The US last week signalled its concern over the level of UK chafing at EU membership. During a scheduled visit to the Netherlands, UK and the Irish Republic, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip H Gordon told journalists: “We value a strong UK voice in a strong European Union.” On Friday January 18th, Prime Minister David Cameron will spell out plans to dilute Britain’s membership in the European Union. According to EurActiv, this is “a move that could reshape its role in the world, upset some of the premier’s allies and decide his government’s fate.”
Explaining that the USA has “…a growing relationship…” with the EU as “an institution”, British engagement in the European Union is “…in America’s interests.” Gordon went as far as to say that UK secession from the EU would sideline the UK while the US develops links with member states that qualify for “…a growing voice in the world…”
Ahead of his speech, in a damage limitation exercise, the UK prime minister told the news agency Reuters that he had discussed the UK’s EU membership with US president Barack Obama before Christmas, when Cameron says the US president acquiesced in UK plans to “modify” its relationship with the EU.
French attitudes to any form of “à la carte Europe” can be expected to be hostile and are better understood by Philip Gordon than David Cameron. To be sure, Gordon’s interest in French history is driven by a military and foreign policy agenda, yet he is knowledgeable and fluent in French.
Twenty years ago, during his academic career, Gordon published A Certain Vision of France which takes its title from an epithet of general de Gaulle. While engaging with de Gaulle’s intellectual roots, Gordon appears to overlook the reasons why de Gaulle (and many other mainstream French politicians, too) insist on home-grown solutions for policy goals. In his preface, readable in the Google books preview panel, Gordon attributes this to an “out-of-date” vision for France.
But the same vision was being applied to other domains: as a military man, de Gaulle was preoccupied with France’s national security. It is perfectly possible that de Gaulle was more than happy to delegate the detailed CAP negotiations to his then farm minister Edgard Pisani, an early career policymaker in the formative years of the CAP.
In the immediate postwar years, there was covert US activity to build a federal Europe, in the shape of the American Committee on United Europe (ACUE). This shadowy body funneled substantial covert funding from a mix of private foundations and the precursor of what is now the CIA, into federalist European organisations and politicians. Former heads of a US-backed European Movement include such historic figures as postwar French foreign minister Robert Schuman and Belgian prime minister Paul-Henri Spaak.
While the initial purpose of ACUE was to contain left wing movements, the agenda involved political support for the European Coal and Steel Community and military projects such as the European Defence Community. Within these policy areas, industrial interests are prominent: notably the chemical industry. Since the days when military business filled their order books, companies like Monsanto have had to reinvent themselves and find alternative uses for industrial chemicals. The change has spawned successive generations of herbicides, pesticides and high tech crop treatments.
The result has been a war waged on nature using profitable technology masquerading as science, as Gilles-Éric Seralini argues in his book Tous Cobayes !. The distinction between science, which produces knowledge, and technology, which produces (potentially profitable) ways of applying knowledge, is a crucial one.
The biotech industry’s vilification of dissident scientists is commercially-motivated and the sector has no interest in disproving any of the contested research in a scientific manner, since this would involve repeating disputed experiments. The result has been virulent personal attacks on whistleblowers such as Arpad Pusztai, Ignacio Chapela, David Quist, Manuela Malatesta and, most recently, Gilles-Éric Seralini, to name but a few.
This bitter war of words is but an echo of a wider offensive being mounted in a propaganda war that would appear to have recruited the UK farming minister Owen Paterson. His bull-headed approach has been known to degenerate into angry outbursts.
One Westminster source told ARC that he had been quite shocked at the way Paterson had responded “aggressively” to a question posed in all innocence by an environmental NGO delegate at a meeting. This thick-skinned disposition may have been survivable as secretary of state for Northern Ireland, but is diametrically opposed to any notion of consensus that keeps the European political process alive.