What Is The European Union For?

 GREECE-EUROZONE-FINANCE-ECONOMY

 

After all the initial eu(ro)phoria and hopes placed upon the original concept of a non-aligned, social-democratic Euro-bloc, the reality has turned out somewhat differently.

In a pamphlet written in 2011 – Europe: The Unfinished Project – I wrote:

At the present time the EU project seems to be stuck in no-man’s land, unable to press ahead with full political integration, or retreat back into a northern European protectionist Deutschmark zone, and leaving the peripheral member states to the tender mercies of unfettered, globalized capitalism. However there seems to be a sufficient residue of the original EU idealism in the present stage of development to persevere further with the political struggle taking place.” Ibid, page 19

I believe that this view, which seemed justifiable and plausible enough at the time of writing, has now become difficult to sustain. And the reason for this came in the next sentence, viz.

One only has to consider the Anglo-American alternatives (to the Euro model) and globalization more generally to make this choice.”

This statement was, however, based on the tacit assumption that the Euro model of capitalism was somehow fundamentally different from the Atlanticist model, a paradigm exemplified by the US/UK axis. In the fullness of time this has, unfortunately, turned out to be a fundamental misconception. The UK of course has always been bound hand and foot to the US in terms of both foreign and economic policy with the ending of the system of imperial preference demanded by the US as the quid pro quo for the American loan negotiated by Keynes in 1946; next came the American intervention in the Suez crisis in 1956 which effectively ended any independent UK foreign policy. This dog-like devotion to American imperatives – the “special-relationship” – then extended with the neo-liberal turn and the Reagan-Thatcher counter-revolution of the 198Os. True, the UK was always more Atlanticist in its outlook than its European neighbours. However, continental Europe is as enamoured of Atlanticism as is the UK – and those more recent EU ex-communist states, probably more so.

It is not only the UK which is Atlanticist, the continental European states are no less so … proof of this is given by the central position of NATO in this political construction. That a military alliance with a country outside the union (the US) has been integrated de facto into the European constitution – in terms of a common foreign and security policy – constitutes an unparalleled anomaly. For some European countries (Poland, Hungary and the Baltic States) NATO’s protection – that is, that of the United States against their ‘Russian enemy’ is more important than their adhesion to the European Union.” Samir Amin – The Implosion of Capitalism, 2014

This Americanization of Europe – this invisible annexation – has been achieved by a combination of soft and hard power – a cultural, political, economic and militaristic assimilation of the old world by the new. It should be understood that the US does
not do ‘partnerships’; any relationships the US enters into with other states is always on the basis of ‘Me Tarzan, You Jane.’

It follows from this that the neither the European Union nor any of its component states any longer have an independent foreign policy. The facts show that there is one single reality: alignment behind whatever Washington (perhaps in agreement with London) decides on its own.” Amin – Ibid

European Economic policy is similarly aligned to US interests and US practises. This is hardly surprising since the US has been the dominant economic force (although now in a declining trajectory) for the last 100 years. It has control of the world’s reserve currency which allows it to run persistent deficits on its current account since it can simply pay for its imports with by printing its own currency. The US also tends to dominate the multilateral institutions such as the IMF and WTO, having the largest bloc of votes in the IMF. American policymakers have used their influence in the IMF to pursue American financial and foreign policy objectives. The IMF offers larger loans to countries heavily indebted to American commercial banks than to other countries. In addition, the IMF offers larger loans to governments closely allied to the United States. (International Politics (2004) 41, 415–429). New York is the second largest financial centre (after London) with the most deeply liquid capital markets, and in absolute terms the US is largest economy in the world. (Although in terms of purchasing power parity, the Chinese economy is now larger.)

Additionally, the ‘soft power’ the US (and UK) which includes, university economics departments, economic think-tanks, publications – The Wall Street Journal, Financial Times, The Economist – Business and Financial circles, and the universal language of business and diplomacy – English – have effectively dominated and structured the global ideological discourse. The ‘Washington Consensus’ along with the deadly weapons of financial mass destruction – the lethal derivatives – have come to dictate policy and policy making the western world. Recently, however, the neo-liberal, neo-conservative project has run into difficulties as instanced in the twin crises now besetting the Euro-Atlanticist bloc: namely, Greece and Ukraine.

Greece

At the outset it was wholly predictable that the accession of Greece into the eurozone was going to lead to trouble. In order to qualify for admission Greece needed to demonstrate that it conformed to the Maastricht Criteria. The Maastricht rules threaten to slap hefty fines on euro member countries that exceed the budget deficit limit of three percent of gross domestic product. Total government debt mustn’t exceed 60 percent of GDP.

The Greeks had never managed to stick to the 60 percent debt limit, and they only adhered to the three percent deficit ceiling with the help of blatant balance sheet cosmetics.

Not to worry, in 2010 some creative accounting was supplied by the premier (infamous?) US Investment Bank, Goldman Sachs. GS’s selling point for financial legerdemain is well known; in this instance cross-currency swaps where government debt issued in dollars and yen was swapped for euro debt for a certain period – and then exchanged back into the original currencies at a later date. Hey, presto! The figures added up (for a while at least). Goldman Sachs collected a $15 billion kickback for their labours.

As members of the eurozone the Greeks then had access to cheap credit from eurozone banks, particularly French and German. But any deal between borrower and lender means that both should act responsibly. The creditworthiness of the borrower has to be assessed before the loan is made. But such rigorous investigations of this sort were not carried out; with the deregulation of finance such tiresome procedures had been done away with and banks lent to almost anyone who had a pulse.

The rest as we say is history.

But if these lenders knew that borrowers would not be able to repay the loans, this would have amounted to ‘odious’ debt’. That occurs when the national debt incurred by a regime for purposes that do not serve the best interests of the nation, should not be enforceable. Vulture capitalism is another equally unprepossessing term for the policy toward Greece. Vulture funds target distressed firms or countries buy their the bonds and stocks at knock-down prices, then when the company fails, sue the owner not only for the interest but also the principal. The Troika policy toward Greece has been one of Loan and Foreclosure.

If Greece remains in the eurozone it will continue to be bled white, privatised and ultimately dismembered. An example must be made to stop others in the southern periphery from getting ideas. And just as Thatcher was the junior partner of Reagan in shaping the EU, Merkel has been Obama’s enforcer in the Euro’s restive US provinces.

It is interesting to note that one, Victoria Nuland, rabid neo-con – more of which below – Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the United States Department of State, visited Athens on 17 March and had talks with Tsipras regarding the turmoil. Suffice it to say it was geopolitics and the retention of Greece in the EU and NATO she was concerned with, rather than debt. She no doubt reminded Tsipras that there might be consequences if Greece did not toe the EU line. As Assistant Secretary for regime change in the State Department the redoubtable Ms Nuland’s brief has been to threaten or bring about regime change in countries of which the US and its vassals disapprove.

Ukraine

Earlier the peripatetic Ms Nuland was also busy in Ukraine promoting regime change – a process which had been going on since 2004 – and the installation of an oligarch-fascist regime paid for ($5 billion according to Ms N) and whose leaders were hand-picked by herself and the US Ambassador in Kiev Geoffrey Pyatt. (I have written extensively on this issue in Chartist available as an e-book on the website.) But it is interesting to note how the IMF’s treatment of the Kiev regime differs significantly to that meted out to Greece. Firstly a $40 billion aid package is granted to Ukraine over the next 4 years.

Secondly Madame Lagarde has stated that:

In the event that a negotiated settlement with private creditors is not reached and the country determines that it cannot service its debt, the Fund can lend to Ukraine consistent with its Lending-into- Arrears Policy” 12 June 2015

In other words if Ukraine defaults, and there is a strong possibility that the IMF will – in violation of its constitution – come up with the cash. Moreover, the IMF is also not mandated to lend to states which are at war. Of course, this is hardly even-handed way of operating, but then the IMF is a highly politicised institution and a key part of the neo-liberal, neo-conservative global establishment. Blatant confirmation of this politicisation of the IMF was occasioned by Kiev’s outright default on a $3 billion loan from Russia negotiated in 2013 before the Maidan. Customarily sovereign loans between states are sacrosanct: they must be paid or at the very least restructured. But the flat-out refusal by Kiev to repay its debt to Moscow was a flagrant default.

At that point the entire program to resurrect the Ukrainian economy, along with the most recent loan agreement, would go off the rails. And that would be unacceptable, since the biggest shareholder is insistent that the IMF support the regime in Kiev unconditionally. The IMF even went so far to change its constitution to allow this political jiggery-pokery to take place.

Changing its rules to clear the path for the IMF to make loans to Ukraine and other governments in default of debts owed to official lenders is rightly seen as an escalation of America’s New Cold War against Russia and also its anti-China strategy.” Michael Hudson – Counterpunch – December 2015

Conclusions

The decision to expand the EU and with it NATO right up to Russia’s borders, initially under the guidance and policies of the Clinton administration, was a clear indication that the governments of the EU had come under American domination. With this decisive shift the EU project – i.e., from the quasi-Gaullist, third force in world politics, and the Delors social chapter – was over. It has been replaced by a North Atlantic neo-liberal, neo-conservative project under American command. The hegemonist strategy of the US – made abundantly clear in both the Wolfowitz doctrine and the more recent enunciations and actions of the dominant US war party, a coalition of neo-cons, liberal hawks and liberal interventionists – is clearlyvisible behind the disappearance of the European project.

However it is quite possible that even against US wishes and geopolitical imperatives the EU might well fracture internally due to inter-state tensions and contradictions. One thing is certain: in its present structure the EU cannot endure, nor does it deserve to.


2016-11-25

By Frank

Source: Off Guardian

Join the debate on our Twitter Timeline!

banderistas-ukraine

RELATED POSTS
The Cold War, Continued: Post-Election Russophobia
 Mainstream TV news anchors including MSNBC’s Chris Hayes are reporting as fact—with fuming indignation—that Russia (and specifically Vladimir Putin) not only sought to influence the U.S. election (and—gosh!—promote “doubt” about the whole legitimacy of the U.S. electoral system) but to throw the vote to Donald Trump.The main accusation is that the DNC and Podesta emails leaked through Wikileaks were provided by state-backed Russian hackers (while they did not leak material hacked from the Republicans).  I have my doubts on this. Former U.S. ambassador to Uzbekistan and torture whistle-blower Craig Murray, a friend of Julian Assange, has stated that the DNC ...
READ MORE
Balkan Islamist Galaxy in a Nutshell
The Balkan political environment is shaped-amongst other- by the existence of two political strains of Islam, the Wahhabis, related to the Saudis & Gulf states and the Muslim Brotherhood ones, related to the Turkish-Qatar axis.In both cases networking developed under a series of upturns since the 1990’s and is inexorably related to wider events of interest such as the ongoing wars in the Middle East and the culminations in countries such as Turkey, Egypt but also EU , Western European ones; including direct security affairs.Nowadays we are witnessing a massive buyout of land and corporations by mostly UAE, Kuwait and ...
READ MORE
Europe’s Palmyra: How Kosovo’s Medieval Culture Was Demolished By Albanians
BELGRADE – Serbia organized an exhibition of cultural and historical heritage of Kosovo and Metohija in Paris, the headquarters of UNESCO, to serve as a reminder to the West of how they let it be destroyed since the 2000s.There is a lot of Serbian cultural heritage in Kosovo and Metohija. Now, Kosovo is an independent state, partially recognized by Western countries. But the world was shocked by anti-Serbian riots organized by Albanians during the Kosovo unrest in 2004. Many Serbian monuments were damaged in the chaos.Albanian extremists living in Kosovo, since the 2000s, have continued to raid and damage Serbian ...
READ MORE
The Quisling Of Belgrade
Tributes to Zoran Djindjic, the assassinated prime minister of Serbia, have been pouring in. President Bush led the way, praising his “strong leadership”, while the Canadian government’s spokesman extolled a “heralder of democracy” and Tony Blair spoke of the energy Djindjic had devoted to “reforming Serbia”.In western newspaper obituaries Djindjic has been almost universally acclaimed as an ex-student agititator who bravely led a popular uprising against a tyrannical dictator and endeavoured to steer his country into a new democratic era.But beyond the CNN version of world history, the career of Zoran Djindjic looks rather different. Those who rail against the ...
READ MORE
Totalitarian Rule In America: False Flags, Secret Prisons, Extrajudicial Assassinations, Media Censorship, The Rounding Up Of Alleged “Terrorists” …
Every day signs are looming larger than life as we know it in the wealthiest nation on earth that it’s about to crash and burn, forever changing not for the better. The latest wake-up call arrived in a Guardian article earlier this week. The story features a secret prison not unlike the CIA torture detention centers all over the world whereby the Chicago police hold rounded up US citizens for hours or days at a time for interrogation. The same internationally illegal roundups of suspected “potential terrorists” (which by latest Gestapo America standards can easily be you or me) that the CIA ...
READ MORE
Seal in lobby at CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, USA
2015 has become a year of living dangerously. Wars are spreading across the globe.  Wars are escalating as new countries are bombed and the old are ravaged with ever greater intensity.Countries, where relatively peaceful changes had taken place through recent elections, are now on the verge of civil wars.These are wars without victors, but plenty of losers; wars that don’t end; wars where imperial occupations are faced with prolonged resistance.            There are never-ending torrents of war refugees flooding across borders.  Desperate people are detained, degraded and criminalized for being the survivors and victims of imperial invasions.            Now major nuclear powers ...
READ MORE
Allies raped hundreds of thousands of German women after WW2
Western allies raped hundreds of thousands of German women, writes German historian Miriam Gebhardt in a book published under name “When the soldiers came” (Als die Soldaten kamen) and which received both praise and criticism in Germany.“At least 860,000 women and girls, but also men and young boys, were raped by ally soldiers after the fall of the Third Reich and in the postwar period. It happened everywhere,” writes Gebhardt, noting that US soldiers were the ones who did it the most.The book strongly echoed in Germany, where information on such crimes was known before, but was almost exclusively ascribed ...
READ MORE
Russia’s Balkan Politics: From the Politics of Pan-Slavic Reciprocity of the Tsarist Russia to the “Realpolitic” of the Republic of Gazprom Russia
Abstract: This article investigates the Russian foreign politics at the region of the Balkan Peninsula after the dissolution of the Soviet Union at the time of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) World Order in relation to the Pan-Slavic ideals of intra-Slavic solidarity, reciprocity and brotherhood. The particular stresses are put on four main research topics: 1. The Pan-Slavism and Russia; 2. Relations between pro-Western and pro-Orthodox approaches of the Russian national interests on Russia’s domestic political scene; 3. Different attitudes towards the Balkans in Russia; and 4. Historical ties and future perspectives between Russia and the Serbs. A research ...
READ MORE
Wars, Killings, and the Greatest Country Ever Created
The world is lectured frequently by the United States of America — the One Indispensable Nation — about how to behave, on the grounds that, as President Obama declared, «from London and Prague, to Tokyo and Seoul, to Rio and Jakarta... there is a new confidence in our leadership».He didn’t mention Amman, Baghdad, Beijing, Beirut, Caracas or the capitals of so many other countries in which the majority of citizens, according to the Pew Research Centre and other pollsters such as Marketwatch, regard the United States as an aggressive and malign manipulator of world affairs.Presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton went further than President Obama in glorifying ...
READ MORE
Independent State Of The Republic Of Kosovo
Kosovo Parliament announced the independent state of the Republic of Kosovo in February 2008 as a democratic and multicultural political community.Here we present a photo from November 2015 on which you can see heavily damaged Serbian Orthodox church and totally destroyed Serbian Orthodox tombstones in the southern part of the town of Kosovska Mitrovica inhabited by the Muslim Albanians. The Kosovo ISIS is doing its job profoundly.Enjoy Kosovo independence!
READ MORE
The CIA: Nazifying Ukraine Since 1953
The recent declassification of over 3800 documents by the Central Intelligence Agency provides detailed proof that since 1953 the CIA operated two major programs intent on not only destabilizing Ukraine but Nazifying it with followers of the World War II Ukrainian Nazi leader Stepan Bandera.The CIA programs spanned some four decades. Starting as a paramilitary operation that provided funding and equipment for such anti-Soviet Ukrainian resistance groups as the Ukrainian Supreme Liberation Council (UHVR); its affiliates, the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) and Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), all Nazi Banderists. The CIA also provided support to a relatively anti-Bandera faction ...
READ MORE
Kosovo: The Hidden Growth Of Islamic Extremism
The recent arrest of 40 alleged Islamic radicals in Kosovo together with the arrest of one of the Kosovo Imams suspected of being an inspirer of jihad in the region brought serious questions about the radicalisation of Islam and terrorism in Kosovo, in the Balkans and in Europe. Even though the issue of Kosovo Albanian volunteers or mercenaries fighting alongside the anti-Bashar forces in Syria and supporting the radical leadership of the Islamic State (earlier the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) has been present in the public debate in Kosovo for at least a year, the debate itself was ...
READ MORE
There is no Strategy Behind Trump’s War, Just Brute Force
These are awesome days for headline writers. So many global settings, such an abundance of weapons, such a wealth of choices!On the morning of April 14, the New York Times led with “A Giant U.S. Bomb Strikes ISIS Caves in Afghanistan,” matched by CNN’s “US Drops ‘Mother of All Bombs.’” The Washington Post chose Syria, where “Errant U.S. Strike Kills 18: Victims in Syria Were Allied Forces.” By mid-afternoon that same day, the Associated Press had shifted to the horn of Africa, where the “U.S. Sends Dozens of Troops to Somalia, 1st Time in Decades.”And as the Friday rush hour ...
READ MORE
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump (L) looks on as Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi speaks during a meeting at the Plaza Hotel on September 19, 2016 in New York. / AFP PHOTO / DOMINICK REUTER
“Fool me once, shame on you; but fool me twice, shame on me.” Ancient proverb, (sometimes attributed to an Italian, Russian or Chinese proverb) “Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius, and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.” Ernst F. Schumacher (1911-1977) (in ‘Small is Beautiful’, an essay, in The Radical Humanist, Aug. 1973, p. 22). “The powers-that-be understand that to create the appropriate atmosphere for war, it’s necessary to create within the general populace a hatred, fear or mistrust of others regardless of whether those others ...
READ MORE
“Democracy is Pure Fantasy”: Trump vs. Clinton in November
It’s all over but the postmortems. Trump and Clinton are their parties’ presumptive nominees. Choice for voters in November amounts to death by hanging or firing squad. Democracy is pure fantasy. None whatever exists. Trump was the last GOP aspirant left standing after all others dropped out, an unlikely choice, a surprise winner, prevailing despite party bosses opposing him.Democrat power brokers chose Clinton before primary/caucus season began. The race was over before it started.Voters in November get to choose between a dirty business as usual billionaire racist, demagogue and a recklessly dangerous neocon racketeer, war criminal, Wall Street tool she ...
READ MORE
The Nagorno-Karabakh Story The US Does Not Want You To Know
In the early morning hours of April 1-2 Azerbaijan launched a major military offensive into the disputed region Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) that’s been controlled and defended by NK Armenian forces since the Russian brokered truce ended a bloody three year war in 1994. While Azeri President Ilham Aliyev was flying back to Baku after meeting 24 hours earlier with John Kerry in Washington who claimed “an ultimate resolution” had been reached, Azerbaijan was already once again at war with the NK Armenians.The surprise element combined with the full scale major military operation spearheading a three pronged attack on Nagorno-Karabakh contact line from the southern, ...
READ MORE
North Korea, an Aggressor? A Reality Check
“ … war in our time is always indiscriminate, a war against innocents, a war against children.”(Howard Zinn, 1922-2010.)“All war represents a failure of diplomacy.” (Tony Benn, MP. 1925-2014.)“No country too poor, too small, too far away, not to be threat, a threat to the American way of life.” (William Blum, “Rogue State.”)      The mention of one tiny country appears to strike at the rationality and sanity of those who should know far better. On Sunday, 6th August, for example, The Guardian headed an editorial: “The Guardian view on sanctions: an essential tool.” Clearly the average of five thousands souls a month, the majority ...
READ MORE
The Cold War, Continued: Post-Election Russophobia
Balkan Islamist Galaxy in a Nutshell
Europe’s Palmyra: How Kosovo’s Medieval Culture Was Demolished By Albanians
The Quisling Of Belgrade
Totalitarian Rule In America: False Flags, Secret Prisons, Extrajudicial Assassinations, Media Censorship, The Rounding Up Of Alleged “Terrorists” …
The Age Of Imperial Wars: From Regional War, “Regime Change” To Global Warfare
Democracy
Allies raped hundreds of thousands of German women after WW2
Russia’s Balkan Politics: From the Politics of Pan-Slavic Reciprocity of the Tsarist Russia to the “Realpolitic” of the Republic of Gazprom Russia
Je Sius La Serbie 1999!
Wars, Killings, and the Greatest Country Ever Created
Independent State Of The Republic Of Kosovo
The CIA: Nazifying Ukraine Since 1953
Kosovo: The Hidden Growth Of Islamic Extremism
Nazi salutes
There is no Strategy Behind Trump’s War, Just Brute Force
False Flags and the Trump Administration
“Democracy is Pure Fantasy”: Trump vs. Clinton in November
The Nagorno-Karabakh Story The US Does Not Want You To Know
North Korea, an Aggressor? A Reality Check

Donate & Support The Global Politics