Allan Topol is a partner in a large Washington-based international law firm. He has a science and engineering degree from Carnegie Mellon, and a law degree from Yale University. For almost 40 years, he has been involved in issues at the height of the Washington power structure.
He is also a national bestselling novelist, using the thriller genre to explore international geopolitical and military issues. His new novel, ENEMY OF MY ENEMY, dealing with an American pilot shot down over Eastern Turkey and Russian nuclear weapons, was released February 1, 2005.
His 2001 novel, SPY DANCE, is about a former CIA agent on the run and Saudi Arabian oil. His 2003 novel, DARK AMBITION, deals with the corruption of power in Washington and China's threatening posture toward Taiwan. In January 2004, his new novel CONSPIRACY was released dealing with a foreign leader's attempt to influence an American presidential election and the possibility of renewed militarism in Japan.
Allan Topol contact info:
Allan Topol Website
Email Allan Topol
Allan Topol Books:
Allan Topol Archives
Military Opinions Index
Have an opinion on this article? Sound off.
Your Two Cents
Submit your stories, news items, or a benefits update -- and help Military.com bring the best, most important stories to your fellow servicemembers, veterans, and family members. Contribute here
April 6, 2005
[Have an opinion about the issues discussed in this column? Sound
The sun's shining. Trees are beginning to bloom. There are very few American tourists -- either because of the rate of exchange or because of a desire to punish France for its governmental actions.
As always, the food and wine are fabulous. They're enjoyed even more by forgetting that the prices on the menus are in euros rather than dollars. French women are smoking and remaining thin. Thus, all's right with the world.
Moving from the streets of Paris to the offices of key French government ministries, an outsider can quickly determine that this is no ordinary spring. The single most important policy of President Jacques Chirac's government has been to push for an expansion of the European Union and then for the adoption of a constitution that would make Europe appear much more like the United States -- a single integrated political entity.
In part of Chirac's vision, this powerful European Union would be dominated by France and Germany. Not surprisingly, that part of the division met with serious opposition from other countries and compromises were forced when the draft constitution was prepared.
However, one part of the vision succeeded. The EU was expanded to twenty-five states with the admission of East Europeans. Now ratification of the constitution is in deep trouble in France.
Under the ground rules, all twenty-five members of the EU must approve the constitution before it can take effect. Referenda will take place in member countries this spring. In France it is scheduled for May 29th.
Nine successive surveys, including three released this week by prestigious organizations, all show that more than 50 percent of the French voters oppose the constitution. Moreover, this opposition is not coming from an indifferent or apathetic constituency. Media attention on the constitution even exceeded the Pope's funeral. Three out of five of the current nonfiction bestsellers in France are related to the constitution.
Chirac and his supporters contend that there is still a great deal of time to seize victory from the jaws of defeat. However, the bases for the opposition are deep and wide in my mind -- and unlikely to disappear.
To begin with, there is widespread discontent with the current government's social and economic policies. Some commentators contend this discontent is translating irrationally into negative votes. But the commentators are incorrect. Many people fear a future for them and their families that appears more and more uncertain.
Then there is a deep-seated fear among many of political integration with the culturally dissimilar people of Eastern Europe and perhaps with Turkey to follow. The apprehension is that "those people will overrun us," as uneducated hordes move westward in search of jobs and a better life.
France will no longer be French. A great homogenization will take place moving all EU nations toward the least common denominator.
In this regard, Chirac and the other European leaders may have put the cart before the horse. In hindsight, they would have been better to seek approval of the constitution among only the hardcore states of Western Europe. After that, they could have focused on expanding the EU.
Along this same vein, even opening discussions with Turkey -- a Muslim nation -- although not promising the Turks membership, has hurt the cause of ratification. It plays to the deep-rooted apprehension and fear of Muslims in Western Europe, particularly after the Spanish train bombings and cruel assassination in Holland.
At the same time, the government has not made an effective case for approval. More than fifty percent of the French voters will only vote "yes" if they believe that their own personal lives will be improved by full integration with twenty-four other nations.
As a result of these public opinion polls indicating a "no" vote in France, which would kill the constitution, some have begun to think what was formerly the unthinkable. Where does Europe go in its next political phase if the constitution is not adopted?
One alternative is a balkanization into several "little Europes." There would be free movement of people and goods among states within each of those units but not between them. Among these little Europes separate arrangements will have to be negotiated. One such bloc will be the "old Europe" consisting of France, Germany, Holland and some of the others in this region.
All outcomes remain to be explored. Unless Chirac can pull out a miracle, discussions along these lines will have to take place sooner rather than later.
Chirac has gone into a full court press. Ministers are not permitted to leave the country until after the referendum so they can devote all their time toward approval.
Here's the final irony. With Chirac's own personal support and support for his government plummeting among the French people, he faces a difficult choice. The more forcefully he supports the constitution, the more likely it is to fail.
© 2005 Allan Topol. All opinions expressed
in this article are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those