Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I see your analogy.  And I agree, the Senate, and by extension the federal government, wouldn't be able to function if the Senate required unanimity.

There are other problems with QMV.  Unlike a simple majority, or a 2/3 majority, QMV is inelegant, and reeks of politics.  To me, it creates a precedent that voting is a matter of expediency, rather than principle; the rules are always subject to negotiation; one may tweak the rules until one gets the outcome desired.  It was a similar sense of expediency that led to the infamous 3/5 compromise in the US Constitution.

Still, I could see how, if Europe is convinced that it must have a Union, QMV might be a reasonable compromise.

But your analogy is flawed in other ways.  You wrote:

Anyway, you only have to look at what happened with the CIA flight/prison scandal, with the passenger data transfers, the SWIFT data protection violation, the EU's stance on Israel's war on Lebanon in 2006, and the proposed missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic, and the recognition of Kosovo, to understand why many on this site think that our governments (and the EU Council as a result) are corrupt US vassals. It seems that at the EU Commission (below the political appointee level) they have no illusions about being able to have a constructive relationship with the US...

Americans of 1790 (or today, for that matter) did not believe their state governments to be corrupt vassals of a foreign power.  Even if they did, its hard to imagine they would have believed a federal government, particularly one that promised to preserve states rights, could somehow rescue them from their illegitimate state governments.  Rather, they would have understood that the solution was to take back control of their state governments at the ballot box...or by force of arms.  Only when state governments were seen as legitimate could there be any meaningful discussion of a more perfect union between them.

As to the Commission, there are no good parallels to the US in 1790.  The concept of a professional, regulatory class didn't exist back then.

Today of course things are different (unfortunately, IMO, but that's another debate).  The US bureaucracy forms a virtual 4th branch of government.  Even those Americans who don't see this as a major problem (as I do) see it as a virtue that the source of the bureaucracy's authority is grounded firmly in the democratic institutions of the Presidency and the Congress (House and Senate).  The US bureaucracy could be massively reformed, or eliminated, without the need to amend the Constitution.  Whereas, once the current EU reform process concludes, I don't see how you could control or reform the EU bureaucracy in any major way, without having yet another long, complex, and divisive EU reform process.

No-one left or right in the US believes that amending the Constitution to, for example, put the unelected Supreme Court in charge of the bureaucracy, or to formally elevate the bureaucracy into a co-equal branch, would some how make the bureaucracy perform better.

Thus my puzzlement at why Progressives believe that the EU reform process will somehow result in EU institutions that are legitimate, responsive to the people, and free of this vassaldom; indeed, it seems more likely that the Council, and the political appointees of the Commission, would tend to "infect" the rest of the EU with its contagion; arguably, this is already under way.

Furthermore, the most faith seems to be placed in the least democratic aspects of the EU -- the experts -- for example, what you call the  "EU Commission (below the political appointee level)"

Well, the Progressives and the experts may, for the time being, have a common agenda of constructing an alternative to the US hegemony...but at best it is a happy coincidence, since there seems to be no viable mechanism to ensure that the experts stay faithful to the Progressive agenda, or to hold them accountable if they stay faithful but fail to deliver.

What if a gang of experts with very different views than the current experts were to gain power?

You say your national governments are corrupt, and the solution is to balance them with a class of experts.  One assumes that experts will naturally have progressive views, which is quite flattering to Progressives, but may not always be the case.  Are these experts supposed to be Socratic philosopher-kings?  What keeps these experts from becoming corrupt?  What price will they demand, in order to continue helping you take back or at least counter-balance your national governments?

Maybe the European Parliament would keep the experts in line.  It is, after all, the only EU institution that is both democratic, and not (so far?) corrupted by the same influences that have corrupted your national governments.  But that could change; the US could corrupt the EP the same way we've allegedly corrupted the national governments.

Furthermore, compared to our House, the EP is weak, and none of the current reforms seem likely to make it stronger (or at least, none of them will make the EP stronger in proportion to the Council and Commission).

It seems to me, Progressives would be better served by taking back control over their existing governments, rather than trusting these existing governments to create a new layer of government that is mainly held accountable via existing, democratic institutions that are already corrupt or at least highly suspect according to the Progressive analysis.

In summary, think of me like the French.  I am trying to give Progressives, and the whole pro-EU movement, the constructive criticism and tough love that is the duty of a true friend to give.  If the French are the most reliable ally of the US in Europe, then I am certainly the most reliable ally of Europe in the US!

Well, I've rambled on long enough.  I don't know if I've convinced anyone, but hopefully I've given you all something to think about.  Marie, I hope I haven't taken your diary too far off-topic; to me all this boils down to the vital question of trust.

I am the most conservative Unitarian-Universalist you will ever meet.

by John in Michigan USA on Sat Jun 28th, 2008 at 01:01:46 PM EST
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