Rethinking Europe

Bernard-Henri Lévy: A False Prophet

The man who gave us the disaster of Libya is no help against Brexit.

Credit: Prachatai www.flickr.com

Takeaways


  • Bernard-Henri Lévy, the man who gave us the disaster of Libya, is no help against Brexit.
  • Mr. Lévy is responsible for one of the proximate causes of current European distress – namely the tsunami of refugees, economic migrants and Islamist jihadis who have taken advantage of the destruction of the Libyan state.
  • With friends like Mr. Lévy, the pro-European cause in the UK needs no local enemies like Jacob Rees Mogg.

Have Britain’s anti-Brexit campaigners found their prophet to lead Britain out of the Brexit wilderness to a promised land? Last week, the vainest man on the planet, Bernard-Henri Lévy, came to Sloane Square in Chelsea to perform a one-man show against Brexit in Cadogan Hall.

Mr. Lévy is often described as a “public intellectual” — though publicist extraordinaire might be a better title.

In Chelsea, he told his audience that Europe is finished without Britain. As a classic neoliberal, pro-American rightist, Lévy, 70 this year but never photographed without his white shirt unbuttoned to his belly-button, hopes to get Britain to rethink Brexit by saying British economic liberalism is essential to the European project.

Little matter that many on the European continent believe that it has been Brussels’ liberal economic orthodoxy with a focus on austerity, cutting wages, slashing social expenditure and protecting the wealthy that has helped produced modern anti-EU votes, including Brexit. Mr. Lévy’s message is that more and more Manchester liberalism is what Europe needs

Lévy and Libya

However, Mr. Lévy is certainly responsible for one of the proximate causes of current European distress – namely the tsunami of refugees, economic migrants and Islamist jihadis who have taken advantage of the destruction of the Libyan state since 2011 to pour through the 1900-kilometer-long Libyan coastline to arrive in Europe.

They come usually via Italy which has just elected a government that wants to repatriate 500,000 refugees pinned down in southern Italy as the rest of Europe doesn’t want them.

Lévy has always been attracted to insurrectionist Muslim radicalism. He supported the jihadis in Afghanistan as they mutated into the Taliban. He backed Bosniak Muslims in the Yugoslav wars, and Kurdish Muslims fighting the secular Baathists in Iraq and now Syria.

In 2011, Lévy called up his fellow bling-bling copain Nicolas Sarkozy to urge him to launch a military campaign to overthrow Gaddafi. Sarkozy called up David Cameron and William Hague, and two British leaders made every mistake in the Iraq playbook as they blundered in behind Sarkozy and Levy to destroy the Libyan state.

The result is an open conduit for every oppressed or poor Arab or African in the Sahara and further south to arrive in Europe. In Germany, Austria, Hungary and Slovenia, the classic center-right, liberal and social democratic parties have lost much ground to the new anti-immigrant nationalists thanks to the events in Libya.

The 2011 Sarkozy-Cameron intervention — which Lévy insists he inspired – resulted in Libya losing all control over its frontiers.

As someone who thinks Britain amputating herself from Europe is a historic blunder, I ought to welcome any campaigner to the cause of saying Brexit is wrong. But with friends like Mr. Lévy, the pro-European cause in the UK needs no local enemies like Jacob Rees Mogg.

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About Denis MacShane

Denis MacShane is a Contributing Editor at The Globalist. He was the UK's Minister for Europe from 2002 to 2005 — and is the author of “Brexit No Exit: Why Britain Won’t Leave Europe.” [London]. Follow him @DenisMacShane

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