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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Duff analysis

Andrew Duff writes in the FT that:

Faced with Europe’s dramatic security crisis, the Irish position looks increasingly preposterous. Viewed from the perspective of Gori or Tskhinvali, Irish misgivings about neutrality rather pale into insignificance. Lisbon gives the European Union the wherewithal to do good in world affairs. If Ireland really wants to play no part in that effort, it should say so and depart.

Everything about this is wrong. Its like a double negative.

Firstly, why does the prospect of the EU getting into a scrap in the Caucasus make Irish concerns about neutrality "insignificant"? Surely the opposite.

Secondly of course, the EU isn't really going get in the mix in military terms. The dangerous thing about EU defence is its illusory nature - the EU speaks loudly but carries no big stick, which is always risky.

Duff's other advice is pretty weird too:

The EU badly needs to distinguish itself from Nato by counselling a halt to both Georgian and Ukrainian pretensions to Nato membership. If Nato is worth saving, it is worth keeping strong: membership of Georgia and the Ukraine would not contribute to its strength, at least for the foreseeable future. Both countries would be better off engaging more directly and deeply with the EU as its own neighbourhood policy and security strategy are fine-tuned in 2008-09.


Is he saying that EU members should veto the Ukraine and Georgia joining NATO? Or that they themselves should just forget NATO, and rely on the good ol' EU to look after them?

Neither is a good idea.

More fundamentally, the underlying idea that the EU can somehow "create" a common foreign policy by introducing institutions like a Foreign Minister or majority voting is really crackers.

Various people have pointed out that the Lisbon Treaty wouldn't actually have created a common foreign policy, because there is no way it could have papered over the obvious split in the EU. (e.g. the Economist last week in response to Sarkozy's ridiculous comments)

But even though it wouldn't work, it would still caused a problem.

The Lisbon treaty allows majority voting on foreign policy proposals from the Foreign Minister. And the situation in Georgia is exactly the sort of thing the Council would have asked for a proposal on. Perhaps you might hope that an EU Foreign Minister might play safe, and never aim for more than the lowest common denominator.

But then again, maybe not. Attempting to introduce majority voting on a serious issue, when there is no common policy, is certainly a potential disaster.

The idea of the EU and people like Duff being put in charge of our defence is enough to send a shudder down the spine. In a best case scenario they would have a meeting three weeks after your country had been invaded, and then decide to do nothing.

But it's not enough to say the EU is the wrong sort of institution to try and run our defence. NATO must now prove that it can act, or another institution must fill the gap. We should get on with our report.


Anonymous said...

Why anyone would expect the corruption riddled democratically deficient eu to be anything but divided on how to deal with any given foreign problem is beyond me. The whole divisive nature of idiotic lowest common denominator one size fits all, fits no one legislation such as the constitution, now euphemistically called the lisbon treaty will ensure that the eu only achieves one thing and that is a massive armed conflict on the continent of europe.

Anonymous said...

Andrew Duff has once again proved he is, as his name suggests, a complete "duffer"! As Ireland was neutral throughout WWII & the Cold War, it is very unlikely that the fact that Ireland is now a member of the benighted & very uninspiring EU would automatically lead her to whistle away her cherished neutrality. The same also applies to other neutral fellow-EU members Sweden, Finland, & Austria.

Indeed, it's not Ireland's fault at all that she wants to remain neutral. Instead, it's the EU's crass fault that it hasn't dreamed up an agreement that is individually satisfactory to each one of these 4 countries, where they could operate, probably with EU logistical backing (if only such a thing actually existed!) as peacekeepers in the less dangerous of the world's trouble spots, while the EU's NATO members co-operate - with their citizens' fully & genuinely democratically-expressed support - in more violent operations.

If I can think that one out, so also should Duff, & the imagination-starved EU!