21, January, 2016
In the UK Referendum debate, fourteen UK historians wrote a letter to the Telegraph newspaper of London about peace in Europe. They should be ashamed. They are plain wrong in their ‘facts’.
The Telegraph, London, 17 Jan 2016
SIR – The claim that the EU is the source of peace within Europe, repeated yet again on last Thursday’s Question Time, cannot go unchallenged.
Nato includes non-EU states, such as the United States and Turkey. It was founded in 1949, well before the Treaty of Rome, and continues to guarantee the peace of Europe even after the disintegration of the Warsaw Pact. Meanwhile, Germany has transformed itself from a warmongering state into a model democracy determined to atone for the horrors of the Third Reich.
These are welcome developments, but only myth-makers can claim that they were generated by the EU.
Prof David Abulafia, University of Cambridge
Dr Irina Somerton, University of London
Prof John Charmley, University of East Anglia
Dr Robert Crowcroft, University of Edinburgh
Prof Tom Gallagher, University of Bradford
Prof Gwythian Prins, London School of Economics
Prof A W Purdue
Doctor Richard Rex, University of Cambridge
Dr Andrew Roberts
Dr Lee Rotherham
Prof Guy Rowlands, University of St Andrews
Prof Nigel Saul, Royal Holloway, University of London
My letter to the Telegraph
Fourteen historians wrote that the EU was not responsible for Europe’s longest peace. They are wrong. They are creating their own mythology. The EU was not created by the Treaty of Rome in 1957 but by the Treaty of Paris in April 1951. It created the European Coal and Steel Community and a new form of supranational democracy. Its stated aim was to ensure peace in Europe.
In March 1950 the fear of perpetual war in Europe was common everywhere. One US think tank, FPA (Foreign Policy Association), after interviewing foreign ministries around Europe wrote in a report: ‘Whatever we do, Europe will … have to face the fact that the singularly favourable position it enjoyed during the five centuries following the discovery of the New World and the conquest of the colonies is now drawing to a close. While the Russians and the Communists have capitalised on the predicament of western Europe, they did not bring it about.’ Teenage Germans are ‘strongly imbued with Nazi ideas.’
The same conclusion was reached by the annual conference of US ambassadors in Europe in 1949. They considered European solutions as ‘pipe dreams’ and their ‘golden goose’ of the Marshall Plan was being sacrificed as it exacerbated various forms of nationalistic competition and trade barriers. They were keenly aware of Soviet designs on Germany especially the industrial Ruhr.
General Lucius Clay, US Military Governor of Germany in March 1949 concluded: ‘I repeat what I said in a cable a few days ago. We have lost Germany politically and therefore it really does not matter except that history will prove why there was World War III. No gesture can we make to draw Germany westward so why do we spend money on Germany. Thank God I will be out of it soon…’ Papers of General Lucius Clay, p.1063.
The Community system was created by the Schuman Declaration of 9 May 1950 “World peace cannot be safeguarded without creative efforts commensurate with the dangers that face it.” That Proposal presented the beginning of “a political entity called Europe” and the means and method to govern aspects of it.
Robert Schuman was convinced as French Prime Minister and Foreign Minister that Europe must use this last chance for peace. Others said it was impossible. He was not only the designer of the peace, but a shrewd political technician and an impartial visionary for a positive future. He was co-author of NATO and the Council of Europe. He never ascribed Europe’s internal peace to NATO.
Just before his Schuman Proposal he told the US Secretary of State Acheson that the supranational Community system would produce the greatest period of prosperity since the Middle Ages.
And so it has happened. Europe is living in its longest peace in its two-millennium recorded history. Britain needs to debate those ‘democratic principles’ that Brussels has since tried to bury.
Brussels 18 Jan 2016