The Times of London editorialized, "This text and the enterprise that produced it has long lacked the public enthusiasm that is required of democracies." It characterized Chirac's administration as "inconsistent and inept," while noting the uniqueness of the vote. "The French have never repudiated a 'European' cause in the past," the newspaper noted.
President Bush must be smiling over the French rejectionist chickens that have finally come home to roost in Paris. The seeds of European discontent over this constitution were sown long before modern times. European nations have a history of individualism and national identity that a single currency and a single document are not about to gloss over.
Wars, occupations and invasions, as well as internal oppression in some nations - notably Germany - have brought distrust and wariness to calls for "unity." Many Europeans properly wonder on what foundation such unity will be constructed. Economics and political pragmatism are not enough. It must involve a spiritual oneness. The closest the French get to anything spiritual these days is in their wine bottles.
The Dutch, like the French, are faced with a problem of their own making. They have admitted 1.7 million immigrants, many of them from countries that share none of their political or religious history. In a nation of 16 million people, the Dutch have among the highest concentration of Muslims in the EU. Their likely rejection of the constitution will come from fear they are already losing their sense of history and national identity.
If Europeans have any hope of drafting a new constitution that will win majority approval, the continent's ancient history and modern concerns must be considered and dealt with. But without a sense of oneness, there is unlikely to be unity, much less union.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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