EU Leaders Save the Union?
By Staff News & Analysis - September 27, 2010

On the Secret Committee to Save the Euro, a Dangerous Divide … Two months after Lehman Brothers collapsed in the fall of 2008, a small group of European leaders set up a secret task force—one so secret that they dubbed it "the group that doesn't exist." Its mission: Devise a plan to head off a default by a country in the 16-nation euro zone. When Greece ran into trouble a year later, the conclave, whose existence has never before been reported, had yet to agree on a strategy. In a prelude to a cantankerous public debate that would later delay Europe's response to the euro-zone debt crisis until the eleventh hour, the task force struggled to surmount broad disagreement over whether and how the euro zone should rescue one of its own. It never found the answer. A Wall Street Journal investigation, based on dozens of interviews with officials from around the EU, reveals that the divisions that bedeviled the task force pushed the currency union perilously close to collapse. – Wall Street Journal

Dominant Social Theme: Thank goodness for the Wall Street Journal and its intrepid reporting.

Free-Market Analysis: This is pretty funny. Rupert Murdoch (left) who owns about half the publications in the world presents in one of his papers an "expose" about the European Union. The Journal (his publication) reveals breathlessly that the EU is running a secret task force to "head off" a European default.

We are supposed to believe, of course, that Murdoch didn't know about this task force – or that the reporting wouldn't have been kyboshed if it were truly detrimental to EU interests. Another sub dominant theme: "We will report on even the most sensitive matters so that you know as much as your leaders."

We can think of a number of reasons why editors might have decided to promote this story. First, is shows that the EU takes defaults very seriously and its leaders are working hard to avoid them. Second, it humanizes the EU and makes it look like the result of political calculations rather than the cold-blooded, step-by-step erection of a shadowy, behind-the-scenes power elite. Finally, it makes the EU look fallible: The story has leaked out and shows substantial divisions in the ranks. Poor EU!

All of this, in fact, is probably to the good from the standpoint of the EU promotion. The EU, we are supposed to believe, is a regulatory democracy like any other, one that has little power and is on the verge of unraveling. On the other hand, while the EU is riven with dissension like any other democratic institution, the leaders were able to put politics aside and collaborate for the greater good of the organization.

In fact, we have read these "insider" stories so many times before. They concentrate on the actors "strutting on the stage" as Shakespeare explains while avoiding any delineation of the larger power mechanisms at work behind the curtain. The Washington Post´s legendary Bob Woodward is especially good at this sort of work, churning out book after book of "insider" revelations about the political and judicial processes of the United States. In fact, these tend to be distractions from our point of view, delineating processes rather than underlying policy.

The elite conspiracy, bluntly, so far as we can tell, is focused on creating world government. The West's sociopolitical system itself is pointed in that direction. Like an onrushing locomotive, it churns down the tracks while the mainstream media reports on the activities of those on board. The actions of these passengers, VIP or not, have little or nothing to do with the larger direction and momentum of the train. It is headed to its destination regardless. But the coverage of those on board surely provides a pleasant diversion.

The EU certainly provides fuel for world government. The EU, China, India and America are emerging as the important regions in the next stage of this construction – along with perhaps Brazil. But there are larger ongoing regional efforts as well in South America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East. At the same time, as we pointed out recently in "Sounds of EU Squawking," the EU experiment is not going especially well. We wrote this:

France has been shaken by strikes and there are more planned. Greece has seen many strikes and recently Spanish coal miners began striking over unpaid wages. Ireland was supposed to be a major EU austerity success story – as austerity in Ireland had been accomplished with the seeming acquiescence of five million Irish people. But now, as we can see from the article excerpt beginning this analysis, the Irish austerity "miracle" is in doubt as well – and perhaps also Ireland's well-publicized patience.

The EU is being pulled apart by market forces. Of late, we have reported on various commentaries that have appeared in mainstream Western publications that indicate a recognition that the EU in its current form may not last much longer. Perhaps this is part of Hegelian dialectic, one that is preparing Western populations for the inevitable retrenchment. At this point, in fact, the situation is apparently so precarious that a single default (or even something less) destabilizes the entire system.

After Thoughts

Reporting the arguments of EU leaders may provide a human face. But it likely does nothing to ameliorate the underlying stresses. Elite promotions can fail when they are discovered or debunked. In this case, the promotion seems simply to be outrunning reality. An unraveling of the EU, or even a shrinking, would be a heavy blow to elite ambitions. Having come so far, we would argue it will do almost anything to hold the current union together. That it is apparently signaling alternatives is evidence not of newfound humility in our view but potentially one of desperation.

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