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5 May, 2009 07:39

“EU is a federal decentralized structure”

While some believe the European Union has a great future ahead, others are sure the bloc's days are numbered.

British writer and journalist John Laughland says the Union is in a state of permanent crisis and may even collapse.

RT: Mr. Laughland, in your 1997 book 'The Tainted Source' you compared the policies of the EU with those of Nazis and Communists. You have been criticized for that opinion by some politicians in England and all over Europe. What do you base such views on?

John Laughland: Well, I based them on the documentary evidence. I spent a lot of time reading Nazi and fascist statements about Europe, and there is a striking similarity between them and between certain aspects of the European ideology today. The most obvious point of comparison is that the Nazis and the fascists were surprisingly very hostile to the concept of the nation-state – the Nazis in particular, but also the Italian fascists, and another allies across occupied Europe. They were imperialists, they did not believe in the liberal Constitutional nation-state. They thought that the nation-state was not official and an invention, and they thought that Europe should be politically united, obviously under German domination. And that is really the basis for the similarity.

When the Berlin Wall came down, when Germany was re-united, German politicians in particular were very vocal in attacking the concept of the nation-state, and they pushed for the creation of the European single currency with the explicit goal of overcoming the nation-state. They said there could be no peace in Europe until the nation-state system had been replaced by the super-national system, and that's why they wanted a single currency. And that was exactly the argument that the Nazis and their allies had as well.

RT: During the G20 summit in London, we have seen some solidarity among the European leaders when it comes to battling the world’s financial turmoil. Do you think the European Union can now work as a single entity together against the common threat, or is it just a gathering of separate states?

J.L.: No, I think it is very important to understand that the European Union is in a state of terminal crisis, or certainly permanent crisis. I think it's probably terminal, but it has been in a state of institutional crisis since 2001 when it signed the Nice treaty. Ever since then, it has been struggling to reform itself institutionally. It drew up, as you know, the European Institution, which was rejected in France and then in the Netherlands. Then it drew up the treaty of Lisbon, based on the old Constitution. That was rejected in Ireland last year. It cannot work out how to reform itself in such a way as to make itself effective. And I think, as the crisis deepens, we will see that this basic institutional deadlock in the European Union is preventing it from acting as its leaders would like it to, namely, as if it were a superpower.

RT: So what lies ahead of the European Union? Do you think it could possibly collapse?

J.L.: You cannot rule out a collapse. I have always said that the European Union would not last forever. The Soviet Union lasted for 80 years. The European Union may not last quite as long. And certainly I think there is a possibility of the euro itself collapsing.

The problem is that the euro is only apparently a single currency, while in reality it is 12 or 13 national currencies, which all use the same banknotes and, of course, the same unitive account. But each of the states of the euro zone continues to issue currency. They all issue the same currency, but they continue to issue their currency. They do so, of course, in a coordinated way, but they do so nationally.

People do not often understand that the structure of the euro is growing decentralized, so it is not like a currency in any other country. It is in fact a federal decentralized structure; and that makes it very easy to collapse. Of course, the costs of collapse for the countries which might leave the euro, are very high. It is not a win-win situation. If, say, Ireland or Greece were to break out of the euro, that would cost them very dearly in terms of higher interest rates for their debts and so on. But on the other hand, their economies are suffocating as a result of it.

RT: What about the relations across the Atlantic? We've got a new administration in the White House now, and Obama is promising change. But will this change affect relations between the EU and the US?

J.L.: I am not particularly optimistic about that happening. Obviously, we have to wait and see, but I personally have a view that unfortunately there is a great continuity in American foreign policy, and that continuity, I fear, will include hostility to Russia. I suppose the litmus test is the anti-missile shield, that's the thing which, as far as I can see, is the biggest problem in relations between Russia and America. And there is no sign, as far as I know, that America intends to cancel the plan. President Medvedev said that the anti-missile shield was still on the agenda, that if it was indeed created, then missiles would be deployed in Kaliningrad.

I think that the American foreign policy is driven by a very powerful foreign policy establishment, which remains in place, regardless of whether it is a Republican of Democrat administration. I don't think we will necessarily have the same kind of aggressive war mongering that we had under Bush, although we must never forget that it was under the Democrat Bill Clinton that America and NATO attacked Yugoslavia. Nonetheless, I think the institutional inertia and the ideological views that drive foreign policy are such that there won't be a dramatic change, unfortunately.

RT: Do you still think the chances are high of the entire anti-missile shield appearing in Europe?

J.L.: I am afraid I don't think it could be cancelled. When I spoke just now about the foreign policy inertia and the establishment, there is, of course, a foreign ministry, and there are lots of think tanks, and they generate these ideas which continue over time even when the administration changes. But there is another factor in American foreign policy, which is I think probably much more important, and that is, of course, what polemicists sometimes call the 'military-industrial complex.'

The point about the anti-missile shield is that it is simply a way for American arms manufacturers to make money. It is a contract that is worth billions and billions of dollars. It will never work – it is designed not to work, it is designed to make money for arms manufacturers. And because there is a financial incentive, there is no way it that will be cancelled.

RT: Mr Laughland, recently we marked the 10th anniversary of the bombings of Yugoslavia, and you are known as one of the most vocal critics of the NATO actions in what is now Serbia. Do you think that a decade later, NATO has actually achieved what it wanted? Was Kosovo's self-proclaimed independence its ultimate goal?

J.L.: Yes, I think it was. There were basically two ultimate goals: one was to give NATO a self-justification – NATO had no apparent reason for existing after the Warsaw pact was dissolved.

And essentially, Yugoslavia was the victim that these people chose in order to have some reason for their continued existence.

There were strategic goals. I am not sure how important they are, but there is a big military base, an enormous military base, an American military base now in Kosovo. And it would not be there if the Americans did not want it there. So in that sense, NATO has achieved its goal – unfortunately, at the cost of great injustice and suffering for the peoples concerned.

RT: As we are talking about NATO, last year’s summit of the organization, some believe paved the way to Ukrainian and Georgian hopes of entering the organization. Several politicians in Kiev and Tbilisi have said that this is just a matter of time, and that there is just a temporary move to ease relations with Russia after last year's actions in South Ossetia. What do you think are the chances of both Kiev and Tbilisi of finally joining NATO?

J.L.: I think it is impossible, because of the situation which arose after the war in Georgia last August. However, one of the unpleasant things about modern international policy – we were talking about the European Union earlier, it is the same in NATO – is that these organizations have a way of finessing things, of arriving at baroque compromises in order to square the circle. So I expect what we will see is continued moves towards some sort of association with NATO. We will see the NATO exercises that are taking place in Georgia next month; we will see other things of this kind – continuing initiatives, which will continue, in my view, to distort and corrupt the politics of these two countries

RT: And what about Georgia? We are also seeing some political turbulence there with the opposition protests and rallies, mainly demanding Saakashvili to resign.

J.L.: I am sure he will go. His credibility is in tatters in Georgia itself. But it is an American puppet state, Georgia. It is a tiny place, it is easy to control. And it is controlled. And I have absolutely no doubt that we will see before long the thrusting of some new pro-Western diplomat or other politician coming forward and replacing Saakashvili. I expect that to happen before the year is out.