Sunday, October 14, 2012

European Union peace prize?

Oh how I laughed, so much, when I read that news.

Whilst I understand why the Nobel Committee gave the EU the Nobel Peace Prize, it is, quite simply, wrong.

The peace in Europe since 1945 was due to the following:

-  The complete unconditional defeat of Nazi Germany by the US, UK and USSR (with a little help from partisan resistance groups);
-  NATO (and France outside NATO). Keeping the USSR and the Warsaw Pact at bay, especially after the Berlin airlift;
-  The economic integration of Western Europe since 1945 facilitated by the USA through the Marshall Plan, followed by the forerunners of the EU and the GATT/WTO.

There would have been no EU without the unconditional defeat of Nazi Germany, or rather no peace unless you would have counted a unified Europe under Hitler.  

There would have been no EU without NATO deterring the eastward roll of the Red Army by Stalin, using strategic and tactical nuclear weapons.  There would have been no peace either.

There would have been no EU without the commitment of West Germany's post-war leaders to economic reconstruction, a business friendly environment, and to face up to what happened.   To that end, for Greek protestors to fly swastikas because they don't like being told their government might want to keep spending within limits of what it raises in revenue, are dead wrong.

There would have been no EU without the United States providing the aid, providing the foundations of NATO, providing the bulk of the nuclear deterrent, providing support for the GATT (now WTO) to force open global markets in manufactured goods (the core of the Western European economy in the 50s and 60s).

Yes, the EU has helped bind former warring states together, it has also enabled there to be some recognition of mutual values  (however flawed they are in interpretation and application), of free speech, freedom of religion, belief in open liberal democracy, belief in the separation of powers (judiciary, executive, legislature and police), and a broad acceptance of liberal values that reject state racism and sexism, but overwhelmingly are opposed to authoritarian rule.  Yes, there are many ways that is flawed and inconsistent, but compare it to Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America.  Compare it to half of Europe before 1989.

But as the Saturday Daily Telegraph said, it has hardly got a glowing record when faced with major threats to peace and security.

The Nobel committee’s citation explicitly referred to its work in Yugoslavia. Yet Europe largely wrung its hands on the sidelines, until the US ended the bloodshed and forced a peace, as it later did in Kosovo. More recently, in Libya, it was Britain and France, not Brussels and Baroness Ashton, who acted as liberators – again with America’s support.

The EU did not bring down the Berlin Wall, the people of east Germany did after Gorbachev made it clear the USSR would not support east Germany continuing to oppress its people, and east Germans had spent decades watching West German TV and listening to radio from West Germany, the UK and the US.

In Yugoslavia it took US military action against Serbia for the genocide to cease and for Milosevic to stop "ethnic cleansing" of Bosnia, parts of Croatia and Kosovo.  However, it is important to note that one reason many Europeans, in continental Europe, support the EU, is because they have relatives who in living memory endured occupation by the Nazis, or lived under fascism of one kind or another, and have been sold the idea that the EU has stopped all that.  Conveniently, of course, whitewashing out the key role the United States has played, in money and lives, in keeping half of Europe relatively free and staying steadfast to allow almost all of the rest to be relatively free now.

On economics, the liberating movement of the EEC/EU in bringing down barriers among members have been somewhat matched by new barriers with the outside world.  The Common Agricultural Policy, essentially a scam that enabled France's antiquarian farming sector, propped up by grotesquely generous subsidies to pacify (and avoid a perceived fear of Marxist revolution in the countryside), to survive thanks to German, British and Dutch taxpayers, meanwhile dumping subsidised produce on the rest of the world, shutting out efficient producers beyond quotas and tariffs and contributing to environmental degradation and higher food prices in Europe.  The EU maintains massive programmes of vanity projects, like Galileo to replicate GPS and more recently efforts to replicate US, Japanese and European state programmes for earth observation satellites.  It dares demand austerity in the Eurozone whilst seeking annual increases in its own budget beyond inflation.   It's own politicians and senior officials, partly hand picked by national politicians engaging in patronage, enjoy lavish lifestyles travelling in luxury, feeling self important, whilst being ever so distant from those who pay for them.

Now it is printing money, demanding some Member States eviscerate their own private sectors with tax rises whilst trimming their public sectors with spending cuts, stating that the Euro -which should simply be a currency - is not an economic project, but a political one.  

I'll let the Telegraph editorial finish my thoughts on this:

Yes, Europe has been transformed over the past half-century – in the committee’s words – from a continent of war to a continent of peace. But that came about largely through the establishment of trade links, the free movement of people, the knitting together of an economic union rather than a cultural one. The irony of yesterday’s announcement is that the single gravest danger to that peace – provoking riots in Spain, demonstrations in Italy, the rise of far-Right movements in Greece – is arguably the European project itself, as it exhausts the Continent’s treasuries to prop up a crumbling currency union. 

The good news is that there is still time for Europe to pull itself out of this grim spiral, to rediscover and reaffirm the shared freedom and shared prosperity that made it such a beacon to the impoverished or imprisoned nations on its borders. If it can do that, it might even deserve such a prize. As it stands, this bauble feels more like a decoration for the headstone of a once noble ideal.

I would say the EU doesn't deserve it, but then given how debased the Nobel Peace Prize is (and has been for decades), then I wouldn't really wish it on anyone unless I was wanting to mock them.  It has become a caricature of what it is meant to stand for.

What's only funnier is the EU-crats, politicians and their lackeys thinking how very deserving they are for their great efforts.  Yet if it continues to be a barrier to prosperity in Europe, if it continues to expound the socialist view that the successful striving saving nations should pay for the deficit ridden corrupt and spendthrift ones, the only thing keeping the EU together is the good will, of Germans, who don't want to be thought of as being like the Nazis.   Right now, they are willing to let a lot of their taxes and some of their savings, be taken for their reputation.  How long that continues, depends on how many of them remain in jobs, remain immune from inflation and turn a blind eye to being called Nazis despite their hard work and generosity.

It is the USA, NATO and West German/reunifed German political leaders that have produced a legacy of peace.  It is the EU that arrogantly presumes that this legacy is immutable.

1 comment:

Kiwiwit said...

No one takes the Nobel Peace Prize seriously anymore, especially since it was awarded it to Obama for the sole achievement of being elected President.