And so I am left with an unpleasant question, about the EU.

More years ago than I like to think about, I asked a German exchange student how he felt about Germany in the post World Wars Europe.  Then I was too young to realise how potentially insensitive a question that is.  Regardless he answered and that answer turned me into an instant lifelong supporter of the European project.

A fifteen year old German exchange student, in halting english, rather than answering my question directly explained that the EU did one thing.  It stopped future European wars.  I’ve never learned if that answer was a part of German rote learning or a heartfelt belief, but either way it opened my mind in a way that few things have since.   He was right, since the EU was formed there have been no wars between EU states.  Or at least there have been no hot wars.  A hot war being defined as, any confrontation where one or both sides make use of armed military might.

I was convinced there and then.  Later as I grew up and educated myself in the ways of the world, I only became more convinced that the EU held significant potential as a keeper of the European peace.   Even more I have come to believe that there is a need for another large political block to counter China and America.  To provide a third voice, a voice which I hope might avert disaster in the future.  After all let us never forget that as a planet, we’re only ever really one bad tequila away from a global military catastrophe from which humanity and perhaps even the planet itself would probably never recover.

I still believe that Europe needs a common defence policy, especially if we start to add near-east countries such as Turkey to our membership.  I absolutely believe that free travel and the right to work in any EU state is a boon to our combined civilisation.

Despite all this lately I have however been weighed down by one very unpleasant question.

Is the European Union unknowingly already in a state of civil war?

Ok yes I do know that the word “civil” is not wholly accurate, but with this question I feel we must view Europe as a single entity rather than as an alliance of separate nations.  But that quibble aside, if we were to view the EU as something akin to the pre-civil war USA could we be viewed as being at  each others throats?

Diplomacy is sometimes described as “war continued by another means.”  Might that not also be true of international economics?  With reports starting to trickle in to the public arena of the European Central Bank, having possibly instigated a near run on the Irish banking sector, I am beginning to wonder. If Ireland were someone hanging by their fingertips from the edge of  a cliff, France and Germany bullying our representatives in what I hope will be a vain attempt to force a raise in our corporation tax, is rather like someone walking up and stamping on the cliff hangers fingers.  We can only wonder about what is happening between the great European financial powers and the other troubled economies of the EU.

Are Greece, Portugal and Spain being dealt with in the same high-handed manner as Ireland?

So I sit here today and wonder are the peripheral nations of Europe at war with the central powers?  Has what was supposed to be an alliance for mutual benefit become the foundation for a new form of Imperialism.  Where the Euro and private debt made public and where penury in the disguise of bail outs replace tanks, guns and bombs.

Despite this I still hold out great hope for both my nation and Europe as a whole.  If there does in fact exist an economic war within Europe, I am encouraged by the lack of those tanks, guns and bombs.  Let’s face it a war without a daily body count and state funerals is definitely a step forward or at least it marks only a small step back.

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