Monday, June 28, 2004

Who Gets to Boss Whom Around? 

Jacques Chirac is pissed that President Bush appears to be "meddling" in intra-EU politics:
French President Jacques Chirac has taken U.S. President George W. Bush to task over his call for Turkey's admission to the European Union.

"If President Bush really said that in the way that I read, then not only did he go too far, but he went into territory that isn't his," Chirac said of a remark Bush made over the weekend.

"It is is not his purpose and his goal to give any advice to the EU, and in this area it was a bit as if I were to tell Americans how they should handle their relationship with Mexico."
So, should the EU allow Turkey to join? Henry Farrell says so, and I think he's right. But since he made all the good points, I'm going to make a dumb one.

This isn't the first time that Europeans have invoked the image of a frenchman telling an American president what to do with Mexico. It's a favored image, in fact:
[EU Trade Commissioner Pascal] Lamy told reporters, "It's a classic of U.S. diplomacy to want to put Turkey in Europe. The further the boundaries of Europe extend, the better U.S. interests are served. "Can you imagine the reaction if we told them they had to enlarge into Mexico?" Lamy asked. [International Herald Tribune 12/13/2002]
How 'bout here:
Suppose that a European head of state or government of the stature of British Prime Minister Tony Blair or French President Jacques Chirac travels to the United States and offers advice in public there: that he advocates an end to the Cuba boycott, for example, or that human rights should be respected (death penalty), or that the border with Mexico should become easier to pass through. The other way round, this is happening in an obtrusive manner: the United States does not get tired of urging the EU to finally accept Turkey as a member.[Die Presse 11/17/99]
Other examples pop up on Lexis-Nexis. Try searching, it's fun!

So we get the message: the EU knows that it's rude to tell other countries how to interact with their neighbors. Right? Wrong. Looking a little closer, what's being said is that the big boys (colonial powers?) can't be told what to do. For the little folks on the periphery, it's more than OK to offer advice:
President Jacques Chirac of France said yesterday on the eve of a tour of Latin America that the region's economic future lay not in ties with with the US but with Europe.

"Latin America understands perfectly that it is not in its interest to lock itself into exclusive regional integration," Mr Chirac told Radio France Internationale in an interview.

"Its vocation is not to be a piece of Nafta [North American Free Trade Agreement]. Its vocation is to be . . . open to the world, and its essential economic interest, trade, investment, aid, is not with the United States but towards Europe," Mr Chirac said.[Financial Times 3/10/97]

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