Friday, 7 June 2019

Baby and Bathwater

Pic courtesy European Movement
There’s plenty in the media about the 75th anniversary of the D Day landings, and so there should be.

This event changed the course of history in Europe and formed the basis of the free and prosperous Europe we see today.

Not long after the end of the war in Europe, (24th October 1945) the United Nations officially came into existence.

Representatives of 50 countries met in San Francisco at the United Nations Conference on International Organization to draw up the United Nations Charter.

Those delegates deliberated based on proposals worked out by the representatives of China, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States at Dumbarton Oaks, United States in August-October 1944.

This was only 5 months after the fall of Berlin on 8th May 1945.

The delegates at that conference would have had the chaos and suffering of the Second World War uppermost in their minds.

It was after all, a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945 involving the vast majority of the world's countries including all the great powers. It resulted in the eventual formation of two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources.

World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Looking back, the foundation of the UN represented an expression of hope, and a determination that global conflict would not happen again – surely a noble aspiration.

Not much later, in 1951, the Treaty of Paris, and in 1958 the Treaty of Rome (1958) established the European Economic Community (EEC). Winston Churchill had called in 1946 for a "United States of Europe", and the original development of the European Union was based on a supranational foundation that would "make war unthinkable and materially impossible.

Seventy-five years after D Day, and sixty years plus since the Rome and Paris treaties, with the exception of localized conflicts (1991–1993 Georgian Civil War, 1992–1995 Bosnian War, and Kosovo 1998 – 99), Europe has been generally peaceful.

This is in marked contrast to the preceding 50 years, marked as it was by “the war to end all wars” and World War two.

And yet, we see Brexit, rising nationalism in many European states, and condemnation of the UN from some.

History is either not read, or not understood.

Throwing the baby out with the bath water is always bad for the baby…

Hugh White - Without America

Hugh White is always provocative, and doesn't pull any punches when it comes to criticising current defence policy. In 1995, he was appo...