Posted by aogWednesday, 15 November 2006 at 16:46 TrackBack Ping URL

One of my newer comments, Steven Wood, has gone after me for supporting the EUrabia theory. Let me quote Bat Yeor, the originator of the term, directly

After the Yom Kippur War and the Arab oil blackmail in 1973, the then-European Community (EC) created a structure of Cooperation and Dialogue with the Arab League. The Euro-Arab Dialogue (EAD) began as a French initiative composed of representatives from the EC and Arab League countries. From the outset the EAD was considered as a vast transaction: The EC agreed to support the Arab anti-Israeli policy in exchange for wide commercial agreements. The EAD had a supplementary function: the shifting of Europe into the Arab-Islamic sphere of influence, thus breaking the traditional trans-Atlantic solidarity. The EAD operated at the highest political level, with foreign ministers on both sides, and the presidents of the EC — later the European Union (EU) — with the secretary general of the Arab League. The central body of the Dialogue, the General Commission, was responsible for planning its objectives in the political, cultural, social, economic, and technological domains; it met in private, without summary records, a common practice for European meetings.

Over the years, Euro-Arab collaboration developed at all levels: political, economic, religious and in the transfer of technologies, education, universities, radio, television, press, publishers, and writers unions. This structure became the channel for Arab immigration into Europe, of anti-Americanism, and of Judeophobia, which — linked with a general hatred of the West and its denigration — constituted a pseudo-culture imported from Arab countries. The interpenetration of European and Arab policies determined Europe’s relentless anti-Israel policy and its anti-Americanism. This politico-economic edifice, with minute details, is rooted in a multiform European symbiosis with the Arab world

My view is that Yeor is being a bit alarmist, but that the underlying basis is quite believable. Explicitly, that is

  • The EUlite, particularly the French elite, desired to create a competitor to the USA and USSR.
  • That to do that, they decided to turn to the Arab world because it had enormous wealth and an ingrained anti-Americanism.
  • That this effort has now gotten out of control of those elites and threatens, in the long term, the existence of Europe as we have known it since the Treaty of Westphalia.

This last point is one where (as far as I can tell) I differ from Yeor. My view is that the EUlite thought of the Arabs as they think of their own citizens, sources of labor and wealth that can be directed by those elites for the greater glory of the elite’s political projects. The planned result was the recreation of the European colonial empires in a more modern form. That things are not turning out that way is, in my view, typical of the Socialist world view of the EUlite. What other projects of the last century of theirs have worked out well?

That sophisticated, well educated people should fall in to such a trap is not surprising. It is remarkably similar to the Iranian Revolution, where the rise of the theocracy was aided by such people. The chatterati simply could not grasp that someone like the Ayatollah Khomenie could be as clever and devious as they, or could actually mean exactly what he said. When the common front against the Shah came apart in victory (as common fronts do), it was the Europeanized who ended up on the short end of the stick. I suspect the same in the case of EUrabia.

However, I think that it is equally likely that Europe will revert to form and conduct genocidal purges in order to protect itself from a foreign culture. History doesn’t repeat, but it pays to bet on it rhyming.

%{color:red;}%UPDATE%: Here is a European perspective on EUrabia. That doesn’t mean it’s correct, but it does indicate that others with more direct experience have similar views.

Comments — Formatting by Textile
Ali Choudhury Thursday, 16 November 2006 at 12:27

Naah, can’t give it much credence. Seems like a too-convenient conspiracy theory.

Annoying Old Guy Thursday, 16 November 2006 at 13:48

Yeor’s or mine?

Ali Choudhury Thursday, 16 November 2006 at 18:56

Both. Bat Yeor’s is far sillier.

France is screwed because it imported North Africans from Algeria and Morocco as workers during the 60s when the economy was booming, said workers mostly keeping their heads down. Their children turned out far less diffident and have started setting cars on fire as the sclerotic French economy continues to be rigged to benefit those who have it made at the expense of the young, unskilled and poor. Can’t see how foreign policy affected that.

The roots of European antipathy to Israel have far more to do with attitudes to colonialism than any rapprochment with the Arabs. France has its’ own agenda when it comes to promoting its’ interests in the Middle East but this notion of setting up the Arab world as a counterweight to the US\USSR seems quite baseless. If anything the Arab world is kept at arm’s length. The EU is far more interested in China.

Plus its’ hard to take talk of the dangerous nature of the EAD seriously when about the only place it appears is in Yeor’s writings. If it was such an important and crucial body, why does it barely register on Google?

Annoying Old Guy Thursday, 16 November 2006 at 20:03

Hmmmm. I see your point. I suspect, though, that the contingencies of image projection to the Arab world contributed to the inability to address the internal problems from the immigration. However, as you point out and as I noted elsewhere, absent a dirigiste / welfare state such as France’s, such immigration wouldn’t be a serious problem in the first place. But this ties in to the previous point, in that advocation of economic liberty would have put a crimp in relations with the Middle Eastern regimes being targeted.

I don’t take specific things like EAD seriously either, but I think they’re indicative of the general attitude that drove the effort.

I wasn’t claiming that the EU (and the French elites in particular) were setting up the Arab world itself as a counter weight, but rather applying to the combination of Europe and the Arab world the same structure as between the Franco-German axis and the Europe, to set up a larger EUrabian counter-weight to the USA / USSR. My reading is that the current arms-length approach is of relatively recent vintage and represents a reaction to the failure of the EUrabian project from the EUlite point of view.

I also don’t think European antipathy to Israel is rooted in anti-colonialism. Note that immediately post-WWII, the major powers of Europe (France and the UK in particular) were strong supporters of Israel (c.f. the Suez Canal crisis in 1957). A sea change occurred after the Six Days War in that regard. I suspect it had as much to do with the USA becoming an Israeli supporter as anything else (and tie back to the first paragraph, the clash of economic paradigms may have also be a strong contributing factor).

Ali Choudhury Friday, 17 November 2006 at 06:17

Suez didn’t have much to do with supporting Israel. It was an alliance of convenience between parties who wanted to take Nasser down, as the wiki link says. It’s not the post-WW2 generation that’s relevant here but the Vietnam one whose political opinions were formed in the light of the violent student protests of 1968.

I don’t think image projection to the Arab world has ever been much of a concern to the EUlite. I doubt that France’s relations with the Arabs would have been affected by them going for Bastiat over Colbert. Arab governments wouldn’t give a damn about how it ran itself internally. It was what foreign governments had to offer to them that mattered.

“I wasn’t claiming that the EU (and the French elites in particular) were setting up the Arab world itself as a counter weight, but rather applying to the combination of Europe and the Arab world the same structure as between the Franco-German axis and the Europe, to set up a larger EUrabian counter-weight to the USA / USSR.”

Well, it’s an interesting theory but you really need more in the form of cites of interviews, article, books etc. that such a policy was ever advanced. Given the lack of common strategic interests of the sort that bound the Franco-German axis together, I wouldn’t expect it ever was.

Annoying Old Guy Friday, 17 November 2006 at 11:31

My view is that it was presumed that anti-Americanism was the common strategic interest. That the EUlite was explicitly trying to set up such a counter-weight is beyond dispute. What is debatable is what actual policies were used to try to achieve that goal. I will keep an eye out for supporting evidence. I will note that I posted this mainly for discussion, it’s not a theory I am deeply invested in.

P.S. In terms of image projection, I was thinking of more recent and general projection such as allowing large immigration flows, tolerating internal separatism, rhetorical support for Arab anti-Americanism, etc.

Ali Choudhury Friday, 17 November 2006 at 12:08

Well yeah, the EUlite see themselves as being a counterweight. They don’t feel the need to rope in strategic partners who don’t share their values like the Arab world though. And that being said, the dust-up over Ukraine showed even the EUlite will continue to side with the US over Russia.

If they wanted to be\create a counterweight to the US and USSR during the Cold War, I doubt they’d have allowed Pershing missiles to be deployed in the 80s in the face of massive public protests.

cjm Friday, 17 November 2006 at 16:00

it’s a lot simpler than you make out. like matching with like. the arabs and europeans are cut from the same foul cloth, and naturally find common cause in fighting against goodness, for the cause of evil. too simplistic ? tell it to Von Ribbentrop…

Peter Burnet Monday, 20 November 2006 at 09:01


I think you have two problems here: The first, as M Ali suggests, is the conspiratorial nature of the thesis. Even if we could buy the unlikely scanario that such a strategy was being held carefully under wraps in foreign ministries, you would think it would be touted by academics, intellectuals and newspapers. And where are the whistleblowers? If it is one thing we have seen in the past few years it’s that Europe is nowhere nearly united or purposeful enough to have such a coherent goal.

The second and perhaps main problem is it paints Europe as a direct geo-political competitor to the USA, and I don’t think it is or wants to be. They are not playing “The Great Game” of a hundred years ago and they have renounced their entire history too unequivocally to believe they have any political values to impart or defend. True, there is a lot of snobbish disdain and economic competition and France will bore us to the end of time with it linguistic/cultural mission, but they are essentially living in their post-war dream world in which, as Orrin has said many times, security and the good life trump everything. They have built their myths about international law and root causes, etc. and they truly believe all would be well if the Americans just stayed home and stopped wandering the globe picking fights. To put it another way, they aren’t so much seeking to compete with the US over influence in Iraq or the Islamic world, rather they think Hussein and the Islamicists are perfectly acceptable and non-threatening as long as we don’t provoke them. And if they growl, we have provoked them by definition, which is why the contempt for Israel. Genocide/mass murder and brutal oppression don’t move Europeans to the rage and thirst for justice they do Americans and so, not wanting to actually admit that to themselves, they tell themselves anyone who wants to tackle them must be motivated by ignoble greed or stupidity—everyone knows strategic threats should be dealt with by even-handed UN resolutions passed by the militarily impotent. Europe doesn’t want to compete, it wants to be left alone to enjoy its decline, and it certainly isn’t willing to sacrifice any comfort or deny itself for it’s rapidly declining number of children. Don’t forget, they’ve almost all slashed defence spending dramatically since the end of the Cold War, which is not what you think the best strategy for anyone seeking to displace the U.S.

cjm Monday, 20 November 2006 at 09:35

the one flaw in burnet’s analysis is that it presumes rational behavior on the part of all involved parties.

Annoying Old Guy Monday, 20 November 2006 at 16:08

Mr. Burnet;

I think you have two problems here —

First, I have never claimed that the “strategy was being held carefully under wraps in foreign ministries”. I don’t think even Yeor claims that.

It is my own readings of public documents over the years leads me to this conclusion, not any “secret” knowledge. While I don’t think it has been “touted”, I think it has been openly and widely discussed among the geo-political types, e.g. the kind of people who read and write Foreign Affairs.

Second, I think it is beyond doubt that the EUlite desperately want Europe to be a geo-political competitor to the USA. Neither of our resident psuedo-Europeans1 (M. Ali, Brit) disputed this, and I provided cites of other very knowledgeable writers making the same point. They have built their myths of international law to avoid the cognitive dissonance of not spending for a military while having this desire to be a counter-weight. Yes, it’s not what I think is the best strategy for competing with the USA, but it is based on the European view of reality. After all, these are the same people who think Euro-Socialism is better than Anglo-Capitalism in terms of economic productivity (and who think the Kyoto Protocols are a good way to address global warming).

1 They’re based in the UK, which is only sort of European in the standard sense of the word. It’s a question of which is wider, the Atlantic or the Channel?

Peter Burnet Tuesday, 21 November 2006 at 05:40

OK, you are down to one problem. :-)

I think you may be personalizing too much and thus overstating the significance of a lot of the anti-American rhetoric that graces all the best European salons. The hard left may indeed play around with the Eurabian notion, just as they were prone to sing Soviet and Chinese praises during the Cold War, but when you speak of the mainstream that rhetoric does not sit on any concrete desire to replace American influence and protection with another. Again, the French are prone to a lot of symbolic talk about la gloire of yesteryear, but for me the true modern European spirit is reflected more by Sweden—endless anti-American sniffing, endless moralizing, endless transnational fantasy and endless appeasement of tyrants—then let’s take the kids to Disney. You must admit that there is precious little evidence of personal or cultural affinity between Europe and the Arab world these days. Seen a lot of demonstrations againt American troops in Europe lately?

Jeff Guinn Tuesday, 21 November 2006 at 08:41


Such are the seductive rewards of free-ridership.

Annoying Old Guy Tuesday, 21 November 2006 at 09:08

Mr. Burnet;

Perhaps I do take it too seriously, but I am not the only one. I think that the anti-Americanism is much more than just talk, that it drives quite a bit of actual foreign policy. Just look at the political career of Gerhard Shröder. Or check out the links in this Daniel Drezner post. Or this quote from Romano Prodi (who is now PM of Italy) —

Romano Prodi, president of the European Commission, agreed to one of the EU’s chief goals is to create “a superpower on the European continent that stands equal to the United States.”

I simply can’t take seriously the claim that this is all just rhetorical or fringe.

On the other hand, my EUrabia theory, that the EUlite wanted to join forces with Arabia to achieve this equality with the USA, is just a working theory I have. I agree that it’s quite debatable, but I think it’s also plausible. I do not agree with Yeor that the EUlite intended any sort of Islamic victory in Europe and I think the current troubles are a failure of the project, not its goal. The recent distancing is the aftermath of yet another EUlite grand scheme coming to a bad end.

cjm Tuesday, 21 November 2006 at 18:41

the anti-american antics of the europeans is more widely known here, than is commonly thought. the reaction in most (non-leftist) people is to hold europe in contempt. personally i rank europe as a soon-to-be enemy. the truth will come out the next time europe gets into a problem, and looks to the u.s. for help. let them all burn.

Jeff Guinn Wednesday, 22 November 2006 at 13:27

That there is such a thing as an Eulite is beyond debate (as a non-Islamic e.g., if the political systems in Europe were responsive to electoral opinion, most, if not all, European countries would have the death penalty. None do.)

That entrenched elites are capable of astonishing, and immune to self-correction, mistakes is historically well grounded.

Never mind agenda details, that the EUlite could ever seriously entertain the hope of becoming a countervailing superpower, whilst devoting a vanishingly small part of their budgets to buying and maintaining the means to go anywhere and kill bunches of people, is practically beyond parody.

cjm Thursday, 23 November 2006 at 09:21

jeff has hit the nail on the head, europe is a joke.

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