BELFAST, Northern Ireland - The French rejection of the European Constitution by a substantial 55-45 percent margin is a repudiation of President Jacques Chirac, who helped shape the document. It also will give those Americans angry at the lack of French support for the war in Iraq and France's general anti-Americanism a feeling of deep satisfaction that Chirac has been humiliated.
There are many explanations for the French vote, including citizen anger over the more than 10 percent unemployment rate, an immigration policy that threatens French identity and a growing feeling throughout Europe that a huge bureaucracy centered in Brussels will contribute to a loss of individual state sovereignty and national identity for member nations.
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher warned of these dangers two decades ago. It is why she and subsequent British governments resisted Britain's entry into the European Union and elimination of the British pound in favor of the euro.
With the Netherlands the next country to vote on the constitution on Wednesday, and with expectations the Dutch will follow the French in rejecting it, Britain has all but said it has no intention of holding a referendum. Following the French vote, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said Britain needs a "period of reflection" before deciding what to do.
While hating most things American, the architects of a European constitution positioned themselves as "founding fathers" in the mold of Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and Benjamin Franklin. The problem with this analogy is that the United States of America was founded, in part, on the idea that God was present at its creation and that unity of spirit was essential in bridging economic, political, religious and other divisions between the colonies.
The 474-page European constitution (the length varies according to the translation) is a contemporary Tower of Babel, a testimony to the "power" and ingenuity of man. Like that ancient architectural work, the European constitution - at least in its current form - has come crashing down, injuring those arrogant enough to think they could build something that is mostly a monument to self.
A "United States of Europe" could not be formed on a continent that debated whether God should be in its constitution and then rejected his name, as it has his presence in corporate and individual life.