Saturday, 21 May 2016
I'm having a debate on Eastern Europe on twitter, so to save me restating my case, I figure I may as well blog it.
We are persistently told that Eastern European countries are just chomping at the bit for Western liberalism and that is the justification for root and branch social reforms at the behest of the EU. Anyone who objects is clearly regressive in their eyes. Except the problem with EU foreign policy is that EU elites speak only to other political elites who tell them what they want to hear.
But as with the UK the metropolitan view is somewhat different to the provincial view which is seldom ever heard. It's all very well demanding sweeping reforms but this rather forgets the lessons we learned in the UK. All economic and social reform has casualties and too much too soon creates resentment that lasts generations. That is why the Tories still can't win seats in parts of Yorkshire and the North East.
Now apply that same revolutionary industrial reform to Poland and Ukraine while demanding social reforms that do not sit well with the catholic population. Attitudes are nearly thirty years behind in some regions. Try being an unmarried mum in rural Poland. Even today there are still objections in Ireland to reforms to abortion laws. That goes double for Eastern Europe.
It's one thing to demand land reforms and industrial restructuring, but you cannot force changes in social attitudes and they cannot be imposed on by political elites. Liberal attitudes come with greater wealth. Fix the economy first and the attitudes will follow.
But the dogmatic EU wants it all done yesterday and expects, through political naivety, that it will be welcomed with open arms. It is a flawed assumption and I strongly suspect this is what drives the resurgence of hardline nationalist and far right movements. And when I say far right movements I mean really far right - making the EDL and the BNP look like the Liberal Democrats. Looking at Poland we are starting to see mainstream resistance to the EU social agenda.
And this is why the EU is a malevolent entity in my eyes. The EU divides everything it touches; creating invisible disputed frontiers in every country. It's no coincidence that Scotland-England relations are more strained now than at any point in my lifetime. It's no coincidence that Spain has renewed breakaway movements. It's no coincidence that Ukraine is at war. Poland is one to watch.
The EU is driven by the zealotry of its idealism and the narcissism of its politicians, imposing their social and economic order on populations who either don't want it or are simply not ready for it. And though their intent may be laudable, their disconnect from reality has catastrophic consequences.
And when we look at Libya, Ukraine and Georgia we see that the EU is not capable of decisive, coherent, unified action. All we get is vacillation and denial. I cannot name a single EU foreign policy success story and I those works in progress will soon start rolling backwards. The very idea that Ukraine was anywhere close to beginning the process of EU integration is astonishingly naive and boneheaded. And eventually, member states are forced to take illegal unilateral action because of EU inaction. That is why the EU will disintegrate in all but name.
I will never be convinced that entrusting foreign policy to the EU is safe for Europe. It is EU-centric and utterly incompetent. And by EU-centric, I mean the elitist political entity that sits atop of the European body politic.
Moreover, the EU has always been in competition with NATO. Unlike some Brexiteers I do not believe the EU is making moves toward an EU army, not least because there is no consent for any such undertaking but there is still every need for European defence cooperation. That is why I believe Brexit is in our best interests. Brexit will strengthen NATO and remove any doubt that it is THE cooperation platform and permanently kill off whatever ambitions EU zealots have of usurping NATO as the command structure.
There may have been a time for reconciliation with Russia but events have overtaken us. In that we need to show that we can mount an effective response to threats. The EU in that regard is a wholly unwholesome obstacle and unnecessary in reaching a European consensus. As a body that pretends to be fundamentally trade oriented it has no business dabbling in foreign policy. It has no competence and it has no democratic mandate. It is a non-state actor wishing it were otherwise.
As much as I think the EU is the ultimate obstacle to a united peaceful Europe, I believe it has a big hand in destabilising its neighbours. Brexit at the very least would clip its wings in favour of more multilateral enterprises. We are safer without the EU and the sooner we are out the better.