Galileo, Galileo

(With respect to Queen and Bohemian Rhapsody)

By Adrian Hill

Many of us will have read the comprehensive warning from Sir Richard Dearlove and Professor Gwythian Prins that our government should avoid any further involvement with the Galileo satellite project.

Last November the weekly magazine Der Spiegel published an article that featured a leaked strategy paper written by the German Army planning staff, Vorausschau 2040 – Strategic Perspective 2040.  The Army’s central worry is that a break up of the European Union could bring about the collapse of the economies surrounding Germany and kill off these valuable export markets. The consequent unemployment could lead to civil disorder, even another Weimar crisis. One assumption is that the European Union started to break up during 2008 – when the Lisbon Treaty did away with each member country’s veto and replaced it with majority votes. Another assumption is that NATO started breaking up during 2014 – the year when member countries were asked to work towards spending 2% of their gnp on defence and 20% of that on new equipment. Germany falls well short of both targets each year. More recently Der Spiegellisted the German armed forces’ equipment, how much actually was battle ready. Answer, very little.

The Army planners claim that President Trump worries them over Article 5 of the NATO treaty. They are convinced that Germany must look after its own security. An obvious start is to concentrate on binding together the inner core of Euro Zone countries, economically, politically and militarily. An outer ring of satelliteeconomies, which includes us Brits, must be kept within the political and economic orbit of the Euro Zone and its political and economic sun, Germany. The scale of Germany’s reliance on these satellite markets is best measured by the lengths to which the German government goes to disguise the size of the country’s huge annual trade surplus – somewhere around 340 billion Euros according to Professor Heiner Flassbeck and Friedericke Spieker in their recent report – helped enormously by the existence of the Euro as a currency inside which hibernates a very under-valued Deutschmark.

According to Der Spiegel,ironically, the Army report speculates that one day the Poles and Baltic states might throw in their lot with Russia. The planners also worry that the Hungarians and the Balkans might do the same in protest against a European Union run by Germany and France. Keep in mind, as an old friend and onetime very senior German intelligence officer explained to me one evening over supper at our home, that our membership of the European Union made Franco-German rule more acceptable for the rest. That was not a sufficiently good reason, I observed reasonably, for us British to stay and, besides, millions of us including my wife and I had voted to leave. There was the small matter of a thing called democracy. Yet one could argue that the present situation in Poland suggests the reverse of what the Army planners fear is happening. Whether it’s through buying gas or investing in Baltic pipelines and Siberian car factories, Germany seems the country with the closest economic relationship with Russia.

Since the articles in Der Spiegelthere has been radio silence from Berlin. The original report is probably quite lengthy but from just reading the leaks in Der Spiegel (Denken auf Vorrat and Was, wenn der Westen zerfällt?) one realises that the new German strategy plan is a watershed. Not since the Second World War has the German Army contemplated a future without belonging to the NATO command structure though not every German will like this idea. Parts of the report are most likely contributions from diplomats and officials, which is illuminating in itself. Some of the forecasts are astute, indeed already have come to pass. The author, Katrin Suder, has worked for McKinsey. Her study’s core message is that Europe cannot rely on the Americans any longer. I don’t agree. For us Brits, having the Americans involved with Europe’s defence has kept the peace for seventy-three years and still does even with Donald watching TV for hours and tweeting all day long.

Since the dust settled after the German election there have been plenty of signals about the future of the European Union. My own forecast is to expect a gradual disengagement from NATO by the European Union countries led by Germany until eventually that leads to a Russo-German pact draped with a European Union banner. Negotiating such a pact may take longer than Angela Merkel’s latest Chancellorship which haslasted through this spring and should for a full term.German political leaders may genuinely believe that under their management a new European Union super state ought to be able to pull off a diplomatic coup that brings peace to Eastern Europe including the Baltic and Balkan satellite economies, moreover, a peace deal that removes all threats from Russia. Such a deal could safeguard Germany’s considerable investments in Russia, above all cost far less than another Cold War arms race or, God forbid, another European war.

The latter fear makes it easier to sell a pact to uneasy German voters. Putin, of course, wants to splinter NATO and any deal will include a demand that the European Union lifts all sanctions. As part of a new ‘ peace dividend ’ almost inevitably our troops would swap Paderborn for Salisbury Plain. ( At least they would be nearer Salisbury. ) The Americans would also be asked to quit the soil of the European Union. The obvious price for this would be that Russia gives back the Kalingrad enclave and Germany regains Konigsberg and whatever is left of the Masurian Lakes in that portion of East Prussia. This might prove a master stroke but it could also be the match that lights the gunpowder. While we focus on smoothing trade in goods and services, the Germans and the European Union seek political gains for which they are prepared to make economic sacrifices. I suggest that there might be other sacrifices for which they have made no allowance – despite thinking they have.

Back in February Angela Merkel gave a speech in Davos. What she said obliquely about Russia was revealing. ‘ Since the Roman Empire and the Chinese Wall, we know that simple isolation does not help in securing borders and a good cooperation with neighbours is needed.’ Merkel went on to explain that this includes deals with neighbours such as the European Union-Turkey migration deal that she brokered. Expect further diplomacy towards better relations with Moscow, eventually perhaps leading to that camouflaged pact. Should the European Union have its way, all the other ancient states – including our islands if our brainwashed Remainers have their way as well – would become its satellites, controlled through Brussels, but European branch plants of the German economic and political sun.

Of course, the German Army planners may have got it wildly wrong, but at the moment, that’s the way they believe their country must face the next two decades. This explains the EU tactics over the Irish border and the strategy of playing the Remainer Lords and MPs like rising trout. A pincer movement drove our Lords and MPs into a political Seine net and then dutifully the Lords voted to close its neck and make sure Mrs May cannot escape by swimming out and away from a lousy deal. Old guardsergeant, grogneurBarnier and drummer boy Macron, can always be sacrificed if the EU Army needs a loyal rearguard. Meanwhile, our largely Remainer Parliament must face unpleasant news. There is no better sage on election results than Professor John Curtice. His conclusion after the local elections was that the Conservative vote is now about 70% Leavers and the Prime Minister, her Cabinet, indeed the whole Parliamentary party would do well to bear that in mind. The local elections results warn that British voters want to get out of the EU and most certainly do not want to pay for expensive EU projects from which their country will be barred.

Let us carry this argument a stage further. Already we know that no quarter has been given in the talks between us and the EU about our trade relationship after Brexit. The EU feel at liberty to meddle in British politics with the encouragement of the political establishment. They have no hesitation in stirring up trouble in Ireland. Full scale war is far more brutal and crude. Suppose that Mr Putin threatens the British battlegroup on the Russian border with Estonia. No longer tethered goats without air defence, due to public outrage they have SAMs for air defence and drones to scout for smart artillery, but all this hardware no longer relies on the American GPS but instead depends on access to the rival Galileo satellite positioning system. Putin doesn’t have to fire a shot. He simply phones a friend, his German freundin,Angela, who speaks quite good Russian. Vlad’ suggests that if she disconnects the British from Galileo, he will make sure German investors in technology are given priority by the Russian government machine. He proposes that the British tripwire force withdraws from Estonia and let’s EU troops take care of relations with Russia. Oh, and by the way, give them a time limit as well.

As the battlegroup, now defenceless and relying on radio signals to speak to London, becomes a tethered goat once more, I have little doubt of the outcome.

President Macron has declared that France is now America’s closest ally. For two hundred years the United States has regarded Central and Southern America as its backyard, the Western Hemisphere. Back in 1982 the US Secretary of State, Al Haig, was sympathetic to Argentine as was Jeane Kirkpatrick, their UN Ambassador. Fortunately Caspar Weinberger, the Defence Secretary was a firm Anglophile. France was covertly helping Argentine to sink British warships. Turn the clock forward forty-five years. No longer restrained by belonging to NATO or fake loyalty towards a fellow EU member, France sells one of those brand new helicopter carriers intended for Russia to Argentine, plus some fifth-generation fighters and air-launched cruise missiles. Part of the deal is secret; namely that should the customers decide to attack the British airbase at Port Stanley, presently using Galileo as their guidance and communications system, shortly before the attack all British defences will be shut out of the system.

One could go on forever.

Anyone who has been an officer cadet in the British Armed Forces has experienced that marvellous cocktail of good humour and insults, carrot and stick, precision and discipline by which gunnery chiefs and drill sergeants turn spotted youths into young officers with a bit of backbone and common sense. The latter, they assure their young flocks, can be hard to find among the most intelligent and well-educated people.