Not Welcome at the U.S. Embassy

Three weeks ago, all the members of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Belgian Senate received an invitation of the US Embassy in Brussels to attend the inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama at the Embassy on 20 January. Senators Karim Van Overmeire and Freddy Van Gaever, both belonging to the Vlaams Belang (VB) party, the largest party in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking northern half of Belgium, accepted the invitation.

On the very morning of the inauguration, however, the secretary of the two VB senators received a phone call from the U.S. Embassy. The embassy told her that the invitation of the VB politicians was “a mistake” and requested them “not to come.”

Senator Van Gaever is a good friend of mine. He is not easily discouraged and does not take “No” for an answer. That is how he made his fortune in the aviation business. Before he went into politics Freddy was a successful businessman with many American contacts. He knew the late President Ford personally and was invited to attend the inauguration of the late President Reagan in Washington. When Freddy was told not to come to the Embassy he decided to go anyway and see what would happen. Would he, a democratically elected politician and a lifelong friend of America, whose daughter lives there and whose grandchildren are U.S. citizens, be barred from entering the Embassy?

As it happened, Freddy was not prevented from attending the inauguration at the Embassy. He chatted with the former Belgian Prime Minister Mark Eyskens and former Aviation Minister Rik Daems and the guards did not dare to throw him out. “Everything went fine,” he told me afterwards, “but it was not nice of the Embassy to ask us NOT to come.”

Who took the decision to snub the VB members of the Belgian Senate’s Foreign Affairs Committee by disinviting them, while members from other parties, such as the vehemently anti-American Socialists and Greens, were welcomed most heartily?

Vincent Chiarello, a former American diplomat who in his 22-year career has served in five different U.S. embassies in Latin America and Europe, where he was involved, often directly, in organizing the embassy’s proceedings on election night and inauguration day, writes:

“Never in my tours of service have I ever heard of any political party’s representative, especially those members who are part of the foreign policy machinery of the government, being ‘disinvited’ after a formal embassy invitation had been proffered; it flies in the face of diplomatic protocol and good judgment.
“The closest similar incident that I recall happened after the election of Reagan in 1984, and there were questions raised within the embassy about inviting the head of the Fremskrit (‘Progressive’) Party to the inaugural celebration because of his very strong opposition to Third World immigration into Norway. In the end, Karl I. Hagen was invited, for it was considered improper, and a violation of protocol not to do so.
“The decision to ban the members of Vlaams Belang to the inaugural viewing had to have come from Washington. No ambassador – at least no perceptive one – wishes to burn his bridges to the legislative body of the nation to which he is accredited; aside from being stupid, it is counterproductive in fulfilling his objectives.”

Since the VB strives for the dissolution of Belgium and the independence of Flanders, some people in Flanders suspect that the U.S. Embassy might have disinvited the VB politicians at the request of the Belgian authorities. The fact that the Belgian authorities are not inclined to protest the improper treatment of one of the country’s major parties by the U.S. Embassy gives some credibility to this suspicion. However, even if the disinvitation of the VB came at the request of the Belgian authorities, it is highly unlikely that the Embassy would grant such a request by a foreign government without conferring with Washington first.
Hence, in my opinion, those responsible for snubbing our party, and hence all the voters who elected us, must be sought in Washington. Was disinviting the VB the first foreign policy decision of the new U.S. administration – an administration which prides itself on its respect for democracy and its willingness to bring people together?

Hon. Alexandra Colen, Ph D, is a Vlaams Belang member of the Belgian Federal Chamber of Representatives. She is a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Belgian Parliament and the chairperson of the Advisory Committee for Social Emancipation of the Parliament.

Conspiracies # 4

@ Nataraja

Rest assured that my presumed obsession with muslims is nothing compared with your very real obsession with the VB party.  Instead of being all over the map again, you would have done better to address the three specific points I raised.  Also, I have no idea what you are saying in your second paragraph, where you are putting in quotation marks a citation which certainly did not appear in my previous postings. 

I will address again a number of specific points in a vain attempt to achieve order in a discussion.

1) I asked a specific question to George2 and, until I receive an answer, I cannot judge whether I committed a "glorious miss regarding one of the essential stands of the NV-A party".   Until a few months ago, that party was still part of the Belgian federal government (as part of a 'Kartel' with the Flemish Christian Democrats).  Are you and George2 telling me that a 'separatist' party (with the dissolution of the Belgian state in its program) was part of the Belgian federal government? 

2)  You claim that Ms Colen's "proposal" is nonsense, but Ms Colen has NOT made any proposal here.  Her article is about a particular disinvitation to a particular function or 'party' at the US Embassy in Brussels, and about possible explanations for the disinvitation.  So, who is talking "nonsense" here?  I suggest that you think before you write.

3) I am glad to read that you are a supporter of the NV-A party.  That speaks well of you, considering the alternatives for voters in Flanders today.  As I explained earlier, the NV-A party and the VB party came out of the same 'mother party' (years before you arrived in Belgium), and therefore are competing for broadly the same Flemish nationalist vote.  So, a certain 'rivalry' between them is very understandable. Whether they are both for Flemish full independence is neither here nor there, but they certainly want more Flemish self-determination' and freedom from Belgian shackles.  Your 'obsession' with the VB is counter-productive.  You better focus on the enemies of Flanders, and they are 'common' to both the VB and the NV-A.   


Thank you for the correction. Is this a recent 'development'?   Both the VB and the NVA came out of the same 'mother party' (Volksunie) . While the factor of 'personalities' can never be discounted, I always thought that the main difference between them was that NVA wanted to 'work' for more autonomy within the Belgian system, whereas the VB wanted to break with the Belgian state carcan.   At best, the NVA program could be reduced to 'within Belgium if possible, outside if it must be so'.  By contrast, the VB never believed in the possibility of achieving a fair deal for Flanders within Belgium and opted for outright independence.   Since when has the NVA become 'radicalised' in that specific sense?    

Seeing conspiracies... # 2

@ Nataraja

Since you are so clearly in the grip of the ruling cultural orthodoxy of 'naive-leftism', as is most of the media, I am not going to tackle the 'big picture' here again.  On that score you are for the moment beyond redemption, and only future events will be able to disabuse you of any illusions that we are not in "civilisational wars"  (but at a heavy cost). Rather, I will focus on three narrow details .

--  Despite living in Belgium and regularly commenting on its politics, you seem still very poorly informed. It is NOT an unreasonable hypothesis (of some) that the disinvitation was based on the pro-independence stance (for Flanders) of the VB party. Ms Colen explains why she does not believe in it, but the hypothesis itself is not unreasonable.  Your response however, shows ignorance by referring to the NV-A party and the misnamed Flemish "Progressives" (former Spirit).  The NV-A party does not advocate independence for Flanders, and the 'Progressives' certainly don't (they need 'socialist' Belgium, but do have some remnants of a Flemish reflex against French cultural imperialism).  In short, your attempted refutation of Ms Colen on this narrow point was pure nonsense.

-- Your claim that the VB party reduces everything to "religion" is nonsensical too. The 'raison d'etre' of that party is Flemish self-determination or independence.  Its enemy is the Belgian state, and the special interests that are controlling that state.  Some of the latter have been using immigration and islamisation policies as a weapon to undermine Flemish nationalism (a weapon that will ultimately in the longer-run destroy them too, but they are short-sighted).  However, the struggle for Flemish independence much precedes the current problems with immigration and 'islam'.  It is the Belgian state, NOT the VB party, that has reduced everything to 'religion' by SELECTIVELY criminalising criticism of islam, and thereby undermining freedom of opinion and violating its own constitution.

-- If you can not see that many, or even most, socialists and greens in Belgium are "vehemently anti-American", there are only 3 possibilites: either you are blind, or you are stupid (in the sense of head-in-the-sand), or you are dishonest.   Take your pick.

Conspiracies #3, @ marcfrans

@ Marcfrans

I am fully aware of the fact that there is a significant part of the European muslim communities who ignite, feed, and legitimate their actions on the basis of a notion of waging a civilizational war, eagerly fed by hate-beards in their dictatorial homelands.
But I explicitly want to warn for lowering our standards of sensibility by joining a similar discourse with claiming it as a solution, let alone installing this as an over-all political strategy.
While my knowledge on the latest developments in the Belgian political landscape undoubtedly have suffered from the fact that I havent lived in that strange little country for about 4 years now, I can nonetheless conclude that you, marcfrans, have equally been taken “in the grip of the desperately struggling culture of naive “economy? wellfare? Migration? Health-care? Education? Its all about the muslims stupid!”-sloganesque simplicity which VB has been desperately trying to press out its party rank brains for the odd 5 years or so.
You might not believe me, but I am glad we have strong critical voices against islam. The only problem is, I get quite worried it is by far the only theme which is presented with some consistency and vision by a political actor, hence feeding the civilizational war.
It is really quite remarkable that you call my view of VB in that sense nonsensical, referring to their “raison d’être” as striving for Flemish independence, while you don’t need more than one sentence to drag in, yes off course, the islamization again, and the Belgian state as a promotor of it. While there is a lot to say about the Belgian state and the reasons why it should thoroughly reform, or dissapear, your conclusion is a charicature and an oversimplification which doenst make a bad match to what I dislike so much in VB. You win todays conspiracy-price, and I still haven't read a refutation of why I think Colens proposal is nonsense.
Finally, I will not resort to personal abuse to try and find out which of the 3 attributes you directed at me you suffer from, but your glorious miss regarding one of the essential stands of NV-A (and I’m not scared to admit I’m a staunch supporter of this party) speaks for itself.

@ marcfrans

I agree with your comments except: "The NV-A party does not advocate independence for Flanders"

From the NVA program: "In haar streven naar een beter bestuur en meer democratie, kiest de Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie logischerwijs voor een onafhankelijk Vlaanderen". The NVA is in fact very much in favour of Flemish independence.

Strawmen Conspiracy Theories


Setting up scarecrows in the fields of your imagination and debating them seems to be a pastime of yours.

Dr.Colen and others are simply pointing out a new administration's mindset that is quickly, as is 'possibly' seen in this case, popping up.

Why is it somehow engaging in a conspiracy witchunt to report on a incident which reflects how a new administration's mindset is replacing an old one's?


You clearly missed the last two paragraphs of Alexandra Colens article.
Try the scroll down button?


No I didn't miss Dr. Alexandra Colen's last two paragraphs.

Why don't you try the UP button?

Seeing conspiracies, ms Colen...

is an understandable way of dealing with the hard to grasp and unusual, like this scandalous and undiplomatic move.

However, I dont think you have much ground for blaming this event on the "Belgian authorities".

First of all, VB has been having meetings and talks with US embassies and ambassadors before, and they were never any less anti-Belgian as they are right now. Moreover, if Flemish separatism would be the problem, why would the embassy not ban contacts with the equally Flemish nationalistic centrum-right NV-A, or leftist Vlaamseprogressieven (formerly Spirit) ?

As if the political left is so undividedly supportive of Belgian unity and the monarchy. That would be an immense charicature, which Alexandra Colen by the way obviously doesnt fear, calling "the" (not some, not a few, not even many) socialists and greens for "vehemently anti-american". 


Why dont we add another conspiracy here then Ms Colen, for example that the American embassy might have been informed of the potential diplomatic danger in inviting the charicatural civilizational war in which everything is reduced to religion which VB uses for covering up their absence of having a real program, for example by the jewish community? Joods Actueel maybe?
Their criticism on the passiveness of VB dealing with their negationists has been quite strong recently. Moreover, I can imagine in anxious times of mending the pieces after Bush on an 8 year long crusade with desastrous consequences for US relations worldwide, a bit more content and a bit less slogans might be desirable. Lets see if VB manages to live up to those expectations. Its about time. 



Seek the pattern

This was not something specific to the USA - VB relationship, but a symptom of the New World Order that will be implemented in these Days of Rapture, in things big and small. These items in today's news indicate how dissent from the right will be treated and how "conservatives" plan to respond:

Democrats Launch Petition Against Rush Limbaugh...
House GOP leader tells talk radio giant to back off...

GOP-ers Swoon Over Obama Despite Differences...
Hillary says world 'exhaling' with Obama at top...

Ashley Judd: 'It's so nice to live in America again'...


How highly significant it is in this regard that you chose a popular "Left Behind"-type christian zionist terminology like "Days of Rapture" to state your point.
Somebody here might be able to answer: Is He coming? Who is performing the Antichrist role nowadays? The UN Secretary-General, the Pope, or maybe brother Obama?

Ill try my best to be prepared.

Small-minded people

The invitation was issued three weeks ago, still on Bush's 'watch'.  It was selectively rescinded on the very day that it became 'safe' to do so for the individual(s) involved at the US Embassy in Brussels, because of the (Executive) power transfer in Washington. 

My guess would be that the action 'originated' in Belgium, given that US State Department personel, in general, cannot be expected to be very 'exercised' by such petty internal Belgian squabbles.  Indeed, in many even-less-democratic countries than Belgium, US diplomats often go out of their way to include real opposition characters (facing various forms of persecution by unscrupulous governments) in their Embassy functions.  I am thinking of places like Egypt, Malaysia etc... 

It is also beyond doubt that major figures of the Belgian naive-left, which is over three quarters of the political establishment there, has close ties with major Democratic Party politicians in the US.  One cannot imagine former Vice-President Dick Cheney stopping by for an empty chat in the Wetstraat (Belgium's 'White House'), whereas Al Gore and Jimmy Carter are viewed as trophies by Belgian politicians (from any 'traditional' party) when they pass through Brussels. 

Thus, if the decision originated in small-minded Belgian brains (willing to abuse the US Embassy for extending the 'cordon sanitaire' around the real opposition in Belgium), it must be recognised that they found similar small-minded brains in Washington to play along, either at the State department directly or indirectly via Congressional Democrats telling the State Department to take the 'short-term' view.  Either way, we are talking about lefties on both continents who confuse narrow sectarian party 'interests' with national interests. This is not a promising start for the 'democracy promotion agenda' of the Obama/H.Cinton team..... At the same time, this criticism should not be taken as a 'green light' for more robust Cheney-like actions of 'regime change' applied to Belgium. But, if Obama/Clinton cannot even show 'courage' in their invitations to Embassy parties, what could democracy promotion actually mean? Let's make no mistake about it, the recent power transfer in Washington was not good news for the world's democrats.

Very strange

I'm absolutely stunned to read that the U.S. Embassy uninvited members of parliament to an event.  Just when you think things cannot get any stranger.

Not in my name

Not all Americans approve of this sort of behavior. I am ashamed of my government's actions.


As an ordinary American, my apologies to the people of Belgium.

Foggy Bottom Flounders in Flanders

@truth serum

No doubt you are probably right that the dissing was triggered by high level Belgium authorities, however, Dr. Colen is probably correct that the decision was signed off on in DC at State, with the understanding by the 'decider' that it represented a consensus among those already responsible for the EU-Belgium portfolio and the new bosses. Safe assumption by the 'decider.'

Does anyone doubt that the Flemish cause will have few friends at Foggy Bottom or at the WH in the new administration?

As to what it tells about those American diplomats in country, in Europe I suspect Dr. Colen and the VB already have a line on their sympathies and character, (or lack thereof).

  As much as I dislike

  As much as I dislike Obama, I believe he is innocent on this blunderous insult.  Quite frankly, right now he and his minions are too busy presenting him as King of the World to worry about the inner political conflicts of Belgium. 


This has a personal feel to it...perhaps it was a phone call from the queen?


Thumbs up to Senator Van Gaever for having the balls to show up anyway.