The biggest farce in international politics is the European Union. Last week, the EU's international figurehead, Catherine Ashton, the "High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy," condemned new building projects in east Jerusalem. She argued that the projects would jeopardize the prospect of Jerusalem becoming the capital of two states – Israel and Palestine.
Ashton's argument should be discredited. Not only did she fail to protest in similar fashion Palestinian incitement to violence, but while adopting the Palestinian position that Jerusalem should be the capital of Palestine, she has so far refused to acknowledge that the city already is Israel's capital.
A second farce – and equally harmful to Israel's vital interests – is the deal that Ashton brokered last autumn between the West and Iran. It has allowed Iran to develop a nuclear program for so-called peaceful civilian purposes. Such a program makes no sense in a country that possesses the second biggest gas and oil reserves in the world. The reason why Iran wants to go nuclear is the opposite of peaceful. It wants to develop nuclear arms in order to "put down Israel," mostly likely among other countries -- in particular those still with no nuclear weapons but with tempting oil fields. Not to mention a nuclear-tipped warhead being aimed at virtually every capital of Europe; Iran would not even have to use them for any political or economic blackmail; a reminder should do the trick.
Rather than meddling in the building projects of the Jerusalem municipality or paving the way for Iran's nuclear program, the EU had better focus on the situation on its own doorstep. In the Ukraine, pro-Western citizens demanding closer European integration have been protesting for months now against the pro-Russian regime of President Viktor Yanukovych. His regime has violently attempted to end the protests, an effort that has resulted in several deaths. Apart from urging a "constructive dialogue" between the government and the opposition, Catherine Ashton and the EU diplomacy have not done much to resolve the crisis in Ukraine.
The United States has asked the United Nations Secretary-General to intervene diplomatically in the Ukraine, to mediate between the regime and the opposition. Ban Ki-moon will have to try to do what Catherine Ashton failed to do because she was too busy brokering nuclear deals with the mullahs in Iran.
"It would be great, I think, to help the UN glue this thing, you know, f**k the EU," Assistant US Secretary of State Victoria Nuland was heard saying in a private telephone conversation with the US Ambassador to Ukraine. The tape of the conversation was leaked to the media, presumably by the Russians. Although Nuland's language was undiplomatic, to say the least, her exasperation with the EU is understandable.
After her remarks were leaked, Nuland apologized to Ashton and other European authorities, but it is doubtful whether she has changed her mind about the EU's diplomatic services. No one in the world takes the unelected, unaccountable and untransparent EU seriously, except its members -- least of all the Iranians, who benefit so much from their greed and naïveté.
EU High Representative Catherine Ashton, at left (source: European External Action Service).
The ineffectiveness of the EU need surprise no one. The international interests of the 28 EU member-states, including such bigwigs as France, Germany and the UK, are so diverse; the vital interests of countries with geographic locations as dissimilar as Poland and Cyprus, or Finland and Portugal, differ so widely, that it is simply impossible to combine them in one single international policy.
While the European Commission in Brussels, of which Catherine Ashton is a member, might think that "unity is strength," the reality is exactly the opposite. By attempting to unite what is incompatible, the EU is making a fool of itself on the international stage. No one takes Catherine Ashton seriously. When matters do get serious, it is the French, British, German and other ministers of foreign affairs who take the lead. However, whenever and wherever Ashton is allowed to interfere -- such as with regard to Israel or Iran, she causes considerable damage not only to the interests of the only democracy and the only Western nation in the Middle East, Israel, but, worse, to the interests of averting a major war throughout the region. That the EU member states allow this to happen, proves that to them the interests and the survival of Israel -- and even their own -- are of only secondary importance.
Meanwhile, throughout the major EU member states, a growing segment of the population is beginning to realize that the European unification process, embodied by the EU, might not be in their own interests. In the Netherlands, a poll last week revealed that 55% of the population wants the Netherlands to leave the European Union if leaving would be to the advantage of the country's economy. Also last week, Capital Economics, a renowned London based economic consultancy, presented a study assessing the economic impact of the NExit, or the Netherlands leaving the European Union. The study, commissioned by the Dutch Party for Freedom (PVV), found that a Dutch EU exit would, indeed, substantially benefit the Dutch economy.
The PVV, currently by far the largest party in the Dutch polls, is expected to win next May's elections for the EU parliament in the Netherlands. Other anti-EU parties, such as the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), the Front National, the Five Star Movement, and similar parties, are expected to win the European elections in, respectively, Britain, France, Italy and other EU member states.
As the Financial Times wrote in its February 7th editorial about the NExit study: "The question of whether it is possible for countries to prosper outside the [EU] bloc is increasingly common in Europe. […] It is only right that policy makers take this issue seriously."
The question whether the democratic nations in the world – and especially Israel – would be better off without the EU diplomacy is easy to answer. And democrats such as the Ukrainian opposition who currently put their hope in the EU diplomacy, will not lose much if Catherine Ashton and her diplomatic services in Brussels cease to exist. They still have Ban Ki-moon and the UN.