower had the anti-Federalists' view gotten the upper hand? And I would also ask you: would you want to go back to the time when an insignificant, virtually powerless central government would have had to beg for money to the states?
I would wager that the answer is NO. You wouldn't want to go back to that time.
The same applies to Europe. Apart from the timeframe encompassing the unification processes on both sides of the Atlantic, there is no defining major difference between the two cases. Hence, the birth of a United States of Europe is, in my view, not only a desirable, but also a logical development. Human history shows us that integration is a normal thing, the evolution of which is "defined", dictated if you will, by a "federal" gen in the DNA of every human organization aimed at harnessing the assets of its people to get better organized - be it a tribe, a clan, a province, or a state.
While I recognize the gigantic waste and corruption in the bowels of the EU, I would wager that anno 2010 the benefits justify the unification process. Take, e.g., the single market and the single currency. What Europeans, even the skeptic ones, would in all honesty want to go back to the days when you had to have several currencies in your wallet when travelling from your home country to, say, Portugal or Denmark? Who would want to go back to waiting in line for hours when crossing a border? Who can deny that the opening of these borders, and the competition it made possible between European companies, has led to a sustained economic growth - even if that growth has been kept in check by the tax burdens imposed by so many countries?
No, personally I am all in favor of a USE. And since both America and Europe constitute what is commonly termed "The West", there needs to be no antagonism between the USA and the USE: our roots are the same, and we share - or used to share until recently at least - the same history, the same values, the same goals.
A couple of years back, I used this analogy when discussing the matter with one of the founders of this blog: if you are upset with the direction a unified Europe is taking, blame the driver, not the vehicle. There doesn't have to be anything wrong with a USE, provided that the guys at the helm are "good" ones and no Hugo Chavez types. The same applies to the United States: it is not because the country is currently steered towards a financial, moral and military abyss by what is certainly the most radically leftist US government in history that Americans would suddenly have to reconsider the arguments of the anti-Federalists. What needs to happen is that Americans realize that the current president is a fraud and his government a bunch of immoral crooks hell bent on destroying the country - and if you think that is crass, ask yourself how it is possible that the murderer of 3,000 innocent Americans in the most abominable terror attack on US soil, a man who has literally waged WAR against the US, ever can stand trial in a CIVILIAN courtroom, with all the the prerogatives that entails.
And here we come to the crux of the matter. My long defense of the European Integration and the evolution, and desirability, of a USE, does not mean that I do not recognize the frighteningly undemocratic character of many EU policies over the last years.
America's president is a fraud, but he was democratically elected and he would have been too even without ACORN crooks. Europes President, while not a fraud (yet), has NOT been democratically elected. It was a backroom deal, and the very Treaty that stipulates that there SHOULD be a President, the Treaty of Lisbon, is of a highly undemocratic nature.
The democratic deficit of which the EU is currently suffering is mainly the work of Europes leftist parties. Over the past five decades we have seen these policies at work in all member states. They entail:
* cozying up to their ideological confrères at the height of the Cold War;
* the assault on core elements of European heritage (Christianity, patriotism, labor ethic...).
* undermining democratic principles (stifling of free speech, machinations to outlaw political dissenters).
* striving for the application of economic theories that have proven not to work.
* denial and ridicule of our culture
* deliberate infiltration of the media, governmental institutions, the educational apparatus... to indoctrinate the larger population
* deliberate attempts to change the ethnic outlook of Europe so as to create a new electorate
Post World War Two, the Left has scored two major victories. The first one is that they have succeeded in spreading the fable that the defeated Nazi Regime was Rightwing. This is the Mother of All Political Lies. Seventy years ago, a famous socialist, Joseph Goebbels, proclaimed that a lie repeated a hundred times becomes the truth. We are 2010 now, and the lie about the alleged rightwing character of the Hitler regime has not been repeated a hundredfold, but a billionfold... with results.
The second victory by the Left is that they have so successfully entered many of their talking points in the public discourse, that these ideas have seeped into the party programmes of their political opponents. Of no small importance in this mechanism was, of course, the help of their lackeys in the media and the educational system. The result is that, even with the leftist parties currently on the defensive, leftist ideas still dominate the political agenda, and supposedly rightwing politicians have come to unwittingly accept many of the leftist dogmas. This is why in Spain e.g., the leading conservative opponent of Zapatero's radical government, Mariano Rajoy, has indicated that even when in power, he would not repeal Zapatero's gay marriage legislation. It is why in Sweden, a supposedly center-right PM Fredrik Reinfeldt, has no qualms about placing a cordon sanitaire around Sweden's equivalent of the VB, Sverigedemokraterna - it is a proven and often attempted leftist tactic. And it is why in the UK, a so-called rightwinger like David Cameron is actually half of the time posing as an econutter.
... It is also why in my own country, the supposedly center-right Herman Van Rompuy, had in 1990 his party, the Flemish Christian Democrats, sign one of Europes most liberal abortion bills. Correctly, Andrew Millar in The Brussels Journal asks "Where have all the conservatives gone?".
When we thus consider the European Union's current status, we must conclude, using my earlier metaphor, that the European vehicle's chauffeur is nominally center-right (Van Rompuy and his younger brother Eric Van Rompuy are considered as belonging to the Flemish Christian Democrats's right wing - actually, Eric Van Rompuy was the first politican I ever voted for)... but that in practice he may very well steer a leftist course. A case in point were some ominous remarks he made during his acceptance speech, where he litterally stated that "2009 is also the first year of global governance".
Now, there are several reasons for not jumping ship yet, apart from the fact that even if you could, where would you jump to if there's indeed going to be a global government a few decades hence. The first reason is that I would wager that an undemocratically appointed Herman Van Rompuy is still preferable over a democratically elected Barack Obama. Van Rompuy may indeed unconsciously have absorbed many leftist mantras, but at the core of his political being there must still be a kernel of rightist beliefs. Unlike his American counterpart, Van Rompuy's educational records are easily accessible and verifiable, and they include a PhD in Economic Sciences from the famous University of Louvain, as well as a diploma in Philosophy. Also unlike his US counterpart, he did actually manage things other than communities and campaigns, playing a key role in the early nineties, as a number crunching Budget Minister, in reducing Belgium's catastrophic national debt (at one point 135% of GNP!). Other positive stances include his famous 2004 remarks regarding Turkey's bid to become an EU member, when he stated that "... an enlargement [of the EU] with Turkey is not in any way comparable with previous enlargement waves. Turkey is not Europe and will never be Europe... ... But it's a matter of fact that the universal values which are in force in Europe, and which are also the fundamental values of Christianity, will lose vigour with the entry of a large Islamic country such as Turkey."
And unlike the current White House occupant, it can be safely assumed that Van Rompuy, an intellectual and a poet (he already earned himself the nickname Haiku Herman), wrote his six books himself. Dreams of My father may include marxist dreams by Frank Marshall and have been fathered by William Ayers, but I am sure that this book: Het Christendom. Een moderne gedachte ...
... meaning Christianity. A modern thought (Davidsfonds, 1990) was written by Herman Van Rompuy and himself alone. Furthermore, his wife, smart and decent Geertrui Windels, is about the furthest you can get from Michelle Obama. Europe's "President" is also a family man and the loving and caring father of Peter (1980), Laura (1981), Elke (1983) and Thomas (1986) - and grandfather of Lander (2008) en Jasper (2009).
The Brussels Journal's Chief Editor Paul Belien writes in a commendable column that Van Rompuy "is like Saruman, the wise wizard in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, who went over to the other side." I would not put it so stark yet. Van Rompuy's conservative credentials still mean something. But if anything, they will probably merely postpone Europes evolution towards a statist Leviathan. The chauffeur may feel the car has a strong tendency to go left but he won't certainly be tugging frantically to the right. Not only is Van Rompuy very much a "conservative" like Rajoy, Cameron and Reinfeldt (actually the latter played a considerable role in boosting Van Rompuys chances), he himself has indicated that he sees his role as EU President as a manager of councils and a consensus builder.
So, the bad news is that we now have an EU President who will do very little, if anything, to prevent the EU from becoming an EUSSR. The good news is that he will also not pull it straight away in that direction, something that is at this very moment happening across the Atlantic. This means that there is still time for Europes truly rightwing parties to consolidate and oppose the EU's leftist course. Upon the shoulders of parties like UKIP, Vlaams Belang, Lega Nord, Dansk Folkeparti and Sverigedemokraterna rests the heavy burden of offering a resistance to the collectivist totalitarian peril threatening the old continent. This may not be such a hopeless endeavour as it seems. Just like America's Right found its breath in less than a year again, and spawned a phenomenon like the Tea Parties, Europes Right may rise up, and new political players may emerge to take over the conservative banner. In the UK, this is already happening with UKIP vs the Tories. In The Netherlands, with Wilder's PVV vs CDA and VVD. In Germany, an ursprunglich local initiative like ProKoeln may morph into a nationwide movement, ProGermany.
The trend towards a United States of Europe should not be stopped, like history has proven in America. There IS however a crucial role for Europes new, Truly Rightwing parties: the role the Anti-Federalists played in America over two hundred years ago. Thomas Paine and Patrick Henry probably realized at some point they couldn't oppose the unification of the original thirteen forever - but they managed to chisel the Bill of Rights into the US Constitution.
Likewise, we Real European Rightwingers should not oppose the unification of the original fifteen - now twenty-seven already. But we should make sure we get OUR version of the Bill of Rights.
Now, I realize that defending your basic rights with Tea Partyesque panache is something very un-European to do. Proudly toting national banners only happens at soccer matches, and there's no thing like "Support the troops" here - if only because in too many European countries, there are barely troops left. We should take into account that the average European cares far more about his 37 insurances and his two or even three retirement savings systems than he cares about his liberty.
Perhaps we must therefore accept that the contemporary variant of Patrick Henry's slogan "Give me liberty, or give me death!" is Nigel Farage's less lofty, but otherwise pretty effective tirade in the European Parliament. Hell, if a speech like that can galvanize sufficient Europeans and make them realize they're on board a 1984 express towards the 21st century version of the Soviet Union, I will have absolutely no trouble with an MEP blasting the Euro President for having the charisma of a damp rag and the appearance of a low grade bank clerk.
Even if that Euro President happens to be a Belgian like me. You rock Nigel Farage!!!