By D. J. Webb
Europe is simultaneously the greatest centre of world culture and civilization and a troubled continent characterized by numerous rival middling powers. This is the history of Europe and explains Europe’s foolish self-neutering in the First and Second World Wars even as the continent was at its peak in terms of geopolitical power. The Libertarian Alliance has carried numerous articles from a broadly culturally/civilizationally pro-European perspective, as is appropriate for the continent whose culture and history forms the basis for political and economic notions of liberty anywhere in the globe. While agreeing with that perspective, it is difficult not to descry the gathering tensions in Europe that suggest that old rivalries are becoming a problem again. The greatest nations squabble among themselves: is this how Western civilization itself comes to an end, destroyed from within and not from without?
It has been argued that the EU and NATO have “kept the peace” in Europe. I think this confuses the matter. They kept the peace at a time when US hegemony meant the potential playing out of intra-European rivalries was at a minimum. Arguably what we are seeing is that these multilateral institutions will enhance and force the pace of the growth of intra-European rivalries in a way that does the opposite to “keeping the peace” in Europe.
The reunification of Germany has taken decades to work its way through in terms of international relations. It was always likely that it would create a skewed balance of power, with one country significantly more powerful than any other European rivals, but, awkwardly, not so predominant as to exercise an easy hegemony. Germany does not contain 50% of Europe’s population and does not produce 50% of its GDP, but has a historical tendency to “overreach” as simply the most powerful country on the continental landmass. It cannot prevail against an opposing combination of European powers, but by controlling a combination of continental powers (e.g. in the EU) it might be able to leverage its position yet further.
This is not a matter of will or subjectivity. No one would argue that Mrs Merkel is seeking war. Germany’s position in Europe is an objective reality that repeatedly forces the hand of German politicians. The Greek and Irish eurozone crises showed examples of this: the “rules” stated that the German banks must collapse and take the hit from their foolish investments in the banking systems of weaker eurozone economies. We are also told that Germans have a penchant for adhering to rules. Yet clearly this does not mean that the Germans will follow rules in a self-destructive fashion. All of a sudden, the Teutonic, rule-abiding mentality melted into air, and a much better option presented itself: “bailing out” Greece and Ireland in a way that forced the Greek and Irish taxpayers to assume the full financial burden of servicing loans that objectively bailed out the German banks. I have never read that Germany plans to pay back the money to Greece and Ireland. Germany’s pre-eminent economic position forces her, therefore, to adopt stances that exert geopolitical power throughout Europe despite its leaders’ claims to eschew leadership.
Now Britain is leaving the European Union, and we are told that our “allies” are seeking to impose a Carthaginian peace on us. In my view, this makes Brexit even more urgent, as we realize that blackmail lies at the heart of European unity: unless we consent to multilateral decision of all laws and regulations, our “friends” will try to destroy us. How can we have boxed ourselves in like this? We must get out of this immediately. It is like being in an abusive relationship with a partner who threatens violence and destruction of your life if you do not remain in the relationship: anyone would advise someone in such a situation to leave and start again in order to regain personal autonomy.
Germany is not our ally. It is not an enemy state either. But under the principle that no country has permanent allies or enemies, only interests, as with any other foreign country Germany is both a potential ally and a potential enemy. We need a more realistic appraisal of relations with Germany. I would argue we need with alacrity to withdraw our troops from Germany and cancel our security guarantee to Germany: the country is already moving against our vital interests with zeal, and it is simply absurd not to draw our own conclusions therefrom.
1. The EU’s united negotiating position. The stipulation that all 27 of our European “partners” do not entertain diplomatic discussions with us on the conditions of Brexit is designed to reduce the interests of 27 countries to a German bottom line. We have troops in Estonia. We should ask the Estonians whether they wish to see our security guarantee gone and our troops withdrawn? If they don’t, then why are they party to German attempts to alienate Britain? Poland is another country that values Britain’s military powess (much reduced regrettably, but head and shoulders over European “allies”): will we hear vocal support for a policy of amicable Brexit from Poland? If not, why not?
2. Diminution of UK strengths. The useful idiots of globalization in the UK are opposed to our wielding security issues as a bargaining chip. Why is this? There is no reason to involve ourselves in every last conflict that has no connection to our national interest if we can’t draw strength from that in times of need. We should make clear that an acrimonious hard Brexit will also lead to an exit from NATO, a policy of neutrality in all European military conflicts and a refusal to share any intelligence on Islamic terrorism with European “allies”, even if the result is terrorist attacks that we could have helped to prevent. Our European allies are not children, and they are responsible for any of the further effects of alienating Britain.
3. The Brexit bill. We don’t owe the EU a penny, and if we have a hard Brexit with no additional access to EU markets other than what World Trade Organization membership offers, we should make clear they will not get a penny. And we will sue them in international arbitration tribunals to recover any assets we have in EU institutions. If they want €60bn from us, we could give them an easy victory and agree to hand over the lot in exchange for zero change in our level of access to EU markets. It would be equivalent to five years’ membership fee and would be worth it. If they offer some access, but restricted, we could give them a middling sum. However, on no account should we even consider agreeing one penny without knowing what the trading relationship would be like after Brexit. The package should be agreed in one.
4. Spurious demands. New nonsensical demands are multiplying. We are to pay to help address the Turkish refugee problem, although this is entirely a problem of Mrs Merkel’s making. The notion we should pay to help them bring in unintegrable refugees is beyond absurd. Maybe we could agree to help pay for a military solution preventing the landing of one refugee boat on Europe’s shores, as a much better solution that would protect us from the Islamization of the continent in the long term. We are also to pay for the relocation of EU institutions from London to the continent: but the decision to relocate them is entirely their decision and so ought to be paid for wholly by them. Then it is suggested we should agree to permanent immigration rights of relatives of EU nationals already in the UK, as if they should determine our domestic policy for ever. And then that Ireland and Spain will have special vetoes relating to Northern Ireland and Gibraltar…
5. The timing of negotiations. It is almost certainly a mistake to get trapped in negotiations with the EU, which can only have the result of persuading us to surrender key interests. Anyone who has viewed the EU’s manner of negotiation will have noticed that they prefer always to negotiate with weaker parties against a deadline. This is how talks with Greece went. I doubt substantive negotiations will be under way until shortly before the March 2019 date for our withdrawal from the EU. They won’t want to settle things early, in a calm and decent fashion, but rather to force us to negotiate against the clock. Do allies treat each other like this?
Having seen all this, it is difficult to argue that we should have voted any differently in the referendum. Can you imagine what our situation would be like were we within the eurozone with no easy exit? We must never box ourselves into these international schemes again. The British long-term foreign policy of preventing combinations on the continent was dropped in 1972 when we agreed to enter the EU and we have been forced to realize why our ancestors had such a foreign policy in the first place.
Germany and France jointly gave the world world war twice, and given the chance would do so again. The spitefulness of Clemenceau at Versailles is the spirit in which Brexit negotiations will be conducted. We should simply leave, go on the WTO, levy the maximum tariffs on EU imports, bring in European labour strictly in line with proven job market needs, and avoid getting trapped in negotiations. As ongoing regulatory costs of the 100 most costly EU regulations are £27bn and the net contribution to the EU is £9bn, we can access a large offsetting windfall to set against anything negative the EU chooses to do to us. I don’t claim there would not be instability during a period of uncertainty, much as Finland experienced a sharp slump after the withdrawal of Soviet-era trading arrangements. But if we have to go through this, devise policy to cope and emerge the other side, let’s get on with it.
We should also vocally call for the end of the euro and of the EU itself, and point out that the European nations have much in common on the world stage, but that setting up a multinational bureaucratic government is not the way to foster European co-operation. The key, the very first step, to conceptualizing our common European future is acknowledging the demographic and economic rise of other parts of the globe and our common interest in preventing Europe from being overrun. A “union” that aims to spread millions of Muslim refugees across Europe is simply functioning in a counterintuitive fashion. Could we go for mutual free trade and mutual preference for each other’s nationals (defined as citizens of ultimate European ancestry) in immigration matters?
To devise a new form of European co-operation would require first the defeat of the current globalist view of European unity that prevails in the chancelleries of Berlin and Paris. Until we accomplish that, it is difficult to see how Western civilization can be defended through the existing bureaucratic institutions. Worst of all, current policy will see multiple Islamic states set up on the continent over the next century, bringing home our interventionist policy in the Middle East to Europe itself. Then, our European neighbours really would be enemy states. I don’t trust Mrs May to ward off this option in any conscious fashion, but a swift, clean Brexit is the best way to achieve collapse of the current assumptions in global politics, paving the way to something better.