Napoleon and the paper tiger

Napoleons always have two lives, but the Lisbon Treaty campaign is looking a lot more like the one hundred days than the pre-Elba glories:

There is a determination in Brussels to carry on as if nothing has happened. In total defiance of the wishes of the Irish people, Germany and France have jointly called for the ratification process around Europe to continue. Britain is in on the act, too. Gordon Brown phoned Nicolas Sarkozy on Friday to promise that Britain would still ratify the treaty.

The Dutch prime minister has also called for ratification to proceed. Maybe I’m missing something, but didn’t two-thirds of his own people vote against the treaty? The president of the commission, Jose Barroso, said in reaction to the No vote: “The treaty is not dead. The treaty is alive, and we will try to work to find a solution.” With that kind of reaction, you begin to wonder why Ireland was allowed a vote at all….

The No vote is not the end of the story — it’s the start of a new battle. It looks like the Eurocrats are learning the wrong lesson. They think the No vote shows that in future the public must be cut out of the process entirely.

Tyrants have a strong tendency to make the same mistake. Because they are initially successful in bamboozling and running roughshod over the idiot masses, they begin to believe that they can do it indefinitely. Past success also causes them to overestimate their power, so when the idiots finally wake up to what’s going on and begin to dig in their heels, the tyrants errantly assume that they just need to push a little harder. Instead, their actions will provoke a much stronger reaction; if a second Lisbon Treaty vote is forced on Ireland, the No vote will probably hit 70 percent.

It’s more likely that other countries will be forced to hold referendums on Lisbon than it is that the treaty will somehow survive. Vaclev Havel isn’t going to permit the fraud of pretending that it isn’t dead and his moral authority will set an example for other, less principled European leaders. The EU tiger is quite literally a paper one; when it begins to fall apart it will fall apart very rapidly indeed. Whereas it wasn’t that long ago that even the euroskeptics were convinced that a united Europe was generally a good thing, now many europhiles are beginning to wonder just how anti-democratic rule by an unaccountable foreign elite is supposed to be preferable to their liberal democratic national governments.