The Death Of The Nation-State

The Death Of The Nation-State

Gurdon Op-Ed in The National Post
October 28, 2002

Yes means yes and no means maybe -- at least among Europe's new masters. Which is ironic, because the continental bien pensants would shudder if they heard this excuse for harassment and manipulative control in another circumstance. But when it is only democracy that's getting screwed, they don't mind a bit.

Which brings us to why we should care about last weekend's Irish referendum ratifying the Treaty of Nice. Its supporters say it simply paved the way for 10 former Communist countries to join the European Union. They celebrate the sight of recently freed nations entering what is depicted as a secure, democratic and free-market fold.

The truth is different. What really happened was that the European Union moved past the tipping point -- its development into an anti-democratic, anti-free market, anti-national sovereignty superstate will now be a downhill canter rather than an uphill struggle.

It has admitted new members three times since the Irish joined in 1973, but this was the first time Ireland needed a referendum. That's because Irish law demands that voters give their permission before sovereignty is drained from their national Parliament. And the Treaty of Nice involves a massive transfer of power away from the people of Europe and their elected representatives to an unelected authority in Brussels.

How can a referendum be undemocratic? Here's how. The Irish voted two years ago to reject Nice. But only "yes" votes are regarded as permanent in modern Europe; the people building a multilateral state on the other side of the Atlantic see "no" votes as temporary aberrations in which the plebs got the answer wrong and have to be asked the question again after a period of re-education.

So, when the Irish unaccountably said they'd like to continue governing themselves, the "yes" camp did what it did when the Danes rejected the treaty that created the EU in 1992 -- mounted a vast, tax-financed campaign to change minds. This time, Dublin also rigged the vote. On the last day before its Christmas break in 2001, when many legislators had gone home, Parliament rushed through an amendment to the referendum law ending Dublin's obligation to give voters both sides of the argument. And the ballot question tied approval for Nice to a vote for non-participation in an EU army, thus herding people who wanted to keep Ireland's traditional pacifism into the "OK" corral.

The treaty and its passage demonstrate the ruthless determination and dishonesty with which the EU is demolishing national sovereignty. It scrapped veto rights in 39 policy areas, so member nations can neither opt out of nor prevent continent-wide standardization. It begins with harmonizing criminal law, so offences in each nation will no longer be based on the mores, traditions or democratic judgment of that country's citizens.

Member nations can now even be stripped of their vote in EU affairs if they breach its human rights standards, the nature of which may be judged by a 1990s decision that ordered Britain, on human rights grounds, to scrap laws banning sadomasochistic torture. The centralizing EU elite can be expected to disenfranchise nations that impede the creation of the superstate.

The EU project began as an effort to enfold Germany in a warm constitutional embrace and prevent it plunging Europe into war again, but has turned into an overweening drive to subordinate member states to a Franco-German command in Brussels. The suppression of national sovereignty has become the cardinal aim, for it is what makes the EU a power to be reckoned with globally.

It is the EU leaders, France and Germany, that most vociferously oppose America's right to decide for itself that self-defence and enlightened self-interest make it wise to take military action against Iraq, unilaterally if necessary. The EU is also the strongest backer of the Kyoto climate change treaty, seeing it as a tool to undermine national sovereignty. The content of these disputes doubtless pleases Canada's anti-American left, but if their concern for our national sovereignty is real rather than a facade, they should worry about the EU's machinations.

Two years ago next month, President Jacques Chirac, of France, speaking at the Hague about Kyoto, praised "this unprecedented instrument, the first component of an authentic global governance ..." The builders of the EU are burying the nation state not just on their own continent, but are also working toward the imposition of global governance. EU power blooms amid multilateral structures that militate against nation states.

The primary target is the United States -- the greatest force of good for a century past -- but that's because countries like Canada are regarded as easily picked off or already in the bag. Canada and the United States understandably tend to regard European unity as A Good Thing because we were drawn into terrible wars when Europe was irreconcilably divided. But the lens of war is now an impediment to seeing the EU for the malign thing it is.