The awarding of the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize to the European Union in a Dutch newspaper cartoon was mocked by depicting the Nobel committee at the end of its deliberations, realising it forgot to select the peace laureate. One member shouts, ‘Quick, a name! A short one please!’
The true misjudgement of course is that the EU, rewarded for its supposed role in preventing war in post-1945 Europe, began as a sideshow to preparation for war with the Soviet bloc and today terrorises southern Europe, whilst lining up for war with Syria and Iran.
In the 1950s, the first initiatives towards Western European integration were taken by France to prevent a straightforward resurrection of West German economic and military power as favoured by the Atlantic ruling class. There was real compromise involved but early European integration still was part of the West’s Cold War line-up.
In 1991, when Germany did reunify, a radically different EU emerged as well. With the fictitious ‘Soviet threat’ out of the way, it intensified the project of privatisation and liberalisation after the Anglo-American model. The Eurozone, a half-baked monetary union operating on neoliberal principles, was predicted by Alain Lipietz to lead to civil war in two decades.
The financial crisis of 2007-8 exposed the uneven development between Germany, which had used the collapse of its East to push wages down, and the peripheral Eurozone countries. These retained structures of social protection which their working classes were in no mood to surrender. As if wanting to prove Lipietz right, the EU now geared up to forcibly accelerate liberalisation, in two cases actually imposing ‘technocratic’ governments on societies deemed insufficiently able to do this voluntarily—Greece and Italy.
By bailing out the banks, socialise their losses, and present the bill to the people, the managers of the Eurozone have also transformed the political dynamics of the bloc. They have deflected the anti-bank, anti-capitalist public mood to chauvinist anger over the supposed laziness and obstinacy of southern Europeans; the Occupy movement has been drowned out by populist calls to come down hard on the Greeks, on the Portuguese and Spanish, or kick them out altogether.
Not only has a veritable economic war against the populations of southern Europe been unleashed though. To top it all, the Peace Prize laureate has also aligned itself with the US policy of militarising the popular revolts in the Middle East and actively supports further military adventures. Sacrificing its own industrial base in the process, the EU in January 2012 joined the murderous sanctions regime against Iran, clamoured for by the US and Israel and bound to end in actual war; Germany and the Netherlands are stationing missiles on the Syrian border.
Whether we look at the economic warfare against the populations of southern Europe or at the siege of Iran, the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2012 can only be qualified as a sick joke.