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February 19, 2003

NAFTA For New Europe
The laughably corrupt president of France had some snotty comments for those Eastern European countries backing the United States' policy on Iraq: "These countries have been not very well behaved and rather reckless of the danger of aligning themselves too rapidly with the American position . . . It is not really responsible behavior. It is not well brought-up behavior. They missed a good opportunity to keep quiet."

Not content with just his toes in his mouth, Chirac proceeded to engorge his entire foot. As CNN notes, "Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, all of whom have dates for EU membership, joined EU members Britain, Spain, Italy, Denmark and Portugal in signing a letter last month supporting Washington's stance on Iraq. Ten other eastern European nations -- eight with entry dates and Romania and Bulgaria who are still in membership discussions -- signed a similar letter a few days later." Chirac deemed the Eastern European nations' decision to sign these letters as "dangerous" and "infantile." He whined, "They missed a great opportunity to shut up." As for Bulgaria and Romania, Chirac sniffed, "Romania and Bulgaria were particularly irresponsible. If they wanted to diminish their chances of joining Europe they could not have found a better way."

Here's my favorite quote. As CNN reports, "When asked why he wasn't similarly critical of the EU nations that signed the letter, Chirac said: 'When you are in the family ... you have more rights than when you are asking to join and knocking on the door.'"

In threatening to blackball the Czechs, Romanians, Poles, Hungarians, Bulgarians from joining the European Union, Chirac closely resembles Judge Smails. Remember Smails? He's the ultra-snob, old-money chairman of the hoity-toity Bushwood Country Club in Caddyshack. The first half of the movie features the nouveau riche Al Czervik, played by Rodney Dangerfield, annoying the hell out of Smails, played by Ted Knight. (Fortunately for this lame analogy, "Czervik" is an Eastern European surname.) Put off by Czervik's unBushwood ways, Smails' blue blood finally boils over:

Smails: (indignant) Well, I can guarantee you'll never be a member of Bushwood!
Czervik: (laughs) What? Join this crummy snobatorium? Why, this place sucks!
Smails: [stutters in disbelief] su-su-su-su-su-su?!?!?

Bushwood is a lot like the European Union. It sucks. Why would any Eastern European country -- freshly liberated from the dictatorial grasp of the Evil Empire -- want to surrender its sovereignty to an economic version of the Borg?

Does Bulgaria really need the EU to regulate the viscosity of its tomato sauce and the curvature of bananas? Does Poland want to be forced to put a toy in every pigsty? Is the Czech Republic in desperate need of tavern happy hour regulation? Do Hungarians want a prohibition of vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements?

Somehow, I doubt it.

That's why the United States should propose to the nations of Eastern Europe either inclusion in the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) or a similar free trade agreement. (And while we're at it, let's propose the same to Turkey.)

Such an arrangement has obvious benefits:

1) It would promote free trade, competition, and consumer choice in the United States and Eastern Europe

2) It would enhance economic and political freedom in countries which, until recently, had neither.

3) It would be so much fun pulling the rug from under EU elitists and watching them fall on their socialist asses.

4) The Eastern Europeans could have their tomato sauce as thick or soupy as they want, and

5) It would really piss off Jacques Chirac.

Considering that free access to American markets is much more profitable than forcing farmers to buy toys for their pigs, I doubt many Eastern European nations would need much convincing to enter a free trade agreement with the United States. But for those who do, just remind them about the European Union's Judge Smails.

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