Like any ideology, affection for the EU resides in the heart which, as Pascal correctly observed, has its reasons that reason knows not of (Le cœur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît point).
And now I’m in a quoting mood, the Russian proverb says you can’t give orders to the heart. It feels what it feels, and that’s that.
However, if we move the think-tank from the cardium to the cranium, surely the current events in the Ukraine should destroy any federalist illusions, nay delusions. For no modern union this side of the Soviet one has ever been so disunited.
Just look at Hungary and Poland, which both ought to feel about Russia what a lamppost feels about dogs, and for the same reasons.
The Russians partitioned Poland four times, if you count the Nazi-Soviet Pact. Then, in 1940, they hastily shot 25,000 Polish officers, administrators, teachers and priests. And towards the end of the war, they languidly sat back for two months, watching the Nazis raze Warsaw after the uprising of Armia Krajowa.
After the war the Soviets imposed a communist government on Poland, which ruled until 1991, in the style we all know and love. Nothing surprising about that – but what’s truly astonishing is the massive support Poland is offering the Ukraine.
In fact, Bohdan Khmelnytsky, the leader of Ukrainian Cossacks, placed the eastern part of the Ukraine under Russian control in 1654 specifically because he and his jolly men hated the Poles, reciprocally. (They also hated Jews and murdered almost 300,000 of them in various pogroms. That record stood unchallenged until Hitler.)
The western part of the Ukraine remained within the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and acted largely in the manner of today’s radicalised Muslims in Europe. That part of the country eventually passed on to the Austro-Hungarian Empire and then, after Versailles, back to Poland.
The Ukrainian nationalist movement was at that time active mostly in the west of the country, and its bogeyman was Poland, not so much Russia. The activity was mostly of the terrorist kind, with many top Polish officials assassinated and many Ukrainian militants executed for their trouble.
Their leader Stepan Bandera was sentenced to death for the murder of Poland’s interior minister. He was liberated by the advancing Nazis, who, after a short hiatus, put him into Sachsenhausen, where he stayed for the duration of the war. Bandera survived that, but not the cyanide pistol fired in 1959 by a KGB hitman in Munich.
Given this history of mutual enmity, it’s amazing how staunchly the Poles are helping the beleaguered Ukraine, at a considerable risk to their own security. Or perhaps it’s not so amazing after all.
It’s that FDR garden hose again. The Poles are aware that the fire engulfing the Ukraine will spread to their own house if allowed to rage on. So they are keen to stop its spread by supplying metaphorical firefighting equipment to the Ukraine and lending their territory to Nato as its beachhead.
The Poles may dislike the Ukrainians, but they hate – and, more to the point, fear – the Russians more. And they don’t have to look too far back to justify such sentiments.
Closer to our own time, the Russians lied about the massacre of Poles at Katyn and elsewhere until 1990, when Gorbachev was trying to seduce the West with his much-vaunted glasnost. In that spirit, he confessed.
Recently, however, Putin retracted that confession, reviving Stalin’s canard of German responsibility for the massacre. That really got the Poles’ gander up, and their feelings about the Russians didn’t become any warmer on 10 April, 2010.
On that day a Polish Tu-154 aircraft crashed near Smolensk, killing all 96 people on board. Among them were Poland’s top government officials including the country’s president Lech Kaczynski.
A subsequent investigation established that the plane had been blown apart by a bomb, and a Polish panel found that the Russians were responsible. Putin is lying about this the way the Soviets lied about Katyn, but the Poles are no more credulous now than they were then.
The Poles actually rebelled against the Soviets in 1956, the same year the Hungarians did. But the outcomes were different.
In Poland, the Soviets backed off a bit, loosened the reins and allowed the Poles a small measure of sovereignty. Their response to the Hungarian uprising was more in character. Soviet tanks moved in, turning Budapest into a bloodbath.
The Soviet papers of the time explained that mass atrocity as a preemptive strike that barely managed to beat a West German and American invasion to the punch. If you’ve followed Putin’s propaganda, you know that this stock excuse outlived the Soviet Union.
In the post-war years, Hungary has suffered even more Russian brutality than Poland has. And yet Hungary, under the leadership of the hideous Viktor Orbán, has been trying to sabotage every pro-Ukraine and anti-Russia initiative of Nato.
Orbán is a prominent member of the fascisoid International Putin has been trying to cobble together. Under Orbán’s tutelage Hungary is barely managing not to overstep the line beyond which her continued membership in Nato will become untenable.
Yet both Hungary and Poland are members of the EU, with the ‘U’ initial implying some commonality of interests and principles. No such thing exists, nor will it ever exist.
Eastern European members of that ideological contrivance (Hungary and Bulgaria apart) are all on Poland’s side – they too know that their proximity to Russia makes them potential targets for Putin’s fascism. And yet the two EU leaders, France and Germany, are both as pro-Putin as possible.
Actually, I’m planning to start a petition to change Manny’s surname from Macron to Micron. His puny attempts to understand Putin’s concerns and engage him in bien pensant chinwags are as risible as they are futile.
Manny’s German counterpart, Scholz, is another Putinversteher, someone who feels Putin’s pain more acutely than he feels the pain of Ukrainian civilians, killed, maimed, robbed, raped and made homeless by Russia’s righteous wrath.
The populations of both countries predominantly don’t share their leaders’ empathy to Putin. But who cares what they think?
The underlying purpose of the EU is precisely the de facto disfranchisement of national populations. Manny Micron is desperate to ride the EU horse to some sort of Napoleonic self-aggrandisement, and Scholz’s feet haven’t been under the desk long enough for him to run Manny close. Give him time though.
Rather than being a reflection of pan-European solidarity, the EU is in fact a bureaucratic plot hatched against pluralism and national sovereignty. If anyone had harboured any notions to the contrary, they ought to have been expunged by Russian bombs falling on Ukrainian schools and hospitals – and by yet another EU failure to solve any serious problem.
Yet Remainers remain Remainers. They still wish Britain hadn’t left that impotent yet megalomaniac setup giving the lie to the ‘Union’ in its name.
Say what you will about Boris Johnson’s selfish motives, but at least he dragged the country out of the EU, with the Remainers kicking and screaming every inch of the way.
Considering Britain’s role in training and equipping the Ukrainian army, Ukrainians must thank God that Britain has shaken the EU dust off her feet. I add thanks of my own every day.