Previous posts in this discussion:
PostMarta Andreasen (Angel Vinas, Belgium, 03/03/13 3:39 pm)
It never occurred to me to Google up Ms Andreasen. Now that I've done it, thanks to John Eipper's initiative, I'm perplexed. Its entry is absolutely up to date, included her defection from the UKIP. I get the feeling the Wikipedia entry has been written by some friend of hers.
My attention was called to an, in my view, extraordinary fact. She is reported to have started work in the Commission in January 2002. In May 2002 she was suspended. Nothing in her CV suggests she was in any way acquainted with the EU before. It takes about a year to come to know the workings of the Commission. On your sector alone, you would need at least three to four months. I submit the reason for her suspension may not have been what she suggested.
The Commission always gives a reason for decisions regarding personnel. It can be challenged before the Court. Many officials do. The Court is absolutely impartial.
I also see that among "the recommended literature" is the book by M. Paul Van Buitenen. Its critical or historical value is zilch. Please don't remind me of its role in the resignation of the Santer Commission. I know a little about it and have described it in my Al servicio de Europa.
JE comments: It does seem that Ms. Andreasen served only five months as the EU chief accountant, which is barely enough time to learn the ropes.
Here's the link once again:
Marta Andreasen; Thoughts on the EU
(David Gress, Denmark
03/04/13 3:55 AM)
I defer to Angel Viñas (3 March) as an expert on the inner workings of the EU. However, he is also a man of the EU, one of those who say that the EU is Europe. This is nonsense. Europe existed for millennia before the EU and will, I hope, exist for many millennia after.
Europe is a civilization; the EU is a bureaucratic construct. Never confuse the two.
Angel says that the Court--what Court?--is impartial. If you believe that, I have a bridge on the East River to sell you. This "Court" gives reasons. Yes, of course, reasons that serve the interests of the EU apparat.
Angel also has the grace to denounce Paul van Buitenen's book as "zilch," which is a nice Americanism from an arch-European, but it's wrong: zilch means zero, not nonsense.
I fear I do not have the patience to read Angel's EU-worshiping Al servicio de Europa. The title alone puts me off, because we have here again this lamentable identification of the wretched EU, doomed to die, and, one hopes, soon, with Europe, a great civilization, if unfortunately in late stages of decadence.
A book with Angel's title should be about the many cultures of Europe and their varied languages, histories, and manners, and would show how the strait-jacket of the EU is strangling all this with its tyrannical impositions. Angel speaks of free trade. Well, Britain trades more with the big world than with the little EU, and will benefit vastly from escaping the EU stranglehold. And that goes for many other countries.
Why so many intelligent people have fallen for this collapsing structure will be a subject for future historians. Money may have a lot to do with it: EU jobs are highly paid and very lowly taxed--fifteen per cent--which is enough to attract many opportunists.
JE comments: A harsh response from David Gress, who together with Nigel Jones brings the Eurosceptic perspective to WAIS. I think it is a vast oversimplification to suggest that opportunism is what draws people to the EU project; certainly this doesn't apply to Angel Viñas! EU membership is an excellent insurance policy for nations like Spain, which experienced the threat of military takeover as recently as a generation ago. And remember the EC/EU's original raison d'etre: to prevent a new Continental war. So far it's been successful. (Nigel Jones has responded in the past to this argument, and says that it's NATO, not the EU, that has kept Europe's peace since WWII.)
"Europe is a civilization; the EU is a bureacratic construct": let's open this point up for discussion. Is it a universal complaint among Eurosceptics that the word "Europe" has been conflated with the EU? And what does it mean to call Europe a civilization? Isn't it many civilizations--as well as a "construct" itself, albeit an ancient one?
Angel Vinas's *Al Servicio de Europa*
(Paul Preston, -UK
03/04/13 5:30 AM)
David Gress wrote on 4 March, "I fear I do not have the patience to read Angel's EU-worshiping Al servicio de Europa." If he has not read it, how does he know that it is an "EU-worshiping" text? In fact, it is anything but.
The title refers to the fact that Ángel himself served the (now) EU in several senior capacities. The book is, in fact, a highly critical insider view of the inner workings and of the way in which national interests were often used for extremely selfish, and at times personal, ends.
JE comments: I must get a copy of Ángel's book.
Paul Preston reminds us of a fundamental rule of scholarship: don't opine on a book you haven't read. It's only a slightly lesser sin than plagiarism.
Should we open up the confessional at WAIS? Have you ever written or talked publicly on a book you haven't read? Alright, I'm guilty--when you're a literature professor, talking about intertextuality and influences and the like, you can't read 'em all.
Ángel Viñas (next in the queue) has also sent a reply to David Gress.
- EU and Europe; Response to David Gress (Angel Vinas, Belgium 03/04/13 5:43 AM)
Well, in response to David Gress (4 March), I must say that I'm aware, at least as much as David is, that the EU is not the equivalent of Europe. For one thing, Europe has existed for a couple of millennia, possibly more. The EU is a political and economic construct. As such, it is prone to failures and even defeat. It is not a bureaucratic construct. To assert this is mere populism.
The EU did not come out of nothingness. It came because of two pressing needs. The first one was to make war impossible again in Europe. This meant reconciliation and collaboration in a common endeavor. It started in the 1950s with relatively good results. Obviously, failures were also recorded, viz the stillborn European Defense Community. The second need was to strengthen the economic foundations of Western European societies, which were confronted at that time with an existential common enemy.
The UK, DK and others preferred to follow another way. No problem. They started EFTA. They pooled sovereignty to an almost zero extent until finally at least some of them saw the light in the early 1970s and joined. I wonder why.
I don´t worship the EU. In fact, I don´t worship anyone. I´m too much of a rationalist.
If David thinks that DK would be better off outside the EU, that´s fine with me. He'd have to be followed by his compatriots as well. Let me say again that the Lisbon Treaty provides for divorce. No member State is obliged to remain within the EU! DK and the UK are free to leave but, crucially, they wouldn´t be able to leave for free.
Let me point finally to one aspect that isn´t sufficiently discussed. The current crisis has shown that the emperor is without clothes. The Commission is less powerful than ever. Governments have taken over. The fragile equilibrium among the Institutions (Parliament, Commission, Council and European Council) has been distorted in favor of the two Councils. You change the national Governments, you change the Union. If not, and if the national Governments don't change track, the future will be cloudy indeed. This is particularly applicable to Germany, Sweden, Finland and Austria. I don´t mention the NL because they just started enjoying a new one. If, within the compact, they don´t agree to a more sensible common course, I wonder what they would do separately.
But here, amongst WAISers, please let's be able to conduct a discussion in rational terms.
JE comments: Divorces cost a lot of money; on the domestic micro-level, a divorce can turn one middle-class household into two impoverished ones. Do the Eurosceptics advocating divorce actually sit down with a balance sheet?
I've been reflecting more on the EU-Europe semantic distinction. Actually, I think David Gress has it backwards: Europe is the intellectual construct going back to Noah's son Japheth, while the EU, even if you loathe it, is real--an institution with laws, treaties, and people drawing a salary from it.
Next at bat: Nigel Jones.
EU and Europe; from Luciano Dondero
(John Eipper, USA
03/04/13 12:55 PM)
Luciano Dondero, our frequent Guest Contributor from Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, sends these thoughts on our "EU/Europe" discussion:
About Europe, I'm afraid the one and only time when such a thing existed, and one could talk of a "European civilization," was when the common language was classical Latin.
Was that a peaceful Europe? Well, let's see: within its borders, barring a civil war now and then, and the odd crazed Emperor once in a while, it was pretty much OK. On the outside, it conducted an almost continuous war of expansion. Very successful. Most of the good things we still use today (roads, aqueducts, baths) started at that time. And that also includes a number of cultural/trade things--many of which were lost during the Dark Ages (i.e., when the Church was a very powerful force for obscurantism and backwardness).
Latin remained a key tool for facilitating a meeting of minds among intellectuals throughout the region, until out of it came a number of modern languages, which are still spoken by a very great number of people in the world (only Chinese and the Indian languages have more speakers).
However, nobody ever managed to rebuild the Roman Empire, no matter how Holy they called it--and then came and an entirely new panorama.
European countries, first as smallish kingdoms and fiefdoms, then as nation-states, spent most of the time at war among themselves, and with certain foreign powers (various Arabic kingdoms, the Ottoman empire), before starting the Conquest of the New World and the enslavement of Africa and then Asia.
Gandhi, when they asked him about "Western (i.e. European) civilization," replied: "It would be a good idea."
Perhaps his viewpoint was informed by events in South Africa and India, and thus not too keen on viewing Europe as oh so wonderful!
Regarding the EU, clearly it's pretty messy--the 4 March post by Angel Viñas ("EU and Europe; Response to David Gress") seems almost obvious--however, Europe has been kept mostly at peace for the longest time ever since SPQR ruled the waves, and that's not something to be laughed at!
In Italy, the party that got the largest single vote (M5S, Grillo's party) wants to abandon the Euro: that shows they don't have the faintest idea about anything real--imagine Italy with its own funny little Lira, we would be paying some millions of Lire just for a coffee if we had not joined the eurozone, and I don't think things would be much better elsewhere in Europe (Germany excepted, probably).
Please also keep in mind that the EU has now absorbed a great chunk of the "buffer states" without too many problems (beside criminality).
Quite viable this EU, it would seem; it's not really the shambles Eurosceptics make it out to be...
JE comments: It's been a long time since I last heard that Gandhi quote. Priceless.
- Has the EU Maintained Peace in Europe? (Nigel Jones, -UK 03/04/13 6:07 AM)
In replying to an excellent Eurosceptic post by David Gress (March 4th), John Eipper writes that "Nigel Jones has responded in the past to this argument..." (viz: that the European Union has kept the peace in Europe).
Yes, but evidently not effectively enough, because John repeats it again, forcing Nigel Jones to respond once more. It is NATO, not the European Union, that kept the peace in Europe since WWII for the simple reason that the EU has not (yet) a single soldier at its command--though it has absurd and sinister designs in the direction of acquiring an army, or at least a brigade.
Several EU states, notably France, deeply resent the "Pax Americana" that fought and won the Cold War, but their hostility does not make it less true.
But actually, it's not entirely true that there has been peace in Europe since WWII. The Yugoslavian conflict of the 1990s cost the lives of many thousands and broke up the Yugoslav federation. The EU, in the form of a ludicrous Italian politician with a ridiculous "mullet" hairstyle whose name escapes me, made frantic but totally ineffectual attempts to halt the conflict. In the end, of course, it was NATO armed force which brought the warring parties to the conference table and eventually ended the war. So the one EU effort to keep the peace in Europe was a total failure. Quelle surprise!
JE comments: We'll never be able to "prove" what institution has kept the peace in Europe. Rather, we should feel blessed that except for the local and very sad case of Yugoslavia, peace has reigned since 1945. But is it armies that preserve the peace in Europe, as Nigel Jones claims? Economic cooperation/integration is the more powerful force. For example, I'm absolutely convinced that our intertwined economies are the reason China and the US maintain an uneasy, and in many ways unnatural, peace.
Has the EU Maintained Peace in Europe? Yugoslavia
(Nigel Jones, -UK
03/05/13 3:16 AM)
To describe the bloody conflict that broke up Yugoslavia as merely "local" as John Eipper did (4 March) rather trivialises the conflict. Yugoslavia was a horrendous tragedy resulting in the deaths of 140,000 people--about twice the number of Americans killed in Vietnam, which rightly is regarded as a national trauma.
Not only did the European Union lamentably fail in its pathetic efforts to end the conflict, but the fate of Yugoslavia foretells the fate of the European Union itself--and all other artificial, mullti-ethnic constructs cobbled together by an elite without consulting the people.
Yugoslavia is also an awful warning of the persistence of national feeling--made all the more virulent by being artificially repressed. The ancient rivalries of Croats, Serbs, Slovenes, Bosnians, and Macedonians, did not disappear under Communism, they merely went underground to fester. Similarly, the ancient feuds and rivalries that divide Europe will not be overcome by the European Union, whose existence is rather serving to exacerbate them.
JE comments: I certainly didn't intend to trivialize the Yugoslavian wars. They were grisly, fratricidal conflicts. The Detroit area received a large number of Bosnian refugees, including a close friend of my stepson, who as an infant lost her father in a Serbian concentration camp.
My intention was to draw a distinction between Yugoslavia and the continent-wide wars of the 20th century.
Angel Viñas (next in the queue) reminds us that Yugoslavia was outside the EU at the time of the 1990s Balkan wars.
Yugoslavia and Vietnam Wars Compared
(Cameron Sawyer, Russia
03/07/13 6:14 AM)
Nigel Jones wrote on 5 March:
"Yugoslavia was a horrendous tragedy resulting in the deaths of 140,000 people--about twice the number of Americans killed in Vietnam, which rightly is regarded as a national trauma."
It is a little misleading to compare the total dead of one war to the military deaths of just one side in another war.
The Vietnam War actually killed several million people, including at least a million (and possible several million) civilians, and around a million and a half soldiers. I'm sure that any implication that the civil war in Yugoslavia was similar in scale to the Vietnam War was unintentional on Nigel's part, but I think it's worth setting the record straight anyway. Yugoslavia was horrifying (like all wars), but it was very tiny conflict compared to the major wars of the 20th century, of which the Vietnam War was probably the fifth most murderous.
- Has the EU Maintained Peace in Europe? Yugoslavia (Angel Vinas, Belgium 03/05/13 3:29 AM)
When I was younger and bit more pugnacious, I used to work on the NATO dossier for the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Previously I had been the liaison officer between the Ministry of Economics and the Defence Ministry. My fourth book dealt with the security relationship between Spain and the United States. In the European Commission I was in charge of security policy at a director´s level. Much to my regret I cannot let pass by Nigel Jones's post (4 March) on the EU and the maintenance of peace.
1. Before the EU was even remotely thought of, who was the future enemy for the victorious Western allies? Would you say the USSR? No. It was a resurgent Germany.
2. What was the first steps in the reorientation of the future enemy? The Washington Treaty. NATO was a follow-up. What was the European response? The EDC. Sunk by the French. Who was the first country in Western Europe to denationalise its security policy? Western Germany. Did the remaining members follow? Nope. They simply started loving the old Wehrmach enemies. And yes. NATO maintained the peace in Europe. In fact the glue for Western Europe wasn´t NATO. It was the perception of a common enemy. The USSR was the real catalyst.
3. The EU is a creature of WWII and the Cold War. But in some ways it has gone further than NATO. It has integrated the economies of its Member States in such a way that war amongst them has become an absolute impossibility. (I note that the UK and Denmark remained aloof when the ECSC was launched, but even the more dedicated "NATOist" would agree than when you pool the sovereignty about the coal and steel sectors of a few countries, open hostilities become unlikely.)
4. France didn't resent the Pax Americana. She did what the UK never had the intention (or the guts) to do. To develop her own nuclear risposte capability and to practice a strategy of the weak against the strong. Mostly for political reasons. However, the French game was always a little more subtle. France left the integrated military command but it established procedures to join it ASAP if things became serious. She never left NATO.
5. Yugoslavia was outside NATO and the EU. Its disintegration was a consequence of the implosion of the Soviet Union. Yugoslavia was not in "our Europe." The Bosnian civil war (there were no hostilities in Slovenia and only a few in Croatia) had to do with endogenous factors (multi-ethnicity vs Serbian "imperialism") and exogenous ones (political and diplomatic rivalry between Germany, France, and the UK). Eventually the US had to take the chestnuts out of the fire. A European failure which was substantiated at the negotiating table.
6. The EU tried to apply rational approaches to prevent the Yugoslav disintegration process. To no avail. It is difficult for cold reason to conquer romanticism, hypernationalism and irrationalism. These three European cardinal sins start raising their ugly head in today´s Europe. Empathy towards the others is at at all time low.
7. Under a Dutch commissioner, Hans van den Broek, the European Commission tried to circumvent the short-sightedness of some of the Member States and prop them toward a deeper collaboration in the defense effort under the umbrella of the Maastricht Treaty. This would have implied the erosion of the exclusion of the defense industries out of the Treaty. What was the response of the Member States? A categorical no.
8. Thus if the EU hasn´t done much more in the security area, the major reason is the reticence of Member States which are unable to do anything serious by themselves. France being the exception (Mali). As far as the UK is concerned, British defense analysts are in general agreement that it wouldn´t be able to mount an operation today such as directed against Argentina. When, by the way, Mrs Thatcher could count upon the political support of the remaining Member States. One could fear more about the consequences of the next revision of the strategic review than about NATO praising songs.
Meanwhile, let's put the blame where the blame belongs and be a bit serious.
JE comments: Romanticism, hypernationalism, and irrationalism--the three cardinal sins of Europe? A combination of the three (plus imperialism) probably brought on the Great War, which itself directly resulted in WWII. Angel Viñas rightly cautions the Continent about a resurgence of any of these -isms. They do not have a happy track record.
- Has the EU Maintained Peace in Europe? (Cameron Sawyer, Russia 03/05/13 3:51 AM)
When commenting Nigel Jones's post of 4 March, JE wrote:
"We'll never be able to 'prove' what institution has kept the peace in Europe. Rather, we should feel blessed that except for the local and very sad case of Yugoslavia, peace has reigned since 1945. But is it armies that preserve the peace in Europe, as Nigel Jones claims? Economic cooperation/integration is the more powerful force. For example, I'm absolutely convinced that our intertwined economies are the reason China and the US maintain an uneasy, and in many ways unnatural, peace."
I agree with John that it is not only military force which keeps peace; in fact military force is a force for peace only in specific situations--namely, where it is necessary to deter an aggressive power with aggressive intentions, with its own military force. Where the aggressive intentions never appear in the first place, military power is irrelevant, and that is to a remarkable extent true of post-WWII Europe.
Whether the EU (or any of its precursors) played much of a role or not in the high degree of peacefulness in Europe since the end of WWII, I don't think anyone can say for sure--it is pure speculation--but I would guess the truth is not much. Rather the EU and its precursors are a result of the same factors which created peace--a widespread European consensus that more European wars, after the horrors of WWI and WWII, must be avoided at all costs. It is this attitude, I think, most of all, which has prevented any aggressive tendencies with respect to other European countries from appearing anywhere in Europe, leaving aside the aggressive stance taken against each other by the two sides of the Cold War.
But the Cold War and how it played out is also an intertwined part of this same story--other than in ugly proxy wars like Vietnam, far from Europe, the Cold War never became hot. Western Europe was somewhat prepared for a military conflict with the Soviets and their satellites, but the conflict never came, thank God, and it never came probably also because Europe had had enough of slaughter after the period of 1914-1945, and great pains were taken to avoid it.
So the Cold War and preparations for military conflict with the Communist world was also a major factor keeping peace in Europe--Europe was divided up into two sides, waiting for this big war which thank God never came, and there was not much chance for aggression to appear within these blocs, which would surely have been suppressed anyway by the main powers, during the Cold War itself.
And so ironically I think we have to mention nuclear weapons at this point--their existence, and the prospect of the unspeakable horror which would have resulted if they had been used in Europe, probably also played a major role in preventing war in Europe.
So all in all, I don't think the EU and its precursors were in any way a cause of any of this--it was merely one other result of the overall situation. The same horror felt everywhere in Europe after 1945 which allowed peace to prevail for decades, allowed politicians to talk voters into giving up sovereignty in favor of a quasi-superstate--it would be necessary, was the spoken or unspoken subtext, to prevent further bloodbaths, and to fix things in Europe once and for all, justifying radical measures.
As to China, why would the US and China ever go to war? I find it strange that John presumes that these countries should have a tendency to military conflict. Taiwan might be a causus belli, but would China go to war with the US over Taiwan? Would the US? I think the answer is a firm no in both cases, and I think we have let the Chinese know that we won't go to war over Taiwan, which is why China may grab Taiwan any time now, without any fear of military reprisal.
Naturally intertwined economies and mutual economic interests are a powerful force for peace, but that doesn't mean there is any natural tendency to war between the US and China.
JE comments: I'll stand corrected on my US-China comment. By "unnatural peace," I was trying to say that China and the US have vastly different political systems and a rivalry for Pacific hegemony. These types of factors lead nations to conflict--but not (and that was my main point) when their economies are so interconnected.
Politics, Economics, and Peace
(Robert Whealey, USA
03/10/13 4:25 AM)
When responding to Cameron Sawyer's post of 5 March, JE wrote: "I'll stand corrected on my US-China comment. By 'unnatural peace,' I was trying to say that China and the US have vastly different political systems and a rivalry for Pacific hegemony. These types of factors lead nations to conflict--but not (and that was my main point) when their economies are so interconnected."
This is fundamentally weak logic. This philosophical problem begins in the 1880s, when Harvard, Yale, Johns Hopkins, etc., set up two PhD programs in economics and political science. Oxford in 1956 had a basic degree called PPE, Politics, Philosophy, & Economics. The advisers to the Prime Minister are better integrated.
The great economists, Adam Smith, Karl Marx, and John Maynard Keynes, all taught "political economy." American lawyers who got a degree from an Ivy League or Big Ten School, all had to have two or more courses in Constitutional Law. The State Department has an Economic Adviser.
If the US and China return to a period tension like the 1950-1973 period, the causes of possible military action will have both economic and political causes. Historians of the balance of power system already understood the problem of war and restoring peace, which is normal since 1648. A third cause of all wars has been implicit in the concept of religion and ideology. Wars are caused by ill-educated hack politicians who confuse an ideological problem with political or an economic problem.
JE comments: Fuzzy logic is my specialty!
Seriously now, I think Robert Whealey and I are on the same page. War invariably has political and economic causes. My (weakly argued...ouch) point about China is that we are on different planets when it comes to politics, but our economies are so connected that an armed conflict is unthinkable. In brief: why would China go to war when we owe them so much money? It's no longer possible to occupy a nation and exact tribute. And how could the US fight a war against the nation that makes our shoes, toys, and our soldiers' uniforms?
- Has the EU Maintained Peace in Europe? Yugoslavia (Angel Vinas, Belgium 03/05/13 3:29 AM)
- Yugoslavia and Vietnam Wars Compared (Cameron Sawyer, Russia 03/07/13 6:14 AM)
- Has the EU Maintained Peace in Europe? (Nigel Jones, -UK 03/04/13 6:07 AM)
- EU and Europe; Response to David Gress (Angel Vinas, Belgium 03/04/13 5:43 AM)
- Angel Vinas's *Al Servicio de Europa* (Paul Preston, -UK 03/04/13 5:30 AM)