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When Baroness Ashton killed European credibility
by Thanos Kalamidas
2013-08-30 09:32:15
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From the very beginning of her appointment, Baroness Catherine Ashton, as the High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy for the European Union, I had my doubts mainly based on the fact that her appearances in foreign policy and diplomacy were limited into obeying orders and satisfying the needs of the British foreign office bureaucrats. Of course the base of these doubts didn’t make facts and good arguments but soon after her appointment the crisis in Lebanon and her delay into reacting proved that in a Europe that turns into introversion she was the perfect person for the perfect place.

So from the very beginning we all knew that the representative of the European Union regarding foreign relations was a follower of the dogma, wait and see. Let’s see what the others do and then we decide. Don’t get in the way. And she followed all those by the letter. In the meantime Europe was losing any credibility outside the European boarders.

One of the cultural references of Europe has always been the fact that is standing between west and east and for many reasons had access and influence in both hemispheres. Britain due to her colonist past might didn’t have a welcome access in some regions but for example Italy, France or even Greece had. And combining that it worked to all directions for a United European Union. Actually between 1960s and late 1990s, Europe applying many times the dogma of realpolitik managed to mediate conflicts and become the peace ground even between the superpowers; as it happened many times between the two goliaths, USA and USSR the very same period.

Europe and especially the European Union by the end of the 20th century had build a reputation of the champion of human rights and the fair mediator gradually becoming the trustworthy ground for negotiation and international justice. Think of it, international institutions like the international courts for war crimes are based inside the European Union and the majority of the officials are Europeans. And this is not the only international institution based, organized and run in Europe by Europeans. So the European reputation had the right foundations to build something with international influence in many levels even geopolitical.

It also had the chance. Things changed radically internationally after the hit to the Twin Towers and actually it was not the hit itself that might mark this change in the future, but the actual invasion to Iraq that followed. The US administration of the new-republicans led by George W. Bush and his gang of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, followed by the master of spinning lies Tony Blair and some others, ignored all the decisions and doubts of the United Nations and neglecting international laws and agreement acted as the world policeman invaded Iraq. The invasion and what followed has only profited some American – and perhaps British – industrialists and business and definitely damaged world peace keeping a whole region ten years after, unbalance and with the numbers of dead raising every day while empowering ideologically extremists. Nobody stood between an immoral act based on spinning lies as it was proven later and the crippling and neglected UN. To make clear something here, that without doubting that Saddam Hussein should be removed but that was the job of the Iraqis and nobody else’s

That was the best chance Europe had to stand as a mediator and the peace ground for negotiation. Not replace UN, just do what they did for decades and they did it well. And it was the second chance Europe had the very same period, when the Union was called to mediate for the rebuilding of the Afghanistan. A prove of the reputation Europe had even in the conflict is the fact that the British army for example had much less causalities in both conflict areas and was more welcome from the locals than the American army who had long lost any reputation as a liberator and was posing as an invader to use – and in the minds of most of the people to rob - the country’s resources.

In both cases and especially in the Iraq’s case, Europe failed. Numb, was watching things unveiling unable to interfere even express opinion. Especially after Europe was shared form Donald Rumsfeld between old and new, bad and good Europe. Sadly in this case the Americans used an old British principal, divide and rule leaving Europe unable to identify with her own history and reputation. And Baroness Catherine Ashton took over as the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy of the Union exactly in that point. And she led into the disappearance of Europe in the international diplomacy creating a quiet witness that follows the most powerful, powerless to express opinion or the strength of the opposition. Unable to defend human rights and justice. And of course realpolitik turned into, obey and keep your mouth shut otherwise you might be …with the others. Europe failed in one of her top cultural elements as mediator and ground to defend peace.

And now we are in front of Syria. There is no doubt that Bashar al-Assad must be removed but this again can happen only by the Syrians, and perhaps through mediation and negotiation that the European Union could but cannot offer. Could, before 1990s and cannot under the Baroness Catherine Ashton’s policy of wait and see and then we follow the one with most weapons. And that while the United Nations as an organization for peace, is seriously wounded after the invasion to Iraq and the fact that George W. Bush ignored the institution’s decisions provocatively.

This is the last chance for Europe to stand as a mediator and not follow the Americans in another mistake. And perhaps Baroness Catherine Ashton and her European bosses think that with this way they get the grace of the Americans but Europe is losing her access and credibility to the rest of the world and especially to places that could help her to escape the financial problems that have led her into this introversion. Syria now is not another chance to recover the European credibility but the last chance and I’m afraid Baroness Catherine Ashton for one more time is going to sleep in front her television watching the bombardment of the international peace.

In the meantime what remains is to hope that president Obama will be more thoughtful and aware of the consequents than his predecessor and through Syria he will not give the final hit to the only institution for global peace, the United Nations and bring us to the point we were before the WWII following the destiny of the League of Nations and endangering everything that followed.


I suppose you are all aware by now that the British Parliament regected the idea of an arm invasion to Syria. Does that means that UK will join the rest of us in ...old Europe or that the Americans after stop drinking French wine and eating French fries will stop drink tea? But they have done that in mid 1800. They might kick out Simon Cowell,  which at least culturally is not such a bad thing. At least for them!


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