If further evidence is needed that the European Union is an emperor with no clothes when it comes to global power, look no further than its handling of the Libya issue. With several hundred Libyans already dead at the brutal hands of Colonel Gaddafi and his murderous thugs, all the EU has been able to muster is a mealy-mouthed statement condemning the violence, but without even identifying the key figure responsible. Here’s the full statement issued earlier this week by Baroness Ashton, the EU’s High Representative for Foreign Policy:
The European Union is extremely concerned by the events unfolding in Libya and the reported deaths of a very high number of demonstrators. We condemn the repression against peaceful demonstrators and deplore the violence and the death of civilians. We express our sympathy to the families and friends of the victims.
The EU urges the authorities to exercise restraint and calm and to immediately refrain from further use of violence against peaceful demonstrators. Freedom of expression and the right to assemble, as provided for in particular by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, are human rights and fundamental freedoms of every human being which must be respected and protected.
The EU calls on the authorities to immediately cease the blocking of public access to the internet and mobile phone networks. The EU also calls upon the authorities to allow media to work freely throughout the country.
The legitimate aspirations and demands of the people for reform must be addressed through open and meaningful Libyan-led dialogue.
I very much doubt that “mad dog” Gaddafi, as Reagan called him, is taking a blind bit of notice of what Catherine Ashton has to say in her weak-kneed statement. In fact he probably hasn’t even heard of her. What he will pay attention to, however, is the prospect of stringent economic, political and military sanctions against his regime, a complete halt on investment from European countries, the freezing of bank accounts, and above all a travel ban against him, his family, and all of his henchmen. After all, the EU as a whole accounts for 70 percent of Libya’s trade, which amounted to 26.4 billion euros in 2009.
Yet again on a major international crisis, the EU is looking like a deer in the headlights. All of the real action at the moment on Libya is taking place in the major capitals of Europe at a nation state level – London, Paris, Berlin – where there is serious talk of sanctions and concrete action against Gaddafi. Hopefully, the Butcher of Tripoli and Benghazi won’t be in power much longer and will be ultimately removed by his own people. But in the meantime, the free world must do all it can to also help bring his dictatorship to its knees, isolate it on the world stage and apply firm pressure on Gaddafi to go. But Europe should not cling to the illusion that a bunch of unelected bureaucrats in Brussels afflicted with delusions of grandeur will actually be leading the way.