The Dutch leader Thierry Baudet breaks the mold

The Dutch leader Thierry Baudet breaks the mold
Thierry Baudet, leader of right-wing populist party Forum for Democracy, addresses parliament in The Hague, Netherlands, Friday, April 2, 2021. Caretaker Prime Minister Mark Rutte was fighting for his political life Thursday in a bitter parliamentary debate about the country’s derailed process of forming a new ruling coalition following elections last month. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)

By Ahmet Korkmaz

Thierry Baudet, Dutch leader of the Forum for Democracy (Forum voor Democratie – FVD), broke the mold in his speech in the parliament.

We translated the entire striking speech of 13 February from Dutch into English.

Mr Chairman,

The coming period will be interesting. The Netherlands, always quick to pat itself on the back for adhering to so-called international law, is being accused by various states of being complicit in the violation of the Genocide Convention. This accusation stems from our country’s participation—of course, because we are so obedient—in the joint attack on the Houthi rebels alongside the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. These proud Yemeni fighters are attempting, as is well known, to prevent ships supporting Israel’s bombings of Palestinian children from passing through the Suez Canal. Due to our country’s support for these bombings, Nicaragua submitted a case against the Netherlands to the International Court of Justice last week to be condemned for complicity in genocide.

If such a condemnation actually occurs – let’s be honest, it’s not unthinkable – we will see the true value of all the talk about international law and whether anyone truly believes in the whole concept of modern international law. We will see whether powerful nations, or at least a majority of states, acting as if there were a global democracy, imposing their standards on less powerful or minority states are really believed or not. Does one genuinely believe in this idea? Or, as I have always argued, is it merely a pretext, hypocrisy, a tool of power, a convenient argument? If international law is in our favor, we are supporters of international law. But if international law is not in our favor, then we do not acknowledge it.

The Netherlands stuck in the Cold War mindset

Indeed, if we be honest, hasn’t international law essentially always been used as a quasi-political pretext to push desired political choices and considerations, to underscore them, to make them sound apolitical, a bit like Omtzigt’s drivel about the rule of law? In reality, it’s nothing more than an excuse to conceal political disagreements with Wilders. Will the members of the established power parties, the elites in the Netherlands who are completely subservient to NATO, still talk so fervently about international law when the outcome doesn’t suit them, when that international law may directly oppose NATO countries? This could happen because the world is rapidly changing, and the BRICS countries put an end to American hegemony, to which the Netherlands, despite its rapid decline, still obediently adheres. There’s a saying that generals are always preparing for the previous war, not the next one. Following the lead of the US State Department, the Netherlands stubbornly clings to the Cold War mindset. You saw it in Ukraine. You saw it in Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo and now in Israel. They are all understandable alliances and choices if we still live in that Cold War mindset and in a Cold War worldview. Domino theory, George F. Kennan, Churchill: all part of the boomer reality.

Israel wants to expel the Palestinians out of their country towards Europe

But we live in the present, and we contemplate the world of the future: 2024, 2025, 2030, 2050. What will the world look like? Where are we heading? What is the actual balance of power in the world today? What is in the interest of the Netherlands now, not the Netherlands of 25 or 50 years ago, but the Netherlands of today? If Israel succeeds, for example, in its intended ethnic cleansing of Gaza, approximately 2 million Islamic refugees will head to Europe. Is that bad for Israel? Not at all. It is in Israel’s interest. Is it in Europe’s interest? No, of course not. That’s not what we want. You can have your opinions on the millennia-old conflict in that highly complex desert delta, but is that country our ally now? No. Are the Palestinians our allies? Neither. We have different interests. The Israelis want to expel the Palestinians out of their country towards Europe. We want to restrict Muslim immigration. It is that simple and clear. But unfortunately, some are not capable of living in the present. Stuck in the worldview of their parents, of the previous generation, the Rutte government consistently takes sides in international conflicts that are not in the interest of our own country, our own people, our businesses, our children, our families, our institutions. The Atlantic alliance is no longer in the interest of the Netherlands.

“America turned against Europe”

America, like Israel, our so-called friend, supposedly the one we should cozy up to. However, America has explicitly turned against Europe by bombing the Nord Stream pipeline in September 2022. Our so-called ally attacked us. Americans committed an act of war against our neighboring country Germany. The largest economy in Europe is now crumbling as a result of this attack. The Americans also destroyed a pipeline also built by Dutch companies. Mark Rutte acts as if he doesn’t know the truth and doubles down on his alliance with our aggressor: Stockholm syndrome.

Understand me well: I do not take seriously the accusations of Nicaragua and South Africa regarding genocide, they are clearly politically motivated. Of course, condemning the Netherlands is symbolic. That is precisely my point: international law is always politically motivated. When we witness a significant global shift against the West, what is labeled as “international law” will align with that shift. Behind Nicaragua and South Africa lies the support of the collective South, a support that is substantial and growing. In early January, the BRICS organization doubled in size from five to ten member states, making it larger in terms of population than the G7 and economically stronger in terms of purchasing power parity. Where do these new BRICS countries come from? Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Ethiopia. These countries, some of which are among the wealthiest in the world, will not understand or appreciate the submissive attitude of the Netherlands towards America-Israel, nor our country’s fervent support for the Old Testament-style slaughter currently inflicted by that old people on defenseless Palestinian children.

What does the Netherlands gain by persistently aligning itself with, or to be more accurate, leading in the extremist American and Israeli policies? What does the Netherlands gain by consistently alienating itself from the new emerging economies of the East? If it’s all about securing a new job for Mark Rutte, perhaps at NATO, there are cheaper ways for that. Just state the salary you desire, and we’ll pay it so we don’t jeopardize our national security by giving away our F-16s to be shot down in an unwinnable war.

NATO poses danger to our security

Indeed, the continued membership in NATO poses a danger to our security. The outgoing Secretary-General of NATO stated that the alliance’s expansion with Sweden and Finland is a defeat for Russia. This means that NATO still sees itself as an anti-Russian alliance, engaged in a zero-sum game for control over spheres of influence. It is doing itself what it accuses the adversary of. This means that NATO is not a defensive alliance. In fact, never has been. All its military operations, every NATO military operation, have been offensive. From Kosovo in 1999 to Libya in 2011, they were all wars of aggression.

The importance of the Hague

This fact alone shows how far the Netherlands has drifted from the original position of neutrality that characterized our country for centuries and brought us great prosperity. The International Court of Justice is housed in the Peace Palace because the original idea behind it was that the Netherlands stood for peace, for neutrality, that the Netherlands would become a kind of Switzerland. The first international peace conference was held in The Hague in 1899, with the participation of 26 countries from around the world. This conference was initiated by Russia. Tsar Nicholas II had great concerns about the future of Europe. He foresaw the First World War and extended a hand to the international community to try to prevent such a major war. Tsar Nicholas II chose the Netherlands for that conference because it was a neutral state, which it remained until 1945. We nowadays forget, but we were a neutral state for centuries. Nicholas saw the rise of blocs, power blocs as a ominous development undermining the flexibility of the concept of Europe, a wonderful collaboration that fell apart at the end of the nineteenth century. He hoped that The Hague could be a new balancing point between, on the one hand, the Triple Alliance of 1882 consisting of Germany, Austria and Italy, and on the other, the Triple Entente of 1907 consisting of France, Russia and Great Britain.

The memory of the role of the Netherlands in promoting peace, in trying to prevent a world war, in being a beacon of neutrality, of arbitration, is, in a sense, preserved by the three commitments in our Constitution regarding the role of the Netherlands in promoting an international legal order. But at the same time, it is undermined because the term and concept of international law have undergone a transformation. Modern international law, as I mentioned at the beginning of my speech, in which a majority of countries or at least a majority of powerful countries can impose their will on other countries, is the opposite of classical international law, which is based on the sovereign and fundamental equality of countries and the principle of non-intervention.

Understanding this transformation is not possible without American universalism view. America is a country founded on a universalistic promise. As hrough explicitly seen in its constitution, America is country that has no ethnic or historical core but is based on a universalistic principle grounded in revolution and embodied internationally by a man named Andrew Carnegie. While the peace conferences of 1899 and 1907, held in The Hague, established basic rules for sovereign equality between countries, trying to secure a kind of peace, Carnegie believed that a world government, supranationalism, globalism, would lead to peace. Carnegie, like many American oligarchs today, believed in globalization, in international institutions with supranational power. That is why the Carnegie Foundation is part of a galaxy of oligarchic super-rich organizations such as the Rockefeller Foundation, World Economic Forum, Bilderberg Group and Trilateral Commission all aiming to subjugate national democracies to supranational regulations.

Carnegie and American hegemony

Carnegie’s dream of a world government and universal peace, which in reality he meant “American hegemony” has blinded business and political elites for over a century and has led to endless conflicts. Because peace does not come from the centralization of power at the international level, it does not come from human rights courts, sanction regimes, interventions, neoconservative regime-change operations, and the like. Peace comes from the spread of power downwards, decentralization, tolerance, the dream of universal peace. A world government essentially means universal war.

Therefore, a much better model for international relations is one of flexibility, national sovereignty and balance. International relations and foreign policy based on sovereignty, acknowledging differences, recognizing interests but not fixed blocs, understanding that the entire world does not need to be transformed into our ideal, and that we are not a revolutionary power but, on the contrary, guardians of a fragile equilibrium. Why can’t we go back to the centuries-long tradition that the Netherlands cherished, which characterized the country for centuries? We are not a revolutionary nation. We are not the ones who believe that we can make the world safer and more peaceful by trying to establish the same quasi-American world order everywhere. National sovereignty and a policy of balance require a sense of nuance and curiosity, not the dead hand of American militarism, the inevitable result of a country held hostage by a military-industrial complex.

Our own Grotius, one of the greatest philosophers of classical international law based on sovereign equality, built his system on this fundamental acceptance of differences. In his work De iure belli ac pacis of 1625, he wrote: “Just as there are different ways of life, some better than others, everyone may choose what they want from all those kinds. So may a people choose what form of government it wants. And the right that the sovereign has over its subjects should be measured by this or that form, about which different people have different opinions, according to the extent of the will of those who have granted it.”

We can talk with Putin, he wants a compromise

This is pluralism, this is the basis of balance of power, this is the only way for peace. We saw it in Tucker Carlson’s interview with Putin: We can talk with him; he wants a compromise. We see it everywhere in the world. This is a shocking awareness. Our own allies, the people we thought as our friends, are the aggressors. We need to wake up from this neoconservative dream, we need to wake up from this Transatlantic dream, we need to stand up for Dutch interests and take a fundamentally different direction in our entire foreign policy. That is my creed. I told.

Translated from Baudet’s speech in the Dutch parliament, published here.

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April 2024