Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Belgian Hegemony

Jonah Goldberg over at The Corner used to frequently refer to "Belgian Hegemony," which seemed ridiculous at first. Belgium is a pitifully small country, which should never have been a country at all. Jonah made his case on the basis of the cultural power that Brussels wields in the EU, plus the Belgian haughtiness of having gotten it all right that much of Europe seems to be buying into. It is the centre of that European arrogance that pretends to be tolerant, worldly-wise, calm, and combining the best of all worlds, while actually being a mess and in danger of bankruptcy were it not for the money that the rest of the EU sends in, plus the tourist trade from the US. The Flanders section of Belgium has about had it with Wallonia, which it supports with welfare payments. The recent story of the father of thirty (via three wives) is emblematic.

John O'Sullivan reviewed Paul Belien's A Throne In Brussels, which gives a sharp reminder of Belgium's actual history: corruption, treachery, and exploitation. And this, not in the distant past, as with most other western European nations, but throughout the last two centuries, up until the present day. A excerpt of the review:
If there is a scalier royal family than the Belgian branch of the Saxe-Coburgs, the news has yet to reach Debretts. They make the Borgias look like pickpockets and Richard III like a philanthropist. Leopold started the trend. He bribed leading politicians to keep them loyal. He dealt with opposition supporters of the House of Orange by having the military attack them and burn their homes. He made the Catholic Church into a virtual agent of his monarchy by affecting to be its protector. He was the secret owner of two newspapers (one conservative, one liberal) whose editorial line followed his direct instructions. He amassed a vast fortune by misusing government funds for his private interests.
Americans tend to focus their ire on France when resenting Europe. Think Belgium instead.

1 comment:

David Foster said...

The actions Belgian government had a *lot* to do with the defeat of France by the Germans in 1940. French defense planning in the early 1930s was based on their alliance with the Belgians, but in 1936, the Belgian government abrogated the mutual-defense treaty and refused any further military planning or cooperation. After Germany invaded Belgium, the latter called for French troops, which were sent but under improvised conditions.

As the Allied position was falling apart, the Belgian King surrendered without significant advance notice to his French and British allies.