Terri Schiavo

Her death is upsetting for the following reasons:
1. It remains unclear to all but one what her wish was regarding the feeding tube.
2. That those who loved her most were in discord in the times leading to her death.
3. The sensationalism by the media.

The government's intervention bothers me less and less as this was a passive action, allowing a second examination of the case. The government is responsible to mediate dispute between and among its citizens afterall.

Finally, this statement:
The essence of civilization is that the strong have a duty to protect the weak. In cases where there are serious doubts and questions, the presumption should be in the favor of life.

New Order

A great post by Wretchard.
Herodotus was the first known author to approach history as inquiry; to transform it from a mere recitation of events into an attempt to identify cause and effect. And that is no easy task. The fading of the Iraqi insurgency, the Syrian retreat from Lebanon are now growing clearer before us, but what do they mean? By way of context, Publius Pundit, a blog dedicated to following democracy moments all around the world, is filled with the rumor of mass rallies and political movements shaking the former Soviet Union, the Middle East and even North Korea. These developments are widely presumed to favor the United States; and in the narrow sense that collapsing empires play into the hands of the nation which holds the balance of power, this must be true. But first and foremost, they are evidence of dysfunction: proof that the Soviet model, Middle Eastern authoritarianism and to a certain extent transnational liberalism have lost their grip. In that respect the sudden and unexpected weakening of the United Nations is less the result of Kofi Annan's individual shenanigans than a symptom that the bottom has fallen out of the whole postwar system.

If this analysis is correct, the world crisis should accelerate rather than diminish in the coming years and months, not in the least because the United States seems to have no plan to fill the power vacuum with anything. The promotion of democracy is at heart an act of faith in the self-organizing ability of nations; it means getting rid of one dictator without necessarily having another waiting in the wings. It is so counterintuitive to disciples of realpolitik as to resemble madness. Or put more cynically, the promotion of democracy is a gamble only a country with a missile defense system, control of space, homeland defense and a global reach can afford to take. If you have your six-gun drawn, you can overturn the poker table. In retrospect, the real mistake the September 11 planners made to underestimate how radical the US could be. This does not necessarily mean America will win the hand; but it does indicate how high it is willing to raise the stakes.

But had the US have successors in mind, it wouldn't really be promoting democracy now would it?

Puritan and Fundamentalist

Thanks to Crossroads Arabia i read this interesting editorial from Arab News
Here, to me, is a paradox for the modern era, then: America is closer, in a sense, to the Islamic ideals it is pitted against, than the liberal, post-Enlightenment attitudes of the Western nations it is expected to rub shoulders with as its natural allies. Those who oppose America as a Godless country, festering in the filth of its own materialism, must come to terms with the insistence on the part of many Americans themselves, that theirs is a profoundly religious country. The American religious right claims America has always been so, and it is time to recognize once more, that this is so: “One nation, under God, with liberty and justice for all.”


So should we conclude, then, that between the religious police tactics of the Taleban, and the periodic episodes of witch-hunting in America, there is only a difference in methods, but not intent? But to say so would be heresy, would it not? At least, for an America that believes — and votes — out of the conviction that it remains a shining city on a hill, the New Jerusalem of the Western world.

The first key difference is that religion plays a prominent role in American society and government, but it directs neither, thus cannot readily abuse itself. This separation of church and state actually serve to preserve religion while empowering the individual. Any government will have its failures and the separation protects religion from criticism. As opposed to the Taleban or the mullahs of Iran, being the government they will naturally be blame for what goes wrong.
The second difference is that with a secular government, though it can be influenced by religion, it can also be influenced by the secular society as well, and this accessibility (as well as accountability) serves to strengthen the government and provide a cohesive focus for the diverse American public.

Central Asian Dominos

from EurasiaNet
The Armenian opposition is growing frustrated with the European Union’s apparent reluctance to press hard for political reform in Yerevan. Opposition leaders now regard the United States as the only potential source of external support for their efforts to force President Robert Kocharian’s resignation and to open Armenia’s political system.

One prominent oppositionist spoke for many of his colleagues recently when he said privately, "The world has only one boss, and you know what that country is."

The opposition mood has been reinforced by the EU’s effective decision not to set specific political conditions for Armenia’s participation in its European Neighborhood Policy (ENP)-- a program that envisages privileged ties with the expanding union. Armenia as well as neighboring Azerbaijan and Georgia were included in the program last June in a move which heralded a deeper EU involvement in the South Caucasus.

Another clear example of the difference between the EU and the US as perceived on the ground. One is seen as supporting the status quo (or at best, evolutionary changes so to allow events to "just happen") while the other is seen as leader for democratic change. How can the EU even contemplate superpower status when they have no ideology to endorse, promote, or enact?


Islamophobia, part II

Previously i speculated that Americans view muslims with less suspicion and fear than Europeans. Here is something similar from the WSJ (subscription required).
George W. Bush's foreign policy explicitly promises U.S. support for Muslim moderates who confront radicalism. In 2000, Muslims gave overwhelming support to Mr. Bush, in part because he, unlike Al Gore, had bothered to court them. Last year it was a different story. Spurred mainly, according to opinion polls, by the humiliation of Muslims at Abu Ghraib and by what they regarded as indifference to their sensitivities by the new Department of Homeland Security, Muslims turned against the president. A new political action group, called the American Muslim Task Force on Civil Rights, representing 10 Muslim organizations, called on Muslims to register a protest by voting for John Kerry.

That is in the fine tradition of minorities trying to make themselves heard in politics. But Muslims haven't stopped there. A group called the Muslim Public Affairs Council is trying to promote better relations between Muslims and law-enforcement agencies. To that end it has launched its own counterterrorism and civil-rights campaign, working with imams at mosques, Muslim community leaders, law-enforcement agencies and the media. Their credo: "It is our duty as American Muslims to protect our country and to contribute to its betterment."

The executive director of MPAC is Salam al-Marayati, a Baghdad-born former chemical engineer long engaged in Democratic politics in Los Angeles. He and two colleagues, Ahmed Younis and Edina Lekovic, dropped by the Journal's New York office last week to talk about their project. Ms. Lekovic, a Montenegrin by ancestry, is the group's spokeswoman. Mr. Younis, national director, has studied in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Cuba. He wrote a book titled "Voir Dire (Speak the Truth)," discussing the blending of American culture and Islamic values, while studying law at Washington and Lee University.

Mr. al-Marayati is relatively upbeat about the status of Muslims in the U.S., particularly in comparison to Europe. "In Europe, they tend to become 'ghettoized' because they are never really accepted," he said. In the U.S., Muslims are more easily assimilated and find it easier to work within the system.

The friction between a large Muslim immigrant population and the native peoples of Europe has become a major political problem. Muslims appear to be increasingly alienated from the societies in which they live, turning in many cases toward crime and violence. But Europe, with a declining indigenous work force, needs their labor.

Regarding MPAC, there is this post from Little Green Footballs.
Dhimmi Watch takes note of a disturbingly naïve whitewash of radical Islamic front group MPAC and its leader Salam Al-Marayati, in today’s Wall Street Journal: Dhimmitude at the Wall Street Journal: the Journal touts MPAC.

Salam Al-Marayati is notorious for telling radio station KCRW, within hours of the September 11 mass murder: “If we’re going to look at suspects we should look to the groups that benefit the most from these kinds of incidents, and I think we should put the state of Israel on the suspect list because I think this diverts attention from what’s happening in the Palestinian territories so that they can go on with their aggression and occupation and apartheid policies.”

CAMERA has a long list of similar statements by Al-Marayati, supporting extremist movements and terrorist groups, vilifying Israel, and condemning US anti-terrorism measures. It’s disappointing to see the Wall Street Journal participating in MPAC’s propaganda campaign.


The US foreign diplomatic efforts continue to shift eastward. The economic engagement of China is ongoing. Australia and Japan are already stalwarth allies. But as i suggested elsewhere, alliance will be built with India. From the WSJ (subscription required)
The real story here is that the U.S. is steadily building a broad strategic relationship with New Delhi. Said Mr. Mukherjee, "cooperation in economic and other areas between the United States and India has increased manifold, but so far there has been no defense agreement between the two states." One obvious strategic calculation for both countries is countering the military rise of China.

At a State Department briefing last Friday, a spokesman explained that the U.S. "goal is to help India become a major world power in the 21st century. We understand fully the implications, including military implications, of that statement." Beyond the issue of the jets, the briefer explained, "the U.S. is willing to discuss even more fundamental issues of defense transformation with India, including transformative systems in areas such as command and control, early warning and missile defense." This is a remarkable and underappreciated change in U.S. global strategy, and rest assured it is being noticed in the rest of Asia, and especially in Beijing.

This along with moves to create permanent UN Security council seat for Japan and India as well.


Starbucks responds

Dear Huan

Thank you for taking the time to contact Starbucks regarding coffee donations to those serving in our armed forces. 

Currently, there is an e-mail circulating the internet that contains misinformation about Starbucks and our support of the military. Starbucks was able to locate the author, a Marine sergeant.  He was very grateful that we contacted him and apologized for any misunderstanding; he did not intend to spread a rumor. He subsequently sent an e-mail to his original distribution list correcting his mistake, which is included at the end of this letter.

Starbucks has a long history of contributing product, time and funding to a wide variety of local, national and international non-profit organizations. In addition, Starbucks has the deepest respect and admiration for U.S. military personnel. We are extremely grateful to the men and women who serve stateside and overseas.

Starbucks, our customers and partners believe that it is critically important to support our men and women serving their country in times of conflict. There are numerous examples of Starbucks Coffee Company and our partners supporting the troops. Each week Starbucks partners receive one free pound of coffee. Many partners have collected their free coffee and shipped numerous pounds of Starbucks coffee overseas. For instance, partners in our Atascadero, California store sent their weekly allotment of coffee to troops in Afghanistan so they would be able to enjoy a little taste of home. Our Customer Relations and Information Technology departments in Seattle donated thousands of pounds of coffee to the sailors on the USS Abraham Lincoln and troops in Mosul, Iraq.

These are just a few of the many examples of our partners supporting the troops. We recognize and appreciate the very personal connection customers have with us and how they might miss their Starbucks Experience while serving overseas. Additionally, we are humbled that the troops request Starbucks coffee.

To enhance our partners' outstanding grassroots efforts in support of the U.S. military troops, Starbucks is honored to extend our relationship with the American Red Cross in order to provide the comfort of coffee to relief efforts during times of conflict.  We are pleased to donate 50,000 pounds of coffee to the American Red Cross for distribution to those troops serving in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait. The Company is making this contribution through the American Red Cross as part of its long-term, ongoing commitment to share the comfort of coffee during times of conflict.

Thank you again for writing.  We ask you to accept our deepest appreciation to servicemen and women and we hope that you will remain a valued Starbucks customer. If you have any additional feedback or would like to discuss this further, please feel free to contact us at (800) 235-2883 or email us at info@starbucks.com.


Derek Juhl

Customer Relations Representative
Starbucks Coffee Company

After Starbucks contacted the author of the email rumor, a Marine sergeant, he sent an e-mail to his original distribution list correcting his mistake, the text of which is:
Dear Readers,

Almost 5 months ago I sent an e-mail to you my faithful friends.  I did a wrong thing that needs to be cleared up. I heard by word of mouth about how Starbucks said they didn't support the war and all.  I was having enough of that kind of talk and didn't do my research properly like I should have.  This is not true.  Starbucks supports men and women in uniform.  They have personally contacted me and I have been sent many copies of their company's policy on this issue.  So I apologize for this quick and wrong letter that I sent out to you.

Now I ask that you all pass this email around to everyone you passed the last one to. 
Thank you very much for understanding about this.

Howard C. Wright

1st Force Rcon Co
1st Plt PLT RTO
Dated: August 17, 2004

Additional confirmation that this is an inaccurate rumor can be found at:




Got this email forwarded from my brother. I do not know whether it is true or not. I went ahead and forwarded it to Starbucks corporate HQ yesterday and am still waiting for a response. I worded my question rather neutral (" I was wondering whether this is true or not") without hinting at my displeasure, which is extreme. I'll let you know.

Subject: FW: Starbucks Coffee
Recently Marines in Iraq wrote to Starbucks because they wanted to let them know how much they liked their coffees and to request that they send some of it to the troops there. Starbucks replied, telling the Marines thank you for their support in their business, but that Starbucks does not support the war, nor anyone in it , and that they would not send the troops their brand of coffee. So as not to offend Starbucks, we should not support them by buying any of their products. As a war vet writing to fellow patriots, I feel we should get this out in the open. I know this war might not be very popular with some folks, but that doesn't mean we don't support the boys on the ground fighting street-to-street and house-to-house for what they and I believe is right. If you feel the same as I do then pass this along, or you can discard it and no one will never know.

Thanks very much for your support of me, and I know you'll all be there again when I deploy once more.

Semper Fidelis
Sgt Howard C. Wright
1st Force Recon Co
1st Plt PLT RTO


New Sisyphus

Another excellent post from New Sisyphus. The highlights of Kofi's proposed reform of the UN are:
Kofi: In an era of global abundance, our world has the resources to reduce dramatically the massive divides that persist between rich and poor, if only those resources can be unleashed in the service of all peoples.

It’s hard to believe that people in the year 2005 still believe that the answer to poverty is simply to use state (or in this case, international) power to redistribute wealth, but there you have it. Of course, the phrase “if only those resources can be unleashed in the service of all peoples,” is open to a bit of interpretation, but what is clear from this passage is that, yet again, poor countries are poor because rich countries are rich.

Kofi: I endorse fully the High-level Panel’s call for a definition of terrorism, which would make it clear that, in addition to actions already proscribed by existing conventions, any action constitutes terrorism if it is intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants with the purpose of intimidating a population or compelling a Government or an international organization to do or abstain from doing any act. (Emphasis added).

Under this definition, U.S. actions in Somalia, Kosovo, Bosnia and Iraq are all acts of international terrorism. In Somalia the U.S. engaged in offensive operations in a civilian area to force the de facto government to allow U.N. forces to distribute food aid. In Kosovo, the U.S. bombed a major European capital to force the Yugoslav/Serbian government to “abstain from” the act of ethnic cleansing. In Bosnia, the U.S. similarly used force in civilian areas to stop a self-declared government from committing further acts of genocide. And in Iraq, we bombed civilian centers to deny its forces command and control, power and transportation.

read it all. I am adding this blog to my analysis links.



Kyrgyzstan has fallen to the democratic (?) opposition. Unlike the velvet revolution, the rose or the orange, this one was a bit more violent. Without cohesion of the opposition, the potential for violence still looms. Obviously there will be political impact in central asia, but I doubt the other central asian republics will intervene.
The other interesting question is how will this set precedence for Lebannon, Iran, and Syria.


Radiation Bio-Protectant

Biotech companies say they're on the cusp of developing "radioprotectants," drugs that guard against acute radiation syndrome. Since most people who die in a nuclear attack do so from radiation sickness, these drugs promise great benefits as safeguards against nuclear terrorism. If they work, they would be unprecedented. It goes without saying that the federal government should be doing its utmost to promote them.




From Arab News (HT to Crossroad Arabia):
According to a report just published by the International Helsinki Federation for Human Rights, Islamophobia is growing in the EU. This will come as no surprise; the growth of far-right anti-Muslim parties across Europe plus a wealth of anecdotal evidence of hostility toward Muslims are proof that, since 9/11, Islamophobia in Europe has become widespread. It is also institutional: The opposition to Turkish EU membership from France and Germany is purely because Turkey is a Muslim country; in the UK, the current battle in Parliament over the government’s plans to place suspected terrorists under house arrest has to be seen against a background of the political and media message that terrorist equals Muslim; only last week, a British minister warned the Muslim community that it had to accept being targeted by the police because of the threat by Islamic extremists.

“Intolerance and Discrimination against Muslims in the EU” makes depressing reading. In Germany, it points out, 80 percent of those surveyed last year associated Islam with terrorism. In France, the recent law banning women from wearing the hijab in public places has increased discrimination against Muslim women. In the Netherlands, it points to a growing hostility to Muslim schools, which are perceived, without any evidence, of undermining integration. In Athens, the Greek Orthodox Church has campaigned against building a mosque in the city center and one near the airport.

I have not noticed much in the way of islamophobia here in the US. Perhaps it is due to sampling error. Perhaps it is because having liberated and allied with 50 millions Muslims in the fight for democracy and freedom, Americans understand that Islam is not the problem but radical Islam is. Being active and perhaps even pro-active, we have gotten a sense of control of the future and thus are cautious but not fearful.
The Europeans, having chosen to stand on the sideline, have adopted a passive stance toward the problem of radical islamofascist. Without action, there is no sense of control, which makes fear more likely. Without allying with moderate Muslims, a conceptual barrier has been created separating the Europeans from all Muslims, lumping the terrorists with the moderates. Both factors lead to an environment that fosters fear and distrust of Muslims. Act or be acted upon.
I suspect islamophobia will only grow in Europe. By confronting the islamofascists head on, the Americans have created an environment possible to accept peaceful Muslims like those in Afghanistan, Iraq, and here in the US. This process may be similar to confronting racial discrimination head on in the Civil Rights movement. Certainly racism still exists, as islamophobia will still exist here in the US. But the degree of the problem will be much more manageable.


Iraq and Viet Nam

From the Opinion Journal's Claudia Rosett about the quagmire that isn't.
There's been a lot of talk since Sept. 11 about how President Bush's war-lovin' ways have galvanized terrorists, recruiting jihadis to the ranks. What's increasingly evident, however, is that the character suffering the real blowback is Osama bin Laden, who, as it turns out, jolted the U.S. into a global recruiting drive for democrats. Faced with an unprecedented attack on American shores, Mr. Bush smashed the mold for Middle-East policy, and with the invasion of Iraq lit a beacon for freedom-lovers in a part of the world that until quite recently was widely seen as having none.

As it turns out, there are many. Already, Mr. Bush has been answered by the breathtaking election turnout in Iraq, the uprising in Lebanon, the tremors in Syria and Iran, the stirrings in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. But the effects hardly stop with the Middle East. In many places, people trapped under tyrannies are now watching. Ballots cast in Baghdad echo way east of Suez.

So it happens that a message reached me last weekend from within one of the world's most repressive states: Vietnam. Word came that the Sharansky of Saigon, democratic dissident Nguyen Dan Que, had been released from his latest stretch in Vietnam's prisons. Though Dr. Que, as he prefers to be called, is now dogged by state security agents around the clock and allowed no phone or computer of his own, he could arrange to be on the receiving end of a phone call.


Dr. Que does not have access to the daily diet of news that feeds the free world. But given the feats of modern technology to spread information, he knows enough about what is now happening in the Middle East so that he wished to share his views on how America's intervention in Iraq is like the war in Vietnam, and how it isn't. The similarity, he says, "is the same fighting spirit for freedom." The difference, he adds, is that in the fight for freedom, the side America is on "will triumph this time."


Women's Place

In Pakistan:
MULTAN, Pakistan - Thousands of women rallied in eastern Pakistan on Monday to demand justice and protection for a woman who said she was gang-raped at the direction of a village council, after a court ordered the release of her alleged attackers.

In Kuwait:
KUWAIT CITY, 8 March 2005 — Hundreds of Kuwaiti women rallied outside Parliament yesterday to press for their political rights.

“Women’s rights now,” “Shariah does not contain anything against women’s rights,” read placards, many of them in the blue color symbolizing the struggle of women in Kuwait.

More than 500 people, mostly women but also including a number of male liberal sympathizers, took part in the rally.

Young Kuwaiti women were among the demonstrators, several of whom expressed optimism that they would finally win the right to vote and run for public office despite opposition.

The Kuwaiti Parliament, meanwhile, agreed yesterday to a government request to speed up moves to look into the bill that would grant women the vote, but did not set a date for the proposed debate. The chamber yesterday requested its interior and defense committee, which is dominated by tribal MPs, to promptly consider the government-sponsored bill before referring it to the full house.

In Burma:
Charm Tong, now a poised young woman of 23, has been an enemy of the Burmese state since she was six. Her parents, members of the persecuted Shan nationality, sent her across into Thailand at that age to escape the pillaging Burmese army, notorious for raping girls as young as four.

Charm Tong grew up essentially an orphan, watching friends forced out of school to work as farmhands on Thai plantations, or as domestic workers or prostitutes. By the time she was 17 she had become a human rights activist.

While Burma's paranoid generals may reveal only their own insecurity when they lock up 84-year-olds, you can't help but think they are right to fear Charm Tong. As she talks about the suffering in her native country, she radiates coiled fury, disciplined determination and empathy. At an age when many Americans still bring laundry home to their parents, she has helped found a school for refugees, a network of women activists, a center to counsel rape survivors and to train other counselors, a program to educate women about writing a democratic constitution, and weaving and cooking enterprises to help fund all these ventures.

From Within and Potential Consequences from Without

This was interesting read about French society from within (Hat Tip to No Parasan and thanks for the translation from Elvatoloko). The original French is here.
I also consider that the world of ideas is suffering advanced sclerosis in France, that the intellectual circles is controlled by a small group of editors, media figures and network personalities, on the one hand, uninteresting ideas, no to say appallingly stupid, and not shared by people in general, enjoy disproportionate exposure, until the people itself adopts them, and on the other hand, a whole sector of thought is blocked by the same individuals. There is a refusal to debate in France, it’s the “Pensee Unique” [Single Train of Thought] phenomenon which we can’t shake off. If you add the “politically correct” phenomenon… The slightest deviation from causes the independent thinker to be slaughtered by the intelligentsia and media. To gain access to the Parisian intellectual circles, where everything originates, you have to accept all sorts of compromises. In the end, a limited number of “intellectuals” all harboring similar ideas, exert a monopoly on the quasi totality of media and enjoy a certain power in the political, economic and media world. (BHL, Minc, Attali, Sollers, Adler, Rufin, Beigbeder…), and those who express opposing ideas are often considered mortal enemies and are prohibited from appearing on TV, the radio and from publishing. Etc. etc, etc.

Talking about uniformity of media voice from the WSJ (subscription required).
The cliché is that journalism is the first draft of history. Yet a historian searching for clues about the origins of many of the great stories of recent decades -- the collapse of the Soviet empire; the rise of Osama bin Laden; the declining American crime rate; the economic eclipse of Japan and Germany -- would find most contemporary journalism useless. Perhaps a story here or there might, in retrospect, seem illuminating. But chances are it would have been nearly invisible at the time of publication: eight column inches, page A12.

The problem is not that journalists can't get their facts straight: They can and usually do. Nor is it that the facts are obscure: Often, the most essential facts are also the most obvious ones. The problem is that journalists have a difficult time distinguishing significant facts -- facts with consequences -- from insignificant ones. That, in turn, comes from not thinking very hard about just which stories are most worth telling.

And also from the WSJ a few words from Senator George Allen (a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee)
China must be brought into the freedom fold, where human dignity and individual rights are established and protected. China must also take its place in an enforceable World Trade Organization regime. Achieving this will require China to embrace freedom of markets, freedom for individuals and the cessation of the proliferation of dangerous weapons into the hands of belligerent enemies of the free world.

Europe will not hasten the achievement of these objectives by lifting the arms embargo. The price Europe pays for ending its arm embargo against China will be high, and our friends there should have no doubts about America's resolve to respond. Europe is at a crossroads. It must choose between pursuing policies that aggravate complex and deadly challenges, or policies that, in common with the U.S., foster democracy for the Chinese people and security for their neighbors. In keeping with its own democratic foundations and interests, let Europe choose wisely and not sell arms or military technology to a Chinese government that does not share our values and has shown itself to proliferate such weapons to unsavory regimes.


Another quiet shift

FromJeff Norris via Chrenkoff come this recent poll from Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country:
For the first time ever in a major Muslim nation, more people favor US-led efforts to fight terrorism than oppose them (40% to 36%). Importantly, those who oppose US efforts against terrorism have declined by half, from 72% in 2003 to just 36% today.

For the first time ever in a Muslim nation since 9/11, support for Osama Bin Laden has dropped significantly (58% favorable to just 23%).

65% of Indonesians now are more favorable to the United States because of the American response to the tsunami, with the highest percentage among people under 30.

Indeed, 71% of the people who express confidence in Bin Laden are now more favorable to the United States because of American aid to tsunami victims.

And with greater historical trend analysis from the Washington TImes. Interesting times. I do not believe enough attention has been paid to the far east and will attempt to post more about this region. After all, the US is and should be building stronger alliances with the East Asian nations.

Along that line is this post from Belmont Club regarding China's rising need for oil, thus thrusting them onto the global geoplotical stage.


Faith and faithless

Two particular news items i thought interesting, especially if taken together.
Firstly, the benefits of having faith.
Then contrast that with the proclaimation of making the EU into a new superpower.
What linked the two stories for me was that having faith, not necessarily religion if you read the first article closely (disclaimer: i consider myself spiritual but not religious), gives you a slight edge and occasionaly that's just enough to move you forward. But the EU, a collection of states without a unifying ideology, lacks both political and spiritual faith, having "evolved." Without such cohesiveness, what is the point of the EU being a superpower? Its not about economics, as capitalism is not popular. Its not about principles such as freedom or democracy, unless you consider security and comfort values. And it certainly isn't about domination. So why build a military to be a superpower? What happened to "soft power?"