SEPTEMBER 15 2010 22:38h
''THE EUROPEAN UNION IS DYING!'' No, my friends, this is not a typical Eurosceptic statement from some fringe group or conspiracy theorist, but the beginning quote of a recent column by Georgetown professor and Council of Foreign Relations member Charles Kupchan, in the highly-respected Washington Post. „ Not a dramatic or sudden death“, he continues, |“but one so slow and steady that we may look across the Atlantic one day soon and realize that the project of European integration that we've taken for granted over the past half-century is no more.“ What? A long-time charter member of the American foreign policy establishment, and hearty supporter of its integrationist goals publicly questioning the future of the European Union? What is the world coming to?
It's been obvious for awhile now. Not only is Europe in economic decline but, in Kupchan's words, there is a „more serious malady…from London to Berlin to Warsaw, Europe is experiencing a re-nationalization of political life, with countries clawing back the sovereignty they once willingly sacrificed in pursuit of a collective ideal.“ This can be seen, he says, in the resurgence of populist parties in Britain, Hungary, and the Netherlands, largely as a backlash to immigration. Lech Kaczynski, the late Polish president, expressed this notion even more succinctly: "What interests the Poles is the future of Poland and not that of the E.U."
Several ongoing debates in Germany, France, and, even outside Europe, in Israel and the United States, highlight the issue of increasing “re-nationalization”, but in widely disparate, and in some cases, alarming ways. Terry Jones, a pastor in a small U.S. town, recently encouraged his parishioners to participate in a “Koran burning” on the anniversary of 9-11. "We believe that Islam is of the devil, that it's causing billions of people to go to hell, it is a deceptive religion, it is a violent religion and that is proven many, many times," Jones told CNN earlier this week. He wrote a book as well, titled "Islam is of the Devil," and the church even sells coffee mugs and shirts featuring the phrase. Using the Internet to disseminate its message, Jones’ church even has a YouTube channel. "I mean ask yourself, have you ever really seen a really happy Muslim? As they're on the way to Mecca? As they gather together in the mosque on the floor? Does it look like a real religion of joy?" he asks in one of his YouTube posts. "No, to me it looks like a religion of the devil."
Although the Pastor reconsidered the action after strong pressure from government and military figures - and even his own daughter, Emma, who begged him not to do it - there was wide support in some circles for the mass burning, which might be interpreted as one form of Kupchan’s “re-nationalization of political life” in America, one without a Muslim presence.
A less public debate, at least in the major media, has been going on in Israel and elsewhere since the publication late last year of a controversial book, Torat Ha'Melech. According to the book's author, Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, "Non-Jews are "uncompassionate by nature" and should be killed in order to "curb their evil inclinations." (A non-Jewish gene, perhaps?) "If we kill a gentile who has violated one of the seven commandments… there is nothing wrong with the murder," Shapira insisted. Citing Jewish law as his source (or at least a very selective interpretation of it) he declared: "There is justification for killing babies if it is clear that they will grow up to harm us, and in such a situation they may be harmed deliberately, and not only during combat with adults." Shapira’s views, though, are not new. In 2006, he was briefly held by Israeli police for urging his supporters to murder all Palestinians over the age of 13. Unlike in the United States, there was considerably less official criticism of the rabbi, whose voting bloc is crucial to keeping the Netanyahu government in power.
For example, Sarkozy’s recent expulsion of thousands of illegal Roma immigrants, “for reasons of public order”, and the dismantling of illegal Gypsy camps, which he called “sources of trafficking, exploitation of children, and prostitution.” Although the mass expulsions have been criticized by the international community, the Vatican, and the UN, as well as the European Commission, Sarkozy has continued to send them „home“ to Bulgaria and Rumania, citing EU rules, which allow the State to expel people who have been in the country for at least three months without a job and/or are deemed to be a threat to public security.
And in Belgium, a top Socialist politician, warned its citizens last week to „get ready for the break-up of Belgium.“ Laurette Onkelinx expressed her hope that it would not come to that, but „on the other hand, we can no longer ignore that among a large part of the Flemish population, it's their wish….so yes, we have to get ready for the break-up of Belgium. Otherwise we're cooked.” Another leading Socialist, Philippe Moureaux, echoed her views, saying that Belgium was on the verge of a "progressive organization of separation."
Ironic, considering that Belgium, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, has not been able to point to a stable government since June 2007, due to a clear “re-nationalization of political life.” And whether this re-nationalization involves regaining lost sovereignty, or re-establishing the founding values, ethnic identity, traditions, or precepts of one’s native country, it is clear that the backlash to globalization is continuing full force, in all its many aspects. Dare we call it…..the New Nationalism?