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  • Konrad Werner: Euro-hypocrisy


Konrad Werner: Euro-hypocrisy

Going on holiday to Tunisia doesn't look like as much fun nowadays. It was better when we Europeans had a dictator there to keep it clean.

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Photo by magharebia (Flickr CC)

This one is to balance Seymour’s yank-bashing the other day, and in response to his spare but pithy first commenter. “Two words,” that adroit arbiter wrote after Seymour had complained of the hypocrisy of certain members of Berlin’s North American community: “Marshall Plan.”

That self-explanatory thrust was followed by a quiet, murderous twist – “You’re welcome,” he added, set in parentheses for modesty’s sake. This is called the “brothel” school of foreign policy – if you pay for it, you’re allowed to fuck it. It used to be called colonialism, but we have to be politically correct nowadays.

Anyway, cheap digs aside, what about Europe, regarded by Europeans as the home of democracy, liberalism and soft cheese? We like to think of ourselves as superior to the US – on guns, capital punishment, ham quality, etc. – but Europe was seriously embarrassed by the Tunisian revolution.

Last Tuesday, three days before President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali fled the country with half the nation’s money sewn into his underpants, and after 23 years of dictatorship and corruption, French Foreign Minister Michele Alliot-Marie offered the president “the world-renowned know-how of France’s security forces.”

It wasn’t her fault. She was just saying what France – and Europe – has been doing for Tunisia ever since the country left the French empire in the 1950s. As she said afterwards, “Let’s be honest: We were all – politicians, diplomats, researchers, journalists – surprised by the Jasmine Revolution.”

A bit too surprised. But some countries hedged their bets better than others. The US, for example, was one of the first countries to say Tunisians should be allowed to protest peacefully – to the annoyance of the Tunisian regime, which was still calling demonstrators “terrorists” last Monday. The US ambassador Gordon Gray was called for a ticking off with the government’s officials.

On Friday, British Foreign Secretary William Hague, for example, was calling for “restraint from all sides.” By Tuesday, he was saying, “It’s not for us to judge the membership of the government of Tunisia, that’s for the people of Tunisia.”

Now the rest of Europe suddenly can’t wait for those famous free and fair elections. Let’s just hope they pick someone who can keep the beaches clean.