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Malta and the US of Europe

The phrase “United States of Europe” has an old history. Napoleon Bonaparte is said to have given it a thought during his exile on Saint Helena. Giuseppe Mazzini thought of it too. As did Victor Hugo, Mikhail Bakunin, even Leon Trotsky… and Joachim von Ribbentrop, the Italian Fascists of the Salo Republic, and then Churchill, and Oswald Mosley… the list goes on.

Nowadays, diverse opinions abound on this topic. There are those who fear German or Franco-German dominance. There are those who even aspire to a federal United States of Europe made up of some 75 member states with populations of five to 10 million inhabitants. The debate is variegated and mostly dream-like.

For many on the Old Continent, the emergence of the United States on the New Continent must have been a wonderful sight to behold. People from different nationalities – mostly Europeans – coalesced into one nation, under one flag.

But whereas the US were a federal state made up of many nationalities, state-building in America followed a different path from that in Europe, as American cinema keeps reminding us over and over again through western movies.

The Europeans who took over the New World transformed “virgin” territories into states and fought a bloody civil war. The Europeans who stayed back in the old world slowly transformed “nations” into nation-states. (European cinema seems to be silent on this narrative. For instance, I found only one French movie on Charlemagne (Charlemagne, 1933). There is probably just one movie on Italian Unification – Viva l’Italia! (1961) – a Franco-Italian production made in two versions: one for the Italians, the other for the French.

Post-bellum Americans alternated between isolationism and expansionism; after the World War II, they opted for soft empire. The Europeans have had real empires for centuries, which they lost only after World War II.

The crazy war we call “World War II” was waged by Germany in its pursuit of a dream that actually predated the Nazis: an eastern military “kingdom” (known as Ober Ost) that would allow Lebensraum (living space) and self-sufficiency. The end of that bloodbath came thanks to the involvement of the Americans, who then went on to create the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation with the express objective of keeping “the Russians out, the Americans in and the Germans down” (as NATO’s first secretary-general, Lord Ismay, put it).

NATO was conceived and built in such a way that, on the one hand, the US foots a bigger part of the bill than the European partners but, on the other hand, Europe is kept under permanent US military hegemony in order to avoid regional wars and the emergence of a dominant European power that could turn on the US and its allies.

At the same time, the US helped post-war Europe get back on its feet, mostly by coaching it in neoliberal economics and the creation of a common market.

This is, in essence, the history of the European Union and its architecture as planned by its founders: an economic common market protected by American military hegemony. The creation of a European federal super-state would run counter to this matrix and would require a re-foundation.

Malta must absolutely not embrace the narrative or viewpoint of other countries but strictly pursue its own interests. Also given that the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) is opening up to our southern neighbours.

The EAEU is an economic union of post-Soviet states situated in Eurasia: Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia. Cuba, Moldova and Uzbekistan are observer states. Its commission operates from Moscow, its court from Minsk.

This summer, during the Russia-Africa summit held in St Petersburg, EAEU countries began drafting agreements on a free trade zone with Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria. If these agreements go through, Malta will find itself on the EU frontier with this new free trade zone.

Malta’s interests could thus become even more different from those of EU Mitteleuropa or Atlantic coast member states.

Source : Times Malta