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EU stability

  1. May 5, 2008 #1

    vanesch

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    I think that the most important thing we get in return from EU is that Europeans finally stopped beating eachother up. Peace and stability, for the first time since the Roman Empire. The per capita gain of that is beyond all bookkeeping.
     
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  3. May 5, 2008 #2

    mheslep

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    Western Europe has had that since 1946, well before the EU, no?
     
  4. May 5, 2008 #3
    Yeah, sounds like he's confusing the EU with NATO.
     
  5. May 5, 2008 #4

    russ_watters

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    I don't know that I agree that that's a direct result of the EU, but regardless, the decision to stop fighting has led to the longest time of peace and prosperity between world powers in the history of the world.

    To those high per capita gdp countries in the EU, some of the benefits of the EU should be obvious: the US dollar's declining value is a direct result of competition from the EU. Now perhaps the Netherlands would benefit from the strength of the Euro even if they weren't using it, but perhaps they'd also be left behind.
     
  6. May 5, 2008 #5

    EL

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    I thought the dollar mainly declined due to the subprime crisis. Is there a connection between that and competition from the EU?

    As an example, Sweden is not members of EMU (but only of EU) and our currency has mainly followed the Euro during the dollar decline.
     
  7. May 5, 2008 #6

    russ_watters

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  8. May 5, 2008 #7
    Do you mean "competition from the EU" or "competition from the Euro?" And why would a declining US dollar amount to a benefit to high per-capita gdp EU countries? Granted, it's not the death sentence that it is for low per-capita gdp EU countries, but I'm not clear on what the benefit is supposed to be...
     
  9. May 6, 2008 #8

    vanesch

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    The EU finds its origin in the first treaty, in 1951: the European Coal and Steel community, a first economic and industrial collaboration between the 6 founding members: Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxemburg.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Coal_and_Steel_Community

    It's main goal was to establish strong economic links between France and Germany, in order to avoid a further war - that was at least the idea of Robert Schuman, the French minister who proposed the idea in 1950.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schuman_Declaration

    Out of it grew the "European Economic Community" and later the European Union.

    Between 1946 and 1950, I don't think any European country was ready to start a war :rofl:

    BTW, the NATO has nothing to do with this. The NATO is a mutual agreement of military assistance/involvement against EXTERNAL (read: commie) agression.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nato

    It dates from a little bit before the ECSC, namely from 1949.
     
    Last edited: May 6, 2008
  10. May 6, 2008 #9
    NATO is the fundamental glue that provides for (Western) European security, which in turn allowed the development of economic, and later, some political unification. It's true that it was originally targetted at containing the Soviet Union (which at the time controlled half of Europe), but if you read that wikipedia link, you'll find that all it says is that *any* armed attack on *any* NATO member in Europe or North America (i.e., America isn't going to protect your colonies) is considered an attack on all members. That's why it has not only continued but grown substantially since the USSR disappeared. Also note that it has waged war in Europe in that time.

    To say that economic and political unification doesn't depend on security unification is like saying that the upper floors of a house don't depend on the concrete foundation. The levels of unity that have come about could never have occured if Europe were not dominated by external powers which forced them to do so. It's simply not the case that Europeans decided that they'd had enough fighting and preferred peace.

    Rather, they chose to attempt to annihilate one another in the largest bloodbath in human history, and so were left weak and crippled, at the mercy of external powers, who in turn forged them into opposing blocs secured by the threat of world annihilation. Eventually, one of the external powers broke down, and the bloc supported by the remaining power subsumed the unsupported bloc. At no time during this process did any country in Europe have any realistic option of pursuing an independent security apparatus, nor did either of the blocs themselves. Nor, for that matter does the EU now face such a choice. Thus, Europeans chose total war, were destroyed, and so were forced down the path of peace. Also, let's not forget all of the wars *outside* of Europe that various European countries have pursued in the past 60years (Vietnam, Madagascar, Suez, Algeria, Falklands, Mozambique, etc. etc.) or the various civil wars that raged in Europe during that time.
     
  11. May 7, 2008 #10

    vanesch

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    It is funny that France is not a military member of the NATO. I think you miss the essential point: Europe's stability comes from its interconnectedness on economical (and now political) grounds. I think that Schuman was very right. Military alliances are not as strong as economical interconnectedness, which makes peace essentially "irreversible".

    So how would the NATO have reacted if Germany attacked, say, Italy, or France (not being a member of NATO) ? Or if Greece attacked Turkey ?

    I think that is ridiculous. What external forces force Europe NOW to have any unity ? And we don't have any security unification (just some collaborations). Do you think the Russians, or the Americans, or for that matter, the Chinese would bother ?

    No, it is simply unthinkable that one EU country (of "old Europe" at least, the newer guys, I'm less sure) attacks another one, simply because of their interconnectedness.

    You seem to forget that we, Europeans, did that TWICE with just 22 years of intermittency. After WW I, (western) Europe was already largely destroyed. That didn't stop WW II from happening. And why ? Simply because of silly military alliances, and because of a lack of interconnectedness.

    The reason why most new EU countries wanted to enter NATO is not because they wanted protection from agression from other EU countries (which would be the case if your hypothesis is right, that NATO is the peace bringer within Europe), but rather because they wanted a military protection from the remains of the Soviet bloc, namely Russia. So you cannot say that the NATO is in any way responsible for INTERNAL peace in the EU. The NATO has protected half of the current EU against agression from the other half (which was part of the Warsaw pact), and later turned into a protection of the former eastern part (its former targetted ennemy) against its former dominator (Russia).

    Although strictly speaking illegal, the intervention through the NATO in Bosnia was just a matter of organizational convenience (all the military structures were in place, so just as well use them) as well as a kind of "became-useless organisation looking for a purpose". On humanitary grounds it was a good thing.

    Various civil wars ? You mean, Northern Ireland ? Where in France, Italy, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands or Luxemburg was there a civil war going on ? Note that no country, when it was a member of the European construction, ever suffered any major agression or civil war. It is not something that can be said of all NATO members.

    For more than a millenium, England, France and Germany (or the equivalent nations) have been ennemies. As of now, this is not thinkable anymore. And by now, these countries are NOT forced to be buddies by "external powers". This didn't find its origin in a military agreement (there have been so many in the past), nor by an external threat. It comes about because of economic and even political and social connectedness.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2008
  12. May 7, 2008 #11
    Not really. Why go to the trouble of striking such a carefully calibrated posture with respect to NATO if it's irrelevant? Also, let's note that France has participated in every NATO action, and is planning to rejoin the military structure sometime this year.

    I didn't miss that point: I'm explicitly disputing it. Which is not to say that economic interdependence does not contribute to unity and stability; it most certainly does. But a common security framework is a prerequisite for economic and political unification. In my house analogy, the security framework is the foundation, and economic unification would be the first floor. Political consolidation is the next floor on top of that.

    Does it not seem striking to you that the membership and enlargement of NATO and the EU (and its predecessors) have always proceeded in parallel, with NATO membership typically coming first? Where are the examples of European countries pursuing economic integration without a pre-existing guarantee of mutual security?

    It would behoove you to cite an example where the two types of bonds were in conflict if you want to make this point stick. In Europe, the two have marched in lockstep, so it doesn't provide much evidence for your stance.

    Well, such hypotheticals are difficult to answer definitively (although there was an incident where Greece withdrew their forces from the unified command structure over Turkey's invasion of Cyprus), and I'm not clear on what the relevance of this line of speculation is supposed to be. The whole structure of NATO is designed around the fact of American dominance, which makes such actions unthinkable. Also, France is a member of NATO, with all of the mutual defense guarantees and obligations that implies. They don't have forces under the NATO unified military command structure, but they've always been part of the alliance, and always participated when the alliance has engaged in military operations. And, again, they're expected to rejoin the integrated command later this year anyway.

    Well, there's a certain superpower that most of Europe has signed a mutual defense pact with, which maintains 50-someodd military bases with tens of thousands of troops all over the continent... and then there's Russia grumbling over in the east over NATO expansion.

    Sorry, you lost me there. How is a massive American presence in support of a 26-nation mutual defence pact with a unified military command not "security unification?"

    It is indeed unthinkable, but it's not clear that this is solely, or even primarily, due to economic integration. The economic integration does increase the amount they stand to lose by pursuing violence, but at the end of the day it's unthinkable because they'd be guaranteed to lose anyway. No EU country (or even any likely combination of EU countries) has the strength to prevail over opposition from the rest of NATO, economic integration or not. It is this fact which created the conditions favoring economic integration, not the other way around.

    This gets to the heart of the point: to argue that Europe *chose* peace and economic integration presupposes that they had some other realistic options. They did not. Having had their capacities for warmaking demolished, and finding themselves dominated by external powers, they had no other choice, and they still don't.

    I was referring to both of the World Wars collectively when I said "largest bloodbath in human history." Although I have to add that your take on the causes of World War II and its ramifications for your point are far from compelling.

    "New" EU countries wanted a lot of things out of both NATO and the EU, and I'm not prepared to accept your reduction of their motivations. However, even if we were to accept your characterization, the fact that said nations look to NATO for their security is prima facie evidence that NATO is the fundamental guarantor of European security. Also, it's dishonest and, to be frank, ridiculous for you to assign positions to me as you've done above.

    Moreover, it's well known that "new Europe" states view NATO membership as crucial to them having influence in the EU. This was seen most markedly in 2003, with Chirac attempting to consolodate the EU behind French leadership, and "new Europe" using their position in NATO, and hence access to America, the fountainhead of European security, to override this strategy. If the EU were the whole of Europe's security, with NATO as some kind of afterthought, this would not be the case.

    I can say anything I care to, and I will take this opportunity to state that NATO is the foundation of internal peace in the EU. Without NATO, there could have been no economic integration, and no EU. That it has worked so remarkably well does not somehow imply that it was unncessary in the first place. Quite the opposite.

    I.e., NATO has been responsible for EU security throughout the history of the EU and its predecessors. Why is it that you think this backs up your point? It's great that NATO no longer has to flex much muscle to keep the peace inside Europe, but the fact remains that Europe's peace is built on top of NATO, and there is no evidence to suggest that it would be sustainable without NATO. Certainly, nobody in any of the governments in question is even considering attempting such a thing.

    I was thinking of Portugal, although I suppose a coup d'etat doesn't exactly count as a civil war.

    Of course, that's because NATO clears the way for European construction by providing a security framework. Only once the heavy lifting has been done by NATO is it possible to pursue economic and political unification. Where, exactly, are the EU countries that came into the fold without NATO? Ireland, Sweden and Finland are it, right? Notice that Finland has converted their entire military to be fully NATO-compatible, and commits troops to NATO operations. Likewise, Sweden conducts joint military exercises with NATO, and currently has troops under NATO command in Afghanistan. And Ireland, of course, is situated in the North Atlantic and surrounded by NATO members, and so gets the benefits for free.
     
  13. May 8, 2008 #12

    vanesch

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    I'm not disputing the utility of NATO. But as a protection against *external* aggression, and it is exactly in that respect that help and protection from the US was/is useful.

    However, I'm talking about the millenium-old war dispositions between the powers IN Europe (mainly Germany, or its historical predecessors, France and the UK) which have been historical ennemies all the time, and are now in a structure which makes such an attitude totally unthinkable. It is not some military pact that brought this about, because that would mean that at the end of the pact, the situation would be as before. Pacts have been concluded throughout history between these nations, and then broken. If it were under "military pressure" (the US, through the NATO, pressurising, say, France, Germany and the UK NOT to go to war with eachother, although it is itching) that no war broke out in Europe, then from the moment that that pressure would fall down, conflicts would show up again. I really don't have the impression that the US keeps military bases in Europe to avoid France, Germany and the UK to go at war with eachother!

    Look at something like Yougoslavia, or Iraq for that matter. There were, as long as the common structure existed, unified security and military and everything else. Once the security structure, and pressure, dropped, historical conflicts, that had been put away under pressure for decades, showed up again between the substructures that had been forced to cohabit. As I said, I really don't have the impression that the non-agression between France, the UK, and Germany is somehow because of "pressure" from a common overall military structure, put in place by the US, as you want to make it sound.
     
  14. May 8, 2008 #13
    This is a false dichotomy. In order to maintain external security on their own, the big European powers would have to maintain large militaries, which would then unnerve the smaller European countries, and one another, leading to conflicts. Sort of like how European history proceeded for the thousand years prior to WWII. The only other option would be a USA-style federation with a unified military, which seems to me to be still far out of reach, EU or no EU.

    Yes, and that "structure" is the shift in world power from being concentrated in Europe, to being concentrated first into the USA/USSR and now the USA. The balance of world power makes aggression between European states a losing proposition, and so there is no incentive to pursue it, and every disincentive. This fact prevents conflict between European states, whether they want conflict or not. Saying that such conflict is "totally unthinkable" is just saying that a radical decline in US power relative to Europe is "totally unthinkable."

    Given that the pact in question has yet to end, I don't see the relevance of this. Do you really believe that, were Europe to regain the geopolitical preeminence it enjoyed for the past 500 years, competition for dominance would not again arise? Have you not repeatedly brought up French irascibility with respect to NATO, and do you deny that Poland is still very much trapped between Germany and Russia? Is the UK not still working to maintain strategic independence of the continental powers? Are the Balkans not still a mess? None of the drivers of European conflict have disappeared; they've simply been supressed by the weight of external power. Take the USA out of the equation, and you've got a house of cards.

    True, but none of those pacts included an external nation that was more powerful than all of the European nations combined. Pacts between peer competitors are always temporary measures of convenience. Pacts where one party enjoys hegemony are a different matter.

    Indeed, and since that "pressure" (i.e., the fact of US geopolitical dominance) has yet to fall down, conflicts have been avoided. Whether these countries are "itching for war" or not is irrelevant: it's the basic power relationships that determine their options, and the fact that they decided to recognize that aggression towards one another was no longer an option and make the best of it, while admirable, is not the fundamental driver of the situation. Had Europe decided it's better to get along and integrate *before* the World Wars, when they were still masters of their own destinies, then you might have a point. But the fact is that they developed these attitudes only *after* their disasterous pursuit of total war had eliminated all other options.

    Sure they do. It's a constant reminder of the basic power relationships, and has allowed Germany to forgo maintaining a large military, which has long been a major driver of conflict in the region. That this approach works so well that the danger of European war is negligible does not support your position; quite the opposite.

    Yes, exactly. As soon as geopolitical conditions favor conflict, conflict will arise. What makes you think that Europe is an exception to this?
     
  15. May 9, 2008 #14

    Art

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    NATO as a positive factor in European integration and internal stability is an irrelevancy. In fact it is a negative influence as the US tout it as a reason why Europe should not have it's own integrated military capable of independent action.

    Peace between the major European powers is a result of closer economic ties and the changing political backdrop as monarchies lost their powers to be replaced by representative democracies.

    NATO's sole purpose was to protect Western Europe from the threat of the USSR. It has very few military assets under it's direct control relying entirely on the goodwill of it's member states which decide on a case by case basis if, what and how much they will contribute to any particular campaign. Maintaining peace between it's members is not part of it's charter. Greece and Turkey being a case in point.

    Probably the biggest external factor driving peace and stability in Europe since WW2 if one was needed would be the UN through it's various international agreements which removed the cause of much of the conflict eg UNCLOS III, whilst the biggest internal driver has been the memory of what it is like to have one's country leveled.

    After all one could as easily make the equally ridiculous claim that it is because of NATO the US hasn't had another civil war.
     
    Last edited: May 9, 2008
  16. May 11, 2008 #15

    vanesch

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    That's mainly because of France's drive (by de Gaulle) to be as independent as possible from American influence, and the NATO is nothing else but a "master and servant" club.

    Apart from the UK, which is in fact closer to the USA than to the EU in certain respects, and the "new" members of the EU, which still have to be integrated fully in the economic and social tissue (that will take a few decades I'd think), the "old Europe" is too much interwoven now to go internally to war.

    Really, abolish the NATO, and that won't change much for "old Europe" internally. As I said, for the newer members, I'm less sure, as they are not yet fully integrated into the tissue.
     
  17. May 11, 2008 #16

    vanesch

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    In a way you could say that the solution to that problem has been to outsource military protection :smile:
     
  18. May 11, 2008 #17

    mheslep

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    'Outsource' implies a service done outside the EU in return for compensation. I don't see the compensation.
     
  19. May 11, 2008 #18

    vanesch

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    The US got mirrors and shiny stones from us :rofl:
     
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