Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The Elites' Big Fib

In the end, democracy came and mocked the European mystique, its notions of ever-greater union, a European Us, its self-portrayal as the Righteous Power, its exalted but hollow pretensions to project to the world a will and a strength that is not yet and may never be its own
writes John Vinocur in the International Herald Tribune.
If anything, the massive rejection by France of the European Union's constitution in a national referendum, says stop.

… with the stakes perfectly clear — a French no would kill the European Constitution — French voters signaled that even at absolutely no real cost to them, when it came to matters of the heart, Europe doesn't matter enough to say yes to.

Bam! Pow! After all, think of the context: a united, integrated Europe, acting largely as one, had been a near spiritual conviction for the generation that grew up after the tragedy of World War II.

Now go and find that belief and sense of European mission today. France has laughed at it. Angry with Europe's refusal to adopt its questionable social model, and unwilling to meld French identity into a greater European whole, France said to hell with the noble undertaking stuff. Adding the rationale that it was all the elites' Big Fib anyway.

…The administration and the rest of the world will not fail to notice that Europe's "peace front" of 2002, which turned resistance to the U.S. war in Iraq into a Genesis myth for a Europe defined in opposition to the United States, is in the process of self-delegitimization.

Meanwhile, the BBC lays out the VIPs' (sic) quotes (gindobreh to Gregory) while Thomas Fuller reports on the Polish reaction to the Non .
The relationship between France and Eastern Europe has sometimes been compared unflatteringly to a professor and his

Poles are quick to remember the infamous incident during the run-up to the American-led invasion of Iraq when Jacques Chirac, the French president, advised U.S. allies in the region to keep quiet. More recently, Michel Barnier, now the French foreign minister, lectured east European governments for lacking a "European reflex." …

Not long ago the tables were turned: If any country was going to sink the constitution it was Poland or Britain, but certainly not France. …

"I don't want to be rude but I think that France still has nostalgia for its empire," [Lukasz Mlost] said as he sat on a park bench in Warsaw. The French do not want to concede that English has become the primary international language, he said, and they are sore that they are no longer at the center of Europe.

"They are saying, 'You must take what we say into consideration,"' Mlost said.

'Scapegoat' Polish plumbers ain't happy with abuse from the champion holiday-takers, reports the AFP (gindobreh to Gregory).
"The French are just looking for excuses for why their country is going to the dogs. Apparently it is because people like us are coming to take their work. It is not just the right — the left is saying exactly the same. Personally I find it hurtful and shocking," says Jozef Babiarz…

Both men say they know why the French have suddenly got it in for them. It is not because they are cheaper, but because they are better.

"They are jealous. We are good workers and they are not. We don't stop for a smoke. We don't stop for coffee five times a day. If we get a call — we're there, even on a Sunday or a holiday. If you ask me, the French have forgotten what it is like to work," says [Antoni] Gaszczyk.

… "France thinks it is indispensable. They have the idea that nothing in Europe can happen without them. I suspect that are about to be proved wrong," says Babiarz.

"I wouldn't say they are racist — but there is definitely a certain arrogance," says Gaszczyk with a laugh. "Everyone is analysed to see if they have 'integrated' or not. In Poland we would never do that. We see people just as people. When I retire I am definitely going back home."

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