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Post Has the EU Maintained Peace in Europe? Yugoslavia
Created by John Eipper on 03/05/13 3:50 AM

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Has the EU Maintained Peace in Europe? Yugoslavia (Angel Vinas, Belgium, 03/05/13 3:50 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.

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