Last Sunday the celebrations of the 181st anniversary of the swearing-in of Ioannis Capodistrias as first governor of the modern Greek state were held in Aigina.
Though numerically smaller, the ceremony was in some ways more impressive than the celebtrations for the 180th anniversary held last year. For a start the municipal brass band in their smart red uniforms were out in force, obviating the necessity for unaccompanied singing of the national anthem as occurred last year.
Secondly, there was an extremely high-powered address by Andreas Koukos in the Aigina Cathedral. It is more or less the address that he would have delivered last November at the Capodistrias-Spinelli-Europe conference if there had not been the ban on shipping owing to high winds that prevented half the would-be participants in the conference from leaving Piraeus.
Koukos paid tribute to the "momentous and unprecedented" nature of the Capodistrias-Spinelli-Europe initiative of Aigina's Association of Active Citizens. But the bulk of his address was taken up with detailed analysis of the record of Capodistrias as European: his role in preserving Swiss independence and securing Swiss neutrality, his intervention in the politics of German unification, the role he played in averting the breakup of France after the Napoleonic wars.
One element in Koukos' talk that will qualify it as the best analysis so far for the purposes of attracting the attention of foreign, and above all English-speaking, audiences, is his account of the attacks on Capodistrias that are contained in Henry Kissinger's "A World Restored". Kissinger of course did his early academic work on Metternich, Capodistrias' arch-rival, a man who, if he were alive today, would undoubtedly be vigorously promoting the Treaty of Lisbon.
Last Edit: Feb 2, 2009 22:55:45 GMT -5 by Wayne Hall
> The difficulty is that the American public will never find it easy to > understand Hamas, whose roots go back to the Muslim Brotherhood, a group > formed in Egypt in 1928 to promote an Islamic revival after the fall of the > Ottoman Empire in the First World War. Over 80 years, the Brotherhood has > built the largest political oppositions in several Arab countries and its > members have participated in a great deal of violence, including the killing > of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.
Halva writes: It may be true that the American public will never find it easy to understand Hamas but perhaps we here in the heart of the European civilization that is also the dominant civilization in the United States are better placed to start understanding.
We can understand that our task today, like the task of Constantine the Great, is to save Europe from the barbarians.
The barbarians include those like Tony Blair who give diplomatic cover to the massacres in Gaza. They include those like Sarkozy, who wants to cover Europe and the Mediterranean with nuclear power stations, ruining the lives of all future generations whose task will be to deal with the possibly insuperable problems we have left to them, without them getting any of the alleged - (and for most, apart from the moneymakers) mythical - benefits. They include the European Commission, which when asked by the European parliamentarian Erik Meijer to give a plausible explanation for the "chemtrails" phenomenon can do nothing but issue fairy tales to insult the intelligence of anyone who has given half an hour's attention to the evidence.
The Ottoman Empire MOST CERTAINLY did not govern Palestine (and the rest of the territories it controlled) worse than today's Western European barbarians are doing.
We can agree there with the Islamic Brotherhood and with Hamas, and then proceed with the negotiations on everything we don't like about them from that starting point.
Karen has contextualized this posting and its predecessors with her usual intelligence and I thank her for rescuing us from a diversion over the subject of Constantine the Great and the political potential of Roman emperors.
Let me also announce another item of good news. Steve Weissman informs me that he has signed the Saintes Appeal for a Nuclear Free Europe. That was the key, but not only, objective of initiating this round of e-mails, and it is really great that we have secured his support.
The Action des Citoyens pour le Desarmament Nucleaire, Europe's most intellectually coherent and independent anti-nuclear initiative, and sponsor of the Saintes Appeal, has recently been focused precisely on the events in the Middle East that were the subject of Steve Weissman's article, and to be specific has pioneered an investigation into the deployment of depleted uranium in Gaza. [ acdn.france.free.fr/spip/article.php3?id_article=478 ]
Let me now explain a couple of things about what I have been trying to say.
Some of the people receiving this e-mail have recently sent me horrifying material on what has been happening in Gaza, and/or examples of Israeli propaganda that has apparently been trying, through citation of alleged criminal actions against Jews, to bully people into acceptance, or toleration, of recent Israeli atrocities. I don't know what to do when I receive this material, because I am not a supporter of the politics of "protest" to evidently non-existent mediators and/or authorities.
This was where Steve Weissman's article came as a liberation, because it proposed a realpolitical solution that does not rely on shouting to the world in general that the Israelis/Zionists etc. are the Nazis of our era, as if this assertion can be enough in itself to bring us a solution.
Here is the key section of Steve's article:
"One last clue to the Mitchell mission: Obama has already indicated that the United States will talk to Hamas through covert channels like the CIA. But, to make peace, the very visible Mitchell needs to talk openly to the people now making war. There's no getting around it, especially now that the Israelis have made Hamas so popular among Palestinians.
The difficulty is that the American public will never find it easy to understand Hamas, whose roots go back to the Muslim Brotherhood, a group formed in Egypt in 1928 to promote an Islamic revival after the fall of the Ottoman Empire in the First World War. Over 80 years, the Brotherhood has built the largest political oppositions in several Arab countries and its members have participated in a great deal of violence, including the killing of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.
Hamas - the Islamic Resistance Movement - continues to pursue the Brotherhood's agenda, including the subordination of women, the imposition of Islamic law, and an armed struggle to create an Islamic state throughout all of historic Palestine. Like Jewish settlers who believe that God promised them the whole Land of Israel, Hamas believes that, in the eyes of Allah, "the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgment Day."
Those are the words of the Hamas Charter, which the group could change, as Arafat did with the charter of his PLO. But the PLO has always been a secular organization, while the Hamas leaders believe they are following the word of God in pursuing their single-state solution.
Does this mean they will never accept Israel's right to exist? Not at all, at least not in practice. Like Brotherhood offshoots in other countries, Hamas leaders have proved adept in making necessary compromises with their Islamist ideology. They understand the difference between what they might want in the future perfect and what they can get in the here and now.
The dynamic is not uncommon. Many Christians believe in the Second Coming but live like there's no tomorrow, while a lot of Communists preached world revolution as they found ways to build capitalism in one country. Mitchell understands all this. But, if Washington demands in advance that Hamas leaders explicitly reject the words of their creed, the veteran peacemaker will never get Hamas to make the practical compromises the region needs."
All of us receiving this e-mail live in Europe, and orientation to Washington diplomacy is, or may not be, primary to us. Our status as Europeans and citizens of a polity-under-construction in which we may still have some hopes invested, is something that perhaps has greater unifying potential for us. And our privilege to be associated with such an achievement as the Saintes Appeal for a Nuclear Free Europe can further tighten that bond.
The modern Greek state was helped to independence by Europeans living two hundred years ago that were our counterparts: people seeking to encourage the spread of civilization and enlightenment. The Zionist movement grew from similarly European origins, and similarly nationalist impulses, with all the the positive and negative features that implies. Has the time not come for Europeans to make the same kind of effort in relation to the Islamic world, which after all has played such a significant part in the shaping of today's Europe. Steve Weissman's proposed realpolitical orientation to Hamas and to the Muslim Brotherhood provides us with some of the prerequisites for undertaking such a project.
Through helping to do with Muslims what Europe did before with the Hellenes and with the Zionists it can also become possible to construct the Europe that we want, which is not the Europe of the Treaty of Lisbon.
That is why, as well as the Saintes Appeal for a Nuclear Free Europe, we are also proposing as a focus for mobilization the Capodistrias-Spinelli-Europe initiative. Let us secure support for these two initiatives not only in Europe but also in Turkey (starting with Istanbul/Constantinople, in Iran, in Israel).
These two videos are recommended as an introduction:
1) To the Saintes Appeal for a Nuclear-Free Europe:
2) To the Capodistrias-Spinelli-Europe initiative.
Hopefully the French town of Saintes will be able in future to host a gathering that includes some of the key protagonists of the Capodistrias-Spinelli-Europe initiative.
Even the local saint, St. Eutrope, a Greek or Persian of Greek education who fell victim to Western barbarism, will smile on such a project, I believe.
The idea of a united Europe is not an idea of the last 60 years. It appears in various guises during a much longer period of history. The era of the Enlightenment provides it with underpinnings of shared values. It comes dramatically to the fore in the aftermath of bloody wars. It is characteristically projected as an ideal of peace.
The European idea began to flourish in the first decades of the 19th century. As early as 1814, following the defeat of Napoleon, Saint Simon advocated a European federation, with an emphasis on the rights of the peoples. In 1817 Murard launched the Journal Européen in Bern. It was during this same period that Ioannis Capodistrias was speaking of a “common European fatherland”. The peace-loving and democratic character of his views are abundantly evident in the following extract from a speech he delivered at an international conference in 1820: “We should opt only for the rational ascendancy of liberal and democratic ideas, respect for the rights of small peoples and not a return to old and bygone institutions of violence if we wish to achieve lasting peace and reconciliation among the peoples of Europe.”
Ideas such as these are not just formulated by brilliant minds but are also taken up by social movements, always in terms of the realities of the time The idea of a United States of Europe spreads under the banner of the struggle for peace and counts among its enthusiastic supporters leading figures such as Victor Hugo. “But very soon – writes Marc Ferro - nationalism began to override European internationalism”. It was therefore the newly-born labour movement that re-invigorated the European idea, connecting it with the idea of socialism.
In the 20th century Europe was the central theatre of two world wars, whose tragic consequences strengthened the idea of European unification among the peoples of our continent. Two examples testify to this: a) Aristide Briand’s memorandum of 1930 to the League of Nations on organization of a Regime of European Federal Union, and b) the Ventotene Manifesto for a “Free and United Europe” by the Italian anti-fascist Altiero Spinelli in 1941, when he was a prisoner of the fascist regime of Mussolini.
After the Second World War came the Cold War, in which the European idea was chosen by conservative politicians as a counterweight to the “Soviet threat”. This was one of the key motives behind the creation of the EEC in 1957. Nevertheless, in time there developed a dynamic of differentiation from the USA, particularly during the 80s, when Europe risked becoming “Euroshima” through the American doctrine of “limited nuclear war”. Europeanism thus came into confrontation with Euro-atlanticism, with strengthened support “from below”, from a wide spectrum of movements. At this point it is worth making a specific reference to the anti-nuclear and ecological movements, who proceeded to implement pan-European forms of collaboration, putting forward ideas on European security based on the notion of transcending the Cold-War division of Europe.
During the same period considerable movement was also being noted at the institutional level: 1979 saw the first directly-elected European Parliament, which demanded real powers. Altiero Spinelli, who had become a European parliamentarian after serving as a European Commissioner between 1970 and 1976, had new opportunities to promote his ideas. He thought that the European Parliament should function as a Constituent Assembly. A Federalist from the inter-war period, when he was for ten years a prisoner of the fascist regime in Italy, he judged the time right to submit a proposal for a European Constitution, which was adopted on 14th February 1984 with a large majority.
The resonance of Spinelli’s ideas became greater with the passage of time as the Cold War began to taper off, with its end in 1989 creating new openings for pan-European collaboration. Unfortunately the hopes of a Europe of peace, independent of the United States, based on common development and relations of solidarity with other continents and in particular with the “Third World”, were not fulfilled.
Developments after 1991, with the Gulf War and the Yugoslav crisis, damaged the idea of a United Europe, strengthening the Euro-atlanticists, with neo-liberal policies coming to prevail in the European Union. The new state of affairs was formalized in the European Constitutional Treaty signed in Rome in 2004. This treaty, which was also called “The European Constitution” and faced intense criticism as a neo-liberal blueprint very remote from the needs of citizens, came to grief with the referenda in France and Holland in 2005. Its place was taken by the Treaty of Lisbon, with more or less the same content, which was then rejected by the citizens of Ireland in the only referendum that took place among the member countries.
The ensuing crisis in the manner of proceeding with European unification has continued unabated to this day and is intensifying. Above all it is a crisis of democratic legitimacy, and it is being aggravated by the problems that the European societies themselves are facing.
Today’s world, the world of the 21st century, is very different from that of the 20th century. “Above all it is no longer Eurocentric”. To quote the great historian Eric Hobsbawm. Nor is it going to be American, as the neo-conservative inspirers of the catastrophic policies of the Bush presidency believed it would be. Already developments are to be noted that point towards a multipolar world. Not only the economic but also the political hegemony of the United States in the world is being vehemently challenged today, following the unprecedented financial crisis that broke out in the heart of neo-liberalism and is spreading all over the world. It is hard to predict what the new American president Barack Obama is likely to do. Part of his victory is owed to “the other America”, and above all else it is up to him to divest himself of the role of “ruler of the world”, at a time when international co-operation has become a dire necessity.
Are we moving into a POST-Cold War world? How will the European integration process respond to the new, and very great, challenges? In my view, a new course is urgently needed. Certainly not in the direction of rejecting unification but rather promoting it on the basis of democracy, social cohesion, peace and multi-dimensional security. With other policies and a new constitutional treaty that will emerge out of direct participation of the peoples and of citizens. The ideas of Ioannis Capodistrias and Altiero Spinelli are more relevant than ever.
Alternative policies, profound changes and reversals at the European level are relevant not only for the EU but for all of our continent. Pan-European collaboration must be instituted, based on a new relationship between the EU and Russia, to avert the new divisions of our continent that are being generated by the expansion of NATO and the “Missile Defense” project. There can be no future for a Fortress Europe. On the contrary the requirement is for a Europe in solidarity with the “Third World”. Also, the creation of a pan-European system of multi-dimensional security – economic, political, ecological, human – in which there will be a role for the “diplomacy of social movements and of citizens”.