One of the objectives cited by Europeans politicians for the European Union (EU) and the Eurozone is to eliminate risk of aggression between European states by political and economic cooperation. With two major wars and many smaller armed conflicts during the twentieth century this is a laudable aim.
But in reality is the European Union driving the partners into conflict through distrust caused by unequal treatment of its members by the EU and Eurozone?
Some of the reported rhetoric from politicians has hardly been collegiate. Greek newspapers have portrayed Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, in Nazi uniform. Memories of Nazi occupation are still strong and painful in Greece. It was exemplified by recent calls for reparations to be paid by Germany for the Nazi looting and damage to Greece during the Second World War. There has also been similarly stereotypical criticism of Greece and the other, especially southern European, conuntries.
The potential for social unrest in the countries suffering from the austerity plans imposed by the Eurozone puts pressure on politicians, and wider population, to seek scapegoats other than themselves.
This leads them to look outside their own borders for the cause. It was the austerity and blow to national pride, as a result of the conditions imposed on Germany by the Treaty of Versailles at the end of the First World War, which led to rise of Nazism and the Second World War. Ironically, it is now Germany who is taking a leading role in imposing draconian conditions on Greece, Portugal and Ireland that could have similar impact.
So, whatever the cause of the debt problem the current solution, like so many political initiatives, may well lead to unintended consequences. Rather than uniting Europe the current attempts to protect and strengthen the euro without full political and fiscal union may, paradoxically, be the cause of its demise. The politicians and bureaucrats of the wider EU itself should also be concerned; if the euro is questioned or even breaks down the questioning may start to challenge the basis of the EU itself. In either case conflict in some form, not necessarily military, may not be far away.