Magazine article The Spectator

Saddam Hussain, Europhile

Magazine article The Spectator

Saddam Hussain, Europhile

Article excerpt

The fog of war may obscure the battlefield, but not the alliances that lie behind it. A whiff of cordite shows a nation who its real friends and enemies are. In this Gulf crisis, the United States could hardly have expected whole-hearted support from Russia and China, but might reasonably have hoped for more enthusiasm from the West. With the exception of Britain, it has not received it. France in particular has not only failed to endorse the use of force if necessary, but worked actively to undermine the UN alliance against Iraq. Only the United Kingdom has backed the American approach, sending the aircraft-carrier Invincible to the area.

Which makes it all the more surprising that Washington is actively enthusiastic about monetary union, a project that will inevitably lead to a more federal Europe. Last month, in an article in the Financial Times, the American deputy treasury secretary, Larry Summers, argued that `if EMU works for Europe, it will work for the US'. He went on to explain that the United States has `supported European efforts toward closer integration since the very start'. He is right to see the single currency as a political project, part of the FrancoGerman drive towards a federal Europe. Only a few British Europhiles still pretend that monetary union is worth joining on economic grounds alone. But Mr Summers, and the American administration, have clearly not thought through their support for a United States of Europe.

A federal Europe would mean a FrancoGerman federal foreign policy. If Britain were to be part of the single currency, and part therefore of the federal project, Mr Blair would be unable to support President Clinton against Saddam. He would have to explain that he had been unable to convince Chancellor Kohl and President Chirac of the merits of the Clinton case.

America must also accept that an integrated Europe would be a protectionist Europe. Both France and, to a lesser extent, Germany regard free trade as an Anglo-Saxon conspiracy. A federal EU with a single currency would take us a step closer to a world of competing regional economic blocks, whose escalating trade wars would drag down global growth.

So United States support for further European integration is misguided, but it has, as Larry Summers says, a long history. President Kennedy was the first to see the Western world as balanced between a United States of Europe and a United States of America. His early enthusiasm has underpinned American policy towards the region for much of the intervening period. …

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