Sunday

21st Jul 2019

US leadership ‘not viable’ - Irish conventioneer

The US cannot sustain its current power, so Europe needs to look closely at its future security needs. That was the stark warning from a leading member of the Convention on the Future of Europe, on Tuesday.

John Bruton, a member of the Convention’s Presidium, warned that the financial situation and social system across the Atlantic could mean the US may not be willing, or even able, to look after Europe’s security needs in future.

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"We need to discuss our vulnerability", said the former Toiseach (Irish Prime Minister). "Fortress Europe is not a fortress any more."

The Convention itself is set to draw up the controversial articles on common foreign and security policy by the end of April.

Mr Bruton cited the US’ heavy borrowing, huge trade deficit and mounting pension bill as reasons for doubting the future capacity of the world’s only super power.

"If they were a member state they would be getting a warning from the Commission", quipped Mr Bruton.

Speaking at an event hosted by the Irish Institute of European Affairs Mr Bruton said the US’ social problems would exacerbate the country’s decline: "They have an excellent elite but the middle rank is not well educated."

Iraq is a turning point

"I thought they would have won the war by now…but the real test will come after." On the issue of the war’s aftermath the former Toiseach had some gloomy predictions.

"Occupation will drain them", he warned, adding that if the US gets bogged down "they can spend as much as they like on defence, [but] it won’t work."

Mr Bruton was critical of Europe’s "Atlantic powers" – Portugal, Spain and the UK – in their backing the US lead war against Iraq, saying they did so for one reason.

They thought in a simple race "they were backing a 4-1 favourite."

It becomes more difficult to back a winner in a case like Iraq, said Mr Bruton referring to war and post-war campaigns as "a steeple chase over three and half miles."

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