North America and Europe should see each other as friendly and supportive regional partner economies. Culturally the two regions have common roots and a conflict between them is unthinkable. The North Atlantic regional economic zone is and will remain the dominant economic force in world affairs.
That was not always so. Normandy in 1944 was the major start point of America’s armed struggle to free Europe from tyranny and totalitarianism.
Within three years the fault-line between freedom and tyranny in Europe was the Iron Curtain. America guaranteed the freedom of Western Europe while Stalin set about the totalitarian enslavement of Eastern Europe.
After the fall of the USSR and the end of the Cold War, the EU expanded rapidly to include the former Warsaw Pact countries not to rival or depose the US as the leader of the western alliance but to consolidate the liberation and democratisation of its eastern member states. The EU enlargement of 2004 was a huge step towards the consolidation of peace and progress.
This is why the buffoon president, Donald Trump, is so dangerous and wrong-headed. For all his momentary solemnity at commemoration events during the week, he is a malign and poisonous ferment in world affairs.
There was little sense and much grotesquery in solemnly saluting the huge sacrifice of American GIs killed and wounded on the beaches and in the bocages of Normandy while at the same time actively encouraging the disintegration of the EU.
We should not forget that Trump has openly and consistently supported Brexit and those in other EU states who advocated withdrawal from the EU. He backed extremist politicians from a number of member states who want to balkanise the EU states. He wanted to appoint an ambassador to the EU who vociferously opposed the existence of the union itself. He flirted with Putin.
He wants to reduce the states of Europe to economic satellites – to mirror the defunct Warsaw Pact with a new economic Washington Pact ruled by sanctions and tariffs imposed as executive fiats of the US presidency.
Let’s be absolutely clear about it – Trump wants a hard Brexit. His offer of a tremendous trade deal to the gullible British is designed to encourage the hardest of hard Brexits. He couldn’t give a fig about the consequences for Ireland – north or south. He is an impetuous and dangerous bully.
From his moronic statements in Shannon about the Irish border and “wall”, it is clear that he not only fails to read his brief but utterly misses the point about 30 years of US policy on Ireland.
Donald Trump is no friend of Ireland. If he were well disposed to Ireland, he would oppose a hard Brexit. His repugnant bromance with Farage and Johnson is a very serious danger for us.
As for the United Kingdom, do any members of the Conservative and Unionist party in the shires ever ask themselves exactly why it is that such large numbers in two of its four parts actually want to leave the UK? It’s a good question that they can’t bear to bother their little heads with.
Whether or not the secessionist vote in Scotland and Northern Ireland reaches 51% in the coming years, both parts of the ever-so United Kingdom clearly want to remain in the EU. So why is the UK once again becoming visibly an English state with vassal appendages?
Northern Ireland is, as a matter of international law, entitled to secede from the UK. Scotland’s right to secede by a majority vote is conditional on acquiescence from Westminster.
The UK is not in good nick at all. England is riven by unstated class prejudice. It is a very unequal society in outlook and instincts. Its low unemployment rate masks a significant dis-empowerment of a working class dependent on low wages and poor employment law protections.
A decade of austerity has frayed the country’s social infrastructural fabric to theadbare.
A Trumpian “tremendous trade deal with America” simply won’t make up for any of the damage done by a hard Brexit. A no-deal Brexit could produce a political and economic shock and the break-up of the UK.
The UK can, only with massive financial difficulty, build one aircraft carrier and then, after a further period, buy and install American planes on it. It can plan another. But the illusion that such investment will keep it a world power is ridiculous. The rest of Her Majesty’s forces are dwindling in number and equipment.
Aspirations to deploy military force in the Near East, the Middle East or the Far East seem so unreal
The last defence secretary’s boast that the Queen Elizabeth might be sent to patrol the South China seas is utterly absurd. What would happen if it hit a sea-mine off the Paracel islands? War with China? About what?
Britain’s steel-making business is in crisis. So is its car manufacturing capacity. The high street retail trade sector is imploding. A hard Brexit or a no-deal Brexit could do very serious damage to sterling. Add to that the massive costs entailed in meeting climate change targets and you have the elements of a real political and economic crisis. The possibility of a Corbyn-led government might provoke a financial exodus that could threaten London and sterling.
Britain, outside the EU, stands to become a second post-Imperial Netherlands. Even the Dutch Prime Minister has commented on Britain’s slide economically and politically. The irony is that the leading contenders for the leadership of the Tory party and the keys of Downing Street are all spouting a pale imitation of Trump’s political message, “Make Britain Great Again”.
How real is the threat of a no-deal Brexit? You may think it unlikely by imagining that the British electorate and political establishment is incapable of such self-harm. But think back to the primaries and election that brought Donald Trump to power. Although some of us warned of the real danger that he might be elected, most believed that such an outcome simply couldn’t happen.
To avoid a hard Brexit Britain must either negotiate a new deal with the EU or swallow the pill of accepting the existing deal with a new Tory leader or secure unanimous agreement among the EU member states to a further extension for the Article 50 process.
Which of these seems likely? That is the conundrum for Ireland.
Leo Varadkar faces very dangerous political waters. As a matter of law, there must be four by-elections held by the 2nd of January to fill the seats of the newly elected TD MEPs. While three of the four seats are opposition seats (if you count Fianna Fáil as part of the opposition), and while he could probably stagger on having lost all four by-elections, most likely in November or December, his political fortunes would look very down at heel if he went to the electorate having lost a succession of by-elections.
The local and European elections, as I wrote here last week, are no guide to the outcome of a General Election. But there is every reason to believe that the shine has gone off Leo in the eyes of the voters. Moreover, it is clear that Michéal Martin has been largely restored in the eyes of the electorate. It is difficult to see where Fine Gael will gain seats, bearing in mind that they will lose one seat in Dún Laoghaire on account of its being held by the former Ceann Comhairle, Seán Barrett.
An Irish general election in the early autumn looks increasingly likely – if only to avoid a difficult budget. With fail marks in his Leaving Certificates subjects in Housing, Health and Transport, Leo has a lot to ponder if term opens in September.