Fields: Threatened EU Breakup Could Lead To War






sam fields


When you ask about the “longest streaks,” the number that some Americans cite is “56”: New York Yankee centerfielder Joe DiMaggio’s 1941 hitting streak.

But there is one streak that is far and away more amazing and important: The 72 years since a West or Central European country fought one another.

These 72 years are a lot more astounding. It’s the longest stretch that West Europeans have not fought each other in over a thousand years!

This warless streak is threatened by plans to break up the European Union.

The EU was a result of World War II, which left 27 million dead and much of Europe and Asia in ruins.

Clearly, World War II was a sobering event. Leaders throughout Europe understood that “nationalism” was the root of the problem with Adolph Hitler as the penultimate nationalist.

Thus began a series of military and economic treaties intended to create a common alliance and breakdown the barriers that had led to two thousand years of wars over land, religion, culture and money.

NATO and the 1948 Treaty of Brussels reduced trade barriers and travel restrictions.  The 1992 Maastricht Treaty created the European Union, establishing the Euro currency for most of its 28 members and setting fiscal rules about such things as deficit spending and national debt.

Europe’s economies, cultures and militaries were homogenized and war was pushed off the page.

But a number of folks just did not like local sovereignty vested to the EU headquarters in Brussels. Bureaucrats overrode local customs and laws in the name of European unity.  Trade barriers that had previously protected inefficient industries shifted jobs to more efficient places.   Workers who would accept lower wages moved from some EU countries places where they displaced higher wage earners.

In Britain it was called “the problem of the Polish plumber”. More than anything else it underpinned the nationalism of the BREXIT movement now leading Britain out of the EU.

I seriously doubt the opponents of BREXIT warned of nationalist wars.  They would have been laughed off the stage:  “WWII is ancient history that belongs with discussions of the Peloponnesian Wars.”


All they had to look back was fifteen years and the former Yugoslavia made up of Serbia, Croatia, Kosovo, Slovenia, Montenegro and Bosnia.  It was a hodgepodge of religions and ethnic groups that since 1945 were held together by the authoritarian government of Josef Tito.

Following the death of Tito in 1980, nationalism began again and quickly led to war.   There were six wars in 10 years that left 140,000 dead, four million refugees, ethnic cleansing, mass rapes, and genocide

At the front of the nationalist charge was Serbian demagogue Slobodan Milosevic. His populist/nationalistic rant was the same one you hear from President Donald Trump, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, France’s Marine LePen, England’s Boris Johnson in the UK, etc.:


The “somebody” is invariable a minority that is somehow oppressing the majority.

I’m sure some of you believe that Western Europe is different and it won’t happen there. It’s too sophisticated to once again fight over things like the borders of Northern Ireland, Alsace-Lorraine, Schleswig-Holstein, Gibraltar, Trent, The Polish Corridor, etc.

And you have 72 years of peace that says you’re right.


But, on the other hand, without European unity expressed by the EU, I’ve got several thousand years of wars that says you’re wrong.


6 Responses to “Fields: Threatened EU Breakup Could Lead To War”

  1. Sam The Sham says:

    Hmmm, let’s see. 47 Years of peace without the EU, then 25 years of peace with the EU. Which is a greater number?

    People are tired of losing their unique identity, culture and heritage. They don’t like to be ruled by faceless bureaucrats thousands of miles away.

  2. Lawyer says:

    Fields a foreign policy expert! Ha ha ha ha ha ha

  3. Um, no says:

    Sam the Sham lives up to his name.

    The European Union grew out of the European Coal and Steel Community, which was founded under the Treaty of Paris in 1951. So “the EU”–if one counts its prior incarnations, as one should–has helped keep the peace for 65 years.

    65 is a larger number than 47.

    (But don’t listen to me, I only have a degree in international relations and received an A in an honors course on the European Union in college. Also, I can count.)

  4. Fields Over Simplfies Sitaution says:

    This is only part of the story of European unity.
    The Marshall Plan, NATO and the destruction of the European States after World War II also contributed to it.
    World War II and the changes in society have changed the equation. Field’s idea that France, England and Germany would fight a war among themselves today is ridiculous.

  5. Sam The Sham says:

    Thanks for the history lesson. However, the ECSC and the EU being the same thing is a completely different argument. They ware not even close.

    My point is that many people have gotten a bellyful of life in the EU and are tired of it. People want to be the masters of their own destiny. Some EU supporters even go as far as denying nations the right to be their own country. This could start a war just as easily.

    The real way to keep peace is for all countries to be free republics, not semi dictatorships or socialist utopias (Cuba and Venezuela?). Free people rarely make war on other free people.

  6. SAM FIELDS says:

    Dear Lawyer
    My qualifications?

    A BA in history from the UM.

    An MA from UM in Russian History.

    I also did a Ph.D. in Russian and diplomatic history at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

    My doctoral dissertation (which went through 3 drafts before I decided to do something else with my life) was on the Japanese and U.S. intervention into Siberia in 1918.
    Those are some of my qualifications. What are yours?

    Dear “Fields Over Simplifies”

    All that was in my original draft of this blog. But a guy named Buddy Nevins convinced me that it was too pedantic so I cut out much of that info
    As for your notion that France, Germany, England are democracies and therefore the idea they would go to war is “ridiculous” is a great soundbite but clearly unsettled.

    I suggest you check out Wikipedia on the subject.

    Begin with a list of democracies that have fought each other

    Also see:

    In WW II 4 West European nations stayed out of it. Two democracies (Switzerland and Sweden) and 2 dictatorships (Spain and Portugal)

    But who is to say that the democratic systems in these countries are as certain as The Laws of Physics.

    Following “The War to End All Wars”, Germany was democratic up until 1934.

    What should get us most nervous is people expressing the notion that war between Western European Countries is “ridiculous”.