Today, 1 July 2016, marks the 100th anniversary of the Somme Offensive, or the Battle of the Somme, claiming the lives of about a million British, French and German soldiers during the course of a few months (1 July – 18 November 1916).
Looking at the Europe of today, after more than half a decade’s peaceful coexistence under the European Union’s protecting wings, you cannot help but wonder what lessons we learnt from two consecutive world wars, and the peace, prosperity and democratisation emerging as a direct result of the EU.
Looking at Britain; Probably nothing.
Looking at Norway; Absolutely nothing.
Looking at Austria, about to elect a far-right government, following the annulment of its recent election; Definitely nothing.
Looking at the advances of Geert Wilders, Marine Le Pen, Nigel Farage, Frauke Petry and Jörg Meuthen; Not a damn thing.
Most people I know seem to be under the impression that the last 70 years of Western European (and later, former Eastern European, as they have joined) peace is nothing to do with the EU. Then again we suffer an inexplicable hostility towards anything containing that word, “union”, probably due to our previous unions with Denmark and Sweden, respectively. Or, perhaps, inspired by Norwegian poet Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson’s:
But peace is not so precious
As that his will man shows
– Extract from his poem, Choice (NO: Jeg velger meg april)
Clearly, little do they know:
So dear Europe, get your act together, please. Together, please!
Top photo: A young German soldier engaged in the Battle of the Somme, 1916. Source: Wikipedia.