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Back to Front - Thoughts of war


It is a marker of just how far Labour has come in its open admiration for military aggression and capitalist expansionism, that foreign secretary David Miliband could write the speech he was due to give in Bruges in late November.

In it, he argued for extension of the EU single market to Africa and the Middle East, for the EU to "punch its weight" as a military power by exerting economic influence and military intervention, of "European rules shaping the world", "the hard power of our sanctions and troops, the power of Europe as an idea and model". He means war.

Later that week, much was made in the press of how Brown had taken a red pen to the bits about EU military power. So, did Brown really object? Only because it suited him for his office to spin his reservations in the tricky run-up to the proposed signing of the European Treaty/Constitution. You only have to read his Mansion House speech, delivered a few days before Miliband's, to see what he thinks.

Brown's soundbite was "hard-headed internationalism": "The new frontier is that there is no frontier" he said. Forget any attempt to control your lives or your country, was the message, we want a "Global Europe" (yes, really) which will use "hard-headed intervention" to pursue its interests. Whose interests do we imagine he is talking about?

So what happens after the military intervention? Brown called for a "standby civilian force including police and judiciary who can be deployed to rebuild civic societies...to repair damaged economies". Does this remind you of anything? The "ideal and model" appears to be Iraq. Don't forget that to many global companies Iraq has been less a political failure and more a successful opportunity to make enormous profits.

All this talk about "building a global society" is ridiculous, of course. Capitalism is hopelessly incompetent even in trying to run a small country like Britain. It's ideology Brown is peddling – just as successive British governments have pushed a brutal Thatcherite "free" market model in the EU, they want the EU to develop even further what it has begun: to be an imperial power on the world stage to force open new markets for its own capitalists to exploit.

Thatcher went to Bruges to "handbag" the idea of a European superstate in 1988 but had already signed the Single European Act which accelerated it. It's no accident that one of Brown's first acts as PM was to appear at the door of Number 10 for a photocall with Thatcher.

The "idea and model" Miliband wants is capitalist exploitation and pursuit of profit unconstrained by awkward national governments or their peoples. Even cheap Eastern European migrant labour will soon be too expensive – let's bring in Africa and the Middle East with their huge potential cheap workforces and markets.

So this is Brown's "big vision". These are dangerous times indeed – especially given that the British view is shared across EU leaders (see Sarkozy's call to the EU parliament for military integration backed by an EU "military conscience"). In times of instability, capitalism turns to war to deal with its problems.We will be locked into this nightmare vision in practice by the new Treaty/Constitution if we don't prevent it by forcing a referendum.