EU—a Glaring Need for Leadership
Sir Winston Churchill once remarked on the reality that it was always necessary to have in place “one directing mind and commanding willpower” to avoid strategic failure in times of great national crisis.
Of Herbert Asquith, Britain’s prime minister during World War i, Churchill remarked that “his passive management style was unsuited to the active requirements of making war” (Stephen F. Hayward, Churchill on Leadership).
The European Union, touted as the solution to the European continent’s history of interminable conflict, consummating in the two greatest wars in the history of man, today gives the impression of being an embattled, confused and disorderly rabble caught in conflicts on four distinct fronts—financial, military, spiritual and political. It is patently obvious to any objective observer that the EU simply lacks “one directing mind and commanding willpower.”
On the financial front, the economies of the old Soviet satellite nations that joined the EU en masse in 2006, following signs of initial recovery and expansion, are in most instances faced now with grinding debt. In addition, key Western European nations Portugal, Spain, Ireland and most notably Greece are in increasingly dire financial straits.
European banks suffered from heavy exposure to debt as a result of the profligacy of the pre-2008 credit boom. Germany is particularly exposed to the fallout. A year ago, Stratfor warned that “European Commissioner Gunter Verheugen, the one senior German politician whose job does not depend on domestic politics in Germany, is the only one calling the banking crisis what it is: an inherently German—and by extension, European—problem. For the rest, it is much easier, politically speaking, to continue shifting the blame to the United States. Unfortunately for Europe, what may make sense politically only further embroils the continent in an economic crisis” (May 18, 2009).
Regarding the EU’s spiritual crisis, the media is baying for the pope’s blood, doing their best to stir up moral and spiritual confusion in Europe by a powerful attack on the continent’s traditional religion. This has placed the Vatican in crisis mode.
Add to the financial and spiritual crises the fact that militarily the European Union is involved in an unpopular war in Afghanistan. At the same time, the EU’s newly appointed foreign minister is floundering in so-far-ineffective attempts to set up the new EU foreign service. All this has produced a political crisis at the top of the EU as key players fight to protect their own power bases in the face of the prospective loss of diplomatic influence should the EU foreign service ever get off the ground.
To put it bluntly, Europe is facing its greatest and most unprecedented series of crises since the Cold War. Amid these battles, the one thing that is patently missing is the very thing that Churchill declared is needed in such circumstances: “one directing mind and commanding willpower.”
Wherever one looks in the West right now, there is a crying need for political leadership possessing real vision and backbone. This places the entire future of Western civilization at risk. As one famous sage so aptly stated, “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18). On the other hand, regardless of their morals and motives, decisive leadership is most apparent among the traditional enemies of the West—namely, at this point, Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. The fact that each of these entities possesses an agenda intent on resisting and even threatening the security of the West makes the leadership vacuum in the West of even greater concern.
Thus, the dithering at the top in the European Union threatens its continuance as a political entity in its present form. Perhaps the most glaring instance of the lack of dynamism in EU leadership is in the area of foreign policy. To say that this was entirely predictable, given the compromise appointments made to the two top EU positions created by the Lisbon Treaty/EU constitution, would certainly be an understatement of the first order. The job of EU president was given to ex-Belgian Prime Minister Herman van Rompuy, that of foreign minister to the relatively unknown and certainly inexperienced Baroness Catherine Ashton. Washington’s reaction to the confusion at the top in the EU was to refuse to attend two important EU summits, ostensibly due to the perception that it did not know who was in charge.
Of the greatest concern at present is Baroness Ashton’s failure to quickly come to grips with establishing the EU foreign office.
“For anyone it would be a big ask. But for someone with little or no experience of foreign affairs to be tasked with setting up a diplomatic service and to expound foreign policy on behalf of 500 million people the hurdle is immense. Welcome to the world of Catherine Ashton. … She emerged from the chrysalis of a Euro-compromise …. Some of the reviews have been harsh, with even a little lash of cruelty to them. She is dismissed as out of her depth …” (bbc, March 10).
What adds to the current picture of a lack of assertive leadership in the EU’s new diplomatic service is the aggressive assertiveness of certain individuals within the EU hierarchy intent on protecting their own power profiles on the world scene.
“The harder question to answer relates less to Catherine Ashton and more to the need for a diplomatic service. For, even as she was fighting off her critics President Sarkozy was hosting a summit with the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. An arms deal was pulled off, with the Russians getting helicopter-carriers, and there were discussions on muscular issues like Iran. France, like Germany, inclines towards a special relationship with Moscow. It was an old, familiar story of two powerful nations talking and finding common interest. Europe’s nation-states are most unlikely to agree to taking second place to a common European foreign policy” (Economist,February 21).
Even within the EU technocracy, it seems the deck is stacked against Baroness Ashton: “[T]he Commission’s president, José Manuel Barroso, is accused of trying to seize control of her new diplomatic service before it even starts work. The private grumbling reached a new pitch last week after news broke that Mr. Barroso had preempted the creation of the new European External Action Service, and chosen the next EU ambassador in Washington” (ibid.).
Rumors fly around the corridors in Brussels, Berlin and Paris as the whispering campaign against Baroness Ashton gathers steam.
“Now, scarcely four months later, they are complaining about their choice, arguing that Ashton is an embarrassment. Accusations of incompetence and misjudgment are proliferating. … [Accusations include] a failure to recognize the nature of international diplomacy …. Carl Bildt, Sweden’s foreign minister, has attacked her for failing to take control of the External Action Service she is supposed to run …. [N]obody quite expected [the high representative] would be such a lightweight. … Europe’s leaders got what they bargained for. Literally” (Sunday Times,March 14).
Yet even despite the failure of the EU to come to grips with consolidating its foreign policy, the reality is that it is in the realm of hard power, not soft power (diplomacy), that the EU is destined to cement its global role.
Ultimately, the perception of any nation’s or group of nations’ power is measured by their ability to project that power militarily. Among the multiple crises facing the EU today, one specific crisis is carefully being massaged into place such that it will trigger the consolidation of Europe’s military power under a single high command, with a potential to project that power internationally at will. This is the only way that the EU will be taken seriously for the global power that it essentially is. Let us explain what we mean.
Germany has the largest contingent of troops deployed in Afghanistan of any continental EU member nation. Yet it is only since Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg took over his present portfolio as “one directing mind” exhibiting a degree of “commanding willpower” that any German politician has even deigned to mention that the nation is engaged in war in Afghanistan.
Guttenberg has since been able to achieve what no German politician has been able to do since World War ii: get the nation’s chancellor to publicly declare and to strongly defend the reality that Germany is at war!
“Chancellor Angela Merkel told parliament on Thursday that the mission in Afghanistan is ‘indispensable’ for Germany’s security. The same day, her defense minister got a grilling in parliament over the Kunduz air attack in September that led to deaths of civilians” (Spiegel Online, April 23).
The Kunduz crisis has been handled brilliantly by Guttenberg so as to massage the public debate on German military power onto center stage in Germany. This is a classic case of a fine-tuned Germanic mind using a crisis to determine a specific outcome in direct alignment with a predetermined agenda.
“Since Kunduz, there is new life in the debate. Death in Afghanistan was never so present in Germany. Yesterday’s speech by the chancellor showed that Germany has entered new moral territory” (Die Welt, April 23).
Twice in the space of a few days last week Merkel strongly endorsed Germany’s continued involvement in the war in Afghanistan. But the real breakthrough was getting her to mouth that word declaring that Germany was in fact at “war.”
“She said what is going on in Afghanistan is ‘what is commonly known as warfare or war’—a word she has so far avoided.
“‘Each member of this house … has known that,’ Merkel said. ‘We cannot ask our soldiers to be brave if we lack the courage to acknowledge what we have decided’” (Associated Press, April 22).
To the point that Guttenberg assumed the role of Germany’s commander in chief, it could be said that—in relation to its approach to the war in Afghanistan—the nation’s political leadership certainly lacked that “one directing mind and commanding willpower” to remove the facade from Germany’s intentions in respect of the military role that its elites would have it accept. Now Guttenberg has prevailed upon his chancellor to officially recognize from the uppermost levels of the hierarchy of Germany’s government that the nation is at war.
The Kunduz bombing affair, as Die Welt reported, has moved Germany into “new moral territory.” In reality, this is not new. It’s just a resurrection of the very “moral territory” within which Germany has operated in the past to underpin its pursuit of global dominance.
In the midst of all the EU’s crises, one bright spot remains on Europe’s horizon, and, inevitably, it is to be found in the nation that has provoked so many of Europe’s crises throughout its history—Germany. The bright spot is in its rising political star, Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg.
Over the past six months, Guttenberg has visited Afghanistan on four occasions, promised a complete upgrade of the Bundeswehr, foreshadowed plans to give Germany’s ifor force greater firepower, made adjustments to the nation’s military conscription policy to strengthen the number of trained personnel available for call-up to active service, and gone on the offensive against his political enemies who sought to use a bombing incident in Afghanistan to break his rapid political rise. In addition, in the face of media-influenced public opinion averse to Germany’s involvement in Afghanistan, Guttenberg has gained overt public support from Chancellor Merkel for Germany’s commitment to the war in Afghanistan.
If you want to know where Europe is headed amid its numerous current crises, then watch Baron Guttenberg and the development of the European military force under his purview. Watch in particular for Guttenberg to mount initiatives to draw the EU and nato together and squeeze the U.S. out of the Atlantic alliance. The power vacuum that America’s increasingly anti-EU foreign policy is creating transatlantic will be filled by an alliance between Germany and Russia. Soon, Germany will reveal a political leader who reflects “one directing mind and commanding willpower.” Could Baron Guttenberg be that leader? Watch his political trajectory very carefully.
Get used to seeing Germany in the headlines and having more and more impact on world affairs. The doubters and scoffers who have so greatly disparaged Herbert Armstrong in their gross ignorance and gigantic conceit will soon have to eat their words.
As our editor in chief has pointed out, Germany is back! It is the most influential nation—economically, financially, militarily and politically—on the European continent today. Soon it will also provide the most powerful support to Europe’s historic old Babylonian ideology, the only power that was ever able to bind these disparate nation-states of Europe together in any semblance of unity: the religion of Rome.
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