Europe right now – EU, Russia

By Johan Galtung

It does not look good. The key problem is not Brexit, the unlikely victory of older English longing back to the Land of Hope and Glory–not made invisible by a cloak of EU–against nothing less than the City of London using the EU for their purposes.

The Leavers are deceiving themselves; they will be more “special relationed” to USA than ever now that USA has lost their “link to the continent”. And the Remainders will find their ways, more of them will be operating out of Brussels, Luxembourg, Strasbourg and other key points in the EU.

The problem is, “Can Germany lead Europe alone?” (Anna Sauerbrey, INYT 5 Jul 2016). Her conclusion: “Germany may have to take command, after all… being at center stage, it might as well perform”.

But how?

The present EU structure has Germany on top, then the Nordic members weakened by Brexit, then the Latin countries with France and Ireland, then the Eastern European members of whom solidarity is demanded for the crimes of the others leading to mass migration, and at the bottom Greece tortured by EU. A Europe under German leadership was among the goals of both WW1 and 2.

On June 2 the German Parliament recognized the Armenian genocide; during WW1 when the German Empire was an ally of the Ottoman Empire. But no recognition of the German genocide of about 75,000 Herero-Nama in Namibia 1904-1908, by poisoning wells used by women and children.

A simple, crystal-clear case. The former is complex, with Turks also asking Kurds to get rid of Armenians by a death march for many through the desert to Lebanon in return for freedom for the Kurds. Which they did not get, but many live in Turkey where Armenians lived.

A Germany not coming to grips with its past cannot be trusted. And: “A sincere confrontation with the past makes a country stronger” (Colonialism Reparation-Newsletter Jul/16). As the Herero-Mama insist: “A lasting solution about us /cannot be negotiated/ without us.”

As to EU itself: the expansion in scope–membership–and domain–functions–did not work. Some contracting may work better. Brexit clears the ground for US-independent foreign military policy, for better and for worse. A two-speed EU may be on the horizon, tighter for some, looser for others. Better adjusted to realities.

But Europe is ridden by another age-old conflict looming large or larger: EU with Russia. Or, more basically, Catholic-Protestant Europe against Orthodox Europe, the borderline being inside Ukraine. Is there some way that out of several conflicts we may build peace?

The keys are held by Germany and France, in principle equal in leading EU even if one is more equal than the other. Their relations to Russia are both special and similar. The worst attacks on Russia were made by a French and then a German psychopath, in 1812 and 1941; Russia defeated both.

Their cultural influence is huge: Germany maybe particularly for the Russian army, French for culture in general, and not only for feudal elites. They spoke German and French and still do. England-USA has nothing similar; allies by convenience against Nazi Germany for a short period, terminated by Churchill’s Zürich speech.

For both it would be easy to define Russia not as a threat, to understand what happened in Crimea and happens in Ukraine where Germany has played a major role. And we are back to an old figure of thought: Lebensraum, the space to secure the feeding of the peoples of EU so that the resources of their 11 colonial powers were severely reduced by cutting out the Commonwealth: reserved, so far, for Leave.

Timothy Snyder, professor of history at Yale and author of Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning–in “The next genocide” (INYT 14 Sep 2015) reminds us of Ukraine (and more!) as Hitler’s solution to the problem of feeding the German people.

Do we have to rule out huge EU-Ukraine-Belarus-Russia cooperation because Hitler was thinking along such lines – through conquest, extermination, racism?

By cooperating for mutual and equal benefit, with no superiority complex, and deep understanding of each other. Gorbachev’s “European House” is a nice metaphor but not specific enough. For this to become mutual and equal they all have to be members of the same organization for economic and political togetherness, not a military alliance.

And expansion of EU eastward, including, say, Ukraine and Georgia. No, Russia – the key Orthodox country, seat of Patriarchy – has to be in, otherwise the key faultline in the European continent has not been bridged. That organization exists; it is the Council of Europe. Not the European Council on top of the EU, nor the Council of Europe as proposed by Churchill as an intergovernmental organization, but by going much deeper – as it has already done, in human rights, sports, twinning of cities to mention some – maybe one day even becoming a new EU?

With or without England? For them to decide, of course. By that time, they may have had enough special relation and the USA enough problems at home to take care of. Nevertheless, there is an Anglo-America, maybe headed for that ever-tighter union – with or probably without Australia and New Zealand navigating South Pacific troubled waters.

The classical rate of exchange between industrial-service products and agricultural products has to be revised in favor of the latter to help getting Ukraine out of its present mess.

In addition, it has to be made clear that Ukraine is not condemned to remain forever Black Sol only. Ukrainians, like everybody else, choose democratically their own way of life. However, there is horizontal, symmetric cooperation in Europe, not only from Brest to Brest but from Brest to Vladivostok – on old Chinese territory, conquered by Russia over a long period.

Hence, with deep cooperation with China as Eurasian, but not European.

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