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The European Union – Catalyst for the Next War in Europe

March 20, 2019

Here I continue discussion of the causes of the new conflicts in Europe. Previously I discussed some of the conditions under which the next war in Europe may arise and whether a European Army will facilitate a power-grab in the EU by a totalitarian EU Government: Brexit And The Next War In Western Europe.

The following is part of a discussion which has been taking place on another blog.

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Thanks for your view of history. I have seen many on all sides of the debate coming to recognise there are fundamental problems with the Union as currently constituted.

Brexit seen in context is a symptom of those problems. It is not the British. It is a symptom just as the gilet jaune in France are and other social, economic and political problems across the EU along with the rise of the far right across the EU.

Neither the UK nor the EU leadership come out of the present mess with much credit. Its the people who always end up paying the price.

It is a mark of the competence of the UK leadership and media that the EU has so far escaped being called to account.

The current games are a distraction from what is wrong.

So let us see what is known about the EU leadership just before Brexit – and remember the EU is roughly only two decades old and in that time has lurched from crisis to crisis whilst being the architect of a factual matrix which underpins social, political and economic problems across the EU geographically and politically for the PIIGS and from the Baltic States in the North East to Portugal in the South West.

Turn the clock back only a few years in the EU’s history to 2015. The year before the Brexit referendum – that is how close in time the EU’s woes are linked. It is not coincidence. It is mismanagement.

Even you rail at austerity which is also not just a British problem but describe it as such “The brutal austerity measures initiated by Cameron and Osborne”.

Austerity is a ridiculous and damaging EU wide policy forced on Member States. It has much to do with what is happening across the EU today. The losers are the people and it is taking Europe into conflict as now seen in France.

Austerity is deliberately imposed. The overall political objective is not clear but the symptoms of it we see in France and across the EU are and were a predictable outcome. Brexit is a predictable outcome – the ultimate expression of dissatisfaction with the EU.

Are the problems it has caused intentional or merely a by-product of creating more wealth for the very wealthy? Is the social political and economic destabilisation an objective or side-effect?

Economist Professor Yanis Varoufakis former Greek Finance Minister and someone of ability wrote of his experience of negotiations with the EU during five months in 2015 during the Greek debt crisis:

“…. a titanic battle is being waged for Europe’s integrity and soul, with the forces of reason and humanism losing out …. to growing irrationality, authoritarianism and malice. ….. Europe has twice in the past hundred years dragged the planet down into an appalling quagmire. It can do so again. ….. Leonard Schapiro … on Stalinism: … ‘the true object of propaganda is neither to convince nor even to persuade. But to produce a uniform pattern of public utterances in which the first trace of unorthodox thought reveals itself as a jarring dissonance.”

….. I bore the brunt of precisely this type of propaganda. My attempts ….. were met with a concerted effort to turn our sensible proposals into …. a jarring dissonance.”

Angela Merkel during the crisis and in relation to it stated that we did not want to see another war in Europe. That is how bad it was then. The problems today are not much better.

And there is a war taking place in the EU being fought without armaments and troops – at least not yet – France is on the brink.

Brexit is one of the battlefields. It is not the only one and it is the people of Europe who are paying the price of this war.

As with all wars there are costs.

But some things never make it onto the balance-sheet.

That root and branch reform of the political and administrative structures of the EU is thought to be needed by some on the one hand and on the other the frustration that it would ever occur with the system as it is, is another aspect. Uncertainty about the social, political and economic stability of the Union is another factor.

And how can one put a price on this? A Syrian in a rebel enclave was asked why he was fighting his Government and he answered that freedom is too important. Easy to forget its importance after many decades of relative [but not absolute] peace in Europe. There has been war and it was NATO which was deployed in case the conflict spread. It was not the EU nor its predecessor. That did not prevent war in Europe.

What has kept the peace in Europe has been increasing prosperity and economic development since the 1939-45 conflict. Neither the Common Market nor the EU were the cause of that. It would have happened with or without them.

What is causing lack of prosperity and economic problems is the EU and its austerity. The EU is turning into the architect of new conflicts flaring up in Europe. The clock is ticking. It is just a matter of time.

The irony is acute that the EU wrongly attributed with being a mechanism for peace appears is the architect of the new conflicts.

And put a European army at the disposal of Brussels and we will be on the brink of tyranny. The very kind of tyranny of governments Thomas Jefferson described in the context of the right to bear arms under the US Constitution.

As for your perspective of the history of the Brexit negotiations: “a patient accommodation of the more outrageous demands of a succession of Brexit negotiators” is not accurate.

From a very early stage the Prime Minister’s government conceded practically all the demands of the EU. There was rapid capitulation by the UK including to the payment of £39 billion without knowing what the framework of the future trading relation was to be.

And the context of what Barnier said could not have been clearer: “I’ll have done my job if, in the end, the deal is so tough on the British that they’d prefer to stay in the EU”.

You however write: “I’ll have to reserve judgement on exactly what was meant by M Barnier when he said this.” And then go on to praise him.

You go on to write: “As far as I can see, there has been no breach of Art 50, which simply provides the mechanism by which a member state may exit the Union.”

I cannot tell quite how far you can see. What I can say is that since I last posted here the validity of my legal arguments on the lawfulness of such conduct is coming to be accepted by others with the knowledge to appreciate the legal niceties.

You write “you mean like the “Led By Donkeys” campaign”.

No I don’t.

Please don’t mention ‘May’ again. That is as close to a four letter word as you can get for the numerically challenged but linguistically gifted. Much the same could be said about “Davis” as “Fox”.

And her “red lines” came long after the Withdrawal Treaty text had been finalised so again your version of the history needs attention. The finalised version of the Treaty was since then approved by the EU Parliament and in November last ratified by the Council.

I disagree that “In fact, a little thought on this matter should make it evident that extending anywhere near as advantageous conditions to non-members as to members, would undermine the very foundations of the Union.”

Why should it? Non-members cannot be full participants and can play no part in how the Union develops. Non-members are thus seriously disadvantaged.

And a moment’s thought reveals the wisdom of such an approach. It is better to have a club of contented members than malcontents so not forcing membership of those who wish to leave is a sensible approach – more likely to lead them to return – and in the negotiations one can create a framework to ease the return whilst in the interim effecting change to ensure the club is suited to the common objectives of its membership. A golf club with inadequate golfing facilities is likely to lose members to a club with better facilities but it can regain them if it puts needed change into effect.

What you are really saying is that the Union is an unhappy club run by individuals with issues which raise doubts over their suitability and a track record of failure such that the only way the club can stay together is by shackling the members in an economic prison – neither content to be in and worried of the consequences of being out.

The EU would be a better place if its Member States were content to be members rather than being locked into an economic cage with a key inside but from which they fear to escape. Like a caged bird remains even when the cage door is opened.

This makes no sense “Also, technically it was impossible to negotiate a future trade deal with the UK while it was still a member”.

“Negotiate” is form of talking. How can it be impossible for the UK and EU representatives just to talk to each other? And the UK is still a member and was when people were talking about Norway + and Canada + and suchlike.

In fact it is actually impossible to agree the framework of the future relationship without agreeing the principles of what the future relationship is to be. So again what you say about it being impossible to talk is not consistent with the express requirements of Article 50 for the parties.

This also is a non sequitur and logically flawed: “it is only when the Withdrawal Agreement has been finalised that the detailed aspects become clear of what is to be negotiated in terms of an extensive trade deal.”

It is necessary to know the framework of the future relationship in order to agree what must be done to withdraw.

And Article 50 addresses the future relationship – which does not necessarily include a “trade deal”. It does include things like continuing co-operation on security, arrest warrants, air and other travel.

You don’t need to withdraw from arrangements which are agreed to continue after withdrawal but you do need to know what the future relationships are to be to agree about them.

This is not correct: “Obviously, this process could have been accelerated if the UK demands and red lines had not been entirely internally inconsistent (also known as “cakeism”).” How can this be accelerated? The red lines did not appear until late in the day after the Withdrawal Treaty had been agreed by the UK’s negotiators but not by the UK Parliament. And thank all that is good it was not left to the Prime Minister and her Cabinet.

“The EU …. is constantly renewing itself.” It is not and that is a fundamental problem already noted above.

I will not continue addressing further lacunae. It has been an interesting exercise despite all. And thank you for your comments which have required me to think about the issues and refine my thinking further.

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