Europe loath to learn from past disasters : The Tribune India

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Europe loath to learn from past disasters

Europe’s combat cacophony is reaching a crescendo. No one is interested in ceasefire and peace talks.

Europe loath to learn from past disasters

Limitation: US President Joe Biden (left) with his Ukrainian counterpart Zelenskyy (centre) and Canadian PM Justin Trudeau. NATO’s ‘common security threat’ clause is a stumbling block. Reuters

Abhijit Bhattacharyya

Author and Columnist

IN the second half of the 19th century, seven aggressive European imperial states (Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Britain, Germany and Belgium) divided Africa through ‘botanists, buccaneers, the Bible, bureaucrats, bankers and businessmen’. In 1875, less than one-tenth of Africa was colonised by Europeans; by 1895, one-tenth remained unappropriated. In 1916, Lenin termed it ‘imperialism, the highest stage of capitalism’.

Before the 19th-century partition of Africa, 5 million sq km of Indian territory was usurped (through the 18th century and later) by the British. State power and responsibility were brazenly bequeathed to a band of businessmen, accompanied by machine-gunners, who forced South Asia to succumb to the lords of London. The operation was outsourced to a private corporation, which went on the rampage on behalf of the Crown through the state-backed ‘might is right’ policy, supplemented by the unabashed assertion of native panegyrists that the ‘King does no wrong’.

Europe of yore also tried proving that whereas non-Europeans are always wrong, Europe is always right because the West is the king and the rest are subservient subjects. Thus, whereas the global expansion of Europe constituted the ‘white man’s burden’ to civilise the non-white, the opposite is strictly ‘no-no’ and a ‘no-go’ for ‘others’ without the pleasure of the King.

Then came the 20th century, and Europe’s power started waning despite the fruits of the Industrial Revolution. The faultlines emerged fast and furious in the European mainland. With opportunities for overseas expansion drying up, colony-championing Western imperialists fought the bitter intra-Europe World War I of 1914-18 (like today’s Russia-Ukraine war and the divided Europe). Though World War I exhausted, crumbled and shrank Europe, it couldn’t stop another savage civil war, euphemistically referred to as World War II (1939-45), which dragged all continents into one continent’s issues. Thus, both wars proved to be a true precursor of globalisation, reflected in global violence because of interdependence and interconnection between the biggest and the smallest and the richest and the poorest nations.

Ironically, despite being a conglomeration of a handful of small duchies and dukes and princes and principalities — possessing limited land with few feudal landlords, serfs, bourgeoisie and proletariat — Europe, with its bloody past, still mesmerises most Third-World rulers. Hence, whatever the economic, political or diplomatic proposals emanate from there, many non-Europeans are overawed, little realising that the imperial grandeur of the West has faded and it’s now in decay.

Nevertheless, mainland Europe’s rulers also fear the East. Anything from there is looked upon with scepticism. This inexplicable psyche could be caused by the fear of the ethnically different and robust Mongols’ short-lived presence in the West. Hence, Russophobia exists in the official blue book of the West, and the mutual suspicion and hatred gave birth to war in eastern Europe in February 2022.

Two years of intra-Slav manslaughter have already created multiple crises, ranging from economic to agricultural, military, industrial and political. The 27-member European Union (EU) is against Moscow, but perhaps no longer unanimously. There are differences between France and Germany. Besides, whereas farmers of EU nations are on the streets, fighters of non-EU Ukraine face bullets from the EU’s ‘common enemy’, Russia. Thus, amid the war between two belligerent non-EU Slav states, the business of firearm-makers prospers.

Owing to the declining demography of virtually all 27 EU nations, none of them today can join Ukraine on the ground. Further, NATO’s ‘common security threat’ clause makes it well-nigh impossible for anyone to join the fight because that is bound to result in an all-out intra-Europe war — the fire will burn all, from Madrid to Moscow, Stockholm to Stalingrad, London to Leningrad. But still, the EU is yelling and itching for war from outside the battlefield.

Surely, Europe hasn’t learnt any lesson from its past disasters and the colossal loss of around 6 crore people in six years (1939-45). Russia lost three crore soldiers, Germany 70 lakh, Poland 62 lakh, Yugoslavia 17 lakh, Hungary 8.5 lakh, France 8.2 lakh, Austria 4.8 lakh and the UK four lakh. Even distant India lost around one lakh soldiers fighting abroad under British masters, who created a man-made famine, conniving and conspiring with a section of native traders to kill lakhs of Indians at home through forced starvation.

Today, Europe’s orchestrated cacophony for combat is reaching a crescendo. No one is interested in ceasefire and peace talks. The situation has reached such a sorry state that even United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres deplored the deadlock over the Russia-Ukraine war and Israel’s pounding of Gaza since October 2023. He publicly concedes that the 194-member world arbitration organisation is now ‘fatally undermined’. Can it then be said that the two non-EU combatants are more powerful than the 194-member UN club? Let the UN then at least give its tacit approval to a European civil war to push the whole world into the jaws of a nuclear Armageddon. It seems that be it the US or the UK, France, Poland and Russia, all are bent on escalating the Russo-Ukraine ‘local’ war into an international conflict. Does Europe want to repeat its history and now kill 60 crore, 10 times more than the death toll in the 1939-45 war? Deplorably, the influential and powerful Europeans appear to be in a trance and, hence, unable to comprehend the mistakes of their predecessors, whose collective stupidity and arrogance arguably resulted in the most gory and bloodcurdling chapter in the history of Europe, which globalised the business of murder for money.

#England #Europe #France #Germany #Spain

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