November 20, 2000
The Superstate Rises.
Our Rulers Lie.
If it's not a state, why does it need an army?
Romans had a word for it. Decimation. When a Roman soldier was killed
they would line up all the local adult, male citizenry, pick every
tenth man and kill him. Not terribly nice. The same is not going
to be happening to the British
armed forces. The good news is that British troops are not going
to be killed, merely placed in harms way at the dictate of foreign
bureaucrats. The bad news is that it is not just going to be
one in ten, but half the Royal Navy, a quarter of the army and a
quarter of the Royal Air Force. The European Union has demanded
that we dedicate our forces to it, and we have responded generously.
How kind of us.
does Europe need this? This is truly bizarre. After all our elected
leaders, who surely would never lie to us, have told us that Europe
is not going to be a state. Tony Blair said that he wished to help
make Europe "a
superpower but not a superstate". How very third way of him.
Our foreign secretary, Robin Cook, probably after a particularly
drinking binge or has he got rid of this along with his Euro-scepticism said that the creation of a Euro state was "the
biggest myth about Europe". So why, foreign secretary, are we
devoting half our navy to this myth? To disprove it? The fact is
that a trade association no more needs an army than it needs a flag.
Oops, the EU already has one of those. OK, it no more needs an army
than it needs its own
currency. Or a common
passport. Or a single
criminal code. Or an anthem. After all, it's not a superstate,
am not sure that Rome, during either its rise or its fall, ever
rivaled Europe for the clown-like behaviour of its leadership. Take
this following quote
from Romano Prodi, the President of the European Commission:
I was talking about the European army I was not joking. If you
don't want to call it a European army, don't call it a European
army. You can call it "Margaret," you can call it "Mary-Ann,"
you can find any name, but it is a joint effort for peace-keeping
missions-the first time you have a joint, not bilateral, effort
at European level."
that sure got the existentialist vote. Why, if we are not building
a state, does this non-state-thingy need an army? This is not a
unified command against a common threat like NATO was.
This is an army to project the power of a, well, trade agreement.
The fact is that by saying that this is a superpower but not a superstate
is nuanced beyond the point of nonsense.
IN IT FOR US?
know why Europe wants an army, as a part of building a sovereign
and unitary state, although us Brits will not be told until it has
already happened. Nevertheless, is it in our national interest in
accepting this enormously risky proposition? The person in charge
of about a third of our active servicemen will not even be British,
and so will not be answerable to a British government. This is not
a matter of petty nationalism; it is about the crucial issue of
democratic control of our armed forces. If our armed forces are
not being controlled by someone accountable to our elected government,
then what check will we have over them? I am not suggesting that
they would use British troops to put down British unrest (now that
would be risky), but that we know where British troops would
European Union is going
east. All the British parties are in
favour of this, not so secretly hoping that this will dilute
the Franco-German dominance of European affairs. To be honest it
may have a slight bias in this direction but there is a massive
strategic downside. The European security apparatus will effectively
mean that we are obliged to protect the new members. There are two
problems here. While I do not hold that German influence in Eastern
Europe is necessarily a bad thing the area has no strategic
bearing on us neither do I think that it is worth risking
the bones of an Irish grenadier. The other problem is more pertinent
mother Russia. Russia may be poor and beaten but it is still
a large country with a large military, a fierce national pride and
rich natural resources. While it may have been necessary to fight
a cold war against its communist government, it was not a picnic.
Russia should only be fought, like any other power, when there is
a genuine threat to our survival. At the moment, Russia does not
pose such a threat. However, Russia does not see it the same way,
with a newly united European military expanding into Eastern Europe.
At the least we should recognise and discuss the dangers that this
poses. Fat chance.
euro-sceptics have been getting very confident lately. The threat
of an imposition of the Euro has greatly receded, the British
public are just too hard to convince and the arguments for the
Euro are just embarrassingly feeble. However, the understandable
concentration on the Euro has meant that the euro-sceptics have
largely taken their eye off the ball from other substantive issues.
model of jurisprudence is creeping into British courtrooms and
a large swathe of Common Law guarantees such as habeas corpus, the
presumption of innocence and trial by jury are being phased out.
Similarly, British armed forces are slipping away from British command,
and therefore democratic control. This is a constitutional issue
of earth shattering importance. Is anyone listening?
SCRIPT: MORE ON GORE
have had a bit of an upswing in my post bag this week as a result
on my piece
saying that I want Al Gore to be President. All my correspondents
were too polite to point out the obvious that as a Limey
I have no real right to comment on another country's internal situation
but the point remains valid. However the two points that
were overwhelmingly made that Bush is a better person than
Gore, and that Gore is stealing an election are both good
points, but I would respectfully suggest irrelevant. Firstly Bush
may be far better on the issues, and more resemble a human being,
than his opponent does. However politics is shaped less by the main
players than by "events, dear boy, events" (who said that?). Events,
dear boy, have emasculated the government no bad thing in
peacetime. So it does not matter, this is no longer (if it ever
was) the most important result since 1860. Secondly, ballot fraud
is neither new nor unusual in any close race in any democracy. In
old blighty we had a referendum in Wales, were the devolutionists
won through a large number of ballots called in the last area to
report. Only the extremely gullible believe that this was legitimate.
I am not saying that this behaviour is acceptable, but nor is it
the end of democratic government. The task is to use the shameless
ballot rigging for your own advantage and not to let the
Democrats make the myths this time.