In Cuba, Brussels has withdrawn its support for anti-Castro dissidents. In Iran, the EU has pursued a decade-long policy of "constructive engagement" with the ayatollahs. In Iraq, with a few exceptions, Europeans were horrified at the notion of toppling a tyrant by force. In European capitals, unlike in Washington, Israel's status as the region's only democracy is not seen as meritorious.
In China, the EU has not only announced its intention to lift the arms embargo on Beijing, but is also actively collaborating with the Communists on a satellite system called Galileo, designed to challenge what Jacques Chirac calls the "technological imperialism" of America's GPS. And, when it comes to international bodies, the US is almost alone in taking the view that elected politicians are more legitimate than global technocrats and human-rights lawyers.
This difference in approach was, as it were, encoded in the DNA of the two organisations. The US was born out of a revolt against autocratic government. In consequence, it sympathises naturally with democracy, decentralisation and national self-determination. Its founding creed was adumbrated by Thomas Jefferson, who believed that power should be exercised by the individual in preference to the state, and by lower in preference to higher tiers of government.
The EU, by contrast, was a reaction against the pre-war plebiscitary democracy which, in its patriarchs' eyes, had led to fascism and conflict. Its governing principle is the precise opposite of Jeffersonianism: the doctrine of "ever-closer union". Its leaders believe to this day that states are better run by experts than by populist politicians and, just as they apply that belief to their own institutions, so they extend it to other continents. Indeed, the distinction between the two unions can be inferred from the opening words of their founding charters: the American Constitution begins "We, the people"; the Treaty of Rome begins "His Majesty the King of the Belgians".
That we have different views on the world is only natural. But what is interesting in that Frenchie way is the attempt to claim the high moral ground and leverage it against the US.
We'd be the first to applaud Europeans for finally concerning themselves with moral principles instead of commercial interests. Many of the Middle East's problems, including terrorism, would be easier solved if Europe were seriously concerned about morality. Europe would no longer be Iran's No. 1 trading partner, and its companies wouldn't be able to attend trade fairs in Sudan anymore.
Unlike American companies--recently defamed in Germany as "(blood) suckers" and "locusts" by the former government--European firms are quite busy in Sudan. The chamber of commerce and industry in Stuttgart has enthused over what great opportunities Sudan's oil resources offer to German companies.
Lest people think they are doing something morally reprehensible, the salesmen from Stuttgart prefer to describe the massacres of black Africans in Darfur as "political disturbances." The German economics ministry, which sponsored the German pavilion at last February's trade fair in Sudan, will also support next February's event, the chamber of commerce assures its members.
Where is the outrage? How does that jibe with supposed European values?
Or who in Europe has heard of Soghra, an Iranian woman sentenced in October to death by stoning for adultery? Or Mokhtar N. and Ali A., hanged last month in a public square in Iran for homosexuality?
In much of Europe's public debate, the true meaning of human rights has degenerated into a tool that gives anti-Americanism an aura of legitimacy. The real, horrendous human-rights violations in the Middle East, North Korea, China, Cuba, etc., are largely ignored or relegated to news blurs on the back pages. For front-page coverage, you need an American angle.
Having said that, it is note worthy the publication of Saddam's Black Book in France.
Le Livre Noir de Saddam Hussein (The Black Book of Saddam Hussein) is a robust denunciation of Saddam's regime that does not fall into the trap of viewing everything in Iraq through a US-centric prism. The writers - Arabs, Americans, Germans, French and Iranian - have produced the most comprehensive work to date on the former Iraqi president's war crimes, assembling a mass of evidence that makes the anti-intervention arguments redundant.
"The first weapon of mass destruction was Saddam Hussein," writes Bernard Kouchner, who has been observing atrocities in Iraq since he led the first Medecins Sans Frontieres mission there in 1974. "Preserving the memory of the arbitrary arrests that Saddam's police conducted every morning, the horrible and humiliating torture, the organised rapes, the arbitrary executions and the prisons full of innocent people is not just a duty. Without that one cannot understand either what Saddam's dictatorship was or the urgent necessity to remove him."
The obsession of many journalists and commentators with the fruitless hunt for chemical, biological and nuclear weapons has meant much of the evidence of Saddam's atrocities in liberated Iraq has been under-reported. Sinje Caren Stoyke, a German archeologist and president of Archeologists for Human Rights, catalogues 288 mass graves, a list that is already out of date with the discovery of fresh sites every week.
"There is no secret about these mass graves," Stoyke writes. "Military convoys crossed towns, full of civilian prisoners, and returned empty. People living near execution sites heard the cries of men, women and children. They heard shots followed by silence."
Stoyke estimates one million people are missing in Iraq, presumed dead, leaving families with the dreadful task of finding and identifying the remains of their loved ones.