Introduction: Ireland (following France and the Netherlands) voted against the newest version of the European Constitution, the Lisbon Treaty, supposed to replace the inappropriate Nice Treaty; only 110,000 voters made the difference and momentarily blocked the attempt by half a billion European citizens to find a European wide governmental system not depending upon unanimity (as it does now). Because Eire went from being the poorest to the richest EU country (except for tiny Luxembourg) Roger Cohen told a few virulent truths about the Irish mindset ("The muck of the Irish", June 19, 2008: …."when it comes to sheer electoral crassness, it’s hard to beat what the Irish have just done.").

Going into the Irish bog even where Cohen did not dare, we use the occasion to reexamine the concept of neutrality (which was brandished as a reason to vote no). A hyper democratic European Union cannot tolerate "neutrality" from one of its members anymore than the USA could tolerate "neutrality" from one of its states. We explain why.


Ireland is a neutral country. That is very important, say the Irish. But an inspection of history shows that "neutral" is a code word. It’s all about the Nazi code of conduct: see and hear no evil, so one can do plenty.

After eight months of war with France and Britain, the full, all-out Nazi offensive in spring 1940 started by invading Belgium and the Netherlands, which also were "neutral" countries. Until that point that meant they did not have enough moral backbone to oppose Hitler, just as the USA. But that soon turned into a much darker abyss.

The French army was called to the rescue, in a trap set up by Hitler (who cut the French armored quick reaction force army’s seven divisions from behind as it rushed across Belgium and the Netherlands, flying to the rescue of the now squealing "neutrals"). The treacherous refusal of Belgium to build the Maginot line through its territory (as it was supposed to) allowed the ten Nazi Panzer divisions to break through from behind the French and the British Expeditionary Force. In other words, the "neutral" status of Belgium and the Netherlands played a crucial role in the French defeat, and was central to Hitler’s ingenious and highly perfidious plan. Belgium and the Netherlands suffered a lot during the rest of the war, one of the many ways of showing that neutrality encourages atrocity.

Other "neutral" European countries did not suffer physically: they were too keen to help the Fuehrer to come in harms’ way. During W.W.II Ireland, Sweden and Switzerland were "neutral" countries, a bit like the German population was "neutral" about terrorizing and torturing minorities, invading Europe, allowing Auschwitz, etc… All these "neutral" people, who heard no evil from the Nazis, and saw no evil from the Nazis, helped and enabled Hitler’s madness.

Switzerland helped the Nazis in many ways. Financially, by providing the Nazis with life and wealth insurance, and a "neutral" window to interface with the rest of the world, or even industrially. IBM, which was in charge of all and any Nazi computing, managed its thousands of Nazi computers and engineers from New York, through its office in Geneva. A Swiss factory was profusely making ball bearings that ended up in the Reich (where they were very much in demand because the US Air Force bombed devastatingly the ball bearing factories in Nazi occupied Europe). Exasperated, a US Air Force air armada dropped all its bombs on said Swiss factory. The Americans diplomatically explained that they got lost, and accidentally lightened up on the factory. Suitably impressed, the Swiss concentrated thereafter on less controversial ways to extract money from Nazism and its various victims.

Sweden was even more important to Hitler. It provided the Nazi dictator with gigantic quantities of iron to build his forces with, throughout the war. France and Britain decided to cut that "iron road" in spring 1940, by attacking "neutral" Sweden through northern Norway. The full Nazi attack on France interrupted that (the French Foreign Legion was recalled back to the motherland).

The last, but not least of Hitler’s "neutral" helpers was Ireland. It helped the Nazis in many ways during the war, refusing to collaborate in the maritime war against the Nazi submarines (killing indirectly thousands of Allied sailors), and throwing back the Jewish refugees in the sea, so to speak.

Sweden, and especially Switzerland are aware of their cowardly betrayal of civilization. Not so Ireland. On April 31, 1945, the German Chancellor and President, Adolf Hitler, committed suicide. By then, it was completely documented that the Nazis had exterminated millions of innocents. Pictures of women and children inmates near death from starvation, and of piles of bodies of dead civilians in camps, had gone all around the world, as well dressed Germans passed by to examine the holocaust they had worked for. But that is not the sorrow that Ireland officially experienced. On May 1, 1945, the republic of Ireland sent its condolences to the new Fuehrer, Admiral Doenitz, about the death of his predecessor, Adolf Hitler (in at least three different ways). Eire should celebrate that day every year, to remember what Irish "neutrality" practically meant.

Ireland claims to be a neutral country. The idea is that it was invaded by Vikings and then the English. The Vikings destroyed completely the old Irish civilization, a sunny mix of Christianity and the old Irish ways. That was very sad, and many books buried more than a millennium ago, sole remnants of an assassinated civilization, are still found. Neutrality is very important, say the Irish, and they lie. In the twentieth century Ireland was a free rider on civilization, the sort of moral vampire sucking civilization dry which made Nazism possible by claiming grotesque cognitive and moral impairment. The truth is brutal, but not as much as Nazism.

It’s important for Europe to listen to what the Irish are trying to say, in case they make sense somewhere. But they should not be taken too seriously. They have denazification to conduct first.

Patrice Ayme,


  1. armand-in-lisbon Says:

    Thank You!


  2. mr zurich Says:

    well done patrice im irish and very few people speak about the sham of our nuetrality, you cant be nuetral and let american warplanes and rendition flights land in irish airports on their way to and from iraq. i agree with many of your points about see no evil hear no evil but its not always as black & white. at the outbreak of ww2 we had just shaken off 800 years of british rule resulting in a bloody civil war, which would of been relighted if the government had asked irish people to join a war and take orders from their former masters… as regards the lisbon treaty i personally voted no because i believe in a democratic europe and i was voting for the people of europe who didnt have that vote. if we have nothing to fear from this treaty ( theconstitution that france and holland rejected in evrything but name) let everyone it effects agree to it.


  3. patriceayme Says:


    First Europe. The present Constitution, the Treaty of Nice, pushed by Chirac in the wee hours of the morning is not good (as much voting power for Poland as Germany, among other problems).

    Lisbon proposed to remedy some of the excesses (there was a row when the Polish leaders pointed out that Poland should be counted as bigger than it is, considering it had been reduced by Nazi extermination; the Germans were furious, but compromised). So anyway Lisbon has more parliamentary power from the EU parliament, and more demographic representation. It’s better than what we have.

    This being said, to cut the mess of these botched treaties, maybe systematic referendums point by point should be proposed, as in Switzerland. Lisbon’s bulk hid at least 30 propositions that should have been subjected to referendums. The Swiss (Con)federal government does not take really “no” for an answer either (people are asked again later, but meanwhile the administrative machinery keeps on going, with its own democracy inside). Thus, although the Swiss people said no to the EU many times, Switzerland is still marching into the EU, backwards. Within a few years, it will make no difference: liberty of work and movement throughout the EU + Switzerland.

    For the question of neutrality, I think that it’s the duty of Europeans to defend their democracy. It’s also the duty of Europe to be democratic enough to make it so. Hitler got a long way, because he played the neutrals against France. More notorious and vicious of all the “neutrals” was, of course, the USA. There is little doubt that, without US help, France and Poland (with the Uk to the rescue) would have defeated Hitler in 1939/40. This is hard to swallow to everybody, and should give pause in light of the Iraq tragi-comedy.

    There is no doubt that some Franco-German ideas, especially regarding taxation, should not be imposed on everybody else. Let them impose them on themselves! If some of the Irish tax policies had been applied in Franco-Germania, maybe they would be roaring too!



  4. Joseph O'Shaughnessy Says:

    Re: The Irish and the Germans

    Ireland was so oppressed by the British and still was not a free state in 1914, that they became an ally of the Germans to an extent. They would not, many of them, fight the Germans, though some did.

    I think that the Irish did something similar in WWII, although I know that there were many Irish volunteers in the British Army.

    It is one of those ancient struggles that had its terrible consequences in the burning and confiscation by, I think, Essex under Henry VIII, later similar outrages by Cromwell, heated up by the implacable attitude of the British Government during the Potato Famine of the mid-1800s and topped off by my hero, Sir Winston Churchill’s Black and Tans.

    After that much oppression, the rule becomes the “enemy of my enemy” sort of thing and irrational policies sometimes follow the prior irrational policies of the oppressor.

    P.S. Liked your comment in the Times today 7/7 in Krugman’s Blog. Have you considered reprinting it as a book?


  5. patriceayme Says:

    I agree that the Irish had good reasons to be very angry against the British. But the Vikings earlier had been even worse. Still, Ireland forgave Scandinavia. W.W.II started with Great Britain honoring her agreement with France to attack Hitler (nominally to stop the invasion of Poland). it was about stopping fascism.

    Ireland had been victim of British fascism bordering holocaust, especially in the 16th and 17th century. Hitler should have been seen as just one more fascism attacking democracy, and Ireland, a democracy at the time, should have helped her fellow democracy.

    In the case of the European Union, Ireland’s “neutrality” will have to go (like all the other European “neutralities”). It’s not a question of “if you are not with us, you are against us” (Athens’ disastrous statement against Melos, that led to a genocide… Bush repeated it like a parrot 24 centuries later). It’s a question of “if you are us, you are not against us”. Melos did not join Athens, because, although a democracy, and thus a natural ally of Athens, it was a recent Spartan colony. It was hard for the island of Melos to go to war against family (especially considering the super powerful Spartan fleet paid by Persia). Ireland does not have such an excuse, and the citizens of Melos would have agreed.

    The European Union is as democratic as can be (with the crazy unanimity rule, it sure is!). To be neutral about democracy is not a democratic option, and non democratic countries do not belong to the EU.

    Patrice Ayme.

    P.S. Thanks for the appreciation, BTW… It would be nice to put some things in book form, indeed…


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