Is the Irish State sleep-walking into a new militarised EU empire? Eamonn McCann argues that recent events would suggest so.
Nobody in Ireland, North or South, can be blamed for enjoying the long-drawn-out humiliation of the likes of Theresa May, David Davis or Boris Johnston over Brexit. They had it coming. Millions of British people, too, have been chuckling at their discomfiture.
But we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking that Michel Barnier, Donald Tusk and the rest of the corrupt band of Brussels bureaucrats have the interests of the mass of the Irish people at heart. Far from it.
While politicians and commentators from all points on the conservative spectrum are pondering the meaning, if any, of Theresa May’s latest desperate “offer” to the EU, one thing is certain—the EU is speeding up militarisation and copper-fastening austerity.
Here’s Barnier’s account of “progress” so far towards a militarised EU with a common foreign policy and an army capable of defending European interests anywhere in the world. He outlined point by point “the road-map we need to follow between now and 2025,” and boasted of the length the EU has already travelled:
“In September 2014, Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the European Commission, called for a relaunch of European defence.
“In June 2016, Federica Mogherini renewed our integrated approach with the Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy, which defines the Union’s level of ambition as a global player.
“In a historic declaration in July 2016, President Juncker, Donald Tusk and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg relaunched the strategic partnership between the European Union and NATO.
“In November 2016, Vice-President Jyrki Katainen and Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska proposed a European Defence Fund so that defence technologies and equipment could be financed jointly from the European budget for the first time.
“In June 2017, we strengthened our capacity to plan and conduct external operations – including training missions in Mali, Somalia and Central African Republic.
“Also in June 2017, the Commission set out ideas for discussion on the future of Europe’s defence, even suggesting the establishment of a common defence.
“On 20 November 2017 in Brussels, 23 of the 27 Member States stated their intention of implementing the Permanent Structured Cooperation [PESCO]. This initiative, which owes a great deal to the personal determination of the German Minister Ursula von der Leyen, will serve to step up the commitment to European defence – in terms of capacity and at operational and industrial level.”
All this with a “global” reach.
EU- On Our Side?
The four of the 27 States which didn’t sign up to PESCO were Denmark, Malta, Portugal, Ireland and, of course, the UK. The Dáil put that “right” as far as Ireland is concerned on December 7th last year, with a vote to sign the pact, supported by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil and a number of “Independent” TDs beholden to the government. It had taken them a week to come around to doing what the EU bosses wanted.
As Robert Emmet didn’t say—‘Ireland has taken her place among the imperialist nations of the earth’—to the cheers of some who fancy themselves as “anti-imperialists.”
What’s the relevance of all this to Brexit? Barnier explained that, too:
“The United Kingdom has not been the spearhead of European defence.
“The British contribution to EU-led military operations is limited—barely five percent of the personnel deployed.
“The British have never wanted to turn the Union into a military power.
“The British have always resisted setting up a European Headquarters.”
Now, once the Brits are out of the way, it will be full steam ahead for Irish armoured cars, and tanks and guns to join with the French, Italians, Germans etc in confronting any threat, real or imagined, to Western, and specifically EU interests.
Of course, the reason the British were so stand-offish from the notion of an EU army had nothing to do with a distaste for militarism, but everything to do with the Tories’ continuing delusions of imperial grandeur. Whatever the reason, the departure of Britain removes an obstacle to the expansive military scheming of the cabal at the top of the EU.
Does anybody imagine that Dublin will be allowed to dodge its defence “duty?” Not a chance. The EU States, as they constantly tell us, have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the South in facing down Britain. Tusk emphasised that the Irish would have a veto over whatever agreement emerged. “We will consult Leo Varadkar before accepting an agreement.”
Commentators in every Dublin newspaper gloried in the State’s new status, a fully-fledged member of the elite at last, stronger than Britain for the first time in history in a set-piece confrontation.
But there’s payback to come. No chance, none at all of the Irish being given a bye-ball when it comes, for example, to repelling desperate people risking their lives in efforts to cross the Mediterranean. Most Irish people felt good about themselves as the navy ship LÉ Eithne rescued hundreds from the sea and took them to shore in an EU country.
The EU isn’t going to allow that sort of thing in future. EU policy on migrants plucked from the Mediterranean is to dump them back in Libya, a failed State as a result of bombardment by EU States, where they can be subjected to slavery, torture, rape and murder.
Meanwhile, more than a thousand kilometres of barbed wire “protects” the EU’s eastern flank from “invasion” by refugees.
Soft border? Not if you are a refugee.
Of course, none of the uncritical supporters of the EU has made any of these points in the debate about so-called “Brexit.” We are entitled to believe that they are OK with these noxious right-wing notions.
But we say: “Out of the EU! Out of the UK.”
North and South, we must continue the struggle against war-mongering, austerity and hypocrisy over immigration.