I’ve always loved Europe. I was born in Germany to British parents, taught in a university in Scotland for five years, and have visited places from Leuven to Budapest. I’m in Australia now, but often pine for a European summertime.
When the European Union began it was a great step forward for European unity in the aftermath of the second world war and amid the on-going Cold War. We were all captured by a season of optimism. Europeans coming together for the sake of unity and prosperity. It gave us some semblance of hope that perhaps nuclear catastrophe is not how the story of the human race has to end. We can work together cooperatively, we can live together in peace, and enjoy the richness of each other’s cultures. British beer, French wine, Italian sausage, German bread, and Danish pastries. Huzzah for European unity!
But the dream is over.
Looking at the European Union from Australia now, I have to say that it looks like a shell company for a Bond villain.
I know that Rami Malek has been cast as the villain in the next James Bond flick due out next year. But, if during the movie, James Bond – played handsomely by Daniel Craig – finds himself confronted by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker stroking a white cat while sneering gleefully, “Did you really think you could stop us, Mr Bond,” I would not be remotely surprised.
It is not just that the EU has become a get-rich scheme for political rejects from their own countries; the problem is the backroom deals, the corruption, the power it gives to global corporations, its technocratic cartels, and its malicious intent to make sure we are all loyal to Europe in general but to nowhere in particular.
The EU somehow manages to combine the transparency of FIFA, the democratic processes of Venezuela, the business ethics of Lehmann Brothers, and the personal warmth of an SS officer. It has become a secretive institution of technocratic elites hell-bent on dominating everything and everyone in its path.
But, somehow, it gets worse!
First, it was only last year that German Chancellor Angela Merkle called for the creation of a European army. The idea was affirmed by French President Emmanuel Macron as necessary to deal with a perceived growing threat from Russia. But why on earth does the EU needs its own Grande Armée when it has NATO with the resources of America and even allies among the wider British Commonwealth? What would a European Army do that present force structures or NATO cannot do? I do have a military background, having served as a paratrooper and military agency operator, and to be frank, the only thing I can imagine a European Army is good for, is marching into the land of some poor nation who had the audacity to defy the EU on some policy or another. European military power unfettered by US cooperation, crushing elected governments in Hungary or Poland, or anywhere else for getting out of line.
Second, only last week at the British LibDems conference, Belgian MEP, and all-round Euro-enforcer, Guy Verhofstadt, has called for the creation of a European Empire. It is bad enough that Verhofstadt has declared that EU nations must surrender their sovereignty to Brussels and abandon any opt-outs, vetos, and rights of dissent from EU dictates. But now Verhofstadt is calling for an Empire, an actual bloody Empire.
Verhofstadt sounds cartoonishly evil, like Emperor Palpatine from Star Wars III or something from The Man in the High Castle; but he’s serious, he wants a European Empire. If that alone does not scare you, then try saying it in German: Wir müssen ein europäisches Reich schaffen. Now I don’t have a PhD in political science and I certainly don’t have a masters degree in erotic French veganism from the Sorbonne, but I have enough modern European history under the belt to know that when someone starts saying European “Army” and “Reich” in same breath that it is time to take strident action to make sure that the European army and its associated empire never sees the light of day.
The militaristic and imperial designs of Chancellor Merkle, President Macron, and Obergruppenführer Verhofstadt should leave us all positively scared witless about what the future of Europe will be. But if this is true, if this is where it is all going, then it requires political fortitude, journalistic activism, and civil protest to make sure that an imperial and militarized Europe is never allowed to happen.
I liked the EU when it was free trade and free movement; academic conferences in Athens; holidays in Corfu; building bridges in Lithuania; and funding for PhD students from Croatia. But now, the EU looks like a shell company for a Bond villain. It has become the perfect platform for a technocratic Napoleon with a machiavellian mixture of woke virtue, cyber-thuggery, state-surveillance, pan-European idealism, and military ambition, who tries to turn Europe into a police state the likes we have not seen before.
The free people of Europe must stop it before it begins.
Rev Dr Michael F. Bird, @mbird12, is Academic Dean and Lecturer in Theology at Ridley College in Melbourne, Australia.
Illustration: Eon Productions/United Artists.
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