American Elephants

When Will Europe Love Us? by American Elephant
February 6, 2009, 10:53 pm
Filed under: Europe, Freedom, Politics | Tags: ,

This quote from NATO Secretary Jaap de Hoop Scheffer pretty much sums it up:

“If Europeans expect that the United States will close Guantanamo, sign up to climate change treaties, accept European Union leadership on key issues, but [expect] nothing in return for example in Afghanistan, they should think again.”

In other words, Europeans will love us when we submit our national interests to theirs. But isn’t that what conservatives have been saying all along?

While Rome Burns… by American Elephant

World Leaders kick off global food-crisis summit with lavish 8 course dinner:

The dinner consisted of 18 dishes in eight courses including caviar, smoked salmon, Kyoto beef and a “G8 fantasy dessert”.

The banquet was accompanied by five different wines from around the world including champagne, a French Bourgogne and sake.

African leaders including the heads of Ethiopia, Tanzania and Senegal who had taken part in talks during the day were not invited to the function.

The dinner came just hours after a “working lunch” consisting of six courses including white asparagus and truffle soup, crab and a supreme of chicken.

…On the flight to the summit, Mr Brown urged Britons to cut food waste as part of a global drive to help avert the food crisis. [emphasis mine]

Symbolism matters. This was a boneheaded move by all those involved.

Europe Signs Away Sovereignty by The Elephant's Child
April 22, 2008, 3:38 am
Filed under: Europe, History, Socialism | Tags: , ,

The heads of all the states in the European Union have signed up to the Lisbon Treaty. Once this treaty is finally ratified, the EU acquires a constitution and becomes a legal entity, in effect the United States of Europe. Politicians and their bureaucrats in Brussels have settled the matter behind closed doors. None of the 27 countries involved was allowed to hold an election to say whether or not their people approved of the surrender of national sovereignty that is at the core of this unprecedented political experiment. Several countries, Britain among them, had promised to hold a referendum, but all, again led by Britain, found some crafty way to cheat on their promise.

The preceding paragraph opens a column by David Pryce-Jones on National Review Online. Do read the whole thing.

It is really hard for Americans to understand why the British or the Continentals go along with this sort of thing. Do I only imagine that I would refuse to sit passively by as I was deprived of the right to vote on my own future and that of my family? That we would just turn it all over to a bunch of unelected bureaucrats to decide about our laws and security and customs?

Our own notions of freedom and rights came from our British heritage. Now you have Labour Prime Minister Brown trying to figure out how to give the British people back some sense of patriotism, of Englishness. (In the meantime, they have dumped Winston Churchill out of the school curriculum as unimportant.) Gordon Brown commissioned a review of citizenship in order to find ways of “increasing a shared sense of belonging”.

According to Melanie Phillips, suggestions are that schoolchildren should swear an oath to the Queen and promise to obey the laws in a ceremony similar to those for new immigrants. Apparently British ministers look enviously at the way Americans pledge allegiance and proudly fly their flag, and feel that the right kind of loyalty oath will increase a feeling of Britishness.

But Gordon Brown misses the point. Americans rally to the flag, not because of a pledge, but because of great pride and belief in what their country stands for. We love our country for what it represents — freedom and equality — which are just superior to anything else. And because we believe so strongly in the importance of freedom, we are prepared to fight and die for it.

The facts of our history have thus made it easy for us to assume that our national life, as distinguished from that of the European peoples who trace their identity to a remote era, has had a clear purpose. Life in America — appropriately called the American Experiment — has again and again been described as the test or the proof of values supposed to have been clearly in the minds of the Founders. [Daniel Boorstin: Hidden History]

Never, Boorstin suggests, has there been a nation which so firmly believes that it was founded on a full-blown perfect theory. The words of Lincoln in 1863 affirm that “our fathers brought forth on this continent , a new nation, conceived in Liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal”.

It is worth reflecting on this a little at a time when sovereignty supposedly is so unimportant, and patriotism is derided. When former presidents are chatting with the enemy, and some make a big deal out of a decision not to wear a flag pin. There are many in our own country that believe that sovereignty is not a big deal and that international law and international governance might be desirable.

Tratado de Lisboa

Sounds Like Genocide to Me by The Elephant's Child
April 7, 2008, 1:38 am
Filed under: Foreign Policy, History, Media Bias, News, Politics | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Holodomor Memorial

Russia’s lawmakers have passed a resolution stating that the 1930’s famine that killed millions of peasants in Soviet Ukraine should not be considered genocide. Even Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the 89 year old renowned author dismissed Ukrainian claims that the famine was genocide as a myth. Historians agree that the 1932-1933 famine was instituted by Soviet authorities under Joseph Stalin.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko is leading an effort to gain international recognition of the famine as an act of genocide.

That the Great Famine was engineered to force peasants to give up their plots of land and establish collective farms is a matter of history. The number of peasants deliberately starved to death is estimated to be around 10 million, but the actual number is unknown. Grain was removed by the authorities from the villages, and the animals, and any food, and the peasants and their children were forced to remain. Ukrainians call it Holodomor, or death by hunger.

Many argue that the famine was meant to target private landowners as a social class in order to pay for the rapid industrialization of the Soviet Union. Others suggest that the famine was simply meant to eliminate Ukrainians as an ethnic group, as if one were better than the other.

President Vladimir Putin’s government has angrily clashed with nations formerly of the Soviet bloc about efforts to reinterpret 20th century events. Moscow accuses those nations of seeking to rewrite history and cast Russia as the villain.

Americans in 1933 were assured by New York Times correspondent Walter Duranty that “any report of famine” was “exaggeration or malignant propaganda”. Duranty received the Pulitzer Prize for his reporting, though the British charg√© d’affaires in Moscow reported in his dispatach that “According to Mr Duranty the population of the North Caucasus and the Lower Volga had decreased in the past year by three million and the population of the Ukraine by four to five million”. Robert Conquest says that “the influence of his false reporting was enormous and long-lasting”.

Also in the news is President Bush’s visit to the Ukraine to stress America’s support for its leaders hopes to join NATO. President and Mrs. Bush visited a memorial honoring famine victims along with President and Mrs. Yushchenko.

Of course the demand for the recognition of the Great Famine as an act of genocide is connected to Ukraine’s desire for NATO membership, and Russia’s angry denials are a sign of their displeasure at the actions of its former state.

Events have consequences. People have long memories.

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