The Blog

The Fall of the House of Europe

4:50 PM, Dec 7, 2009 • By RACHEL ABRAMS
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

For a primer on why the European Union is likely doomed to shrivel on its own very sorry vine, you will not do better than this amazing piece of weekend analysis from Deutsche Welle. After a delay of five years owing to the objections of some member states to forging a partnership with the assassins of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri (among other violations), Brussels is finally "poised" on behalf of the entire Union (objections now overruled and overcome) to sign a "European Neighborhood Policy" agreement with Syria, whose "status as a transit land for Islamist militants and foreign fighters entering Iraq and Lebanon makes it an important partner for the West."

I don't know German, but surely "important partner for the West" is just an inadvertently ludicrous mistranslation by the Einsteins of Deutsche Welle of some other formulation; surely they can't have meant to christen the despotic state that gives Hamas, Hizballah, al Qaeda, and all the tentacles thereof free reign to carry out activities properly understood as anti-Western across the Iraqi border, in Lebanon, in Israel-and on just about every territory of their own pathetic Union-"an important partner," can they? Or can they?

Member states had agreed it was time to engage in dialog with a country that is recognized as a key player in the Middle East because of its role in Lebanon and Iraq, its relationship with Iran and, as the base of Hamas, its influence on Palestinian politics.

Yet, to the dismayed surprise of Syria's "important partners" in posse, Damascus isn't jumping eagerly at their self-abnegating invitation. "President Bashar al-Assad's insistence that Damascus must first review the document has clearly taken Brussels aback," reports DW. Middle-East hands offer a number of explanations for this disheartening development, including that while certain EU members were wasting precious time haggling over Syria's human rights and WMD violations, Assad was busy "diversif[ying] its foreign relations-not only deepening them with Iran, but also developing closer links with Turkey and some Asian states"; and also that Syria "is not prepared to eat humble pie." A most compelling argument, for this Deutsche Welle reader, anyway, is that the dictator of Syria no longer so badly needs the imprimatur-or the trade-of the EU, having found a better friend in the White House lately than just a few short moons ago he might have dared to dream of having.

A "neighborhood" that includes the Syrian dictatorship is a neighborhood in danger. We Americans had better hope we don't end up being forced to eat the same shriveling grapes that are hanging piteously right now off the European vine, and finding ourselves in the same peril.