Will terrorism undermine the European Union?

EU lacks the form and definition to provide a true security union in the face of a crisis

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Trevor-ShelleyCALGARY, Alta. March 28, 2016/ Troy Media/ – Commentators on the terrorist attacks in Brussels have noted the symbolism of striking the city that houses NATO’s headquarters and is the de facto capital of the European Union.

Some argue terrorism will hasten the end of the EU, or at least rescind the Schengen open-borders agreement, as people return to their national states for protection. It is increasingly apparent that the EU is not a security union, and it is conceivable that its limited security capacities are self-inflicted, as American economist David. P. Goldman has argued. Certain national politicians have not minced words about Europe’s weakness in the face of the terrorist threat, as ISIS itself has publicly stated one of its objectives is to undermine European unity.

Joint gatherings among European officials followed by the release of high-level statements have become a familiar ritual after crises and attacks. And, predictably, they continue to call for an “ever closer union.” That empty slogan betrays the EU’s lack of form and definition, suggesting it is in constant process, rather than a founded political body.

Consequently, the only shortcomings of the European project, elites profess, is insufficient unity – “more Europe” is the solution to what ails the EU. Nothing seems to break the staunch belief – stipulated in one EU statement – that “the European Union remains the best answer we have for today’s challenges,” including fighting terrorism.

Thus, as George Friedman once put it, “The European band plays on” as reality presses in – paraphrasing Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi: “The EU is like the orchestra playing on the Titanic.”

This lack of self-reflection and criticism among European elites can largely be explained by their commitment to a dream that has morphed into a rigid ideology, as demonstrated in an important new book by Todd Huizinga, The New Totalitarian Temptation: Global Governance and the Crisis of Democracy in Europe.

Huizinga – a U.S. diplomat for 20 years and now director of international outreach for the Acton Institute – helps penetrate the opacity of the EU’s organization and expose the “faith commitment” that underpins its structure.

It is, Huizinga argues, a “belief in global governance” that is the motivational centre of the European project, and is altogether antithetical to the idea of self-governance. Rather, it is a belief that directly seeks to undermine the foundations of liberal self-government. For the “global governancers” hold to what they claim to be “a nobler ideal:” a world where the highest authority to reign ought to be “global norms and universal human rights” to be established and enforced under the “global rule of law,” overriding the national laws and constitutions of individuals states. The EU is seen to be the nucleus for this global project.

The “supranationalism” dear to European elites, as Huizinga makes clear, constitutes a “soft utopia,” exemplified not least by their utter refusal to accept voting results in member states that reject EU treaties; the repudiation of any reference to God or Christianity in the EU constitution; the introduction of the euro without truly taking economic considerations into account and even arguably “against all economic fundamentals;” and so on.

With its devotion to an ever-expanding doctrine of human rights, supranationalism has also tied the hands of states to address the migrant crisis or deal with potential breeding grounds for terrorists. For example, the European Court of Human Rights ruled against the German attempt to prevent the growth of Muslim ghettos – like Molenbeek in Belgium – by intentionally dispersing Muslim immigrants across Germany.

An additional consequence of the EU’s adherence to global governance ideology, Huizinga argues, is how it has “severely damaged the efficacy of the transatlantic alliance in the most important foreign policy priority of the United States in the 21st century – the global war on terror.” With terrorist attacks increasing in Europe, now is hardly the time to strain this significant partnership.

To the extent that terrorism poses a threat to the EU, its global governance ideology threatens self-government in Europe, and the best defence against any enemy – terrorist or otherwise – is a sovereign state accountable to its people.

The recent co-operation and peace among European nations is a great achievement, and ought to be preserved in some properly articulated form of a genuine alliance among those sovereign nations. With the “existential crisis” now facing the EU, there is hope yet that European elites will awaken from their dogmatic slumber to face reality anew.

Troy Media Columnist Trevor Shelley completed his PhD in political science at Louisiana State University. His book, “Liberalism and Globalization,” will be published in 2016 with St. Augustine Press. Trevor is also included in Troy Media’s Unlimited Access subscription plan.


The views, opinions and positions expressed by all Troy Media columnists and contributors are the author’s alone. They do not inherently or expressly reflect the views, opinions and/or positions of Troy Media. Troy Media Marketplace © 2016 – All Rights Reserved
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