The right-wing populists are more vibrant and popular, the old leftist peace warriors more consistent
Upcoming Speech to the XII European Russia Forum, Brussels, 25-26 November 2018
I am very pleased to have the opportunity to address here today the question of what we as civil society can do to stop the relentless march towards war of our media and political elites. War on the European continent, including nuclear war, is becoming a real and alarming possibility. The peace project that we know as the European Union is no longer a bulwark against such madness.
On the contrary, with the active assistance of new member states from the former Soviet bloc, with Poland and the Baltics in the forefront, the European Union has become an agent of war-making, not within itself but with respect to its great neighbor to the East. Not a day passes without some new warnings emanating from Warsaw, Vilnius or others in their circle alleging aggressive designs by Russia requiring ever higher military expenditures, forward positioning of NATO forces and the like.
Now, with the pending withdrawal of the United States from the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, we face the prospect of reinstallation on European soil of American nuclear-tipped cruise missiles aimed at Russia. This will, of course, elicit a symmetrical response from Moscow, placing the Continent on a permanent war footing notable for a very short warning of incoming attack – 15 minutes or less.
To be sure, the existential threat to Russia posed by the new American ground-based missiles in Europe is being exaggerated by the Kremlin, considering that the country is already surrounded by US-navy based missiles with similar capabilities and similarly short incoming warning times. However, those systems are offshore and do not attract Russian targeting within Europe, as the new systems will. It is the political dimension that is changing, namely the relations between Europe and Russia. Any stationing of American missiles in Europe will represent a further and long-term subordination of the European Union to control of its foreign and defense policy by Washington.
All of this takes us back in time to the period before the conclusion of the INF Treaty in 1987, when the installation of US Pershings in Germany to offset Soviet SS20s was the latest and most ominous turn in the Cold War.