An Irishman by birth, Simms is a convinced believer in the project for a European federation. Interestingly, he sees this primarily as a geopolitical rather than an economic imperative. This was, of course, an American view throughout the Cold War and beyond. In the words of John McCloy, "No permanent solution of the German problem seems possible without an effective European Union".
Like more recent American commentators - the political theorist Larry Siedentop, for example, and most recently the economist Tom Sargent - Simms likes to draw parallels between the process of European integration and the creation of the United States. As he sees it, the principal mistake of European integration has been the reluctance, not least of the French, to pool military sovereignty, which has kept the EU (in the Belgian Prime Minister Mark Eyskens's phrase) "an economic giant, but a political dwarf and a military worm". Simms concludes with another nod to Max Weber, adapting his famous verdict on Weltpolitik: if Europe does not achieve the transition to a fully federal structure, then "history will judge the European Union an expensive youthful prank which the continent played in its dotage".Ferguson är inte överens om analysen. Han menar att varningarna för tysk dominans i Europa funnits där hela tiden, och att frågan rör just maktbalansen.
There are three serious flaws with this analysis, even in its own terms. First, it flies in the face of all that Simms has told us about the balance of power. It was not Margaret Thatcher who first warned that the project of European union would lead to a "western Europe dominated in fact by Germany. .. . It is really giving them on a plate what we fought two wars to prevent". Those were the words of Harold Macmillan. When Thatcher vainly attempted to prevent German reunification on the ground that Germany "would once again dominate the whole of Europe", she was not (as some treacherous members of her Cabinet claimed) delusional.Senare i artikeln avfärdar Ferguson tanken på EU som ett nytt USA, som Europas förenade stater:
Secondly, the choice Simms poses - between a new Holy Roman Empire, just as weak as the old one, or a United States of Europe - is not on offer. Berlin is not New York and Brussels will never be Washington DC. As he himself admits, "German power surged again after unification. .. and now dominates the European Union". In that sense, the EU's stated goal of "ever closer union" becomes just the latest attempt since Charles V to end the balance of power. If Simms really believes in some version of Ranke's old pentarchy, he should be a Eurosceptic.Och för det tredje anför han dessa argument (och här finner jag hans tankar om den höga arbetslösheten bland ungdomar och invandrare vara de intressantaste):
Finally, even he has to concede that in Europe today "the primacy of foreign policy, which. .. so long determined European domestic politics" is "no more". For precisely that reason, it is quite futile to hope that Britain and Germany might somehow work together to "unlock the door to deeper integration" The very last question Simms poses - "Will Britain serve as the Prussia of the European project?" - is easy to answer. No chance. The struggle for supremacy in Europe is, fortunately, by no means over. The project of monetary union has gone badly wrong, just as a few of us predicted it would. The economic consequences of the financial crisis have been devastating for "peripheral" countries. And the political fallout - crumbling establishments, maverick populists - has been all too predictable. Meanwhile, the sad truth is that Europe is no longer even an economic giant. Key countries, including Germany, are in demographic decline and the EU as a whole now faces the real prospect of "lost decades" of zero growth, like Japan since 1990. High youth unemployment, high immigrant unemployment, heavy reliance on imported energy - the list of weaknesses is long.har för övrigt skrivit denna intressanta text i Spectator för bara två månader sedan, där han intervjuar Simms utifrån hans nya bok. Allra sist i intervjun säger Simms:
And I think likewise it would be in Britain’s interest to have a strong Eurozone state able to not only sort out its own problems, which are quite considerable, but also to serve as a partner for things that need to be done globally. We’ve been very hampered in terms of the global western posture because Europe hasn’t pulled its weight. And I think the creation of a single Eurozone state, for all the potential dangers in it, the likely increase in European influence globally will more than make up for the downside.