Henry Kissinger wrote in a much-quoted article in April that the progress of the EU has reduced nationalism and patriotism to the point where many EU countries are not willing to go to war, and accept the casualties that are an inevitable part of that. The dangers of being a powerful economic bloc with no military capability are obvious.
With the EU’s newly discovered post-Lisbon willingness to interfere in matters a long way from Europe’s borders even as far away as the Philippines, and its inclination, for example to increase the powers available to the IMF to supervise national governments, including that of the US, it is very likely that differences can only grow between the EU and the US, ultimately leaving the EU vulnerable to military pressure. In time, other countries that do not shy away from military casualties, such as Russia will be able to exploit this to advantage.
The strains of the situation are already apparent within NATO, with Canada and Australia expressing anger that France and Germany are unwilling to deploy enough forces into Afghanistan, or permit them to do any of the real fighting.
If the biggest problem for the countries of the North Atlantic is the EU’s unwillingness to match its ambitious rhetoric with fighting troops on the ground, it is interesting that a similar lack of understanding or interest about military realities is causing trouble for the EU in another region of the world. The EU is attempting to coerce the Philippine government into adopting new measures for improving the country’s human rights, under its EUJAM (Joint Assistance Mission) programme.
The EU alleges that ‘political activists’ are being killed extra-judicially.
The Philippine Armed Forces (AFP) have been involved in a low level war with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its New Peoples Army (NPA) for around forty years. The CPP/NPA has been responsible for multiple murders of mayors and other officials around the country, and operate in ways little different from organised criminals, making demands for money and killing as part of ‘business’. In view of the nature of the ‘war’, the AFP feels that what the EU calls extra-judicial killings, what the AFP calls its ‘order of battle’, are an appropriate response.
The country is contemplating the integration of former NPA rebels by offering them employment in police or military services, and there is a bill before the House of Representatives to that effect at the moment. But the war with the Communists drags on decade after decade, and is little different from many other local wars around the globe – except where else in the world are there any communists who still believe in their cause?
The best way to bring long-running local wars to a conclusion is not through Human Rights programmes as the EU is trying to impose on the Philippine government, which facilitate the life of the criminal elements, but by increasing the level of a country’s wealth to the point where war doesn’t seem such a profitable business any more, and is not the only option. Northern Ireland is a good example.
The EU could do more to bring peace to the Philippines by opening up its markets to Philippine products which are currently blocked by the Common Agricultural Policy and other blocking devices. The EU, however is using Human Rights as the excuse to keep its borders impenetrable to the Philippine’s poor for another period of at least two years.
Where the EUJAM might be helpful to the Philippines is by pushing for a family planning programme, (which it is doing). Given the strength of a previous influential European organisation, the Roman Catholic Church, family planning remains a subject out of bounds to any Philippine government. If the EU could rectify this European sin from the past, which has inflicted excessive population growth on the Philippines, that would be a worthwhile contribution to this struggling country.
But barring trade with poor countries like the Philippines in the name of taking sides in a small-scale long drawn out dirty war, seems the height of folly. Ineffective posturing seems the EU’s preferred role when it comes to warfare, wherever it finds it.
UPDATE – Human Rights programmes in war zones can have strange results. The requirement to bring prosecutions usually results in the accused being of the kind less likely to take reprisals. In the Balkans, for example, prosecutors were so frightened of the Alabanian war criminals, according to Carla Del Ponte, they chose to focus on Serb and Croat offenders, and leave the Albanians alone. Those who are capable of living in peace were prosecuted. Those who carry on with war get away with it.
It would not be surprising to find equally inappropriate results from an HR programme in the Philippines. The EU’s belief that the wrongs of warfare can be put right in a courtroom will again be challenged, possibly assisting the biggest thugs to predominate as they are doing in The Balkans, according to Carla Del Ponte in her book just published.
See ‘EU Attempts Partial Colonisation Of Philippines’ HERE