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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 3/10/20

Leaving the EU was the right move for the wrong reasons

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Eric Walberg
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Let's be clear: the EU was not set up to promote a friendly big socialist community, a Soviet-lite. The EU was created by the US, originally the European Coal and Steel Community set up in 1950 with the intent of promoting European integration, approved by Truman as a Cold War anti-domino measure. The chief method of promoting compliance with the US-sponsored post-war order was through provision of aid. The Marshall Plan (1948) was the vehicle for Europe, aid tied to the purchase of US goods and services, effectively subsidizing the US balance of payments.

The main international organs created at the time to regulate international economic matters (the World Bank, the IMF, GATT) and the Marshall Plan for European reconstruction were rejected by the Soviet Union as part of US imperial plans. Which of course they were, since it is only rational that the US as chief architect of the post-war international system would set rules which would allow it to win. The US Senate rejected US participation in the British-designed League of Nations, rightly seeing it as an infringement on US sovereignty, but voted 89-2 for membership in the clearly US-controlled UN in 1945.

A prostrate Europe was 'saved' from communist revolutions by the US Marshall Plan begun in 1948, and its ex-colonies, upon achieving independence, were drawn into the US orbit. Later US administrations came to view it and its successor the EEC and finally the EU (1993) ambivalently, fearful that an independent unified Europe could forge a separate de'tente with the Soviet Union, combining Europe's technology and industrial capacity with Soviet natural resources, manpower and ideology, gaining access to the Eurasian heartland and creating a continent-sized competitor able to 'threaten' North America (that is, threaten US world hegemony). Britain joined the EEC in 1975 under Labour. (After a refendum where a third of Labour ministers were opposed, and Labour members opposed membership at the Labour conference. The Tories were the gung-ho EUers at the start. )

But the US had done its homework. The ECSC/ EEC/ EU was structured from the start as a top-down bureaucracy. No constitution, its parliament having no real authority, just a pro forma body, much like parliaments in the socialist countries, which never threatened Soviet hegemony.

The EU has shown itself to be a faithful servant of the US, with only two brief moments of angst. The first, German Chancellor Willy Brandt's (1969--74) Ostpolitik, recognizing the obvious -- that the GDR was a prosperous socialist version of the FRG, the best of the socialist lot. Brandt was even awarded a Nobel Peace Prize (1971), but was forced to resign for having an assistant who was foolish enough to spy for the East German Stasi.* (That he did no harm is shown that he was swapped in 1981 in a spy exchange and after German reunification, granted immunity. East German spymaster Markus Wolf have said that the affair was Stasi's biggest mistake.)

Johnstone was on the inside during all this, and presents a devastating critique of that and the other momentary lapse from US hegemony: Mitterand's election as French president (1981--1995). The Socialists' Common Program (1974) 'reflected an illusion that was widespread in the left: the belief that economic unification of Europe could 'free it from the domination of Big Capital,' democratize its institutions and above all, 'preserve French freedom of action to carry out its political, economic and social program.''

Mitterrand's election would have been impossible without support from the French Communist Party, then at the peak of its electoral strength, which was rewarded by four cabinet posts. The US was catatonic, but this was nothing new. In 1936 and 1937, Communists had already taken part in the anti-fascist Popular Front government and in France's post-war government---until evicted in May 1947.

Fear not. When Mitterand finally made it to the top, Thatcher (1979) and Reagan (1980) were full-steam ahead with neoliberalism. Mitterand didn't have a chance. Capitalists voted with their capital and Mitterand soon abandoned his fuzzy socialism.

The whole episode looks like a conspiracy in retrospect. Mitterand, who was part of Petain's regime in Vichy France from 1941 to 1943, was no socialist by a long shot. His vague detente and brief flirtation with nationalization turned into a milder version of Thatcher, and the Communist Party was discredited, its 25% of the vote crashing to 3% today.

EU critique

Johnstone: The only journalists assigned to the European Parliament (she calls her chapter 'the European Non-Parliament') who showed real interest, and wrote real reports, were the Brits,

because they were motivated. They were motivated, in fact, to deride the whole process of manufacturing intrusive Regulations that people didn't want or need. Coming from the Mother of Parliaments, they observed that this was no proper parliament, and they were right. It had no real powers and even the debates were not genuine debates. **

The Treaty on European Union, signed in 1992, was adopted by 50.7% to 49.3%. no more cheerleading, only a blurred vision of 'Europe'.

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Eric writes for Al-Ahram Weekly and PressTV. He specializes in Russian and Eurasian affairs. His "Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games", "From Postmodernism to Postsecularism: Re-emerging Islamic Civilization" and "Canada (more...)

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