The Candidate of the United States
Ross McKibbin · Blair and the European Presidency
Although everyone is denying it, European public opinion is obviously being softened up, especially by the Kinnockian wing of the Labour party, for Blair’s emergence as the first full-time president of Europe. And although in a rational world his election would seem self-evidently absurd, given his record, it is being put about that many European leaders – including, improbably, Sarkozy – are enthusiastic. If they are, they should ask themselves what a Blair presidency would actually mean. Blair does not share the Conservatives’ blockheaded hostility to ‘Europe’ but he would nonetheless be the candidate of the United States – and that is what the Tories want.
America has never shared the Conservative Party’s extreme Atlanticism. It believes in ‘Europe’ and always wanted Britain to join the EEC, now the EU. But it certainly does not believe in the European ideal. It wants an EU which bears what it considers a proportionate burden of Washington’s defence and foreign policy costs. In other words, it wants an EU that is the European arm of Nato; and not much more than an extension of Nato. That also is what Blair wants and he has never made much effort to conceal it. Blair’s election would signify the capitulation of the EU to Nato and its final subordination to American foreign policy. When we look at America’s foreign policies over the last decade and more, it is hard to imagine a worse outcome. Since many of the new EU states from the old Soviet bloc are probably happy with all this we can only hope that for whatever reason, the Germans, the ones who matter, veto Blair’s candidacy before it gets underway.