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But Euroscepticism is corroding those comforting and commendable certainties. One of my pals, a newspaper editor, interrupted me as I praised the flat-taxes and other reforms sweeping across Europe from the new member states. "Oh, I'm not interested in that now. I'm for a pull-out." In vain I tried to explain that the Central Europeans and Balts would regard his idea of a new EFTA - backed by NATO - as dotty and unworkable. The constitution had failed, he insisted, so the EU was dead.

Two days later it was one of Britain's leading right-wing polemicists, a man who as speechwriter for Margaret Thatcher honed some of the choicest phrases of the Cold War. I was trying to interest him in the problems of Europe's eastern fringes, so brilliantly outlined by my predecessor, Robert Cottrell, in his recent survey in The Economist.

He wasn't interested. The EU would collapse, and Britain should pull out as soon as possible. But what, I stuttered, would you do about Moldova, or Belarus? "Those countries," he replied loftily, "will have to look after themselves." I could hardly believe my ears. A man who, only 20 years previously, had championed the captive nations' right to be free of Soviet rule was now consigning the most vulnerable victims of Communism to the scrap heap of history.

There is something very odd going on here. Britain and British ideas of a wide, Atlanticist Europe have never been so popular in Eastern Europe. Memories of betrayals, real or imagined, of Munich, of the Warsaw Uprising, at Yalta, of the Cossacks, of Hungarians in 1956 and Czechoslovaks in 1968, are fading into history. Instead, there is enthusiastic support for British ideas about EU reform, for Tony Blair's ideas about deregulation, dynamism, flexibility and so on. Countries wanting to join the EU see the British presidency as their big chance.

Gosh.

This guy is a fruitcake and an astute observer at the same time.

He is right on the non-collapse of the EU, and that Atlanticist Europe has not been so popular in Central-Eastern Europe (BTW note how he calles the latter Eastern Europe and excludes Russia from Europe). But the rest... Tory elitism and Atlanticist self-blinding and a subconscious imperial arrogance at the same time.

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

by DoDo on Tue Jan 10th, 2006 at 06:36:33 AM EST
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