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Lord Owen on Europe and the crisis

There has been a lot of criticism lately of the lack of a European
consensus on the Iraq crisis and Britain's role in thwarting such efforts.

I have just been to a talk at the Law Faculty in Cambridge given by Lord
Owen (once foreign secretary) entitled 'A Common, not Single, European
Foreign and Security Policy'.Here are the arguments of a man who feels
threatened by the prospect of a European consensus and who supports the
government line on Iraq.

Lord Owen perceives a single European foreign policy as a serious threat
to our national 'freedom' - such a policy means 'we will cease to be a
nation' and will become part of the Unites States of Europe instead
(horror of horrors!). He had some interesting things to say about Iraq in
view of this:

His view is that while Britain is on the path of reason in supporting a
military strike, the rest of Europe, notably France, has its 'distinctive
view' as regards the Middle East. Without the slightest hint of irony
Lord Owen sighted Frace's real commercial interests in weaponary and the
oil industry. 'There is nothing wrong with this', he went on, 'we happen
to have these interests in other parts of the world'. Perhaps he failed to
notice the arms to Iraq scandal during his long political career, and
perhaps he is unaware of British oil interests in the Gulf!

Another shocker was his reply to a question I asked concerning the threat
not of being dominated by Europe, but of being a slave to the 'special
relatioship' with the US. His answer is to contain the US within the
Nations - infact the authority of the UN rests on its ability to ensure
that resolutions are not broken. If the UN fails in this, we risk loosing
congressional support for it and the UN will collapse. I personally am
more inclined to think that the UN's authority rests on its ability to
withstand American bullying, to respect the views of all 5 permanent
security council members and to abide by international law, as outlined in its own

Lord Owen on the other hand believes that without American support, we
have too much to loose. The Gulf war saw the triumph of American diplomacy
- yes, he actually said DIPLOMACY! So what happened to the great spirit of
US diplomacy this time round, I wonder?

He told me that I was obviously a European Federalist Idealist, and he was
just old and tired. 

Well I thought I would share this with you. I was profoundly disturbed
that poeple with similar views ran our country and still do so. Tony Blair
was highly praised by Lord Owen for his slavish adherence to American
policy. I hope that more of a future lies in Europe, especially when the
lives of Iraqis depend on 'American diplomacy'.

Selwa Calderbank

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