Letter: Europe's decline

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The Independent Culture

Europe's decline

Sir: Paddy Ashdown (Podium, 21 May) retailed the ridiculous myth of the EU as the guarantor of "no more European war". Civil war is unfortunately popular in federal unions. Chechnya, Croatia, Bosnia, Kosovo are all examples.

The former Yugoslavia was in fact a small-scale prototype of the EU; as federal as any EU enthusiast could wish for, undemocratic, economically unsuccessful, socialist and corrupt. Yet it did keep the Balkans peaceful for over 40 years - until the quality of the dictatorship declined.

Ashdown even repeated Heath's pretence that the stealthy, patient conspiracy of the "men of vision" had kept the peace in Europe after 1945. How Stalin must have trembled, contemplating the military might and resolve of the European Coal and Steel Community. Post-war peace in Europe was in fact the product of shared exhaustion, shared fear of the Soviet Union and the ultimate success of the US-led Nato response.

Britain has always been peripheral to the European "great debate", fortunately. Our priorities should be to leave the EU, rebuild our eroded democracy and preserve our liberties and prosperity for our children. We should revitalise our global outlook and not be part of Europe's decline.


Slough, Berkshire