Sunday, July 04, 2004

Just make that case

Once again the long-suffering listeners of the BBC’s TheWorld this Weekend were told that the Government and the Prime Minister, in particular, must make the “pro-Europe” case or go under in the referendum. This time the words of wisdom came from Sir Stephen Wall, until recently Mr Blair’s chief adviser on Europe and the EU (good to know that they are finally beginning to grasp the difference, though one wonders whether Sir Stephen’s advice always made clear distinctions).

Of course, Sir Stephen is not a politician and is, therefore, more likely to use arguments, however cock-eyed they may be and less likely to repeat the same phrases.

For instance, he assured the inteviewer that the supporters of the EU Constitution must “capture some of the high ground”. This is suitably modest. Only some of the high ground and not the moral one, at that. Surely they can manage that. Well, I don’t know. For all his intelligence and abilities, Sir Stephen’s arguments do not make a great deal of sense:

"In a reasonable and rational way, we have to set out for people that the EU - for all its faults - was founded because people rightly felt after two world wars that we had to find a way of managing the squabbles between rival nations without them going to war. And nobody has yet thought of a better way of doing it. It has worked, and it has worked pretty successfully."
This is complete nonsense. The EU in any of its forms was not founded immediately after the Second World War but more than ten years after, when the said rival nations could not have gone to war even if they wanted to. Long before that the geopolitical situation had changed and the West had to stand together against the new enemy: Communism and the Soviet system, as it did with the help of the United States (and Canada, also a member of NATO).

That was then. This is now. We are not talking about an alliance or some kind of a free-trade agreement that would prevent war or make it less likely. We are talking about a state in the making, a deeply integrated political entity (as every leader on the Continent admits) and a long, convoluted, detailed, intrusive, centralizing, over-regulating Constitution. What kind of a national rivalry needs that document in order not to erupt into outright hostility?

Come to think of it, between whom does Sir Stephen Wall envisage the war that is to be prevented by M Giscard d’Estaing’s somewhat revised document? What about other rival countries in the world? Have they all abandoned their independence and rushed into a union or are they all (and I mean all) beating each other up all the time? Has Sir Stephen not noticed that wars tend to be caused by certain political systems and that the worst of the modern wars have been waged by governments against their own people?

Clearly, the old, old argument about the EU keeping the peace will be trotted out again. What a good thing this blog has dealt with it already. (Click here to read our EU Myth). Could we have something new, please?

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