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Is Tony Blair fit to run the EU?

by The3rdColumn Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 11:59:39 AM EST

When Tony Blair came to Paris to address a recent Union Pour un Mouvement Populaire (UMP) symposium, President Sarkozy's centre-right wing party, it occurred to me that the former British prime minister could be seriously gunning for the position of EU president. After all the idea of a Blair EU presidency had been vaguely dangled to him even before he moved out 10 Downing Street.

French politicians are fascinated by Tony Blair. During the last French presidential elections, no less than major contenders Royal and Sarkozy referred incessantly in their campaign stumps to Blair's British formulas that they might adopt for the economic revival of France if they won. It therefore came as no surprise to me that 'lobbying' efforts for a potential Blair presidency of the EU should start in France; France being a major or key player in the EU, Paris becomes the logical choice for Blair to start his campaign.

But there's a hitch: France's veteran politicians are opposed to the idea of a Blair presidency, and from what I've gathered, so are many people in Brussels.

Fold inserted here - Diary rescue by Migeru


From the Independent: Blair unfit to run EU, say French political veterans

Two of France's senior statesmen have launched an ABB movement - "Anyone But Blair" - in an attempt to prevent the former prime minister becoming the first president of the European Union next year.

Although much of the support for Mr Blair comes from President Nicolas Sarkozy, the former French president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing and the former prime minister Edouard Balladur, who is M. Sarkozy's mentor and friend, have declared Mr Blair to be unfit for the job.
...

M. Balladur, who was prime minister from 2003 to 2005, said in the newspaper Le Monde: "To be accepted by all, the president of the Union must come from a country... determined to build European independence, especially in defence and foreign affairs.

"How could Mr Blair embody this ambition when, in the disastrous episode in Iraq, he always clung zealously to the views of the US or even incited them? Mr Blair is, for sure, a remarkable person but he cannot be the symbol of a Europe which wants to exist."

Even Le Figaro, a staunch pro-Sarkozy French daily hints that there could be a serious glitch: Grandes manoeuvres à la tête de l'Europe

Jean-Claude Juncker, le premier ministre du Luxembourg, sera-t-il le futur président du Conseil européen ? Voici la question inattendue qui émerge du débat passionné entourant la possible nomination, à ce même poste, du Britannique Tony Blair. La perspective de voir accéder à la tête des Vingt-Sept le champion européen de la guerre en Irak, resté à l'écart de l'euro et de l'espace Schengen, ne fait pas recette à Bruxelles. Résultat, en l'espace de 24 heures, la cote de son principal challenger est brusquement remontée.

(Rough translation: Will Jean-Claude Juncker, Prime Minister of Luxembourg, be the future president of the European Council? This is the unexpected question that emerged during a passionate debate on the possible nomination of Britain's Tony Blair to the post. The perspective of putting at the head of EU's 27 the European champion of the war on Iraq, one who kept out of the Euro zone and Schengen doesn't seem to hold much sway in Brussels, resulting in his main challenger's instant rise in popularity.)


Firstly, the job description: In my view, the EU must be able to use his influence to promote European interests on the international stage, to demonstrate as strongly as possible that Europe matters, and to maximise the return for Europe. The post needs someone of international stature, i.e., large. Admittedly, Today Blair seems to fit the bill; he is very well perceived by many world leaders especially the US who will be the most important ally for Europe.

The other ex-heads of state who one might say have equivalent stature are: Schroder but he has has sold himself to GAZPROM and Merkel will still be chancellor, Chirac is too old and Sarkozy is still President of France, the Italians are lost in internal squabbles and Solana (Spain) has had 10 years already. No other country can produce someone who will carry the flag realistically. (It is not realistic to think that the world will believe in someone from Luxembourg at this level.)

Secondly, the president must also use his influence to build consensus between European Union member states. From this perspective Blair splits the Member States in two. There are many who fully approve of the UK stance of minimising federalism and maximising nationalism, others have a different perspective. There are the issues of the Euro and Schengen but then the UK is not alone in taking a stance outside these two policies and so neither can fully bar him from the office.

In this consensus building area, almost any Member State has equal capability and respect and one could see someone from Luxembourg being completely acceptable although there is no doubt Blair has the ability to charm and build consensus. In sum, he is a clever strategist, an excellent tactician and a charming political maverick. Given those personal (and political) attributes and his own record of political longevity in the UK, he definitely could be a frontrunner for the EU presidential post.

On paper, Blair is an excellent candidate BUT let's face it, he is also a very contentious candidate. The position of the UK and the performance of Blair vis-a-vis Europe while he was PM, couple that with his disastrous Iraq legacy and his Bush poodle/lap dog image, I'm afraid will not help his candidature. He has a credibility problem as his loyalty to Europe is seen by most ordinary citizens in the EU to be flawed.

In my view, while the EU presidental post is hugely 'ceremonial' in that the President of Europe will have no great powers as such, he (or she?) will wield much influence and will shoulder great responsibilities, foremost among them that of being a unifier.

The Blair conundrum should thus be simplified and translated as "Is Tony Blair fit to run the EU?"... On balance, my answer is "NO!"

Display:
question, and you've answered it correctly. Blair would undermine the credibility of the EU at every turn, in particular from within.

Watch carefully who pushes his candidacy - it will be those who back the English vision of the EU - a larger customs union than the outdated one they already have with Scotland, Wales and those parts of Ulster they still occupy.

I'm sure we'll see some of the usual suspects, but I suspect we will also learn from the silence of those who choose to keep quiet.

Nice to see that this prospect apppears to be largely rejected by the entire political spectrum in France, with the exception of our emperor-ado.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by r------ on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 10:57:31 AM EST
Blair is very clever. He refuses to openly admit that he is interested in the job but from all indications, he wants it. Reason perhaps why he refused to move to America despite the seemingly hefty, million-dollar income he would be making in a new job, i.e., public speaker, political media darling, etc.

Sarkozy's efforts at lobbying for Blair may serve as the backbone for Blair's campaign but at the end of the day, an all out British support is necessary, nay, REQUIRED for him to be able to convince the rest of Europe to look at him as a serious and bona fide candidate.

by The3rdColumn on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 11:58:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I opposed Bliars Presidential style when in office, his spin doctoring, obsession with presentation, poodling up to Bush, and above all his close to treasonous war on Iraq.

However just for the hell of it I will take the contrarian view.  A leader of his stature is just what the EU needs to be taken seriously by the world and by its own citizens.  Sure he would be controversial.  Good.  Lets have the rows.  At the end of the day he would be subject to the decisions of the council.

Are we seriously saying Jean-Claude Juncker is the best alternative?  Bertie Ahern would be better!  And you can have him.  Ireland is finished with him...

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 11:11:24 AM EST
On the one hand it could bring the UK closer to Europe. on the other hand it could drive the UK further away.

If it was almost any other UK political figure it would probably be an advantage.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 11:35:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The UK doesn't have much in the way of substantial political figures (sorry Migeru!).  I suspect most Brits would be quite glad to have "their" man in charge of the continentals.  Any major figure is bound to be controversial and the question is perhaps whether te EU is ready to have a high profile leader,  A colourless bureaucrat or a Swiss style cantonal leader might be the lowest common denominator we can expect.

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 12:00:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, a john Major would fit the criteria as laid out. He is broadly pro-europe and is a concensus builder. His tragedy was leading a party at a time when it could not have been led by anybody and the policies he enacted seemed to be rooted in that weakness than from any failure of personal vision.

since then I have been impressed by the quiet solidity of his convictions, even when I disagree with him.

But, he is not a global political celebrity in the Blair mould. Do we want a solid achiever or a gadfly ?

Who's that Italian comedian who embarrasses the government ? He'd be a good nomination

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Sat Jan 19th, 2008 at 10:10:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Helen,

Not a bad choice. (To be honest, hadn't thought of Major)

But Major would be more acceptable than Blair, i.e., he doesn't have the "baggage" that comes with Bush's 'Yo Blair.

But he'll need some sort of support to get his name in the ballot box or we don't exactly have a pro-Europe Tory party in the UK.

by The3rdColumn on Sat Jan 19th, 2008 at 11:05:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
I suspect most Brits would be quite glad to have "their" man in charge of the continentals.

I don't think it's seen like that here. Blair is almost universally loathed now. I don't know anyone in any party who thinks of him as an inspirational or positive figure.

Europe is also loathed by the little-Englanders, but there are more reasoned conversations about the UK-EU relationship going on in some parts of the business community.

So Blair isn't really seen as One Of Us by anyone here. He wouldn't be seen as representing the UK in Europe. He'd been seen more as a kind of shadow mini-Saddam - the corrupt former despot of Blairistan, with its population of one and a half adults, a couple of teenagers, a wobbly toddler, plus a few lackeys and hangers on.

I think most people here would be happier to have Sarkozy as EU president. He seems to fit the Euro stereotype much more closely than a shape-shifting political mutant like Blair. In the UK Sarko seems to be considered good entertainment, no matter how dire he appears to the French.

Are there really no other alternatives from a bloc that stretches from the Atlantic to the Russian border?

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 05:51:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What public support he had he managed to spectacularly blow, when he managed to completely ignore the publics view of what was the correct course of action in the Iraq situation.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 05:55:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you are right, "If it was almost any other UK political figure it would probably be an advantage.

Frankly, the idea that we might be forced to listen to Tony Blair mouthing, imposing his favourite personal doctrine of his latter PM years "It's the right thing to do" in the EU would be just too much ...that would seriously divide the EU more than anything...

by The3rdColumn on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 12:08:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
on top of that, I can see him constantly getting on the TV news, and his comments being seen as an attempt to keep control of the UK by any future premier. (especially if Brown gets in again)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 12:15:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But that would hardly be unifying -- the job requirement is for one who is solidly a concesus builder...

Re Bertie Ahern, with a nickname like that, doubt he'll have a chance? Seriously now, he'll have to obtain Ireland support massively to even be considered.

by The3rdColumn on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 12:02:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The3rdColumn:
But that would hardly be unifying -- the job requirement is for one who is solidly a concesus builder...

Blair did that very effectively until Iraq.

Bertie turned down the job of President of the EU Commission and arranged for Barroso to get it instead.  He didn't want it then, and I doubt he'll want it now, and in any case his stock has fallen considerably since.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 12:07:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Blair did that very effectively until Iraq.

Are you serious?...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 05:02:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bertie turned down the job of President of the EU Commission and arranged for Barroso to get it instead.

Does Bertie credit himself with that? Methinks Aznar and B also had a big role in it, but most important was Bliar, this was his only real EU success.

Maybe you and The3rdColumn don't remember, but the candidate Bliar wanted to and succeeded in nudging out was Juncker. (It shall come as no surprise that Juncker would later say, We Don't Need Britain!...)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 05:29:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why would the EU want a war-criminal as President?

And why would they want someone who flunked the UK economy - do they want the same thing to happen to the EU?

by Fran on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 11:17:36 AM EST
Excellent question!
by The3rdColumn on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 12:03:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I have nothing against born-again secular Catholics, but i do draw the line at anyone who helped birth the horror of Iraq.

If it has to be a man, one who's overcome his streetfighting roots, i'll stick with Joschka Fischer.  Do yoiu remember the defense meeting in München where he pointed at Rumsfeld about 3 meters away (with the camera over his left shoulder framing Rumsfuck's face) and forcefully said, in english, "In a democracy you have to make your case, and you haven't made yours.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - AnaÔs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 12:17:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think a member of the Greens can get the job, but Joschka might be a candidate for the EU foreign minister. His most famous quote is from a Bundestag debate, by the way:
"Mit Verlaub, Herr Präsident, sie sind ein Arschloch."
("With all due respect, Mister President, you're an asshole.")

"If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles." Sun Tzu
by Turambar (sersguenda at hotmail com) on Thu Jan 24th, 2008 at 02:34:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
<wipes tears> those were the days... I wish that Joschka back.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 24th, 2008 at 03:06:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ulrich Bunion, please explain your troll rating of DoDo's comment.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Jan 25th, 2008 at 05:20:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Fran:
Why would the EU want a war-criminal as President?

And why would they want someone who flunked the UK economy - do they want the same thing to happen to the EU?

Since when was that a disqualification for high office?

In the public perception, the UK economy was doing fine until Brown took over.  Cameron models himself on Blair.
Iraq is history as far as Blair's career is concerned.  Besides, he's a Catholic now and will get the Mediterranean vote!

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 12:13:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hahah! "Besides, he's a Catholic now and will get the Mediterranean vote!"

That's a good one!

by The3rdColumn on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 12:39:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll be brief..

the reason why he is "fit" for the presidency are precisely the reasons you state why he should not be fit to the prsidency. That's how europe works int he mind of some of our oligarchies..sigghhh

A pleasure

I therefore claim to show, not how men think in myths, but how myths operate in men's minds without their being aware of the fact. Levi-Strauss, Claude

by kcurie on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 02:54:18 PM EST
I had to put up with this man for ten years as my Prime Minister.

He is an (alleged) social democrat, who despises the poor and the powerless and adulates the rich and powerful.

He is an (alleged) pro-European, who never had the courage to take on the euro-sceptics.

He is an (alleged) person who wishes to do good in the world, but who sets far too low a bar for the use of military force.

He is an (alleged) reformer, who frittered away his time and energy on managerialist re-arrangements of health and education. I guarantee that the Blair "reforms" will be minor footnotes in specialist histories (if that) in a generation.

He is an (alleged) master politician, who specialised in issuing fatuous ideas for the sake of an ephemeral triumph in the next news cycle. Mostly these ideas disappeared without trace, until it was time to re-announce them as a great new initiative and repeat the news management process. Unfortunately some version of some of his daft ideas actually became public policy and were implemented.

He is an (alleged) champion of freedom but, because he lacked any sense of the importance of history and his ideas were instinctively authoritarian, he was an objective enemy of liberty.

I am sorry that I have been so moderate in my criticism of this truly awful politician.

However it does not matter. Gordon Brown can be relied upon to sabotage any attempt by Blair to get back into politics.

by Gary J on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 05:05:50 PM EST
Right... Agree absolutely.

Blair was a Conservative through and through. That was what was galling -- why couldn't he just spit it out and say so? His Messianic complex probably got in the way, i.e., "right thing to do."

But if it's any satisfaction, there is a good chance that Gordon Brown just might do that just when Blair expects it least: <<to sabotage any attempt by Blair to get back into politics.>>

by The3rdColumn on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 05:13:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Will you guys please stop saying all those nice things about Tony Blair!  You are making him sound like just the right sort of guy to lead an elite EU project - don't be giving them any ideas!

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 05:43:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"You are making him sound like just the right sort of guy to lead an elite EU project" -- Frank

Geez, that's an idea. If there's an elite EU project that has something to do with promoting Europe IN the US, you know the sort that would maximize return for Europe, you must admit that Blair is qualified.

Why not appoint Blair special EU ambassador to US or something like that.

Don't forget Americans love our Blair that if given the chance to run for US president, he probably stands a fantastic chance of winning and beat Clinton, Obama or Edwards hands down.

by The3rdColumn on Fri Jan 18th, 2008 at 06:30:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]

Why not appoint Blair special EU ambassador to US or something like that.

He's already special US ambassador to the EU.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Jan 19th, 2008 at 07:46:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah! Right... that disqualifies him all the more for the position of EU president.
by The3rdColumn on Sat Jan 19th, 2008 at 11:21:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is not realistic to think that the world will believe in someone from Luxembourg at this level

I don't understand your point. Plus, as far as I can tell, Junker would make a most honorable head for the EU.

That Sarkozy even thinks of pushing a war criminal candidacy to the EU presidency tells a lot about the man. Two sinister characters.

by balbuz on Sat Jan 19th, 2008 at 08:46:12 AM EST
Balbuz, As I've mentioned in the post, I believe all of them are qualified to head the EU. And I don't doubt that Mr Junker is an honourable man.

This is all about world power 'play'. Europe needs a ceremonial head who could "command" attention on the that stage, one who could obtain maximum return for Europe -- today's politics unfortunately requires it. In my opinion, Mr Junker is unknown on the world stage.

But not to worry -- he is now making a name for himself thanks in part to Tony Blair's 'candidacy'. He'll just have to follow it up.

by The3rdColumn on Sat Jan 19th, 2008 at 11:13:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The cynic in me has to wonder whether the question is not: "Is Tony Blair fit to run the EU?" but: "Would an EU presidency cut into Tony Blair's speaking fees?"

I have a perverse hope that this consideration will ultimately save us...

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Sat Jan 19th, 2008 at 11:04:27 AM EST
Heh! Which makes me think -- did he deliver his pro-Europe speech at the UMP symposium for free?
by The3rdColumn on Sat Jan 19th, 2008 at 11:06:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can we stop perpetuating this misleading media frame?

Under the Reform Treaty there will be a permanent President of the European Council to replace the rotating six-month presidency we had so far.

However, there will still be a President of the European Commission. The European Commission will retain legislative initiative and be the executive branch (and civil service) of the EU.

In addition, there will be a High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy, to replace both Solana's current position (associated with the Council) and the Commissioner for External Relations.

And then there will be the President of the European Parliament.

The "EU President" won't get to "run the EU". The President of the Commission will still get to do that. They won't represent the Eu internationally, the HRCFSP will do that.

I'm sick of the media frame that says that everything happens in the European Council. It only benefits the member states and people like Sarkozy and Blair, to the detriment of the Union.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 11:58:06 AM EST
Institutions as written on paper don't mean much when facing the political legitimacy given by the media.

In France, the PM is supposed to lead governmental action on legitimacy given by the parliament. In practice...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misŤres

by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 12:14:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We're media too, I'm asking us to challenge the mainstream yet again.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 01:00:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Agree Migeru. Thanks for clarifying. Inded the EU presidency we speak of here is the "permanent" post of president of the European Councit.
by The3rdColumn on Thu Jan 24th, 2008 at 07:03:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I realise that it is not the essence of the diary, but I cannot let pass this particular error:
President Sarkozy's centre-right wing party

There is nothing centre to UMP. It used to be a rightist party, and now is a far right party.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 12:13:06 PM EST
Realistically, the UMP panders to the centre as well, hence for the sake of brevity, I said centre-right wing. And considering that there are members of govt who belong to the left, centre-right cannot be too off the mark.
by The3rdColumn on Thu Jan 24th, 2008 at 07:06:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The centre-left spans a spectrum, too. I am not sure Jack Lang can be counted really left. But you are right that Sarko also panders to the center.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Jan 24th, 2008 at 11:42:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it is a dangerous precedent to elect a person recently converted to Catholicism as president. There is a difference between an individual raised in a predominately Catholic enviroment and someone who has been converted. All the more so with the present political activism of the Church, a free fox in a free chicken coop.

An individual who has graduated from Mexican cosmic mud baths to Catholicism will never have my approval. He's simply substituted one lap for another, red silk instead of cordoroy.

by de Gondi (publiobestia aaaatttthotmaildaughtusual) on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 04:22:34 PM EST
I have nothing against a Catholic becoming president but Blair's recent conversion shows the stuff he's made of, a man who's always been a conservative but who pretends he's not. The question of his trustworthiness again comes into question.
by The3rdColumn on Thu Jan 24th, 2008 at 07:10:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You say, on balance, a No.

I say, on every single account, a big big NO!

I admire Frank's boldness to play contrarian, but what do you and he mean by Bliar's stature? That some Very Important Men think he is a Very Important Man? That just cuts to the core of Bliar's shallow mind, something that alone would make him unfit for any leadership post.

I should add that this 'stature' of Bliar in large owes to the fact that politicians in the rest of Europe don't think about the British political system, and are impressed by repeated wins with large parliamentary majorities -- that just wouldn't happen in their own systems. (Schröder lost in 2005 with barely less votes than Bliar won the same year...)

And what about the opinion of EUropeans (not to mention non-EUropeans!...) other than Very Important People?

FT.com / In depth - EU citizens want referendum on treaty

Tony Blair, the British prime minister, is also regarded by many Europeans as the wrong person to be EU president, if the job were created. Italy (27 per cent) was most supportive of Mr Blair as a possible candidate but only 16 per cent of French backed him - a disappointment to President Nicolas Sarkozy, who has proposed his candidacy to other European leaders.

I also note that Bliar wants the post himself, it's not like it's pushed on him, and the idea is not new.

Even apart from stature, Bliar would not promote Europe's best interests. He would push the Anglo Disease upon us instead.

Schröder may have sold himself to GAZPROM, but Bliar sold himself to Murdoch, Berlusconi, JP Morgan, dozens of campaign contributors, not to mention all acting US Governments. Which reminds me, the EU should cut itself independent from the US, because an alliance with it in its current state is not only a practical and moral bad decision, but no alliance really: more vassaldom. For Europe to have credibility with the rest of the world, it must act on its own.

Juncker may not be well-known to you, but I at least know him, he plays an important role at EU summits for years, and he is better suited than Bliar in every respect. If you want someone else better known, there is still former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer.

The Euro and Schengen are, on one hand, meant to eventually include all countries, on the other hand, both already involve the wide majority of the EU's population (and the absolute majority of EU member countries). Even most of those still outside weant in (new ex-East-Bloc members who aren't yet it), what's more, we could soon see a second Danish Euro referendum resulting in a Yes vote.

I most vigorously deny that Bliar can build consensus. What Bliar can do is build up a power base, and then run roughshod over opposition, to showe down things people's throats when he has a government bureaucracy and a propaganda war machine at hand. He has no clue how to get something done when he is not in control. That marks his entire history in the EU, trying to build power blocks which then always falter on just as determined opposition. He is NOT a clever strategist, NOT an excellent tactician, and most certainly NOT a political maverick.

Re Iraq, he not only has a disastrous legacy and a bad image, but he is a war criminal who would belong to Hague, not Brussels. Now would that be a way to build European credibility with people in the rest of the world...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Jan 22nd, 2008 at 05:09:16 PM EST
Now that would be a smart choice - establishmenty enough to be palatable to the Serious People, but with good ideas in in his (at least past) mind...

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Wed Jan 23rd, 2008 at 11:24:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
DoDo, What an opinion! Whoa! At first reading, one might be tempted to say, full of bias and lacks reasoning and fact that one cannot expect a reasoned debate but I understand your feelings against Tony Blair as I am wont to say the same things about both the man and the politician ... But allow me this bit of devil advocating: The fact that you know him so well proves it. You may not like him but does possess the stature. (So did Hitler.) You and I and many others here dislike him and even despise Blair but it IS a fact that many Europeans admire the British political system as do many others around the world, hence his stature. No one will get there who does not want it and doesn't campaign to get it. And Blair did that (Look at the US presidential campaigns -- how hard and low the candidates go to get "there" .) Re:" I also note that Bliar wants the post himself, it's not like it's pushed on him, and the idea is not new." There's no disagreement there. Hard to believe that he didn't tinker with the idea of prolonging his political life by way of the EU even before he moved out of Downing street. On your fear that Bliar would not promote Europe's best interests. There is indeed that risk... or that he would play the passive role when it comes to promoting Europe's best interests. But I have no doubt that whoever becomes permanent president will be forced by the Member States to push the will of the Member States - I don't think that any single nation or person, let alone Blair will bully or be allowed to bully the other 27. Re selling out: Blair took a salary from various companies after leaving office. Schroder signed a multi-billion dollar deal with GAZPROM while he was chancellor which cut across a European energy policy and then revealed his directorship days after he left office. Not the same thing! The Euro is a wild and runaway success. In time most member states will probably join. Not really an issue as far as this goes. Quite happy to see a Dane or an Irishman in the post - And going back to Frank S's suggestion, what about Bertie Ahern? On the whole, much as I regret it, because I do not admire or trust Blair as a person, I maintain that he is a brilliant strategist, tactician and politician. It is exactly those qualities that allowed someone WHO IS A RIGHT WING at heart to lead the UK left wing party for 10 years. That he leaves a disastrous legacy on many fronts is a given and for that we are on the same wavelength -- a big NO to his candidature.
by The3rdColumn on Thu Jan 24th, 2008 at 06:48:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What happened? My whole post became a cacophony of letters!
by The3rdColumn on Thu Jan 24th, 2008 at 06:49:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Is your comment formatting option set to "auto format" or "html formatted"? If the latter, you'd lose any line breaks.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 24th, 2008 at 06:54:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks Migeru... Did just that and it worked like a charm.
by The3rdColumn on Thu Jan 24th, 2008 at 06:58:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
(OK, let me make that a bit more readable...)

DoDo,

What an opinion! Whoa! At first reading, one might be tempted to say, full of bias and lacks reasoning or that one cannot expect a reasoned debate but I understand your feelings against Tony Blair as I am wont to say the same things about both the man and the politician ...

But allow me this bit of devil advocating: The fact that you know him so well proves it. You may not like him but does possess the stature. (So did Hitler.) You and I and many others here dislike him and even despise Blair but it IS a fact that many Europeans admire the British political system as do many others around the world, hence his stature. No one will get there who does not want it and doesn't campaign to get it. And Blair did that (Look at the US presidential campaigns -- how hard and low the candidates go to get "there" .)

Re:" I also note that Bliar wants the post himself, it's not like it's pushed on him, and the idea is not new." There's no disagreement there. Hard to believe that he didn't tinker with the idea of prolonging his political life by way of the EU even before he moved out of Downing street.

On your fear that "Bliar would not promote Europe's best interests." There is indeed that risk... or that he would play the passive role when it comes to promoting Europe's best interests. But I have no doubt that whoever becomes permanent president will be forced by the Member States to push the will of the Member States - I don't think that any single nation or person, let alone Blair will bully or be allowed to bully the other 27.

Re: "I also note that Bliar wants the post himself, it's not like it's pushed on him, and the idea is not new." There's no disagreement there. Hard to believe that he didn't tinker with the idea of prolonging his political life by way of the EU even before he moved out of Downing street.

The Euro is a wild and runaway success. In time most member states will probably join. Not really an issue as far as this goes. Quite happy to see a Dane or an Irishman in the post - And going back to Frank S's suggestion, what about Bertie Ahern?

On the whole, much as I regret it, because I do not admire or trust Blair as a person, I maintain that he is a brilliant strategist, tactician and politician. It is exactly those qualities that allowed someone WHO IS A RIGHT WING at heart to lead the UK left wing party for 10 years. That he leaves a disastrous legacy on many fronts is a given and for that we are on the same wavelength -- a big NO to his candidature.

by The3rdColumn on Thu Jan 24th, 2008 at 06:55:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Repost it as a direct reply to DoDo and I'll hide the rest.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Jan 24th, 2008 at 06:59:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Dodo,

(Missed out this one during the cut and paste:)

Re selling out: Blair took a salary from various companies after leaving office. Schroder signed a multi-billion dollar deal with GAZPROM while he was chancellor which cut across a European energy policy and then revealed his directorship days after he left office.

by The3rdColumn on Thu Jan 24th, 2008 at 08:14:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
DoDo,

One last thing: Re "Which reminds me, the EU should cut itself independent from the US, because an alliance with it in its current state is not only a practical and moral bad decision, but no alliance really: more vassaldom. "

Aren't you missing the key point?

This is the last thing any wants to happen. All very well to want to cut the EU loose for the US but like it or not the US is the biggest economy in the world and the motor for innovation and growth. We may not like some things about them, but cutting ourselves off would be cutting off our nose to spite our face. They are our biggest and strongest ally. Any national leader worth his salt in the EU will recognize this fact.

by The3rdColumn on Thu Jan 24th, 2008 at 08:30:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the US is the biggest economy in the world and the motor for innovation and growth

That's the propaganda line. In actuality, the EU is now a bigger economy, it is a motor for innovation, international comparisons of growth suffer from several apples-and-oranges problems thematised on ET in the past (hedonic pricing, different accounting, totals vs. per capita), and has been fuelled by the unsustainable financial bubble-boosting which Jérôme calls Anglo Disease. (That, in effect, is a tax on the economies of the rest of the world, too.) At any rate, I don't see how the size of the economy can be a rationale for alliance or vassaldom. We don't need to be allied to or be vassals to China, either.

They are our biggest and strongest ally.

Ally in what? I just don't understand what benefits you see in vassaldom to the USA, nor those national leaders. (We asked Atlanticists on ET before, but never got a real answer.) And for the record, being idependent doesn't mean cutting off. We aren't cut off from China, Japan, Russia or Australia, either.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jan 24th, 2008 at 12:10:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Admittedly with the faltering US economy, the EU is now a bigger economy but that doesn't alter the fact that the US is the motor for innovation and growth -- you only have to look around you: America sneezed, the world caught cold, Black Monday, Black Tuesday, etc. Who speaks of "vassaldom to the USA,"? If you translates being ally into "vassaldom", we have a problem... suggest consult dictionary. Being an ally doesnt entail dependence.
by The3rdColumn on Thu Jan 24th, 2008 at 12:56:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
the US is the motor for innovation and growth

Please substantiate.

you only have to look around you

I don't see many US products. From mobile phones through efficient electric and car motors, vehicles, kitchen appliances, power plants, etc., I see products of European innovation.

Who speaks of "vassaldom to the USA,"?

For example, Brzezinski:

"To put it in a terminology that harkens back to a more brutal age of ancient empires," he writes, "the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together."

But in what sense do you think European countries' relationship with the US is NOT vassaldom? When has the US bent to more than symbolic European demands in NATO, as opposed to the other way around? I ask again, what benefit does Europe draw from an 'alliance'?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jan 24th, 2008 at 01:08:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No. Schröder didn't sign any agreement, he was only present along with Putin when Russian company Gazprom and German companies E.on and BASF signed the multi-billion deal, (what Schröder's government did was giving an easy loan of 1 billio to Gazprom), and Schröder got a directorship after he left office, just like Bliar at JP Morgan.  How it cuts across EUropean energy policy, I don't know (especially with Schröder's Christian Democrat successors also favoring the pipeline deal -- and the loan too); but you better debate that with Jérôme.

I also note that Schröder would have got €0.25 million annually, Bliar gets $5 million. And most of the other scandals mentioned happened during Bliar's PM-ship.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jan 24th, 2008 at 11:56:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You may not like him but does possess the stature. (So did Hitler.)

That you consider advocacy?

it IS a fact that many Europeans admire the British political system

What do you mean? I don't get your point. We spoke about Bliar. I showed a poll showing that Europeans admiring Bliar are at most a fourth of them. I brought up the British politican system as something people do not understand/know, not to speak of admiring: many people have no clue that Britain has a proportional election system, one that to boot is currently skewed towards Labour in its precint distribution.

No one will get there who does not want it

That wasn't in dispute. But from your diary, it appeared to me that this whole Bliar for President thing is new for you, and you think it's Sarko's idea. In fact, his intentions are known at least since his failed push for an EU Directorium made up of the biggest EU member states.

what about Bertie Ahern?

Same as with Barroso: getting into the EU just after failing at home. (Barroso's legacy as PM of Portugal was a reform programme that failed to repair the budget, and fudged reports of budget deficit towards the EU. I leave Ahern's list of bad moves to Colman and Frank.)

I have no doubt that whoever becomes permanent president will be forced by the Member States to push the will of the Member States

Doing some things reluctantly against one's own will is quite different from actively pursuing the right policies. (What's more, even from an EU Council President, I'd expect the pursuit of pan-European interests, rather than the vbarious governments' interests.)

It is exactly those qualities that allowed someone WHO IS A RIGHT WING at heart to lead the UK left wing party for 10 years.

You give too much credit to a single man -- and underestimate the power putential of stupid people. But that's not really the issue. My point was that Bliar built/inherited a power base within the Labour leadership (and the British government bureaucracy) that he could use to crush weak opposition, in the form of the parliamentary whip, the top-down selection of MP candidates, media campaigns. But meanwhile, he just didn't dare to take on some more difficult opponents, and almost all his dealings with significant independent power bases ended in dismal failure -- be it his attempts to get Dubya do something on climate change, Africa or the I/P conflict, or his attempts at EU structural reform. Thus he does not have the strategic, tactical and political brilliance to correctly deal with acting heads of states in the EU Council.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jan 24th, 2008 at 12:32:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
DoDo, Stretching things a bit too far there... I don't believe there's a mention of stature as advocacy. Citing Hitler's stature on the same footing is a recognition that Blair's stature simply is just that -- stature, if you like name recognition, name recall, etc., If you remember, I delved in Blair's qualifications and stature is one of them just as I delved in his 'non-qualifications'. You may be twisting and stretching my arguments according to your feelings, i.e., hatred for Blair but I must repeat, I am not advocating for Blair becoming president of EU. Read post again. Re: "But from your diary, it appeared to me that this whole Bliar for President thing is new for you, and you think it's Sarko's idea." Looks like you're confused by the overall tenor of the following line in my post intro: "After all the idea of a Blair EU presidency had been vaguely dangled to him even before he moved out 10 Downing Street." Goes to show that while I haven't actually been tracking every step of Blair, I knew that Blair for president had been in the works. Re: "(What's more, even from an EU Council President, I'd expect the pursuit of pan-European interests, rather than the vbarious governments' interests.)" Agree! That would be pretty much in my concluding message. Re: "You give too much credit to a single man -- and underestimate the power putential of stupid people." "Giving credit" to a single man who led Labour and was UK PM for 10 years? But where's the problem? It IS a fact. Everything you said about Blair smacks of truth -- not disputing those, but you gotta admit the fact is to "give" Blair "credit" for, if you like, having conned the UK for 10 years can't be off the mark at all. At the end of the day, who should deserve that "credit"? Sure there's the entire Labour machinery but we are talking of Blair here and it's a question of who was head of Labour and PM for 10 years? Blair! Couldn't be Cherrie now, could it? DoDo, if you believe I have not been very adversarial vis a vis Blair in my post, not much I can do there -- but you are doing a good job of it so why complain? I'll let you in on a secret: During Blair's PMship, I was rabidly anti-Blair (and still am) and wanted him out of the way as my numerous posts in the weblogs of Charles Bremner's, Michael Smith's in The Times will show (as well as in my own blog)... that doesn't mean I've lost sight of him, proof is right here! I wrote a post on the risk that Blair is getting a second life right here in ET and advocating for a no vote. Got you going too and that's a victory! (Heh!) The bottom line here is that I'm in agreement with most of what you say and that my no vote is here to stay. I'm not in the mood for splitting hairs and so would rather leave things, however if you really want to rant on, be my guest but I suggest you focus on Blair.
by The3rdColumn on Thu Jan 24th, 2008 at 01:40:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't believe it -- there's my post going cacophonious again... I'll re-post it:

DoDo, Stretching things a bit too far there... I don't believe there's a mention of stature as advocacy. Citing Hitler's stature on the same footing is a recognition that Blair's stature simply is just that -- stature, if you like name recognition, name recall, etc.,

If you remember, I delved in Blair's qualifications and stature is one of them just as I delved in his 'non-qualifications'. You may be twisting and stretching my arguments according to your feelings, i.e., hatred for Blair but I must repeat, I am not advocating for Blair becoming president of EU. Read post again.

Re: "But from your diary, it appeared to me that this whole Bliar for President thing is new for you, and you think it's Sarko's idea."

Looks like you're confused by the overall tenor of the following line in my post intro: "After all the idea of a Blair EU presidency had been vaguely dangled to him even before he moved out 10 Downing Street."

Goes to show that while I haven't actually been tracking every step of Blair, I knew that Blair for president had been in the works.

Re: "(What's more, even from an EU Council President, I'd expect the pursuit of pan-European interests, rather than the vbarious governments' interests.)" Agree! That would be pretty much in my concluding message.

Re: "You give too much credit to a single man -- and underestimate the power putential of stupid people."

"Giving credit" to a single man who led Labour and was UK PM for 10 years? But where's the problem? It IS a fact. Everything you said about Blair smacks of truth -- not disputing those, but you gotta admit the fact is to "give" Blair "credit" for, if you like, having conned the UK for 10 years can't be off the mark at all.

At the end of the day, who should deserve that "credit"? Sure there's the entire Labour machinery but we are talking of Blair here and it's a question of who was head of Labour and PM for 10 years? Blair! Couldn't be Cherrie now, could it?

DoDo, if you believe I have not been very adversarial vis a vis Blair in my post, not much I can do there -- but you are doing a good job of it so why complain?

I'll let you in on a secret: During Blair's PMship, I was rabidly anti-Blair (and still am) and wanted him out of the way as my numerous posts in the weblogs of Charles Bremner's, Michael Smith's in The Times will show (as well as in my own blog)... that doesn't mean I've completely lost sight of him, proof is right here! I wrote a post on the risk that Blair is getting a second life right here in ET and advocating for a NO vote.

Got you going too and that's a victory! (Heh!)

The bottom line here is that I'm in agreement with most of what you say and that my no vote is here to stay.

I'm not in the mood for splitting hairs and so would rather leave things, however if you really want to rant on, be my guest but I suggest you focus on Blair.

by The3rdColumn on Thu Jan 24th, 2008 at 01:44:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The fact that you know him so well proves it.

I know a lot of politicians rather well. Though it is true that I consider Bliar an extra-sized disaster.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Jan 24th, 2008 at 12:35:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
How low have we gone, that I find myself cheering for Balladur, his double chin and aristocraticXVIth arrondissement accent ...

Anyway, I couldn't put it better. Blair for EU president? Over my dead european body. It's obviously a stupid idea, it's obviously wrong to reinforce such incompetence, and it's obviously retarded.

But then he and his twice-divorced, thrice-married-to be buddy Naboléon are now good catholics. Eh! WTF. Strange times. Sarko times! Dire times.

A 'centrist' is someone who's neither on the left, nor on the left.

by nicta (nico&#65312;altiva&#8228;fr) on Wed Jan 23rd, 2008 at 05:36:04 AM EST
And why not Giscard d'Estaing? Too old I reckon.
by The3rdColumn on Thu Jan 24th, 2008 at 01:53:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
NO!

/next question

"If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles." Sun Tzu

by Turambar (sersguenda at hotmail com) on Thu Jan 24th, 2008 at 02:42:57 PM EST
It would be interesting for you to cross-post this diary on the PES' yourspace manifesto site.

We have met the enemy, and he is us — Pogo
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 4th, 2008 at 05:38:32 AM EST
Migeru, Did you leave that comment for me? (I'm kinda lost -- having to track comments or where they're linked...)
by The3rdColumn on Mon Feb 4th, 2008 at 03:16:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru's comment is top-level, which means he's responding to the diary itself and to the diarist, ie you.

If you'd like to see the threads set out clearly, I suggest you go to your User pages; choose Settings; click  sub-choice (just beneath header) Comment Preferences.

There you can choose thread layout. Nested places each comment beneath the comment it replies to, in such a way that you can see how the exchange develops. You have to put a number in the Nested box, meaning up to how many comments you want the Nested mode to function. (I have 200 Nested). After that number threads get unwieldy. I have a + sign in the Dynamic Threaded box. That means that, in a thread over 200 comments long, the display will revert to Dynamic Threaded, ie the comments are nested but collapsed (only the header and poster's nick are visible).

At the same time, you can choose, under the heading Sort, to stop the highest rated comments being sent to the top (choose Ignore Ratings); and in which order (oldest first or newest first) you want the comments displayed.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 4th, 2008 at 03:34:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Whew, thanks loads afew! Wasn't sure that Migeru had intended the comment for me (heh!) - I'm still struggling with what to do in general particularly when posting a diary; took me ages to post pics and by gum when I finally discovered how it's done, felt good... Anyway, so far have trained my eyes to go from one direction to the other, i.e., left, right or vice versa but not to worry, I'll get the hang of it and hopefully, they'll be going north south east west in no time at all.
by The3rdColumn on Mon Feb 4th, 2008 at 03:52:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru, I took your suggestion and submitted a cross posting. We'll see if they think it's worth publishing in the PES manifesto. Thanks.
by The3rdColumn on Wed Feb 6th, 2008 at 10:52:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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