I often see the argument put forward that the EU is responsible for peace in Europe after the second world war. Yesterday in a reply to such a comment, I posted the following over at Tommy England's Blog:
When I hear the statement "That the EU has kept the peace" I often ask the question "which part of the EU". Its instructive to think about it.
If we did not subsidised inefficient French Farmers, would we still have peace? If we had separate national regulations on the type of tree we are allowed to plant, would it lead to a Fourth Reich? Is a common tariff necessary to stop War?
Bear in mind that the EU is only 14 years old, though its forebears, the EC, EEC back to the Coal & Steel community go back many decades. With this evolution in mind, would we have gone to war is the EEC had never become the EC? At which point in the process did war become impossible? Do we need to continue to keep it that way?
You see what I am getting at. Even if the EU is responsible for keeping the peace, we still need a good debate on what the EU should or shouldn't do. And we need to identify what is it about the EU that keeps the peace?
Coming to the crux of the matter, I personally do not believe that we needed the EU to keep the peace. Since 1945, we had a number of things going in our favour.
- World War II affected civilians far more than any previous wars. The gallant ideals of "Dolce et decorum est pro patria mori" had been shown up for what they really were. War is a dirty business. This meant that the appetite for war was miniscle in the decades after the 1940s.
- Marshall Aid. We all know about the Treaty of Versailles and how war reparations destroyed Germany. We learnt from that lesson. By helping to build up Germany, the USA reduced the chance of war.
- The Soviet Union: A malevolent Giant on your border is enough to keep the most blood thirsty war monger quiet. We could hardly ignore the fact that the USSR was an acquisitive imperial power, ready to take advantage of countries weakened by war. Which brings us onto...
- NATO: By creating a common defence against a common enemy, we massively reduced the chance of fighting amongst ourselves.
You see, I believe that rather than being the cause of peace, the EU is the result of it. Look at the way that counties have willingly given up their power to a central organisation. They have surrendered without a shot being fired. That is how much they are scared of war. Do such pacifists really pose a threat to each other?
When Israel kills an unfortunate 1.000 civilians in the space of a month of bombing, the reaction in much of the west is as if they have raised major cities to the ground. Does anyone really think that such people could stomach a full scale conflict, where 1.000 people would be a drop in the ocean?
It is all very well to claim that the EU keeps the peace. However for the huge sums of money it costs us to belong, and the massive damage it does to our system of government and law, it is up to those making the claim to substantiate it, not the other way around.