Monday, 30 June 2014

Iraq and the EU

Just a small thought:-

It seems like Iraq has failed because it's an artificial construction of 3 tribes, forced together, initially by us, and later kept together by strongmen like Saddam Hussein. And isn't this similar to Yugoslavia? A load of people stuck together after WW1 with the destruction of the Austro-Hungarian empire, who fought each other, got a dictatorship (the king), then a different dictatorship (Nazis), and then another (Tito) and when he died and there was no tough guy, they fought each other.

The EU is made up of a number of countries that are broadly organised around their tribes. Or, they historically kicked out people from other tribes that stirred up trouble, until they got to roughly a tribe per country. And OK, there's people who feel a bit split or unsure about which country they belong to, like the Scots, the Northern Irish, the people of the Basque regions and a few Cornishmen, but the French mostly want to be French, the Italians Italian and the Danes Danish.

And we all want to trade, and maybe having loose trading blocs is quite a good idea. We can probably even see benefits of certain things being standardised in a trading region, like safety signs. But when you start getting into areas like currency or foreign ministries and defence, that's where the alliance oversteps itself, and steps into things that people in a country want someone from their "tribe" to decide. Which is why this just isn't going to happen. The more the EU push at things, the more likely they're going to end up breaking up the whole thing.


Bayard said...

Agreed, there are good things about the EU (the bits that used to be called "The Common Market"), but it's all been hijacked by the federalists.

Mark Wadsworth said...

Agreed, there is no perfect ideal size for a nation-state (or "territory occupied and controlled by one tribe").

There are advantages and disadvantages to being bigger or smaller, and there will always be people who see themselves as "minorities" who OT1H want preferential treatment and OTOH want to be treated as equals.

And the very concept of "nationality" or even "tribe" is actually totally artificial, it's all just brainwashing from birth, like religion.

That said, seeing as there is little chance of and no advantage in European countries waging war on/against each other, some sort of unified defence policy seems fair enough to me (i.e. NATO).

paulc156 said...

@MW. Re NATO. It made some sense in a cold war context but in order to keep it relevant in the post Soviet era it's been utilised to bludgeon both Serbs and Libyans and is a stick to wave at anyone else who threatens the Washington consensus. Satisfying the maxim that 'if you don't use it you lose it'. On balance I believe it does more harm than good, since I can quantify the harm whilst the good is conjecture.

thethoughtgang said...

There was some chappie from the EU on the wireless today, talking about the Junker thing. Apparently, our new president won't be working on further federalism and generally getting involved in the things that people would rather be dealing with at national level. No. He's going to be concentrating on 'the economy'.

How do I do a facepalm smiley on this thing?

Mark Wadsworth said...

PaulC *sigh* I did not say that NATO was a good thing, what I was thinking was, it might be a good thing were we to chuck out the Yanks, i.e. we placid Europeans would never declare war on anybody, and following Dutch or French lead, we'd waste half as much money on twice as good weapons.

Mark Wadsworth said...

TTG, I didn't say the EU was a good thing either, but is their corporatism really worse than our Home-Owner-Ism?

Re EU: 'armed neutrality' is the way forward, and being fair, Cameron/Sarkozy did a good job in Libya (judged by their own frame of reference).

Kj said...

Was intervening in the Balkans really that bad, re NATO? Americans, for all their faults, are always damned if they don't, damned if they do when it comes to foreign policy. Thing is, the yanks are probably sincere they'd fight back if there was an occupation of allies/whoever, as opposed to the placid europeans. So I'm actually quite pro NATO, even if it has the negative side of sucking up to the americans a bit. From my perspective, if it wasn't for NATO, I find it much more likely that us norwegians would be part of the EU, which would be patently worse.

thethoughtgang said...

"is their corporatism really worse than our Home-Owner-Ism?"

Fortunately, we don't have to choose. We get both. But isn't the latter largely just a subset of the former anyway?

Lola said...

TTG. Yep, that was my first thought.

Mark Wadsworth said...

TTG, Home-Owner-Ism does have some similarities and overlaps with corporatism (i.e from the banks' point of view, one is as good as the other) but it's mainly the UK which gets both, some lucky countries only get corporatism.

Bayard said...

"we to chuck out the Yanks"

Chance would be a fine thing, because

"we'd waste half as much money on twice as good weapons."

if we did and where would the profits of the likes of Halliburton be then?

DBC Reed said...

There remains the question of land values.
The current import/export system seems to be to manufacture or provide services in countries with low property prices/rents so you can get workers very cheap then try to export stuff to places where land values are so high people can't afford to buy home-produced goods because their prices have been inflated by the high land values. The imported goods are being sold at a discount that reflects the land/property price differential between the parties.
Gordon Brown realised that the UK could not be a Euro country because the then low interest rates would, via the property bubble mechanism, ruin the economy forever and lead to mass immigration as it has done in Spain and Ireland.
As regards the factors of production, Europeanisation and Globalisation have got the free movement of Capital and Labour sorted but Land, being immobile, undermines everything.
I would have thought something like the EU could only work when the range of land values was much the same all over i.e. minus the speculative element.

DBC Reed said...

PS Mass emigration above.