In seventy five years before 1945, Europe was destroyed by three great wars. The last and most destructive World War…
In seventy five years before 1945, Europe was destroyed by three great wars. The last and most destructive World War II resulted in the death of 63 million people in a world of about one third of today’s population.
The American and British leaders who surveyed the reconstruction of the continent understood that previous warriors had become real war, so high on their agenda was the establishment of international trade rules. Their goal was also to create political, economic and military alliances to bind Europe together.
United Nations, European Union, NATO, World Bank, International Monetary Fund: Everyone was part of the efforts to create stability and to promote prosperity through an increase in trade. Freedom, democratic capitalism and collective security were the American led responses to fascism, communism and unrestrained nationalism. Although the results were incomplete, their efforts were largely successful.
But one of the greatest success stories in the Second World War is now in danger. The European Union is at risk of dissolution triggered by Britain’s exit. Since the country voted in June 201
6 to leave E.U., negotiations on the terms of the agreement have become increasingly bitter. All characters point to U.K. leaves the block without any kind of agreement on its future relationship with E.U. – a so-called “no business brexit”.
This result would not be of interest to anyone. It would be detrimental to the UK economy and for all E.U. Member State that deals or does business with it. This could lead to other European countries facing or even leaving E.U.
But perhaps most of all it would be harmful to the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. A hard Brexit or Brexit without an agreement may for the first time withdraw a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland since signing the Good Friday Agreement 1998 – an agreement that I helped to negotiate as the United States Special Envoy to Northern Ireland. 19659002] The increase in trade and the free movement of people over the last twenty years has favored people and economies on both sides of the border. The steep decline of negative stereotyping and demonization, so deep and widespread in the previous century, has enabled both communities to emerge successfully in the twenty-first century. If checkpoints return to Northern Ireland, the risk of violence, impossible to measure with accuracy, is likely to increase. We all have to hope and pray, that is not the case.
In December, the European Union and the British Government promised that, regardless of the outcome of their negotiations, there would be no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. They must keep their promise. If they do not, the consequences will be serious to everyone.
These consequences also affect the United States. A divided and weakened Europe would mean the loss of a valuable democratic alliance for the United States in its handling of great hostile powers and the huge upheaval that is likely to continue in Asia and Africa.
Our ties with Europe before the establishment of our country. We gained our independence from England through revolution, but we retained the language of England, the spirit of its laws and many of its customs. Even though our early relationships were hostile, the two countries over time formed what remains a “special relationship”.
When our nation grew to settle in a big continent, we welcomed millions of immigrants from Britain, Ireland, Germany, France, Greece, Poland, Scandinavia and many more. As a result, we share deep blood bonds with Europe, not just legal relationships.
These historical alliances are tested. President Trump has halted a trade agreement with the European nations. has withdrawn from Paris’s climate agreement from the agreement with Iran on its nuclear program and from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, all in his expressed conviction that multilateral agreements are not in our country’s interest.
I think the opposite. Our collaborative efforts with our historical allies are in the interests of the United States. The recent agreements and institutions after World War II have benefited those who participated in them – including, and in particular, the United States.
In a world where there is no NATO, no European Union, no World Trade Organization, no UN, constant trade war can once again lead to real war. The United States, as dominant power, should always be called to lead alone.
We should not think of Europeans primarily as opponents. They are also our partners. Even though they do not always agree with us, or even among themselves, they admire our country and share our values and interests.
It is in everyone’s interest to do everything we can – politically, economically, militaryly and otherwise – to help the people of Europe and elsewhere to remain free, democratic, united and prosperous.