"Unconscionable...Ungrateful Irish" Reject EU Treaty

Roger Cohen indulges in a wee bit of stereotyping about Ireland's former status as a "beer-soaked backwater" and suggests the EU should use trickery to get the thing passed over Ireland's democratic vote.

So, you didn't thinkIreland's vote ona European Union treatycould inspire passion? Just read Thursday's online column by international affairs columnist and Obama worshipper Roger Cohen, "Muck of the Irish."

After Irish voters had the audacity to resoundingly reject the Lisbon Treaty, sold as a way to simplify relations in an expanding European Union, Cohen misplaced his liberal politesse in a flash of elitist anger and indulged in a wee bit of stereotyping of the "ungrateful Irish."

Europeans have spent a lot of time in recent years asking Americans how they could be dumb enough to make the same mistake twice in electing George W. Bush. But when it comes to sheer electoral crassness, it's hard to beat what the Irish have just done.

I can't think of a country that's benefited from European Union membership more than Ireland. It has catapulted itself in a few decades from beer-soaked backwater to the Celtic Tiger whose growth rates, foreign investment and rags-to-riches story were the envy of every languishing small nation with a thirst for a makeover.

The lowering of tax rates in Ireland just may have had something to do with the country's transformation, but Cohen doesn't mention that.

Yet here we have the Irish, in a fit of Euro-bashing pique worthy of the worst of little-Englandism, rejecting the renegotiated Lisbon treaty essential for the functioning of an expanded 27-member E.U. Biting the hand that feeds you does not begin to describe this act of bloody-mindedness.


Still, what the Irish did was unconscionable. It makes me despair of a Europe that should be proud of what it's achieved in absorbing the freed former vassal-nations of the Soviet Union in Central Europe. But instead of rejoicing at a Europe "whole and free," Europeans have been in a funk of which the Irish "No" is the latest expression.

Yes, it's more complicated running a 27-member E.U. than a cozy 12-member club. Yes, Polish plumbers might show up in Western Europe and take a job or two. Yes, European institutions can seem remote. But measured on any sensible historical scale, the pettiness of Europeans confronted by the need to reform a post-Berlin-Wall E.U. has been mind-boggling.

Cohen bullied Europe to get with the program and teach Ireland a lesson through any means necessary, evidently including subterfuge:

Europe needs to get over its funk. To come into force, the treaty requires ratification by all member states. Others must now proceed with the ratification process. E.U. history is full of acts of ingenuity that have kept the Euro bicycle from toppling. The months ahead should be used to find one to deal with the ungrateful Irish.

In other words, work around Ireland's inconvenient democracy for another way to force the Lisbon Treaty through.

Andrew Stuttaford at National Review online had a rather different point of view, celebrating Ireland's rejection:

If there were any last, few, pitiful remaining scraps of doubt about the depth of the disdain felt by the European Union's leaders for the people of their wretched union, they ought, surely, to have been dispelled by the miserable saga of the Treaty of Lisbon, the sly, squalid, and cynical pact that has just been rejected by Irish voters, the only mass electorate given the chance to do so.

From its very beginnings, the Treaty of Lisbon was an exercise in deception, deliberately designed to deny the EU's voters any more chances to slow down the construction of a European superstate that relatively few, outside an elite chasing power, privilege, and the chance to say "boo" to America, actually appear to want.