EU: the ramshackle empire Since I published “The new EU and its embroilment in Global Ostpolitik”  in jimsresearchnotes on 2 Feb 2010, much has changed. In those 4 years the ramshackle empire of the EU has expanded east at a phenomenal rate, but the most recent attempt to swallow the entire Ukraine shows, sadly, how history lessons have not been learned on either side of the Atlantic. $5 billions spent to persuade the Ukraine to join the EU as an associate. And shortly after the US upped the ante with a further $15 billions. Since then the EU has spent a further USD1.5 billions in a loan and gift package – we are not told the details of what “we” are spending. The USA is hoping to match this with the same amount.

But this is only the start of funding to a bankrupt state, the most corrupt in Europe. See this more detailed analysis. Why give such astronomical sums to a country on the verge of bankruptcy? It can only be a way to tempt the minority administration of the Ukraine that threw out the legitimately elected government of 2010 to go even further and join the EU. I can see no other explanation. It also continues a tradition of stealth, secrecy and dishonesty that began in the interwar years as Ambrose Evans-Pritchard explained in 1990.

Funnily enough another Telegraph piece on Barosso boasting about his very own Ramshackle Empire (and even calling it an Empire!) was pointed out to me the other day. Published in 2007 it shows the breathtaking arrogance of our new rulers in Brussels. The vast sums of our money being spent on this ambition, including now a loan/grants package of  USD 15 billions is already deeply resented by many who believe that more is needed to be spent on hospitals, elderly care, schools, and railways. Swedes are very aware of the cutbacks in spending on such issues despite the Tweedledum and Tweedledee of Swedish politics, with its positive sides, notably the striving for consensus.

In Dagens Nyheter, the 7 March 2014, there is a growing realisation that in the Transparency International statistics 2013 the Ukraine is the most corrupt country in Europe. DN. Debatt on p. 6 by Henrik Hallgren, founder and chair of Eurasia Forum, and Hanna Söderbaum, Ukraine researcher at the Economic-History Centre for Russian Studies at Uppsala University explain that 5 “Ukrainian Oligarchs once more come to the fore on Ukraine’s power stage.” The Donetsk Oblast in Ukraine has an historic association with a Welsh businessman, John Hughes. Anyone interested in this aspect should find the Donetsk Oblast website fascinating to read. For our purposes today we might note that the Ukrainian oligarch who is now responsible for Donetsk is Serhiy Taruta, Russian speaking Ukrainian who is in the top 500 richest people in the world, according to Forbes.

Apart from the Crimea, which is at the centre of attention for now, the Donetsk is a potential flash point, sharing a border with Donetsk in Russia, less than 400 km by road to Volgograd, World War II Stalingrad. The Empire ambitions of the EU Commissars are not exactly modest.

So the two flashpoints to watch are the Donetsk and the Crimea. The Crimea referendum is to be held on 16 March.

There is much more, but finally it is necessary to return to the EU, the ramshackle empire, which finds it so hard to make decisions. As usual the Council of Ministers is divided, so the EU cannot or will not follow the US on sanctions, despite the universal condemnation of Russia by the Council of Ministers. See the analysis by Annika Ström Melin (Dagens Nyheter pp. 18-19). Fritz Scharpf’s Joint Decision Trap strikes yet again, as it almost always does. And the best is that the more member states there are the harder it will become for the Council of Ministers to make a decision. This is good, as at least the Council will be even more divided and so improve the chances of peace in what has once again become “War-torn Europe” as part of a US-NATO-EU alignment that in effect brings back the Cold War era into international politics.

The EU has become the ramshackle empire of today, replacing the Habsburg Empire initially created in the 1500s by marriage between its Spanish and Austrian Houses. The creation of the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy in 1867 which involved making the Holy Crown of Hungary an autonomous crown to represent the Lands of the Crown of Saint Stephen as a sub-unit of the Habsburg Empire  eased the problem for half a century. And let us not forget that the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand in Sarajevo was the cause of the First World War. The Wikipedia page on this explains the aims as follows:

“On 28 June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austriaheir presumptive to the Austro-Hungarian throne, and his wife, Sophie, Duchess of Hohenberg, were shot dead in Sarajevo, by Gavrilo Princip, one of a group of six assassins (five Serbs and oneBosnian Muslim), coordinated by Danilo Ilić. The political objective of the assassination was to break off Austria-Hungary’s south-Slav provinces so they could be combined into a Greater Serbia or a Yugoslavia. The assassins’ motives were consistent with the movement that later became known as Young Bosnia. Serbian military officers stood behind the attack. The assassination led directly to the First World War when Austria-Hungary subsequently issued an ultimatum against Serbia, which was partially rejected. Austria-Hungary then declared war, marking the outbreak of the war.”

But this, too, has left much bitterness after the Treaty of Trianon of 1920 abolished the Habsburg Empire.

Hungarians felt particularly betrayed, as is eloquently explained in this history learning site. It is a bitterness that continues to this day, and like so much bitterness it is expressed in extremist political reactions in which ethnic minorities like jews are often made a target of blame. This Jobbik website page on Ukraine (interestingly enough, the whole website is written in impeccable English!) caught my attention.

There have been many ramshackle empires in the past. The Ottoman Empire, the Roman Empire in its long decline and the Habsburg Empire. Each of these ramshackle empires is assembled on different grounds: conquest, marriages, and in the case of the EU by membership of a wide variety of European states.

The EU as a Ramshackle Empire: The problem lies in the undemocratic nature of its decision-making. The EU Council Members make decisions in secret and without consulting its ordinary citizens. Added to this is the inability of the governing bodies of the EU to make decisions that are sensible. Fritz Scharpf called this a Joint Decision Trap. It runs through the entire operations of the EU, and produces some horrendous decisions, of which the latest concerning the Ukraine is a blunder that eclipses all others in both its scale of empire-building, its economic cost and the potential for war.

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