Saturday, 27 February 2016

We should never cave into fear

Keeping the peace, RAF style

I keep seeing a meme bandied about that Putin will be rubbing his hands with glee if Britain leaves the EU. It's offensive. What the remain camp is essentially saying is that Britain should cower and let Russia set our democratic agenda. It's such withering cowardice to suggest our political landscape should be cross-referenced with what Putin may or may not want.

The simple point is that if Britain wants to be an independent democracy and the people demand that, then we should defer to nobody. If Putin thinks this does him any favours he is mistaken. We have never needed a supranational entity like the EU to stand up to bullies before and we don't need one now.

The EU has not been responsible for peace in Europe. If anything has kept the peace it is NATO, but more specifically, the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy. This historically illiterate notion that the EU has in any sense, in any of its incarnations, been instrumental to fending off Russia or any of our enemies is sickening.

Call this jingoistic if you want, but Brits have every right to feel pride in their country and their long standing contribution to global security. I'm not going to pretend we have got everything right, and certainly our misadventures of late have been less than glorious, but should Russia attempt further aggressive moves, Britain will be one of the first to the line with or without the EU while Europe is still prevaricating.

Meanwhile, say what you like about what happened in Ukraine in 2014, the fact remains the EU was all too happy to ram through the association agreement but has never had any intention of lifting a finger in support of Ukraine in defending her sovereign territory. It won't act now and it never will.

As much as there is no political will to take the EU to war, there is no internal mandate - and no agreement would ever be reached. It is European Unity in name only. EU pooled sovereignty delivers nothing but navel-gazing, vacillation and self-deception. It is only through NATO can we rely on our mutual defence.

We saw in Libya the inability of the EU to reach a common position on intervention - which in the end went ahead as a NATO mission, with the EU Commission stamping its brand all over the diplomatic efforts. There was no clear definition of the mission, it shifted in scope and Libya was left to rot in the aftermath.

Libya became the EU's Iraq through political cowardice, indecision and procrastination. We saw an almost total abandonment of Libya with zero intention of making decisive moves to help - resulting in many of the disturbing images we saw of migrants downing by the thousand.

Then if we rewind to 2008 and the invasion of Georgia, again we saw no decisive EU action. Sarkozy's "triumph" allowed the Russians to call their troops peacekeepers. French mediators caved in and allowed this, thus the stipulated withdrawal of combatants did not apply. Under the ceasefire agreement Moscow could claim - in a strictly legal sense - that Russian troops could stay in Georgia indefinitely. Europe has persistently caved into Russia and now europhiles are suggesting we do the same when we decide who should govern us. 

At every turn in pushing the EU agenda we have seen that the EU wants all of the power, all of the credit but none of the responsibility. It makes mess after mess leaving member states and NATO to clean up the aftermath. I fail to see how that makes us safer and more secure.

And though we have heard plenty from our top brass, who say we would be weakened in NATO should we leave the EU, they are the men who delivered humiliating retreats in Afghanistan and Iraq. Their fixation with the expensive toys that play into the EU's joint military ambitions blinded them to the operational requirements of the wars we were fighting.

Leaving the EU does not weaken our friendship with France or Germany, and in many ways Brexit can only enhance our relationships as we are then willing partners by choice rather than reluctant servants of le grande project. It does not change our commitment to NATO, nor does it reduce our capacity to integrate our forces or cooperate. 

We are as committed to freedom now as ever we were. We do not need political subordination in order to fight in the name of freedom - and the europhiles who suggest we are safer by surrendering our democracy have no idea how idiotic that is, or precisely how offensive they are. My vote will not be cast on the basis of what Putin may or may not think.

The fear is that the EU will fold without Britain and that Putin would exploit the chaos. Ukraine has already shown the EU up as indecisive and weak. Already Russia is making moves in the Balkans and has eyes on Moldova. The EU will say nothing. The EU will do nothing.

More than anything, as a political project, as it forges without the consent of the peoples of Europe, it will never have a mandate to act militarily - and will only ever delay and dilute our collective response. That is the weakness Putin will exploit.

I would venture that Putin has more to fear from a resurgent Briain renewing its commitment to independence, democracy and liberty - and if he doesn't, then he is the fool I take him for. Brexit naturally means we must work harder to build and restore traditional alliances, and in that we will necessarily have to reaffirm our commitment to NATO - but that will be the gesture that keeps Europe safe. 

In this regard, if the EU cannot survive without a subordinate Britain then it does not deserve to - and for as long as there is an egotistical existential conflict between NATO and the EU, we are vulnerable. If I am forced to choose which should survive, I choose NATO every single time. 

NATO has kept Russia at bay all of my life, with Britain as a leading member, and it is the institution I trust to uphold our values. In that, I have no faith in the EU. The EU is designed to remove democracy, not uphold it. That is ultimately why I am voting to leave. Democracy comes first above all things - and it is the thing Putin fears the most.

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