Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Peace in the EU

When pushed to defend the EU, and once the arguments over economics and trade have been challenged, the average EU enthusiast will say, with the air of one arguing an incontrovertible truth, that, in the 50 years since the Treaty of Rome, there has been 'peace' in Europe, and shouldn't we all be jolly grateful?
I had a go at this version of history briefly a few days ago - arguing that not only has there not been peace, but that what peace there has been has been largely due to American guarantees. Thinking on it further, I think the argument can be deconstructed as follows: Since it is obviously untrue that the countries that now make up the EU have been at peace for the last half century (given the Prague Spring, the Polish Solidarity unrest, the Greek Colonels, the war in Cyprus, and so on and so on), the argument can only be one of two things: that, once brought within the EU, countries do not declare war on each other, or that the 6 original EU countries have been peaceful since 1957, at least with each other.
Because, after all, it is not as though European countries have not been at war in the past half century, even those of them that were in the EC from the start. France fought in Indo-China, in Algeria and in Africa. Britain has fought in the Falklands, in Cyprus and in the Gulf. So the main point for celebration is that EU member states have not fought each other for 50 years - a claim that can, see above, refer only to the 6 founder states. Without wishing to seem disrespectful to Belgium, Luxembourg and Holland, the only states this can possibly refer to are Italy, France and Germany.
Put like that, the claim can really be boiled down to: "Hurrah for the EU! It's stopped Germany invading France again." No mean feat you might think, especially as Germany invaded France three times in 60 years. However, while accepting that point, it is also fair to point out that Germany in 1957 was territorially divided, materially reduced, largely disarmed and subject to American and British military occupation. It's at least arguable that those factors were rather more central to its unaccustomed military unassertiveness than the Common Agricultural Policy.


Blogger Andrew Ian Dodge said...

And before than France was invading Germany. (Yes, I realise that there was no real Germany when France was busy invading to their east...)

3:57 pm  
Blogger chris said...

The Peace Myth is a terrible argument, yet they always reach for it. My normal answer goes like:

"Of course there can be no other reason that constitutionally pacifist Germany would not attack nuclear power France."

But when they go for the peace myth it also gives you a nice opportunity for berating them for their xenophobia in claiming that with out external restraint Germany would suddenly shift to nazi style militarism. Which is fun just to see them try and get their heads around them being called the ultimate europhile curse of xenophobe.

10:08 pm  

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