Sunday, 20 January 2013

The world can do without EU’s policy mistakes (Sunday Guardian)

Damaged cars at the site where two explosions rocked the University of Aleppo in Syria on Tuesday. At least 15 people were killed and dozens wounded. REUTERS
hese days, the unravelling of the Eurozone is showing up the quality of decision-making by the bureaucracies proliferating in Europe. Rather than serve as an exemplar of liberalism and freedom, the EU has made itself a closed shop, as unwelcoming, for example, to those from Asia as it is insistent that Asia should open its doors to Europe without restraint. Incidents such as a Roma girl drowning in plain sight of hundreds of holidaymakers at an Italian beach, who either laughed at the girl's fate or ignored the sight of a human life getting snuffed out in plain view of hundreds, any one of whom could have entered into the waves to save her. Policies such as seeking to block production of cheap generic drugs in India, although these are the only hope of life for tens of millions of the critically ill across the globe. A visa regime and local costs which together make a European destination a suitable conference venue only for the very rich elsewhere.
It is paradoxical that Germany, for example, is among the EU member-states most insistent on shutting out people and products from duskier parts of the world, but which now depends on precisely those locations to sell its manufactures to. Companies in the GCC, East Asia or in India that have experimented with expat managers from within the EU very quickly realise that these birds of passage strive to maximise purchases from the grouping rather than from locations that offer a far better cost-benefit calculus. Even in India, we have seen the way in which the Tatas and the Mittals rushed to purchase steel companies in Europe that have bled them of cash ever since. They can have the solace of knowing that they are in the company of several hundreds — if not thousands — of investors from the GCC and East Asia, all of whom have lost huge amounts of money in Europe, when they would have been better advised to direct their investments towards South America, Africa and of course Asia.
Given that most Syrians, all of whom know what Libya has become, support Bashar Assad over the chaos they believe will follow him, it is likely that the destruction of Syria will continue, because the coalition wants to see this Alawite dynasty destroyed.
However, despite the way in which it continues to be indulged, forgiven and coddled by the rest of the world, the EU has been making policy mistakes that are grave enough to severely damage their security. An example is the intervention in Libya, where Nicolas Sarkozy was swiftly joined by David Cameron and Hillary Clinton in their crusade to fulfil the anti-Gaddafi ambitions of Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Reducing Libya to a chaotic jumble of principalities, each in effect run by a local warlord, has released vast stores of weaponry to be used by extremist groups in the region. Although docile media claims that it is "Gaddafi men" who are behind the acceleration in the Mali jihad, the reality is that most of the advanced weapons being used by the fighters there are from stocks handed over to those battling Gaddafi loyalists in 2011. The secret services of several regional allies of the EU and the US are honeycombed with sympathisers of extremism, and these have proved dexterous in ensuring that weapons, cash and training given by NATO to fight Gaddafi mostly ended up in the hands of those whose view of the West is similar to that of Ayman Al Zawahiri. Except to NATO planners, it was clear that the promiscuous way in which weapons and cash were handed out in Libya would soon create a security nightmare for the region. It has.
And now Syria. Once again, faceless individuals promoted by a clutch of regional secret services are being given the means needed to blast and bomb their way to success. Given that most Syrians, all of whom know what Libya has become, support Bashar Assad over the chaos they believe will follow him, it is likely that the destruction of Syria will continue, because of a coalition determined to see this Alawite dynasty destroyed. "Victory" in Libya has within a year spawned Mali and Algeria. A similar "success" in Libya is likely to be soon followed by uncontrollable violence within that oasis of tranquillity, the GCC.

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