Tag: EU (Page 1 of 3)

Anti-European left is welcome to migrate to humanitarian idylls like Zimbabwe

It is sometimes good to be reminded of how stark ideological differences are between us. Many had mixed feelings about President Donald Trump’s pro-Western civilisation speech in Warsaw, but my friend Niall Gooch wrote for many of us when he said two things are true at the same time: Trump is a bad advocate for Western values but those values are real, good and worth defending.

Others disagree. Often in strong terms. Franco Berardi, an Italian member of the pan-European leftist movement Democracy in Europe Movement 2025, offers this description of the continent and its civilisation:

Democratic Europe is an oxymoron, as Europe is the heart of financial dictatorship in the world. Peaceful Europe is an oxymoron, as Europe is the core of war, racism and aggressiveness. We have trusted that Europe could overcome its history of violence, but now it’s time to acknowledge the truth: Europe is nothing but nationalism, colonialism, capitalism and fascism.

Nothing. Philosophical heritage? No, nothing. Scientific progress? No, nothing. Great literature? No, nothing. Great architecture? No, nothing. A home of such unprecedented liberal order that Berardi can insult his homeland and its people in peace? Nothing. 

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Will Trump and Merkel clash in G20?

Radio Sputnik, Scotland, interviewed me.

Most of you know that I am not very optimistic about a German-led EU in the long run.

That said, it’s more complicated than a simple yes or no answer.

Here are my thoughts, have a listen.

 

Upon a Windswept Shore: The Falklands War 35 Years On

It was 35 years ago. Margaret Thatcher was in power, but only precariously so. The country was fractious, and the economy was still struggling to emerge from the subterranean depths it had plunged to in the 1970’s. A war on the far side of the world was fought and won, against all the odds, and showed the world that Britain would not sit idly by as its sovereign territory was invaded by a belligerent dictatorship.

The first signs of trouble came on March 31, 1982, when news came of Argentinian naval vessels fast approaching the few rocky and windblown islands at the bottom of the world, 8,000 miles away from the UK. The islands were home at the time to around 1,500 people who considered themselves British.

This move by the Argentines came at a bad time. Britain was still weak after the disaster of the 1970’s when even the USSR didn’t want to buy our goods because they were so poorly made. As a result of this, the armed forces, and particularly the navy, had faced budget cuts and were untested since the 1950’s. A victory was not inevitable or even looked possible. The task before Thatcher’s government and the armed forces, in purely logistical terms, let alone in military capability, was immense.

Thatcher had to wage a two-front campaign, both within her own cabinet in order to determine Britain’s response, and also against America, whose interests in the region ran counter to Britain’s. If she had made a mess of either situation, the consequences would have been extremely severe. However, the way Thatcher managed the crisis mirrors the performance of the soldiers, sailors and airmen who fought; they rose to the task, drew a line in the sand and refused to accede to the thuggish behaviour of a dictatorial totalitarian regime.

The cabinet and members of the Foreign Office were already resigned to defeat, showing the prevailing idea from the 70’s of Britain being a nation in decline and that they were just there to manage it. Admiral and First Sea Lord Henry Leach forced his way into the meeting in the House of Commons in full uniform, showing that at times like this symbols of authority such as this are needed to galvanise people into action. He was emphatic: “I can put together a task force of destroyers, landing craft, support vessels… It can be ready to leave in 48 hours.”

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UKGE2017: Tory night of fiasco

Britain went to the polls on Thursday, June 8, 2017, and received a hung Parliament in return. Prime Minister Theresa May had called the snap election back in April, in order to shore up what she saw as her lack of legitimacy due to her having slipped into the role of Prime Minister almost de facto following the six-way shootout after the Brexit decision in 2016, which led to then PM David Cameron resigning.

Initially, the polls showed that the Tories had an astonishing 20-24 point lead over the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn. The Tories were seen as the party that would deliver Brexit in a ‘strong and stable’ manner, and May seemed like a safe pair of hands with which she would lead the country through the undoubtedly turbulent years ahead. Meanwhile, the Labour Party was led by a man who’d never held a senior ministerial position before and had had a nasty habit of being overly friendly with terrorists, theocratic regimes and Marxist revolutionary governments, all of which ought to have sunk his electoral hopes without much of a trace.

Indeed, this was what looked like the most likely outcome. And then came the disaster of the Tory manifesto release, with its messy roll-out, uncosted nature, vague promises and various pledges to remove provisions for elderly people through what became known as the ‘Dementia tax’. The so-called Dementia tax was an effort to address the spiralling costs of social care in modern Britain and mandated that older people with assets of £100,000 or over, for example in property, could use those to pay for their care. The downside was that many people would then be unable to leave anything in an inheritance to their descendants.

To say this did not go down well was an understatement. 

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UKGE2017: Corbyn provides hope for the future

“For the many, not the few”.  A motto that almost half the country clang onto, some of which are people living in destitute, encased in the vicious circle of poverty which the Conservative party has contrived. The hope that Jeremy Corbyn had beamed from his manifesto benefited British people who were most in need, and a way out to break the cycle and an opportunity to get themselves back on their feet.

Under the 90’s Tory government, with John Major at the helm, I was a kid living on the tenth floor flat in one of East London’s many council estates, which were constantly featured on the 6 O’clock news for whatever crime had been committed. I was raised by a lone parent, my miracle mother, whom not only managed to survive on such a small amount of money, (we had £15 a week for food) but had to endure the constant abuse and degradation from MPs and the tabloids for being a single parent (obviously a choice she freely made…. Oh wait…) and we were all engulfed in the same vicious circle that the Tories had created; punished for not working, but no help or opportunity available to get out there at work. Childcare was a fortune, adult education was limited and the lack of working rights made working mothers life impossible to balance.

Then in 1997 Labour was voted in, and despite the questionable decisions Tony Blair made in regards to the wars we were plunged into, that government did a lot for my family and my childhood. My mother wasn’t siting in our 2 bedroom flat in Leyton enjoying being on benefits, scrimping and saving and struggling everyday while enduring hatred. When the opportunity arose thanks to changes Labour made, she went out and studied law. Then when Cameron was voted in, it again affected my adult life. Shockingly diagnosed with multiply lifelong conditions, which cause pain, fatigue and mobility issues at a mere 24 years old, I was unable to work, and was left to fend for myself. The austerity cuts killed people with disability, the stress made me want to kill myself. The stress that the cuts caused was unbearable, more unbearable then the constant pain I was in. I didn’t ask for this. As a person who had worked since she was 16 years old and studied, I did not see my life trapped in another Tory snag,

Like my mother I got myself out of that circle, but with no help from the people who serve us.

Today, after years of unnecessary austerity, the top earners paying less tax than me, disastrous campaigns from May and Corbyn taking the polls by storm, we still have the conservatives leading by vote. Me and every other labour voter are asking ourselves, why? 

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Where (rarely) even Jeremy Corbyn is right…

With British politics reaching its crescendo and the Labour party narrowing Tory lead to five points, it is time for some home truth. Jeremy Corbyn gave a speech where he alleged to have claimed that terrorism in Britain is a direct response to British foreign policy. The result was as you expect from liberal media. From false accusations to blatant lying, to character assassination, Corbyn was portrayed as a combination of Gandhi and Laden. As pacifist and apologist as Gandhi, as vicious and Islamist as Laden. He was portrayed as being incompetent and conniving and dangerous at the same time.

 

Except, none of that is even remotely true. I am no great fan of either Corbyn or May, and I find both of them disingenuous, but for the sake of balance, Corbyn deserves credit where he is right. His claim that his words were twisted and misrepresented makes sense. And frankly, I have never seen two points, which in recent days, I have found myself quietly agreeing with the Labour party and Corbyn himself. For all his faults, let’s hear him out and let’s have the truth out in public. 

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What’s more important to you? Your country or your ideology?

With the entire EU/Germany versus Trump thing happening, which was sort of predicted by Peter Hitchens, focus is on what historical patterns might emerge in the West.

As Financial Times, the most Pro-EU broadsheet pointed out, the patterns are not comforting.

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With Germany quietly re-arming herself, Conservative Poland railing against Liberal Germany created Atlantic rift, and France openly balancing against Russia, European Great power peace is looking precarious.

But there’s something else at stake. 

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Peter Hitchens on EU, geopolitics and terrorism

I had an opportunity to meet Peter Hitchens for a quick chat on a number of issues, including EU, UK, geopolitics, drugs and terrorism.

Here’re some quotes.

On EU:

“The European Union, is a German empire. If you see Poland or other eastern European countries, alongside Germany, [the relationship] is clearly one of patron and recipient. Do you honestly believe that any country in Europe has the economic might of Germany or the capability to resist German diktats?”

On Drugs and Terrorism:

“I’m not defending Islam, but crimes like gun violence in US or Anders Breivik were influenced by drugs. All I am saying is that terrorism is a very small percentage of crimes, and there is a high correlation of any crime with substance abuse. My point is, we are not looking in the right direction. I was a fanatic myself, and it never led me to even think of killing my family members or murdering random people. Fanaticism in itself is not a spark for outrage, there must be something else.”

On online abuse:

“I’d of course like adulation, but I don’t mind arguments.”

Read the whole thing here.

Book Review: “The Strange Death of Europe”

‘The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam’ by Douglas Murray

Hardcover: 352 pages, Publisher: Bloomsbury Continuum (4 May 2017), Language: English. £18.99. Available at Amazon

 

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Douglas Murray is not known for shying away from controversial subjects, or for keeping quiet on matters that need the bright light of public discourse shone on them, whether people want that light shone or not.

He has been a vocal critic of radical Islam and Islamist terrorism for over a decade now and has always spoken with great lucidity and coherence on a range of very difficult subjects that won’t be made

any easier to face by ignoring. To watch him debate on the subject of whether Islam has anything to do with terrorism, for instance, is to watch a verbal heavyweight often crush the opposition with skilful rhetoric and salient facts that just will not go away, much to his opponents’ chagrin.

Douglas Murray’s latest book is a bringing together of the themes he’s been thinking, writing and talking about for years now, and as a result the argument presented within this extremely eloquent piece of rapid-fire literary slaying of sacred cows is a pleasure to read, even as someone who doesn’t agree with everything he has to say. Given that he opens with ‘Europe is committing suicide. Or at least its leaders have decided to commit suicide. Whether European people choose to go along with this is, naturally, another matter’ one can tell that he is, as usual, pulling no punches.

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The Grand Strategy debate London is avoiding

Originally published in CLAWS Delhi.

There’s a broad scholarly agreement that British grand strategy, was formed as a geopolitical gift. Britain, as argued in the Stratfor analysis linked above, traditionally was a naval power, but went on to dominate the globe and her peers, in a geopolitical game which was usually dominated by land powers. Despite early colonial ambitions, Britain was initially in no position to establish hegemony, and her losses in the American colonies made it look more unlikely. However, after the fall of Napoleon, and with Napoleonic hegemony decimating all the established continental forces, Britain was left challenged by other European power for the next hundred and fifty years. The only two near peer rivals were the United States, which was mostly busy solidifying its own hegemony in the Western hemisphere, and the Russian Empire, which despite her intentions, were economically, demographically and technologically far inferior to the might of the British Empire. The rest is well researched and archived. It dawned on British leaders that it could maintain this hegemony by tactically balancing opposing forces in continental Europe, even if it meant unwritten mega compromises with former rivals and colonies. This geo-strategic thinking, documented from Lord Palmerston to Winston Churchill, saw Britain form alliances with former rivals like France, Russia and Soviets as well as former colony United States to twice see off challenges and hegemonic aspirations of another rising continental superpower in Germany. Britain, aware of her radically diminished status after the Second World war and the Suez Crisis, also then subsequently joinedwith United States to balance the Soviet hegemonic ambitions.

Brexit brings this debate into forefront again. Surprisingly this time, amidst the chaos, no one seems to have a clue, about what British Grand Strategy would be. One reason is, as John Kerry once said, it is all very much like 19th century politics, and strategists usually do not openly talk like that in civilised circles anymore. Liberal consensus in foreign policy and strategic circles also moved from such structural analyses, and talks of amoral balancing and bandwagoning and great power politics are considered old fashioned. Unfortunately the lesson that was etched in the next two years since that speech was that great powers, regardless of whether they are powerful or declining, lash out when their “perceived” national interests and spheres of influence are threatened. Even when those perceptions might be severely misconstrued, and it might even lead the great power to commit forces beyond it can muster or support, the great power will carry on the course, even at the risk of punishing economic retribution. Kerry and co re-learnt something which Realists talked about for the last quarter century, that there’s no other way other than either a compromise and honourable retreat, or a full on geopolitical confrontation (not necessarily conflict) that are the two ways this challenges can be dealt with. And that nation states, and not values or culture or trade are still the single most powerful determinant in geopolitics.

United Kingdom similarly needs to decide on the number of challenges that it will inevitably face in the coming years. Firstly, assessment needs to be done on the plausibility and effect of market forces deciding geopolitics and how much economic pain are the Britons willing to suffer. Britain cannot survive without European market, or without foreign brains, mostly working in the finance and tech and educational sectors in UK. Regardless of the cavalier attitude displayed by the Conservative leaders recently, one needs to get facts clear. United Kingdom is not British Empire without the productivity, and market of India, Canada, Australia and New Zealand behind it, and British industry base, like most of the Western countries, has shifted from manufacturing, agrarian and hard industry to a more modern urban, finance and tech centric knowledge based economy. There is no way that is going to be reversed, and Britain simply will not survive a competition when it comes to the labour mobility and comparative advantages of India or China, or other Asian economies for example. Which brings to the more important question, as both United Kingdom and Europe needs each other, what about the European Union and how to deal with it?

The European Union, is a political construct, and as long as it stays, harsh though it may sound, it might tend to look at United Kingdom post Brexit as a rival source of competition. UK has unleashed, or at least inspired a lot of national socialist and populist forces within EU, and the survival of EU depends on dominating and defeating these forces and that cannot be done, unless UK either compromises with EU on single market or capitulates to a more powerful EU. Already there is extreme friction with regards to an European security force led by none other than Germany, which understandably leaves UK shaken as it leads to a separate division and bureaucratization of European security command alongside NATO, not to mention the nightmarish idea of a potential joint military force across a narrow sea, of which UK is not a part of. With regards to that, what then should therefore be the British strategy? Would she join forces with Russia, another great power (albeit a rogue one) which might feel threatened by the same development? Should Britain then try to persuade United States that a single economic and military union in Europe is actually a hegemonic idea which is not desirable and one that both US and UK should oppose, because frankly no one knows how this union might act in future? Or should it covertly instigate separatist conservative anti-centralisation forces across the continent?

This is not a a fortunate or necessary development, however, nor is it desirable and is being advocated here. It is just a plausible scenario that falls within the realms of statistical possibility and therefore must be taken into account in any such analysis. United Kingdom, without a shadow of any doubt, has got more in common with immediate neighbours in Western European nation states than for example Russia or Central-Eastern V4 states, when it comes to culture, political leanings, and values, just as United States has more in common with United Kingdom than other European continental powers. United Kingdom is also heavily dependent on both European brainpower and research funding and the market forces and labour, despite the bravado of her current leaders.

However, Britain, is also a great power, and just like any other power, is shaped and influenced by structural forces around her. And as the literature of alliance formation tells us, if Britain faces too much pressure from the European Union regarding Brexit deals, the spring might just snap, and London might have to look for other partners and a more confrontational grand strategy, not just economically but also geopolitically. A lot is at stake here, and even post EU Referendum, it would be imprudent for both London and Brussels to be uncompromising, just as it would be unwise for Washington to have a completely hands off attitude regarding the future of these negotiations. The entire Atlantic security depends it.

Addendum: “This article was written on October 14th. One of the three primary hypothesis was that Britain, should it face an intransigent EU, might consider tactical alignment with Russia. The author would like to note, that as of 31st October, 15 days after the article was first drafted, while not official policy, that hypothesis is well within official consideration among the ruling Conservative policy circles.”

Sumantra Maitra is a doctoral researcher at the University of Nottingham, UK. His research is in Great power politics and Neorealism. You can find him on Twitter @MrMaitra.

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