Leadership: March 17, 2003

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The European Resistance to the Return of the Carolingian Empire- Some 1200 years ago, Germans and French were united under the emperor Charlemagne in the Carolingian empire. While that empire is long gone, many Europeans fear it is returning. This can be seen in an interesting dynamic developing in the European Union (EU). The two principal continental members, France and Germany, are finding most of the other members increasingly aligned against them. This is probably less because Britain, Spain, Italy, Poland, etc., are all that worried about Iraq than about European issues. The other powers are worried about the revival of the Carolingian Empire. Between them, the French and Germans have tended to dominate the EU bureaucracy, and have been imposing a lot of restrictions on the commerce of many of the other members, in the form of "standardization" of manufacturing and quality guidelines. 

The French have dominated decision-making about agricultural standards. As a result, wines and cheeses made for thousands of years in Italy, Greece, or Spain don't meet many of the EU regulations, and thus cannot be sold outside of their native countries. Together with the Germans (with whom no love is lost, but business is business, after all), the French have also imposed many manufacturing guidelines that squeeze out competing products from other EU members. For example, Spanish computer keyboards cannot be sold outside of Spain - they do not conform to the EU standards. Those standards include all the diacritical and accent marks common to French and German, but exclude some found only in Spanish. Even university curricula are being rejected if they don't conform to the Franco-German norm. 

The British may have a more nuanced view of the Iraq situation, but they also have issues with the EU. The mandatory adoption of the metric system even in the pub seems an excessive intrusion, but even more difficult to swallow is the EU insistence that they adopt a written constitution and bill of rights, particularly given that the British have managed to be the freest people in Europe for nearly a thousand years without either.

The Franco-German bid to dominate the EU creates a neo- Frankish Empire, a development which does not sit well with the rest of Europe. Russia, France and Germany were the three greatest threats to European freedom over the past four centuries. Given the alternative, the "fringe" European powers would prefer to align themselves with the Yankees, even when they may be wrong.

 


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