Caroline Ashton, Robert Cooper and his book
Another decent article from Dave Cronin, this time for the Samosa, looking at the career path of Baroness Catherine Ashton, once the treasurer for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND) and now the EU’s first ‘foreign minister’ (or High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, to use her official title).
Among Ashton’s new team is Robert Cooper, Director-General for External and Politico-Military Affairs in the General Secretariat of the Council of the European Union. Prior to taking up his post in the EU, Cooper was Tony Blair’s chief confidant on foreign policy.
According to the Samosa:
After helping pave the way for the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq (though Cooper was no longer in London when the latter war was declared, he assisted Blair during its preparatory stages), he explained his worldview in the equally erudite and accessible book The Breaking of Nations.
It suggested that a new ethos of imperialism, which emphasises voluntary action over coercion, should be developed for the 21st century. Cooper cited the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund as institutions that provide “a limited form of voluntary empire”, without expressing any concern about the misery they have inflicted on the world’s poor by insisting that governments serve the interests of the markets, rather than those of their own citizens.
Cooper has close contacts with some of the more hawkish US representatives in Europe. In 2008, he wrote a pamphlet with Ronald Asmus, Brussels director with the German Marshall Fund of the United States and an inveterate defender of Israeli aggression. Cooper’s contribution to that pamphlet displayed how he is in awe of American hegemony. “What is the point of the Belgian army today?” he asked. “It is not to defend Belgium, since no one is going to attack it. Rather it is to demonstrate a sufficient commitment to ‘the West’ that friends and allies, above all the USA, will be there if ever Belgium should need help.”
The EU can in some respects be likened to an empire; it is a structure that sets standards of internal governance but in return offers its members a share in the decision-making, a place in the commonwealth. Across central Europe, countries have rewritten constitutions and changed laws to conform to European standards. This is a kind of regime change, but it is chosen, legitimate. This represents the spread of civilisation and good governance in lasting form.
With no prospect of regime change in the EU institutions, we can look forward to the spread of neoconservative Eurocentricism for years to come.