“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Friday, November 10, 2017

The EU may not like Catalonia's declaration of independence, but Putin reminds them that Pandora's Box was opened when the EU recognized Kosovo Independence

EU needs a smarter response to the Catalonia crisis

Brussels must go beyond its blanket support for Madrid’s politically myopic response.

MADRID — As the Catalan crisis lurches into a new phase, with the focus now on elections called for December 21, the European Union has to reexamine its hands-off approach to the political impasse.
Brussels and national governments were right to unequivocally oppose the Catalan government’s illegal and unilateral move to secede from Spain. But this response should be one element of a wider European strategy, not its entirety.
The EU stood by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy even when some of his hard-line tactics — though constitutionally justified — were politically myopic. This was the right thing to do. But the EU offered its support in such an unconditional way that it allowed Rajoy to take it as a European blank check to follow the toughest course against Catalonia.
Brussels meekly accepted Rajoy’s insistence that it had no right to act as mediator. It also refrained from criticizing Spain’s limited and uncreative leader, even when it was clear that by following the narrow script of “restoring legality,” he was eschewing countless political opportunities to defuse tensions.
The offer of a tangible upgrade in European status could go a long way to keep a wave of secessionism across Europe at bay.
In the past few days, the Spanish government appears to have gained the upper handagainst Catalonia’s reckless and now-imploding secessionist faction. But this may still fall short of a definitive victory. Whatever the outcome of December’s election, Madrid’s actions could still intensify hostility and frustrations in the region, deepening the discontent among many Catalans and dragging this conflict out for years to come.
It beggars belief that, in the years this crisis has been brewing, Spain’s political elite failed to put a well-worked alternative to the Catalans, at least as a basis for positive discussion. Every day sees a new spate of identikit articles, speeches and interviews out of Madrid admonishing the Catalan government. While they are right to do so, it is disappointing that no one has put forward constructive, balanced and original ideas for how the crisis might be extinguished.
If the EU does not broaden its approach to handling this major political crisis, it will be complicit in its outcome.

The EU’s unconditional support allowed Rajoy to take it as a European blank check to follow the toughest course against Catalonia | Yoan Valat/EPA
Catalonia will test the bloc’s identity as a political project of reconciliation. If the EU fails to help defuse tensions in Spain, voters across the bloc could, quite rightly, lose faith in its grand rhetoric about the importance of looking beyond the nation-state. If they see the EU as little more than a defender of incumbent governments, it will be no surprise they turn to anti-establishment parties to make their voices heard.
Brussels has a role to play here, even if it is not a formal mediator. It must put pressure on Rajoy’s government to accept European involvement in devising a workable solution to the crisis. This will require creativity and compromise, not only from Catalonia but also from Madrid.
The crux of the matter will be to devise some kind of arrangement for Catalonia that does not allow the region to claim independence but grants it more autonomy than standard models of federalism. The EU prides itself for being based on notions of shared sovereignty and confederalism: Surely it would be worth exploring if these could generate useful approaches to the Catalan crisis.
One solution would be for the EU to devise something it might call an “autonomous member territory,” and to grant it at least some of the rights, representation and capacities that member countries have in Brussels. Acknowledging Catalonia in this way would elevate its status at the EU table, without independence. It’s a template that could apply to other territories too.
The offer of a tangible upgrade in European status could go a long way to keep a wave of secessionism across Europe at bay.
Europe can’t afford to sleepwalk through yet another conflict.
The EU will not come out of this situation well if it is seen to have tied itself to a government that so inflexibly blocks political compromise.
Let’s not forget that Rajoy’s Popular Party is one of Europe’s most corrupt political parties and has been riddled with dozens of major fraud cases over the past few years. And yet, even as the party repeatedly falls on the wrong side of the law, the EU celebrates it as a defender of the rule of law — a tenuous basis for its support.
The Catalan crisis is, of course, Spain’s to resolve. But the EU must — at the very least — help unstick debate by proposing innovative solutions that go beyond the narrow and now-repetitive focus on constitutional legality.
Europe can’t afford to sleepwalk through yet another conflict.
Richard Youngs is a senior associate in the Democracy and Rule of Law Program at Carnegie Europe. He lives in Madrid.


  1. If you have any doubt about Putin's intelligence and legal thinking, watch the video.

  2. Looks to me like I'm in the clear then as far as International Law goes.

    I shall announce and publish my Declaration of Independence of Idawyotana forthwith.

    1. A Constitution shall follow in good time when I get around to it.

      Borders, Language, Culture !

    2. Flyfishing, Borders, Language, Culture !

  3. O Canada ! (Freedom of Speech vanished in Canada long ago)

    Canadian Judge in Marital Sexual Assault Case Places Islamic Practices Above Canadian Law
    By Pamela Geller - on November 10, 2017


    “The man was part of an arranged marriage in Gaza. His wife, a Palestinian who grew up in Kuwait, lived in Ottawa and the family settled in this city.”

    And these are the attitudes they brought with them: “Your wives are a place of sowing of seed for you, so come to your place of cultivation however you wish and put forth for yourselves. And fear Allah and know that you will meet Him. And give good tidings to the believers.” (Qur’an 2:223)

    He’s not guilty according to Islam. In Islam, women are chattel and men can force their wives to have sex anytime. So apparently Canada is now a sharia state. It used to be that “ignorance of the law is no excuse.” No more. Now if you’re ignorant of the law, or pretend to be, and follow sharia instead, in Canada you will have no problem.

    “Canadian Judge in Marital Sexual Assault Case Places Cultural Practices Above the Law,” by Scott Newark, IPT News, November 8, 2017

    Thanks to excellent reporting by Andrew Duffy of the Ottawa Citizen, Canadians recently learned of a disturbing decision from Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Smith that acquitted a man of sexual assault against his former wife because the man and his then wife believed that their religion and culture entitled him to have sex with her whether she consented or not.

    The decision is especially alarming as it is based on a presumption that Canada’s clear criminal law that requires actual consent to sexual contact is somehow superseded by a cultural or religious belief.....

    1. France: Vehicular Jihad in Toulouse? Three Injured as Car “DELIBERATELY” Plows Into Them
      By Pamela Geller - on November 10, 2017

      It’s everyday news now: another attack corresponding to the jihadist modus operandi, and another enemedia “news” report in which nothing is revealed about the perpetrator. However, in this case French authorities likely gave away the game already, despite their best efforts. A French police source “said that the 28-year-old driver told police he had acted ‘deliberately’, but was not on a list of known extremists.”

      Although the leftist propaganda mill frequently refer to my colleagues and me as “extremists” for the crime of opposing jihad terror, most frequently this word is used as a euphemistic label for jihadis. France doesn’t have a problem with “right-wing extremists” or “white supremacists.” If this attack was an “extremist,” as they appear to be saying even though he wasn’t “known,” then most likely he is a devout Muslim jihadist.

      Nevertheless, soon there will come another group of officials saying the motive is unclear. They’re already pointing out that he “spent time in a psychiatric hospital.”

      Watch this space for the same thing happening yet again next week. And the week after that. And on and on until the West collapses — or finally decides to put a stop to this madness......