Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Don't we have enough on?

One does not know whether he is being deliberately provocative, but the Boy Miliband is "set to take on the eurosceptics" by saying he supports Sarkozy's, proposals on EU defence – not that we actually know what they are!

This is according to The Guardian which has advance sight of a speech Miliband is to deliver today. The Boy is to say that "Europe" must develop its military capabilities along the lines proposed by the EU's French presidency if it is not always to wait for America and Nato to be ready to intervene.

Miliband will also say: "What strikes me about the French priorities for their presidency is how closely they tie with our own ambitions for the EU, as set out in our global Europe policy statement last autumn whether on energy and climate change, migration, near neighbourhood policy and the next steps on European defence."

There he goes again: "our ambitions…" meaning, of course, his. He must know that they are not ours. Otherwise he might have been tempted to allow a referendum. But this slime cannot resist the temptation to put the boot in.

Even then, he has the nerve to reflect on Ireland's no vote, conceding that the "EU lacks a clear mission". He will say that "the spreading hostility" towards it "reflects exasperation with seven years of institutional debate." Er … no. It reflects our exasperation that we’re still in the damn thing, but never mind.

Nevertheless, Miliband will admit that the Irish rejection has shaken the confidence of EU leaders. But all he will do is acknowledge that the Irish result "cannot be dismissed out of hand". It has a message for us, he will say. “We will not get Europe right if we offer a tin ear to the people."

Despite that, that is precisely what he intends to do. Almost certainly knowing that such a move will perpetuate the unpopularity of the EU, he will praise the French for saying they are willing to reintegrate into Nato's command structure, and will insist that a stronger European defence policy does not mean Nato stops being the cornerstone of European defence.

This man is either barking, or he thinks we are. An EU defence identity is the antithesis of a strong Nato, and the Euros have been doing their very best to undermine the Alliance ever since Maastricht. It is only because they still need US firepower and money that they haven’t tried to get rid of it completely.

Strangely though, he invokes the Balkans wars in the 1990s, which he says demonstrated, unless Europe can develop its own capabilities, it will be consigned always to wait impotently until the US and Nato are ready and able to intervene.

"That means a genuine role for the EU in conflict prevention and crisis management whether it is providing the civilian experts - the police trainers, judges, civil servants and aid workers - that are needed alongside the military, or deploying soldiers from national armies in roles where Nato is not engaged," the Boy will say.

Nothing of this makes sense, as it was the political inertia rather than any lack of firepower that left the EU on the sidelines in the Balkans. Creating an EU Army is not going to solve that. If anything, it will make it worse.

For Britain though, which is actually committed to two theatres, while the French politicos are only playing in Afghanistan and avoiding Iraq altogether, we really do have enough on without having to deal with the French ambitions for military glory – on the back of their allies as always.

And what Miliband really does not understand about all this is that we are quite prepared to be very nice to the French – who are very nice, brave people – until and or unless we are shoehorned into too close alliance with them. Lovely as they are, we prefer to keep our distance.

And that applies to him as well - and no, I'm not going to put a picture up of him... can't stand the sight of the man.


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