The fall of the European Empire

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The current crisis in global capitalism, especially as it is affecting the European Union, might now mean that his values and analysis, which were always relevant but peripheral, might now take centre stage. Great credit is due to the Greaves Summer School for sustaining them over the years.

Apart from this school, other organisations like the National Platform and the Irish People’s Movement have produced excellent work on the European Union. However, the Peace & Neutrality Alliance since our establishment in 1996 has focused on the EU’s military development, including its military links with NATO and the United States, so it is on this aspect of the EU that I will focus my remarks.

If you want to find out what Irish foreign, security and defence policy is today, the key question to ask, is whether you ring the American Ambassador or the German Ambassador? You certainly don’t ring the Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs or the Irish Defence Minister. The reason is that the Irish political/media ruling class decided a long time ago to integrate Ireland into the EU/US military structures and to destroy Irish Independence, democracy and neutrality.

When the UK applied for membership of the Common Market in the early 1960s, Ireland decided to do so as well, but since it would have meant Ireland becoming the only neutral state, the US State Dept. did not approve. In response, senior Irish civil servants lobbied for Ireland to join NATO. Sean Lemass declared membership of the Common Market would inevitably lead to a common defence.

However, De Gaulle vetoed UK membership and Ireland did not apply for membership. When Ireland later did apply for EEC membership, the White Paper stated: “The Treaties of Rome & Paris do not entail any military or defence commitments”.

But the clause calling for “ever closer Union” remained, and its ruling caste had no doubt about their objective; to quote a few:

“We must face the difficult task of moving towards a single economy, a single political entity, for the first time since the fall of the Roman Empire, we have the opportunity to unite Europe”
EU Commission President Romano Prodi, Speech to EU Parliament 13/10/99

“We are a very special construction, unique in the history of mankind. Sometimes I like to compare the EU as a creation to the organisation of an Empire. We have the dimension of Empire.”
EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, EU Press Conference, 11/7/2007 Daily Telegraph

“We need a EU Army”
EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, 9/3/2015 interview with Welt am Sonntag, in the context of a war with Russia

In treaty after treaty, especially the Lisbon Treaty in the area of EU militarisation, more and more power has been transferred from the Irish people and all the other peoples of the democratic states in Europe, to the EU and its institutions, including those covering foreign policy, security and defence, to such an extent that at its Lisbon Summit, NATO formally recognised the EU as a military strategic partner.

The Minsters of Foreign Affairs of all the EU and NATO states meet on a regular basis to discuss foreign, security and defence policy. Sweden and Finland, once neutral states, now take part in NATO military exercises. Irish troops serve in NATO in the Afghan war.

The Danish government is to hold a referendum this autumn to terminate the Justice Protocol achieved after their people voted no to Maastricht. If they win, the Defence Protocol will be next, as Denmark is a member of NATO and was an enthusiastic supporter of the bombing and destruction of Libya.

The Lisbon Treaty was the most recent EU treaty that focused on the EU military dimension, it:

1. Gave the EU a distinct legal identity, separate from and superior to the individual member states.
2. Created an EU Council President who presides over the elected leaders of the member states
3.  Created a new Minister for Foreign Affairs responsible for a EU Common Foreign, Security and Defence (CFSD) policy with a EU Dept. of foreign, security and defence policy.
4. Legalised the core instruments of the growing military aspects of that policy, the EU Battle Groups (BGs) and the European Defence Agency, which were made part of the treaty. The EU Battle Groups have increased in number from the thirteen originally envisaged to eighteen. The size of each BG has increased from being able to send a military force to war of 1,500 to 3,000, such as the German-led BG Ireland participated in. Since nine soldiers are needed to provide back up for every soldier in the field of battle, and two are operational at any one time, that means that the EU has a 60,000 strong army at its disposal. While each BG up to now has been operational for only a six month period, from January 2016 the Polish-led BG is to become permanent, and you can be sure they will seek to ensure they all become permanent.
5. It allows member states to form military forces: “in accordance with the principles of a single set of forces”, that is, a EU Army, which once established would be operationally independent. This applies to BGs and even these larger military formations envisioned by the EU elite. They do not need a UN mandate to be deployed.
6.  The tasks of the EU Battle Groups and these new EU armies include “joint disarmament operations, military advice and assistance tasks and post conflict stabilisation.” to “contribute to the fight against terrorism, including by supporting Third Countries in combating terrorism in their territories”.
7. The EU CFSD is to be compatible with NATO policy, (including its first strike with nuclear weapons strategy) and that it would ensure that “a more assertive Union role in security and defence matters will contribute to the vitality of a renewed Atlantic Alliance.”
8. If a EU member state was the victim of armed aggression the other member states have an obligation of assistance.
9. Article 28 A (7) has all the qualities of a common defence pact, to such an extent that the Western European Union, which had a common defence pact, has been abolished.

The EU’s Defence College, its European Institute for Security Studies, its European Defence Agency, its EU Intelligence Analysis Centre (INTEN), its Mutual Defence clauses, its Political & Security Committee, its Military Committee, its Battle Groups, its recognised role as a military partner of NATO, have already established all the instruments of a militarised European Superstate in alliance with the United States.

As well as supporting the process of the integration of Ireland into these military structures of the emerging European Superstate, successive Irish governments dominated by Fianna Fail (FF) and Fine Gael (FG) have allowed over 2.5 million US troops to land in Shannon Airport and Baldonnel on their way to and from its perpetual wars. This year FF & FG and the Labour Party, which under Michael D. Higgins at least opposed the use of Shannon Airport, voted against a Neutrality Bill that would have provided the Irish people with an opportunity to vote to terminate the use of Shannon Airport in these perpetual wars, by defining Ireland as a neutral state. The three imperialist parties won by 85-25 votes, but if the current public opinion polls remain steady then Sinn Fein and most of the independents that voted in favour of the bill win the projected number of Dail seats, then a similar vote would be much closer.

Thus the leaderships of all the three major parties, Fianna Fail, Fine Gael and Labour along with the entire corporate media are totally committed to the integration of all of Ireland, (Northern Ireland already is an integral part of NATO), into the EU/US/NATO military axis and its doctrine of perpetual war.

This is all taking place in the context of the invasion, conquest or destruction by bombing of Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, and the arming of Salafists, Sunni fundamentalist in order to destroy Syria.

Not content with their perpetual wars in the Middle East and Africa, the EU/US/NATO axis supported the overthrow of the democratically elected President of the Ukraine (elected in 2010, which had 3,249 international observers who declared the election transparent and honest) by neo-fascists, thus deliberately provoking a conflict with the nuclear-armed state, Russia.

In his excellent book, Frontline Ukraine Prof. Richard Sawka states:  

Demanding challenges in the post-Communist era- to heal the Cold War divisions and to build the foundations for a united continent-the EU has spectacularly failed. Atlanticism is becoming increasingly ramified, while Russia is left out in the cold. The drift towards a merger with the Atlantic security system left it bereft of autonomy and policy instruments when it really mattered-maintaining peace on the European continent.” (p 227)

Obama’s Nominee for the US Joint Chief of Staff, Joe Dunford told the US Senate at his confirmation hearing on 10th July that
“Russia is an existential threat … the threats list is Russia, China, North Korea and ISIS in that order”

NATO states have agreed to a major increase in military expenditure and are conducting massive military exercises in Eastern Europe. If you are not scared of the axis launching World War III, you should be.

The Irish White Paper on Defence recently published by the FG and the Irish New Labour government clearly picks out Russia as a threat, seeks deeper military links with the EU/US/NATO axis, and extols the virtue of the arms trade and seeks to ensure Ireland gains a greater market share in it. The Irish Minister for Defence had a meeting with the US Chief of General Staff before its publication.  In the event of a EU/US/NATO war with Russia there is no doubt that the US aircraft carrier “IRELAND” will take part in that war.

By Einstein’s definition of insanity: “ doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”, the leaders of the EU/US/NATO axis are insane. But of course, they are not. They are achieving the result they want, which is perpetual war and the total destruction of social welfare systems throughout Europe.

The EU/US/NATO axis needs war like Dracula needs blood; and the peoples of Europe are among its victims.

The 1% of the world who own 50% of the world’s wealth loves war. A never-ending war allows not only Lockheed Martin and the other arms manufacturing companies to make trillions of dollars, but also ensures that the sustained attack on the living and working conditions of the peoples living in the EU/US/NATO countries continues, by institutionalising fear. It helps to ensure that people like Cameron, a warmongering austerity junkie, get elected. The destruction of Libya, Iraq and Syria has led to a massive number of refugees fleeing into Europe, causing an escalating reduction in wages & working conditions, and ensuring even more profits for the major corporations. The EU/US/NATO elite, far from being insane, by supporting the doctrine of perpetual war, shows a ruthless determination to stay in power and become even richer.

The role of the corporate media in supporting the doctrine of perpetual war is crucial. The latest example being Patrick Smyth, the Irish Times editor for foreign policy, voiced his support for the use of Shannon Airport in these wars to a public Committee of Dail Eireann.

When the UK, France, the two major military powers in the EU and the US were about to go to war with Syria in Sept 2013, PANA commissioned RED C Research & Marketing to ask Irish people their views. 78% supported neutrality, 67% were not in favour of Ireland and the EU sending weapons to the rebels,
61% were against sending Irish troops to Syria and 79% were against a war with Syria without a UN mandate. The poll was virtually ignored by the Irish corporate media that normally give the RedC polls plenty of coverage.

Since the corporate media has consistently refused to give any coverage to our well-researched pamphlets on the military role of Shannon Airport, the EU Battle Groups and Iran, let alone our numerous press statements, it came as no surprise.

This is not a complaint. This is what the corporate media does. Their job is to support the doctrine of perpetual war and give little or no coverage to those opposed to it, apart from an occasional  article.

The problem for the axis however, is that their policy is not working. Their problem is that there are no European people; there is no European Demos. The Irish are Irish, the Greeks are Greeks, and the Germans are Germans. How many people really think that Greek people will die defending the Germans by joining a European Army to go to war with Russia?

The massive number of refugees pouring into Europe as a direct consequence of the wars of the EU/US/NATO axis has already destroyed the Schengen Agreement, a core value of European Empire.  There is little or no possibility of a war with Russia when Europe’s rail system has been closed down as a consequence.

 In fact, the wars of the European Empire are in the process of destroying the Empire. We can do little to encourage its destruction. We are a small country still having to cope with British Imperialism. Yet however little it is, we should do it.

For let there be no doubt whatsoever, the EU/US/NATO doctrine of perpetual war will inevitably lead to total war and the obliteration of all life on this planet.

We need to campaign at the next election for all those that supported the Neutrality Bill.

We need to call for the termination of all sanctions on Syria and Russia.

We need to build stronger links with like-minded groups in Europe and throughout the world.

Of course, when so many ex social democratic parties in the EU, like Ireland’s New Labour Party, are supporting this “ever closer union” and perpetual war, despite the horrific consequences to their own people, then the more people will turn to parties like UKIP and the National Front.

PANA supports Europe. We support a Europe that is a partnership of sovereign states, including Russia, without a military dimension and without a common foreign security and defence policy. To achieve that objective the EU, the European Empire needs to be destroyed. While it is true that it is doing a good job of doing so itself, we need to help its destruction as effectively as we can.

As an all Ireland organisation we need to campaign against Northern Ireland membership of the EU, as we did in the Amsterdam, Nice and Lisbon treaties in the Republic of Ireland, unless Northern Ireland is also excluded from the militarisation of the EU by ensuring a protocol similar to that achieved by the Danes.

Yet not the entire EU/US/NATO elite support every aspect of perpetual war as witnessed by the recent Minsk Accord, the ending of sanctions on Cuba and the Iran Agreement.

We also know that opposition to the doctrine is giving rise to new movements like those supporting Corbyn in the UK and Sanders in the US.

Pana’s core campaign issue in regard to the EU has been to seek a Protocol similar to that which now applies to Denmark that would exclude Ireland from the militarisation of the EU - a Protocol that has not prevented Denmark’s EU membership - and the termination of the use of Shannon and Baldonnel airports by the US. But since the whole point of the ruling elite is to transform the EU into a centralised neo-liberal Supersate with its own Army allied and subservient to the US, while this demand appears reasonable, in fact it undermines the entire project.

It is a demand that is the touchstone that separates those that support the doctrine of perpetual war from those that seek the survival of humanity.

I think we can win because ultimately it is we who are the realists. There is no European Demos, and without it, despite all their efforts, The European Empire will fall apart. We seek its replacement with a Partnership of sovereign European states including Russia. We have a strategy for the survival of the human race. The axis has a strategy only for the termination of all life on this planet.

Given the choice, humanity can choose the realists, and survive. If not, and they continue to support the EU/US/NATO axis, we all die.

This article is adapted from a speech given to the to the Desmond Greaves Summer School, Dublin, on 12th of September 2015. Roger Cole is Chair of Ireland’s Peace & Neutrality Alliance (PANA)



The photograph is used courtesy of the Defence Forces Ireland