Tuesday, 7 June 2016
An EU Army – again? And Kent Corrupt elections.
One of the more interesting scare tactics to emerge in the last month from the Brexit debate was the fear of an EU Army. Strangely both sides, Remain and Out, rushed to deny such a thing, and they‘d be against it anyway even if it did exist. No doubt amidst fears of British Tommies being goosestepped around by the Hun.
Or wave after wave of Eurocrats in tanks landing at the White Cliffs of Dover to take over completely. Perhaps only presaged by a scouting force of Albanians at Dymchurch.
But, such silliness aside (and isn't the debate dull, and Boris increasingly ludicrous with his silly gags?), an EU Army not only exists already, but has done for decades - if not for centuries.
An EU Franco-German Brigade of 5,000 troops exists in Strasbourg, although admittedly that’s largely for ceremonial symbolism and show. But rather that, than another hundred years of the tribalism, with France and Germany at each other’s throats. That's what a fledgling European Union was designed to prevent with a Coal and Steel Union after the carnage of both World War 1 and 2 that destroyed most of Europe and North Africa.
Perhaps now a Solar and Wave Union would be more relevant, with even Saudi Arabia’s 2030 plan downplaying oil for the likes of Desertec solar. Even oil-rich Norway moving to electric cars only by 2025.
Yet with the EU Army, there’s also the EU BattleGroups with 18 Brigades each of 1,500 troops from at least two EU nations in rotation every 6 months – including British troops serving as of 2005, 2008 and 2010.
And the British Commander at one point was David Leakey now Black Rod in Parliament so an EU Army can hardly be a surprise to any UK politician.
The current 6 month tour of duty for the EU BattleGroups is the Visegrad Group of Hungary, Czech, Slovak and Ukraine. And then for the rest of 2016 there’s the Central Group of Germany, Czech, Belgium, Eire, Luxembourg and Croatia.
And yes, you read two of those nations correctly: Croatia the most recent EU member already taking part in its military functions. As is Ukraine although not yet an EU member – and nonEU members such as Norway and Turkey also take part in the Groups as does Macedonia. The latter, as with Ukraine not even a NATO member yet.
And the EU Army also has the EuroForce of c.2-4,000 troops deployed since 2002 in Macedonia, Congo, Chad and Central African Republic.
And all that is without the rather arcane distinction of whether NATO forces in action, without a USA or even Canadian component, are an EU force. Certainly USA troop and bases cutbacks in Europe and the new US Central Command for Africa are designed to encourage Europe to take on more of its defence and planning.
There’s even a EUGendarmerie force, since 2006, of c.3,000 riot police/troops from at least 5 nations – handy for the collapse of Greece, Spain and Southern Italy after both the Recession and Refugee failures.
And there‘s the EU Navy, primarily coordinating individual nation’s ships, for the Mediterranean now and Somalia before that. An EU Airforce seems the only main element missing, albeit with ship-borne helicopters filling that role and NATO again.
Indeed the only EU nations that don’t take part in the EU Army at all are Denmark and Malta, although both are in NATO.
With Germany seeking to end its conscription of troops as wasteful and pointless, there’s an argument that Europe requires only the 3,000 BattleGroup troops and Riot gendarmerie for internal security, and the EuroForce for MENA deployment. The question then being why is Europe funding an extra 1M troops in its various militaries to sit in barracks with little to do beyond Europe, and nothing to do in Europe?
Brexit would raise the prospect of the UK having no oversight of an EU Army – and bearing a fuller cost for the UK's own military. The Cold War peace dividend took decades, if all to occur, while recent NATO claims of requiring 2% of GDP looks weak if even Germany is around the 1.3% mark and seeking to reduce its costs.
NATO specifying NATO'as tax-take is of course fraught with difficulties...
And it certainly raises questions why UK is already paying 2.5% of GDP for the UK military.
And even predating the formation of NATO in 1949 (and some years before a fully-fledged EU) is the WEU Western European Union formed from 1948 and comprised of 7 nations including UK. The WEU as an EU Army in effect came into being before the EU itself.
And the WEU lasted from until in 2011 when it was subsumed into the new EU Security Policy. And it certainly was active in 1999 for the only use of military force in Europe over Kosovo.
So as you can see an EU Army (and one of several components) not only exists but has done for decades and has been deployed in Europe mainly for training and abroad for peacekeeping.
While EU peacekeeping forces are active as both a police and military function in Somalia and Sudan along with UN peacekeeping troops – now augmented by UK troops for the first time in decade.
It may well be post-Putin, given the Georgia and Ukraine conflicts and Baltic threats, that Russia joins the EU (as well as Turkey and Ukraine) but certainly not impossible, and again likely to require another wave of disarmament in Europe.
While the North African and Levant nations are likely candidates for EU Accession too as part of the Mediterranean Partnership and as with the Chad and Kony war crimes, a resurgent African Union and EU-ICC must crackdown on the last few dictators such as Bashir, Assad and Obiang and the last few Presidents-for Life in Africa and Central Asia.
And even before WEU it’s worth remembering the very real contribution of the Brexiters main enemy of the moment, the Poles. Not for nothing is Polish the main foreign language in UK now or the recent Polish blood donations http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-34006542 amidst the scaremongering of first 19M Romanians or 7M Bulgarians and now 75M Turks – the whole populations for those countries supposedly shifting to Brent or Bradford.
British troops landing at Sword Beach in June 1944 did so under the watchful eye of not one but five Polish Navy warships: ORP Blyskewica, ORP Dragon, ORP Krakowiak, ORP Piorun and ORP Slazak. And alongside the troops of the 1st Polish Armoured Division. Polish troops that would also launch into the air over Arnhem knowing the battle was in danger of being lost.
Those Polish troops carried the same insignia of eagle’s wings on their uniforms as 300 years previously in resisting the Turkish advance on Vienna, that as with D-Day itself formed the basis of modern Europe.
While the troops that relieved the tremendously brave airborne assault on the Merville Battery and Orne Pegasus Bridge were 3 Troop of 6 Commando. A vital task in preventing (as with Kent’s role in Operation Fortitude with General Patton) a tsunami of the 22 divisions of German panzers held in reserve, sweeping down from Calais and across the invasion beaches.
3 Troop were an EU army in microcosm of Belgians, Dutch, Norwegians and Poles again and the X Troop of German Jewish refugees given English names and CofE religious disks in case of capture.
And overhead the Spitfire pilots of Czechoslavakia and Poland - and of course French, American and Canadian soldiers and sailors and pilots. How very different in that June 6th, compared to now, was the perception of a proto-NATO and an European Army Allied to liberation and freedom, not one of fear and hatred.
While a European army of alliances goes back even further, whether in the killing fields of the Somme and French and British and Canadian troops – the latter based in Ramsgate, with the Canadian Red Army Cross hospitals in the converted tourist hotels and secret Richboro Port.
And all across Flanders fields the soldiers and sailors from USA, Japan, Thailand, China, Australia, New Zealand, Russia, Vietnam, Italy, Cambodia, Morocco, India, Senegal and Algeria.
Or further back, there’s the French and British and Turkish alliance for another war in Crimea.
And perhaps the most European Army of all, under the Duke of Wellington, launching from Ramsgate to Spain and Portugal and France, to stand with the Dutch and Germans and Russians to twice defeat Napoleon.
Another June day in 1815 that celebrated a European Army and European unity rather than the petty and divisive nationalism veering into racism of Farage’s Blackshirts that at worst besmirch Kent and Europe. Or at best prove to be a laughable saloon-bar Roderick Spode in French cuffs.
Indeed it’s not so outrageous to argue that an EU Army works best in restraining the USA in acting alone, given the wreckage of Iraq and Afghanistan and Libya and Yemen and Somalia and now Syria.
And perhaps the greatest failing of the Brexit debate is the case not being made for a Stronger Britain in a united Europe – certainly an EU reformed – and one looking out beyond a Fortress Europe and Fear of The Other drawbridge mentality, to unity with Turkey and Russia and the Levant and North African nations.
Time for Change
* Sincerity article: Soda Wars go pop http://sincerityagency.blogspot.co.uk/
* Malaria a brief thought: http://surinvillagecharityschool.blogspot.co.uk/
* Sincerity article on Coca-Cola: http://sincerityagency.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/sweet-moves-from-coca-cola.html
* 21st century Britain agenda article: http://lovekentloveramsgate.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/a-21st-century-britain-agenda.html
* No Tobacco Day Smoking Sincerity article: http://sincerityagency.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/axaing-tobacco-and-china.html
* EK Remedial points 2016: http://lovekentloveramsgate.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/kent-remedial-work-and-uk.html
* EK strategy 2016: http://lovekentloveramsgate.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/garbutt-time-for-change-2016-east-kent.html
* Time for a Free Economy article: http://lovekentloveramsgate.blogspot.co.uk/2016/05/time-for-free-economy-tobacco-china-and.html
* Surin restaurant review: top Thai restaurant in Kent:
- Surin Thai restaurant the best Thai restaurant in Kent and one of only 45 of any cuisine in Kent according to KM:
• A footnote on the appalling Little Ships remembrance in Ramsgate last week by Our Council of Duffers: interesting article by the Kent Messenger on the Dunkirk movie by Christopher Nolan I’d mentioned as relevant for my EKFOS project: the East Kent Film Office and Studio – why should all Kent film activity be centred on Maidstone Studios and Chatham Dockyard? And certainly with regeneration tanking we need a more diverse economy in East Kent than just tarmacking fields. but beyond that the KM highlighted, I’d forgotten to mention the horrific German war crimes of the Wormhoult barn massacre as well as the Le Paradis executions and Vinkt – British troops as well as Belgian civilians
• Good to see Margate High St having its pedestrian zone enforced by Kent Police: over 20 cars cluttering up the High St and endangering the public. As with Ramsgate pedzone and seafront and prom there’s no excuse (bizarrely the main culprits the TDC binvans and the kiosk owners) and ticketing/fines and then clamps/fines are needed. There’s no excuse I seaside towns
• Deepcut Scandal coroners ruling now issued for Cheryl James (one of 4 murder-suicides what were Surrey police and the Military Police doing, except coverup?)– the Army’s Shame BBC2 documentary - features in my previous manifesto (point 30, page 9 in the A5 version) if you want to doublecheck the details)
• Good to see the Chilcot inquiry report scheduled for publication
• Also 24/7 London tube services this Autumn – a very nice Royal Mint celebratory £1 Tube coin too and terrific plastic banknote designs of Churchill and Turner etc – increasingly I think Kent Orchid flowers should be recognised by the Royal Mint or GPO whether coins or stamps (fab Pink Floyd music stamps)
• Good too to see UK UN Peacekeeping now expanded in Somalia and Sudan. Time too for the UN police as those broken nations move beyond conflict to working together
• Similarly no excuse from TDC on delays to the Mo Leys TDC and RTC election: it seems the civil servants don’t believe in free and fair elections: reminders below for your view- I refuse to stand in this farce of an election a d rampant corruption - details later. All the more abysmal with Roger Gale MP having the brass neck to lecture Africans on their elections.
• My manifesto you can't vote for it: (blog post below) – and good to see Rotary and Lions with their fridge bottles/stickers for emergencies and Specsavers programme for specs to the Third World: 39M people blind and most of it avoidable with either vitamins, specs or cataracts. Where is the NHS and RN programme of hospital ships? I was astonished at an Africa conference that here is no specific programme for African doctors or nurses or those with an interest in Africa to coordinate with hospitals/NGO’s etc
• Dreamland: what a mess. Bust twice in 6 months – after being purchased by TDC taxfunds of £28M or more – who knows with TDC's dodgy figures and reports. Down to TDC’s usual incompetence and dodgy dealings – the same as Pleasurama BVI and Wetherspoons/Pav
• I often raise the issues of malaria nets: bought for $3 retail almost anywhere in the world – so with 600k deaths that would only be about $2M in nets needed – double or treble it if you like. It’s still peanuts when DFDI now has $20BN in funds?
• On that point, Discovery Park needs to focus its STEM work on AMR antibiotics as well as TB or malaria drugs – and East Kent need sot consider jobs beyond the labcoat in malaria net production and Kent University-CCU research programmes
• A Times article that the Dymchurch dinghy of smugglers was previously owned by….Kent Police. You couldn’t make it up could you? Their Princess Alexandra dinghy (a Royal navy-type RIB boat) had £350k spent on it then auctioned off for £100k then eventually bought by the smugglers….
• British Steel bumbling along: Scunthorpe now sold for £1 – a major UK strategic industry that needs better care, especially with the various towns’ reliance on just one industry – and concerning before the proper development of Graphene products
• An interesting Archbishop of Dover message on CofE and Buddhism: only 87 Buddhist temples in UK, an interesting BBCKent report too on Canterbury diocese with over 41% of priests over 60, the most in the CofE
• Bizarre decision of PCC Scott issuing £39k in funds for gun registration with Kent Police. Hardly a priority, with the onion ring or not. When I stood the gun lobby was by far the most vociferous, much as in USA. Yet Scotland now issues a ban/permit even on air rifles
• Silence on:
o 100 Se Rd – the Robert Fidler illegal planning castle now demolished so no excuse for illegal developments
o BVI Pleasurama and clearup
o Manston aquifer and Infratil/gloag-Stagecoach fines
o Howes censorship of councillor emails
o Port fraud police case
o HSE TDC White Finger scandal details
o Toni’s noisy newsagent and Amanda Button ASBO
• Misc points:
o Time for ASEAN expansion of Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea and Solomons – desperate poverty in geographical and cultural proximity, and only c.8M population in total barely more than Laos or Singapore out of 600M, and no doubt precursors to formal Australia and New Zealand groupings with ASEAN
o Time for UK-Pacific Commonwealth Group too - whether part of G77 or not
o 33 Australian dead in the Vietnam War repatriated to Australia from graves in Malaysia and Singapore with CWG Commonwealth War Graves Commission – I was astonished at the shoddy care of the Long Thanh graves in Vietnam: presumably the Australian MOD (if all all) rather than the invariably excellent CWG
o A US-Vietnam arms treaty now reversing all the sanctions from the 1970’s onwards, and UK typhoon jets rotated to Japan and the new defence treaty given the tension over the Paracels and Spratlys and North Korea
Time for Change
Mega-Transport Projects and ASEAN:
Excellent news: http://www.theguardian.com/travel/2016/jun/05/trains-phnom-penh-sihanoukville-kampot
1. HS1 completed
2. HS2 and HS3 in planning
3. Crossrail completed
4. Crossrail #2 in planning
5. Shanghai-Madrid railway completed: c.10-12 day journey (upgrade to under 7 days)
6. Cambodia rail replacement underway; Poipet and Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville
7. BKK-PP-HCMC: the latter stretch to HCMC never built before WW2 and would link all the main ASEAN capitals through to Yangon(Kwai upgrade via Dawei/Tavoy) and India
8. ASEAN hispeed rail upgrade: all track in place but only single one-way track not double-track and not hispeed rail. Each of the main ASEAN nations is about the size of France
9. Vientiane-Vinh rail in Central Vietnam: links to DaNang port and Vinh as Haiphong #2 given the typhoons and large population of the Red River Delta, and to largest city in Laos and Northern Thailand. And links through to Pacific trade with Philippines and USA etc
10. Indonesia hispeed rail and bridges: 13,000 islands and a G20 nation of 250M and the length of London-Istanbul
11. Philippines: 7,107 islands
12. Australia hispeed rail: Cairns to Adelaide
13. Darwin to Timor-Leste road/rail bridge-tunnel
14. Cape York bridge to Papua New Guinea
15. Shanghai to Vancouver: overland via Baring Strait road/rail tunnel – linking London and New York and Santiago by land
16. Gibraltar road/rail bridge: lining London and Cape Town and Cairo by land
17. Cape Town to Cairo: last road/rail links through Sudan
18. Jeddah Red Sea bridge and Arabian hispeed rail (in progress): Kuwait to Cairo and Basra-Berlin again
19. Bari road/rail bridge: linking Southern Italy and Balkans/Istanbul
20. Space Ladder: Perth or Kazakhstan – link to ISS space station and Mars exploration/colonisation: first woman on Mars by 2030
ASEAN expansion: Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea and Solomons, c.8M people
ASEAN-Pacific Commonwealth Group:
A. Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Solomons and Fiji
B. Myanmar and Timor-Leste – nb Cambodia previous unsuccessful application
C. Bangladesh, (Bhutan), Nepal, India and Sri Lanka
D. Canada, USA, Mexico, Chile, Nicaragua and Panama
Time for Eire-Scotland road rail: Cork-Dublin-Belfast-Glasgow: far faster freight route than via Southampton?
Time for Change