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Foreign Correspondent
by international syndicated columnist & broadcaster Eric Margolis


Copyright: Eric S. Margolis, 2005

June 04, 2005

PARIS - As German panzer divisions were approaching Paris in mid-May, 1940, Franceís High Command ordered Parisí military governor to send the cityís garrison troops to lock the enemy advance.

Amazingly, Franceís government ordered him to keep troops in Paris, fearing Marxist mobs would seize the capitol and proclaim a communist republic - as happened in 1871 at the end of the Franco-Prussian War. Franceís Left frightened the government as much as the invading Germans.

Rejection of the EUís proposed constitution last week by 55% of French voters reminds us the nation that made the Mother of All Revolutions in 1789 remains politically combustible and still deeply divided by a century and a half struggle between Right and Left.

Last week, we witnessed a return to the barricades by Franceís massed Left: civil servants, teachers, industrial workers and pensioners fearful their gravy train would be derailed by desperately-need labor and welfare reforms. Ironically, the Left adopted the anti-immigrant, anti-EU, protectionist agenda of Jean-Marie Le Penís far right National Front.

President Jacques Chirac committed a dreadful blunder by holding a referendum instead of simply having parliament ratify the constitution, as Germany and Italy did. Had they held a referendum, angry Germans and Italians would probably have voted no.

Chirac and Franceís incestuous political class lost touch with reality outside of central Paris. They forgot the French, in spite of enjoying the worldís best living standard and longest lives, are still a revolutionary people. Franceís favorite national sport, after extra-marital affairs, is demonstrating against the government and demanding ever higher salaries, benefits and subsidies. When French get bored, they turn to revolution. In 1968, student riots even brought down Charles DeGaulleís government.

In spite of the Soviet Unionís demise, the hard Left remain strong in the EU. But it lacks charismatic leadership and a cause. The ill-fated EU vote provided a welcome if temporary rallying point.

Dutch also voted down the constitution this week, but for different reasons. Half of Hollandís population is now foreign, mostly North Africans imported to do the hard, nasty jobs Dutch refused. Many of these emigrants were violent, backward tribals from the wild Riff Mountains. The Dutch have themselves to blame.

After the murder of a minor Dutch film maker seeking notoriety by making a slanderous, obscene film about Islam, normally civilized Dutch erupted in anti-Muslim racism. That, and Hollandís bad economic deal in the EU, led to the crushing no vote.

What a fiasco. What a giant mess. Almost very EU politician has been badly damaged. Chirac and Germanyís Schroeder have suffered grave political injury. Italyís Berlusconi is barely hanging on.

Allowing the EU to grow to 25 nations was a serious mistake. The over-expanded union left many western Europeans feeling lost and diminished in a sea of needy East European newcomers. Applications for EU admission from Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, Albania and, most important, Turkey, are likely to be shelved.

But this is not the end of the EU. Integration will continue, albeit at a slower, halting pace. In the end, the political and economic logic of a united Europe will overcome outdated nationalism and leftwing obstruction. But this will take far longer than expected.

The Bush Administration and its French-hating far right supporters are crowing over the no votes and mocking France. They are wrong. A politically wounded Europe is bad for everyone. A strong, united Europe would be a badly needed ally for faltering America and a pillar of international stability and prosperity.

Anti-French American know-nothings have no reason to gloat. The US now imports $700 billion annually more than it exports, financing this monster deficit by pyramid scheme loans from Communist China and Japan. Europeís welfare state finances have caused stagnation, but at least the EU is not hocked to its ears to nations that hold no love for the west. And Europe is not stuck in two no-win colonial wars that have so far cost America US $300 billion with no end in sight.

Month-long summer vacations are coming that will calm passions and give Europeans time to reflect on how to repair the huge train wreck they have just experienced.

Published at Bigeye.com since 1995 with permission, as a courtesy and in appreciation.

To read previous columns by Mr. Margolis: Click here

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