by MONITOR
DONALD Rumsfeld certainly started something when he spoke about the differences between “old” and “new” Europe at the time that France and Germany were, in US eyes, being difficult in the UN Security Council over Iraq. In Prague last Thursday Ian Duncan Smith adopted and extended Mr Rumsfeld's thinking in relation to the future of the European Union. He said that France and Germany were trying to bully the rest of the Continent into accepting that there was no alternative to their integrationist vision. He alleged that old Europe was “a state of mind obsessed with building a United States of Europe, complacent in the face of intensifying economic competition and hesitant in the face of the growing terrorist threat.” And, perhaps mindful of the city in which he was speaking, with its history of protest against oppression, he claimed that “Europe needs a democratic revolution, the return of power to nation states.” Any political concept that starts with Mr Rumsfeld needs to treated with great care. To criticise so superficially the two countries whose maturity over the last half century has ensured that Europe would bind together in peace is unhelpful, to say the least. To suggest that the new, mostly East European, members of the EU all want the kind of free-trade zone envisaged by Mr Smith is unrealistic; some, perhaps most, of these countries want the political and security stability that closer integration with the rest of Europe will bring. The Conservative leader has his own reasons for distancing himself from the idea of a more integrated Europe; but he should not try to involve other countries in his political agenda for Britain.