Saturday, September 10, 2016

Churchill and the EU

During the referendum campaign, I'm pretty sure I heard Churchill's name invoked on several occasions. I've just finished reading his Nobel Prize-winning history of the Second World War. There were a large number of interesting snippets in there, and it's well worth a read. I thought his thoughts towards the end of the last volume about his idea for a world order following the war were worth repeating.

I have always held the view that the foundation of a World Instrument [that is, a basis for organising international politics] should be sought on a regional basis. Most of the principal regions suggest themselves - the United States, United Europe, the British Commonwealth and Empire, the Soviet Union, South America. Others are more difficult at present to define - like the Asian group or groups, or the African group - but could be developed with study. But the object would be to have many issues of fierce local controversy thrashed out in the Regional Council, which would then send three or four representatives to the Supreme Body, choosing men of the greatest eminence. This would make a Supreme Group of thirty or forty world statesmen, each responsible not only for representing their own region, but for dealing with world causes, and primarily the prevention of war. What we have now [1953] is not effective for that outstanding purpose. The summoning of all nations, great and small, powerful or powerless, on even terms to the central body may be compared to the organisation of an army without any division between the High Command and the divisional and brigade commanders. All are invited to the headquarters. Babel, tempered by skilful lobbying, is all that has resulted up to the present. But we must persevere. (From Triumph and Tragedy, Chapter XXXVI)  
Lots of bits and pieces in there. But with regard to Europe, we can see that Churchill had in mind a "United Europe" - but one which did not include the UK. We can also see that the principal function of international politics, as far as he was concerned, was the prevention of war, rather than economic. This was obviously as the Cold War got under way, and on the back of forty pretty disastrous years for Europe.

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