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2 July 2013
PARTURIUNT MONTES, NASCITUR RIDICULUS MUS
There’s an old saying that goes “Don’t believe everything you read in the newspapers”.
We think we can improve on that: “Don’t believe anything you read in the newspapers – unless you have independent evidence that what you are reading corresponds to the facts.”
Anyone who happens to be personally familiar with the subject of a newspaper report can usually point to a myriad glaring mistakes.
All the above applies to the smugly self-righteous highbrow newspapers.
As to the pulp that is churned out by the red-tops, it is fit only for recycling.
And let us not get started on the garbage that passes for news on electronic media…
Yesterday 1 July 2013 the London Guardian newspaper began its lead front-page story with the following paragraph:
“Transatlantic relations plunged at the weekend as Berlin, Brussels and Paris all demanded that Washington account promptly and fully for new disclosures on the scale of the US National Security Agency’s spying on its European allies.”
This is bullshit.
The story concerns the revelation by US whistleblower Edward Snowden – now a hunted man holed up at Moscow airport – that the US Government, reportedly aided and abetted by its British lapdog, has for years been spying on friendly allied governments in Europe and around the world.
The fact that the US has been spying on its allies is hardly news in itself.
The US is the global sheriff swaggering about the world setting wrongs to right with its drones, its humvees, its helicopters and its aircraft carriers.
What did they expect, these puny US satrapies in Europe and elsewhere?
“Theirs not to question why, theirs but to do and die,” to quote Tennyson.
If we want to spy on you, we will – and there is nothing you can do about it. That is how it looks on the Potomac.
One of the main arguments for establishing the European Union after the Second World War was to give the nations of Europe greater clout on the world stage.
Individually, European states were small fry compared to the behemoths of world politics such as the US. Once assembled together, however, in their famous “ever closer union”, what a power they would be! How the erstwhile masters of the universe would tremble when they heard the stirring notes of the European anthem, the Ode to Joy (Ode an die Freude) written by Friedrich Schiller and set to music by Beethoven in his Ninth Symphony!
Only it didn’t turn out like that.
Yesterday 1 July 2013 tiny Croatia joined the European Union, bringing the number of EU member states to 28, its population to around 512 million, its land mass to 4.4 million km₂ and its GDP to $ 15.8 trillion (2011 estimate).
Big enough, you might have thought, to give Washington a run for its money.
The US, by comparison, has 50 member states, a population of around 316 million, a land mass of 9.4 million km₂ and GDP of around $ 15.5 trillion (2011 estimate).
So how did the mighty EU and its constituent states react to the news that the US had been bugging its HQ in Brussels, the offices of its UN Delegation in Manhattan and its Delegation to the US in Washington? To say nothing of the mass interception of personal and official data in Germany, France, Italy and Greece – to pick out just a few of the 38 states reportedly spied on by Washington in the latest batch of disclosures.
Well, the EU reacted like this.
According to today’s Le Monde, Catherine Ashton, the EU foreign minister, spent the whole of Sunday 30 June 2013 mulling over the revelations. She concluded that “urgent clarification” was needed.
Karel de Gucht, Europe’s trade commissar, is quoted in Le Monde as saying: “If this information is confirmed, the situation will be very serious”. However, now was not the time, he thought, to suspend the major free trade talks between the US and the EU that are due to open on 8 July 2013.
Paris is reported to have requested an explication “as soon as possible”. According to Laurent Fabius, French Foreign Minister, “If these facts were confirmed, they would be quite unacceptable”.
Peer Steinbrück, leader of the opposition social democrats in Germany, is quoted as saying: “If the suspicions turn out to be true, these activities would go well beyond legitimate security concerns.”
As for the German Chancellor (Prime Minister), Angela Merkel, whose own communications are said to have been bugged by the Americans, she has maintained a Sphinx-like silence.
Clearly, the spook handlers in Washington are not going to be quaking in their boots in the face of such timidity and circumspection. Yes, Washington will give the EU a “prompt and full” justification for the special security measures – ie the global espionage programme – that it had no alternative but to implement as a result of the need to protect the American homeland. And it will mean nothing.
Wake up, guys. This is spying we are talking about, not washing dishes. You don’t give details of your spying activities to the people you are spying on. The Americans, accordingly, will admit nothing and apologise for nothing.
The Europeans will be presented with vague and meaningless fact-free statements – and they will accept them, as they have always done, bowing and scraping and tugging their forelocks.
The free trade talks between Washington and the EU will go ahead, more or less as planned, not least because Washington intends to use them to prise open European markets for the benefit of predator US corporations.
And the Europeans will accept this, too, namely the walmartisation of their economies.
Only two European statesmen have ever stood up to Washington and both were French. President Charles de Gaulle took France out of NATO’s military command in 1966 in reaction against its domination by the United States. In 2003 President Jacques Chirac foiled attempts by the US and Britain to get UN Security Council approval for their subsequent invasion of Iraq.
Unfortunately, the current French President, François Hollande, is not made of the same mettle.
And as for the European Union, it has never stood up to anyone.
The old nations of Europe have, one by one, surrendered their sovereignty to Brussels. The result is unending economic depression – and the greater clout they were promised on the world stage, that was for the birds.
Parturiunt montes, nascitur ridiculus mus.
You might perhaps care to view some of our earlier posts. For instance:
1. Why? or How? That is the question (3 Jan 2012)
2. Partitocracy v. Democracy (20 July 2012)
3. The shoddiest possible goods at the highest possible prices (2 Feb 2012)
4. Capitalism in practice (4 July 2012)
5.Ladder (21 June 2012)
6. A tale of two cities (1) (6 June 2012)
7. A tale of two cities (2) (7 June 2012)
8. Where’s the beef? Ontology and tinned meat (31 Jan 2012)
Every so often we shall change this sample of previously published posts.