Future Path of European Union and Britain

european union

When Emmanuel Macron, the President of France, said while returning from a recent tour of China that European countries should not be like vassals of the USA, should not be dragged into a war with China and should be able to exercise strategic autonomy, there were voices of protest within Europe but also of support. It is likely that the support for this view is wider than what we see being expressed more openly. While speaking about this wider support, European Council President and former Prime Minister of Belgium Charles Michel stated, “quite a few really think like Macron.”

More provocative although less reported was the comment of Yanis Varoufakis who as former finance minister of Greece at the time of a serious economic crisis had won a lot of respect for standing up to the unhelpful policies of the big bosses of the European Union. He stated, “It’s not that the European Union is a vassal of the US. It is worse than a vassal. Vassals had a degree of autonomy under feudalism. We are serfs. We are not even serfs, who had certain rights under feudalism.”

Vassal or serf, these are hardly honorable situations for those who had been rulers of vast empires in the not-too-distant past and have continued to consider themselves to be playing a very important role in world affairs. If such is the situation generally of Europe or the European Union, one wonders what would be the right words to describe Britain, once the biggest imperial power of the world, which in recent decades has been aligned more closely to the USA than almost any other country, to the extent of its then Prime Minister Tony Blair becoming the main face, along with George Bush, of the Iraq invasion of 2003 and its horrible aftermath, which can be called the most horrible crime of the 21st century yet, a period that has been full of several big international crimes.

Will Britain like to be a part, a close ally of any future war of the USA against China? Or will it likely to an ally of any future war which is as unjust and destructive as the invasion of Iraq was? Most people in Britain may not at all be happy with this, but certain sections, for example big capitalists or arms industry or politicians close to these sections may opt for this for their narrow reasons. This may also be true of some other countries in Europe. So despite the majority of people not being in favor of this, Europe may once again become a close partner in the most destructive wars.

From 16th to the 20th century Europe was central to the most destructive invasions and wars of world, wars much more destructive than what the worst invaders of earlier centuries had unleashed, linked also to worst forms of plunder and exploitation extended over very long years. The overwhelming majority of native people of entire continents of Americas and Australia were decimated, removed from earth. One of the most barbaric and largest slave trade was unleashed. The march of progress was rudely shattered across vast nations, including very ancient civilizations, to plunge them in war and famine. The rush for plundering distant lands ultimately ( and inevitably) led to internal clashes within Europe, plunging the continent into two world wars, inflicting untold destruction and distress on its most powerful nations, as well as on much of the remaining world.

However even while departing from several colonies Europe inflicted heavy, avoidable destruction on many of them. While post war years were rightly devoted to reconstruction, increasing internal cooperation and economic progress, several European countries also became willing occupants of the dominating part of the neo-colonial order which continued to exploit the Global South badly in matters relating to trade, debt and much else. Leading European countries continued to be part of new world boss USA’s invasions and democracy toppling projects, or at least did nothing to oppose these. Hence Europe had an important role in the destruction of countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, or in the toppling of democratic governments in countries like Iran. Even within Europe, the destruction of the former Yugoslavia was a very sad story which has been frequently misrepresented and in which European NATO members had an important destructive role alongside the USA.

Isn’t it time now for Europe to try to leave behind this past and seek a different future by integrating an enlightened understanding of its self-interests (safety and well-being of its people) with peace, justice and environment protection concerns of entire world. It is right of Macron and his friends to ask for more strategic autonomy, but more autonomy for pursuing which path? Clearly the answer should be—for pursuing a path which integrates well-being of people of Europe with peace, justice and environment protection in entire world.

In many ways the European Union and even more so Britain are still a long distance away from such a path, but if at least internal broad consensus can be created within Europe regarding this, this itself will be an important step forward for peace, justice and environment protection at world level. Instead of the USA dragging Europe towards war, the future should be for Europe to push the USA towards peace—a role which only Europe can perform with its special ties with USA, people to people, not just government to government. And this peace should include peace with Russia and China.

Bharat Dogra is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Planet in Peril, A Day in 2071, Protecting Earth for Children and Earth without Borders.

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