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Brexit - EU Affairs - International Affairs

There is no appetite in Ireland for us to revert to a UK satellite

The White House is becoming for all practical purposes the Washington bureau of the Netanyahu regime when it comes to Israeli and Middle-Eastern affairs. Trump, Pompeio and Bolton are a hawkish triumvirate pursuing the most uncritical Zionist agenda that the US has ever pursued.

The crude choreography in which Netanyahu attempted to tell us that he had discovered “new” evidence of an Iranian nuclear weapons programme in a TV presentation that looked amateurish and sham coupled with Trump’s stage-managed announcement of US renunciation of the multinational international agreement with Iran demonstrated just how strong the grip of Netanyahu and the American Israeli Political Action Committee (AIPAC) on US foreign policy has become.

Likewise, the launching of an Israeli bombing campaign on alleged Iranian bases in Syria in the hours immediately after Trump’s formal denunciation of the international agreement shows a strongly collusive approach between the US and Israel. Israeli claims that this was an act of self-defence are already being questioned. It appears that the Israelis may have started the skirmish in the Golan Heights and then used it to justify their actions against Iran.

While we are on the subject of pretexts, why is there now such a deafening silence about the alleged gas/chemical weapons attack on Douma last month?

Why did Robert Fisk and a right of centre American news team find absolutely no trace of the gas attack which spurred joint retaliatory action by the US, UK and France when they visited Douma well before the chemical weapons inspectors visited the alleged scene of a war crime?

There are questions to be answered too in relation to the outcome of the recent Lebanese elections. Prime Minister Hariri’s allies lost ground to their opponents (including Hezbollah) in an election that followed the extraordinary Saudi  summons to Hariri to visit Riyadh where he was detained in isolation and forced to announce his resignation as Lebanese prime minister in a scripted telecast on Saudi TV.

Israel at the time had immediately responded to the Hariri “resignation” with a diplomatic offensive aimed at destabilising the fragile peace in the Lebanon. But that Saudi-Israeli gambit floundered.

Israel has just signalled that there will be no extension of their anti-Iranian bombing missions in Syria. But we are getting dangerously close to an Israeli-Russian confrontation in Syria which could trigger a wider regional conflagration.

The underlying difficulty with the de facto alliance between the Saudis and the Israelis is that the Arab world will not tolerate it for long. It may be sustainable in the short term as a Sunni stance against Shia-ism. But in the end, Arab sympathies lie with the oppressed people of the West Bank and the Gaza strip. And the young Saudi prince, Salman, cannot sustain a long dalliance with the Israelis.

The worrying thought is that there may now follow a ramping up of a confrontational approach towards Iran in the hope of a quick and humiliating outcome for the Teheran government. John Bolton has openly spoken of achieving regime change in Iran. But any such change would most likely result in a more hawkish government in Teheran.

In Aachen during the week, local councillors decided to confer their Charlemagne medal on Emmanuel Macron, the French President. He used the opportunity to attempt to rally the Germans into taking a supportive position on his latest project – a “sovereign” Europe based on Paris-Berlin unity. The Germans simply aren’t buying this attempt by Macron to make France great again by increasing EU integration based on an understanding with Angela Merkel.

Having effectively assisted the Trump denunciation of the Iran deal by coming up with a French compromise proposal for a face-saving additional supplemental agreement with Teheran,  Macron now told his Aachen audience that Europe must now stand up for itself against US bullying in international affairs.

Surprise, surprise! How does Macron envisage Europe standing up for itself? Why, of course,  by making the EU “sovereign” under French-German leadership!

We will have to have our wits about us in our dealings with the French over the coming months. They will try to lean on us and the other northern member states to agree to back their integrationist plans in exchange for supporting an outcome on Brexit to our liking.

Meanwhile the European Movement released the results of a public opinion survey on Irish attitudes to Europe. Needless to say, the vast majority of us (92%) are opposed to leaving the EU. The so-called Irexit idea is politically dead – only a scary glint in the eye of Justin Barrett’s extremist National Party. That outcome is hardly a surprise.

There is simply no appetite in Ireland for us to revert to the status of a UK satellite – especially in the context of Boris Johnson and Jacob Rees Mogg holding high office or the possibility of Jeremy Corbyn doing so.

But that does not mean that the Irish people would vote to join an EU defence if the needed constitution change were proposed to allow that to happen. Nor is there support for further integration of the EU or for promotion of the federalist project.

Just because we are happy with the EU as it stands does not mean that we - or the majority of member states - would support Macron’s proposals to confer “sovereignty” on the union as an international power.

Attractive as that may seem to Macron, it would be the end of a partnership Union as we joined it. The Germans’ supreme court in Karlsruhe has emphasised that the German constitution simply does not permit the EU to become a sovereign entity at the expense of its sovereign member states.

Since I last wrote here, the House of Lords has hammered nail after nail into the aspirations of the hard Brexit cabal at Westminster.

The crunch is coming in June for those in London who have clung together in office by political gymnastics and double speak. Johnson may use Trump-like terms such as “crazy” and “insane” to describe the possibility of the UK keeping some form of customs partnership. But in the end his viewpoint is a small minority viewpoint among the membership of the House of Commons.

And Theresa May will do anything to avoid going to the country – including allowing Boris to follow Winston Churchill’s example of political isolation in the wilderness years.

Of course, we face an unpredictable few weeks ourselves in Ireland. A No vote on the 25th or a discovered health memo that was read at ministerial level could change the landscape completely for this government.  Subjects to which I will return.




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