British foreign policy has been remarkably consistent towards Europe for the last 500 years, since the English monarchy abandoned its rightful claim to the French crown. It can be summed up by the simple observation that, seeing as the Hegemonic power of Europe cannot be England, no other hegemonic power should rise to dominate Europe.
Since the wars with Spain in the 1500s, when England stood at the head of an alliance of anti-Spanish nations culminating in the Armada of 1588. Next, through the Wars of religion Protestant England was happy to ally with anyone including Catholic powers keeping Spain down. France was (believe it or not, after strings of stunning miliary victories) next up in an attempt to become the dominant power in Europe, first under the Bourbon monarchy and later under Bonaparte. Comprehensive British victories at Trafalgar in 1805 and Waterloo (with a little help from ze Prussians) in 1815 put pay to Napoleon’s ambitions in that regard. The Russians made an abortive bid but were seen off by a Anglo-French alliance in the Crimea and turned their imperial ambitions east. A long peace saw the Rise of Germany, and the brokering of an Entente Cordiale between France and the UK should Germany get uppity and start throwing its weight around. They took some stopping, and the help of the Americans but Germany was prevented from getting a massive European empire.
And now Angela Merkel is belying her Hausfrau appearance and threatening war.
1914-1918 and 1939-1945 were the same war, with a bit of time to let Fritz regroup. The hun may have been utterly defeated, but they have never abandoned the dream of European empire which has burned in the Teutonic heart since the unification of Germany under the Hohenzollerns in 1871. The hush-puppy may have replaced the jackboot but the Boche are still marching in step.
The European project has operated at the behest of and for the benefit of the Germans. As a result, interest rates were far too low on the European periphery for most of the long boom leading to the catastrophic asset price-bubbles which have now turned to bust. The Euro was weaker than the Deutsche-Mark, benefiting Germany’s exporters leading to the illusion of German thrift – their workers aren’t particularly competitive, they just rigged the system to make it appear so. Greek bankruptcy is only partially a moral failing. Some of the blame lies at the door of the Bundestag.
Germany now needs to but dip its hands in the pocket and the Eurozone, those foolish countries that thought abandoning their currency would allow them to remain independent of Germany will be theirs. This is cheaper than war. C’mon Fritz; you broke it, you bought it.
Britain for her part should be true to her half-millennium of consistent European policy. We should lead the non-Euro nations of the EU in continued resistance to the onward march of German Kultur that the Greeks are about to experience. Again. This means that we should continue to operate within the EU, to frustrate the Franco-German axis, with help from Scandinavia, Poland and the rest of the non-Euro nations. This too is cheaper than war.
Were there a referendum on British membership of the European Union, my heart would vote to withdraw. But my head is more equivocal. The appalling mass-murder occasioned by the CAP needs nations with a weight equivalent to Germany and France, committed to free trade to argue against it in the Councils of Europe. Britain’s influence in Europe saw off the Spanish Empire, Napoleon, The Kaiser and Hitler. Herman Van Rumpy Pumpy and Cathy “face like a melted waxwork of the Princess Royal” Ashton leading a bunch of grey bureaucrats just shouldn’t offer the same resistance as the Waffen SS or Napoleon’s Cuirassiers.
Even the French Army is more threatening than Manuel Barroso.
Remember, when the French and Germans are left to decide Europe’s fate, the result is a pile of corpses. We should stay in the EU, not for our sake, but for Europe’s.