Europe: Empire or Partnership of Democratic States?
Wolfe Tone was founder of the Irish Republicanism. Each year, the two main parties in Ireland, Fianna Fail and Sinn Fein still commemorate his birth as do many others. Wolfe Tone was the first political leader to advocate Irish neutrality in 1790, a core value which became an integral to the struggle to create a United Irish Republic in our long struggle against the British Union & Empire. So when the Peace & Neutrality was founded in 1996 to advocate the right of the Irish people to have their own independent Irish foreign policy, with positive neutrality as its key component, we were not licking it off the stones, but were simply the continuation of a long and deeply rooted tradition.
It was established because it was clear to us that the Irish ruling parties (including virtually the entire corporate media) were totally committed to destroying Irish neutrality and to integrating all of Ireland (the six counties of Northern Ireland was part of NATO since its foundation in 1949) into the US/EU/NATO axis to ensure Ireland’s full and active participation in the wars of other states.
PANA’s core contention was that that struggle for independence was not just a struggle against the British Union & Empire, but also against the emerging European Empire. The purpose of a number of key European leaders under the concept of “ the Every Closer Union” was to steadily destroy the sovereignty not just of Ireland, but all the democratic states in the European Union including the UK, by ensuring they became little more than County Councils, with all real power centralized in the EU and its institutions, the EU Council of Ministers, the EU Commission, the EU Court of Justice, the EU Parliament and a raft of other EU institutions such as the EU Battle Groups, the EU Defence Agency, the EU Defence College, the European Institute for Security Studies, the EU Intelligence Agency, the EU Political & Security Committee, the EU Military Committee and very recently its EU Military HQ. The steps are only going one way, towards the creation of a European Empire with its own European Army. As EU President of the Commissioner Jean-Claude Juncker said in an interview with Welt am Sonntag (9/5/15): “we need an EU Army”.
However, one of the consequences of our long and as yet unfinished struggle against British Imperialism, we have a Constitution, article six, which states that all power derives from the people. So that every time the EU proposes a treaty to take power from the people of the different states to the EU, as a consequence of a legal challenge by Raymond Crotty, every time there is such an EU Treaty, there has to be a referendum in the Republic of Ireland. The first such treaty PANA fought was the Amsterdam Treaty in 1998. Incidentally, Irish CND had opposed the earlier Single European Act. The Danes had defeated the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 and as a consequence gained a number of legally binding Protocols, including one which excludes Denmark from paying for involvement with the militarization of the EU. The core of PANA’s campaign has been that such a Protocol should also apply to Ireland in every subsequent treaty. Since Denmark has remained a member of the EU with such a Protocol for a quarter of a century, the only reason why the Irish ruling parties do not also support it, is because they support Ireland’s participation in war.
This is clearly the case when with their other decision to join NATO’s PFP and to transformed Ireland into a US Aircraft carrier, with well over 2.5 million US troops having landed in Shannon Airport since 2001. PANA however is not anti-American. PANA would also oppose the use of Shannon Airport by millions of Russian or Chinese troop as well with equal determination. In fact, is not anti-American, it is not anti-Russian, it is not anti-Chinese. It simply advocates Irish neutrality, democracy and Irish national independence.
The historic reason for the formation of the EU was the result of World War 2 where the world became dominated by the two victor states, the USA and the Soviet Union.
The other European Empires, British, Belgium, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, while they did try and hold on to some parts, like the UK in Aden, or France in Indochina and Algeria, most of the ruling elites of the different states realized that they could not reassert their global imperial domination as individual states, they needed to do so together as a European Union. The USA agreed and in the early period its secret service (the OSS) funded the various “European Movements” organizations and saw it not so much as a rival, but a partner of NATO.
The recent decision of the EU to make its links with NATO even stronger, to jointly impose sanctions on Russia after both the EU and NATO funded Ukrainian neo-Nazis groups to overthrow a democratically elected President, shows that the link remains strong. The decision of the people of the Crimea to return to Russia as a consequence was no surprise, any more than it was not a surprise that Russia would not allow Sebastopol, a Russian naval base since the 1780s become a NATO naval base. If President Putin had allowed it, he would no longer be President, and the leaders of the EU are very well aware of this reality. However, if they are to gain popular support for massive cuts in health, education etc, to build a European Army, they need an Enemy, and Russia is more credible than Salafi terrorists, especially as they are allies of, and the US leaders sell weapons to Saudi Arabia, the main sponsor of the Salafi terrorists.
To date, the main progress towards the formation of a European Army has been the EU Battle Groups first established in 2005. These are 2-3,000 strong military formations made up of groups of states such as the Nordic Battle Groups that Ireland has participated in, made up of Sweden, Lithuania, Estonia, Ireland and Norway (a state does not have to be in the EU to take part), equipped to go to war anywhere in the world once the EU Council of Ministers agree to do so, without the need a UN mandate (except possibly Ireland). Since for every one soldier at war there needs to be nine back up soldiers, and that there are two ready to go to war with 5-10 days notice, it means the EU already have at its disposal a 50,000 European Army. Up to now if a state took part in an EU Battle Group, it had to pay its own costs, however that has now been changed to ensure all costs are now part of the overall EU military budget which a key decision in build an EU Army. While the EU Battle Groups have yet to be deployed from the time they were first operational, they are ensuring that the officer corp of a large number of EU states are developing a degree of loyalty to the EU rather than to the individual states from which they come.
As a consequence of PANA’s first victory when it helped win the first Nice Treaty, the elite were forced to bring in the “Triple Lock” which meant that Irish troops could not go to war without the agreement of the Dail, the Government and the UN. However, this was effectively terminated with the 2006 Defence Act which allowed Irish troops to be deployed to go to
war but not participate without a UN mandate. But of course if they were attacked as part of the BG they would defend themselves, thus effectively destroying the “Triple Lock”.
Nevertheless the EU Battle Groups are relatively small military formations and not a European Army.
It was the Lisbon Treaty that really accelerated the move towards the creation of a European Empire with its own Army. It gave the EU a distinct legal identify, separate from and superior to the individual member states of the Union. It created the post of EU President who presides over the elected leaders of the individual member states. It created the post of an EU Minister for Foreign Affairs with responsibility for an EU Foreign, Security and Defence policy with its own Ministry for Foreign, Security and Defence policy. EU defence policy was to be compatible with NATO policy, including its first strike nuclear policy. One of the purposes of the Lisbon treaty was also to ensure that: “ a more assertive Union role in security and defence matters will contribute to the vitality of a renewed Atlantic Alliance”. The treaty included article 28A (7) which stated that;
“if a member state was the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other Member States shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power, in accordance with Art. 51 of the UN Charter”.
Article 28(A) has all the qualities of EU Common Defence pact that the that the Western European Union, which had a common defence pact, was abolished.
However, given that EU Battle Groups are relatively small for a real European Army, the key article of the Lisbon Treaty was the one that allowed a groups EU members states via Structured Cooperation.
Article 28 A (6) states: ” Those Member States whose military capabilities fulfill higher criteria and who have made more binding commitments to one another in this area with a view to the most demanding missions shall establish permanent structured cooperation within the Union framework.”
They are to merge parts of their military, “in accordance with the principles of a single set of forces” which is the definition of an Army. Once established and the EU Council of Ministers agree to its deployment in a war, they would be operationally independent. The parties that dominate Germany, the Christian Democrats and the Social Democrats have been long standing advocates of a European Army. Under this provision of the Lisbon Treaty this year the Czech Republic and Romania announced their intention of integrating sizable parts of their armies with those of Germany, under German Command. Holland had already agreed to integrate two of its military brigades into the Germany’s Rapid Response Force and Germany’s 1st Armoured Division. These will support the 10th Panzer Division. Sweden and Finland, once upon a time “neutral” countries which already take part on NATO military exercises and allow their territory to by used by NATO, are also considering joining this emerging German dominated EU Army. The German Defence Minister is very clear that these developments should be the basis of steadily building up a nucleus of a European Army and plans to have a multinational EU German led panzer division of 20,000 soldiers which would be operation by 2021. Neither is this form of military cooperation unique as for example the collaboration between he Dutch and Belgian navies.
The EU is also allocating €1.5 billion to joint defence spending, setting aside €500 million from 2020 onwards on research and development of new military technologies, which to be added to the €5 billion already pledged for EU “joint defence capabilities”. The EU Commission is also seeking an extra €1 billion to purchase high tech weapons and more research. The EU Commission intends to pay for such military by cutting expenditure on the EU environmental expenditure.
There are only two nuclear armed states in the EU, so the withdrawal of the UK is a major blow to the creation of a European Empire. After all, if a state does not have an Army of its own, it is not an Empire, and if it does not have its own nuclear weapons, it’s not much of an Empire. It therefore comes as no surprise that some leading political figures in Poland, such as Jaroslaw Kaczyriski, the Chair of it’s ruling Party, Law and Justice, has called for an EU nuclear weapons policy. However, at the same time, since many elements of the UK which were opposed to the militarization of the EU because they did not want the EU to become a European Empire, as a consequence of the decision of the UK to leave, the European Empire Loyalists are now embolden to accelerate their EU military plans.
Finally, PANA led a strong delegation to the recent No to NATO No to War and WPC conferences in Brussels. Since the focus was on opposing NATO, understandably there was little or no discussion on the militarization of the EU and its steady transformation into a military Superstate. To PANA’s knowledge very few of the peace movements in the different states in the EU call for a Protocol similar to the Danish Protocol as PANA has done for over 20 years. We certainly would hope all the peace groups in all the EU states would call for such a Protocol, and at the very least seek to ensure the states do not participate in the EU Battle Groups or the EU Defence Agency.
Over the decades, PANA was always inspired by Tony Benn, whose advocacy of democracy and opposition the emerging EU Empire was shared by PANA. The Labour Party’s new Leader Jeremy Corbyn, having first defeated its Blairite wing and has done so well in the recent election, was a strong supporter of Tony Benn, so it is no surprise that the last time he came to the Republic of Ireland, was as a guest speaker at an international conference at Shannon organized by PANA. If after the next election Corbyn become Prime Minister, then maybe we can look forward to a Europe of Peace, not a Europe of War. An inclusive Europe which includes all European States, including those not in the EU such as Russia, Switzerland and the UK. A Europe without a military dimension that focuses its resources not on war, but the real enemies, the real threats to humanity, poverty and global warming. PANA believes the actual realists are not the warmongers, the believers in perpetual war. The realists those who see the real threats to our survival are global poverty, global war and global climate change. A new Europe is Possible; a new World is possible. We just need to work together to achieve it.
Peace & Neutrality Alliance
World Beyond War Climate for Change Conference, Cloughjordan, Ireland