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Paris has sought to counter German power, whether military, political or economic, by two broad means since 1900. The first means was to secure Britain as an ally and ensure she remained committed to the security of continental Europe. This she was successful in doing prior to 1914 and 1939. However, the immediate post-war years were a different story.
Her second means of countering German hegemony was to enmesh Germany in a European-wide political and economic organisation able to dilute her sovereignty and power. This she attempted unsuccessfully from 1925 to 1933, but which she finally achieved from 1951 through the various stages of European integration. Cynics claimed she was further aided by the Cold War division of Europe. The Nobel prize-winning writer Francois Mauriac struck a chord in 1967 when he cheekily remarked that he loved Germany so much that he was delighted there were two of them. When the Berlin Wall fell and German reunification was all but certain the wily Francois Mitterrand dealt with French anxiety about a neighbour now larger and more powerful than her by further enmeshing Germany in deeper EU institutions through the 1992 Maastricht treaty.
This poses the question of what France’s strategy vis a vis Germany will be following Britain’s departure from the EU. And how should Britain frame her diplomatic stance? The German problem for France is one that dare not speak its name, all the more so since the 1963 Franco-German friendship treaty, and its 2018 update. But as future president Georges Pompidou sagely warned on the German question: ‘one does not have to scratch too deep for the French once more to uncover an old aversion.’
Will he succeed ? So far, his great 2017 Sorbonne speech on the subject has been a flop, partly because of his inflamatory pronouncements about ‘populist’ member states and partly because of the fog of Brexit. He lacks the guile and mature charm of the unctuous François Mitterrand in the early 1990s. Even the object of his strategy, Germany, and the accommodating Mrs Merkel have pointed this out publicly to him. The Chancellor recently described her ‘confrontations’ with Macron as not just of substance but also ‘differences of mentality’, while Merkel’s CDU successor the francophile AKK referred to a ‘systemic difference of approach’ between Paris and Berlin.
For the moment the Franco-German axis is shaky. Paris and Berlin have ‘diverging interests and methods’, as Le Figaro put it on 20 June 2019. This has been evident over how to deal with the UK over Brexit, who should be appointed to key posts in the European Union and what the future direction of the EU should be, with Macron dogmatically championing a reformist agenda and Merkel and her successor AKK seeking greater pragmatism.
This tension is evidenced in the areas of a Macron proposed European zone budget, which Germany has seriously paired back and, in the case of AKK, suggesting that, – horror of horrors – basing the European Parliament in Strasbourg is an ‘anachronism’ that needs correcting by moving it to Brussels. She compounded the outrage with a further suggestion that France’s permanent seat in the UN Security Council be converted to a European one.
The Macronista leader of his party’s MEPs, Nathalie Loiseau, unintentionally vented her frustration with Germany’s reluctance to toe the French line with the caustic quip caught on mike : « Merkel and speed ; the two don’t go together’, creating a scandal dubbed ‘Loiseaugate’ by French media (Figaro 20 June 2019). Merkel widened the gulf with France when she declared on 19 August that a ‘truly united Europe’ will only exist when all the West Balkan states join the EU (Politico 19/8/19). By contrast Macron’s position on enlargement is higly sceptical, even if 6 Balkan states are official membership candidates.
This week cracks in the Franco-German relationship were hastily papered over in dealing with Boris Johnson’s charm offensive to Berlin and Paris on Brexit. Brexit is going to test that relationship still further, notably in the second half of next year when Germany will hold the presidency of the European Council. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is self consciously aware that its own policymaking has been losing the historical context which used to be one of its strengths. It would do well to dust off the history tomes on its shelves and refer more to its diplomatic archives for how Britain used to play off difficulties in the Franco-German relationship as was the case in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
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With an avg. 1.2M voters per MEP & Britain with 16% of EU GDP and 13% of the EU’s population yet having only 8% (if united) say, whilst holding less than 3% of the various offices within the EU Do note The EUropean Parliament has no ability to make policy and has a Commission of unelected bureaucrats, thus clearly the EU is not even a pretence of being a democracy despite its protestations!Do note that many senior apparatchicks and even elected politicians speak openly of the ‘Post Democratic era’ with no sense of shame or irony and in complete contempt of the so called electorate – yet The EU & many of its vassal States/Regions are all too willing to slaughter people in Sovereign States, to impose The EU’s chosen brand of democracy on them!
Now as President Junker announced in his ‘State of the union’ speech 2017 the aim is to create an EU military force and centralise ever more of the decision making and control!
The imposition of a Government and policies upon its vassal regions such as the peoples of Greece shows just how far from being a democracy the EU is.
Just follow the recent EU display of so called ‘Democracy’:
France and the Netherlands voted against the proposed EU constitution in 2005, only to have those votes ignored.
Ireland voted against ratifying the Lisbon treaty in 2008, but then later under pressure & threats had to change its mind.
Greece for me was the final straw. It became clear in 2015 that it didn’t matter which way the Greek people voted. The birthplace of democracy had become its tomb. That was enough. I was going to vote to leave the EU when the chance came.
No political party of any significance in Britain took active steps to achieve a Referendum – the task was eventually taken by an Indipendent West Midlands MEP Nikki Sinclaire who personally launched and funded the gathering of a petition of 225,000 signatures delivered to Parliament via Downing Street, thus forcing a debate in the House of Commons on an IN/OUT Referendum, which led to David Cameron’s first consequential rebellion.
It was due to winning that debate, officially opposed by every party including Ukip that David Cameron was forced to include a promise of an IN/OUT Referendum in the Tory Manifesto at the next General Election. The rest is history & despite no Parliamentary Party backing the OUT vote & Government spending Millions of Pounds of public money leafletting & promoting ‘Project Fear’ to try to persuade the British people to Remain just as they had at the first Referendum in 1975 – This time their lies and threats were not heeded and in the largest vote in British history Britain voted by a clear majority to Leave.
Nikki Sinclaire’s OUT result left Cameron & his co conspirator Osborne with no option but to resign, sadly some of the other traitors have remained to try to hinder progress to BreXit, aided by their corrupt allies in the EU and \eu funding and bribes!
There will be little or no change in Britain’s economic position, if we leave the EU, using a better negotiated, customised & updated version of the ‘Norway Model’ as a stepping stone to becoming a full member of the Eropean Economic Area, where all will benefit, as we secure trade relations with the EU’s vassal regions, with an EFTA style status and can trade and negotiate independently on the global stage, as members of The Commonwealth and the Anglosphere.
This is of course dependent on a modicum of intelligence on the part of Britain’s politicians and negotiators but it also requires the integrity of Parliament to uphod democracy and the integrity of EU politicuians & apparchicks to act ethically and without their normal vindictive mallice.
I believe Leaving the EU will be turned into something of a rough ride by the ignorant and the corrupt but I have no doubt that in the long run Leaving the EU will prove conclusively to be in the best interests of Britain and our true allies. I also believe that Britain leaving the EU will prove to be the catalyst to great changes within the EU and hopefully its democratisation as without great changes it is indubitably doomed.
Do not overlook the fact that politicians have plotted and schemmed since the 1950s and we have actually been vassals of the EU, when it was still using the aesopian linguistics and calling itself The Common Market in the early 1970s, a name the bureaucrats arbitrarily changed to EUropean Union in the early 1990s as they worked towards their long term goals of an ever closer centrally controlled Political and economic Union with its own anthem, currency, flag and rigid central control by its self appointed bureacrats towards a new Empirate –
It will take many years to rectify the mess our political class got us into and we have no other peacefull means by which to extricate ourselves than to depend on that self same self styled elite, who all too often forget they work for us!
One huge benefit of BreXit will be that we can negotiate with bodies like the WTO, UN, WHO, IMF, CODEX and the like, directly, in our own interest and that of our partners around the world, in both the Commonwealth and the Anglosphere at large; rather than having negotiations and terms imposed by unelected EU bureacrats and their interpretation of the rules handed down, as if they were some great achievement of the EU’s!The greatest change and benefit will be political, as we improve our democracy and self determination, with the ability to deselect and elect our own Government, with an improved Westminster structure, see >Harrogate Agenda<.
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Greg Lance – Watkins
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