Sm/rmh/an. Today’s EU has a double history. A superficial one which can be found in most history books and a hidden one which must not become public – a story that began a long time before the version we all know. Jean Monnet is the link between the two versions of history.
Thanks to the book by Andreas Bracher, “Europa im Amerikanischen Weltsystem. Bruchteile zu einer ungeschriebenen Geschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts” (2001, ISBN 3-907564-50-2, (Europe in the American world system, fragments on an unwritten history of the 20th century, not available in English), critical questions came up regarding the official biography of the “founding father of Europe” who is usually declared sacrosanct. Those questions shed a new light on the construction of a supranational entity after World War II: It is not just a peace project and a project aiming at the collaboration of the European peoples but a project serving Anglo-American global power interests with Jean Monnet as the “inventor and ruler of institutions of supranational collaboration and as a center of Anglo-Saxon influence on the Continent.” According to Bracher, supranational post-war Europe was based on “initiatives sponsored by US money, including CIA money”. In this game, Monnet was the “instrument of a long-term policy with a European centralized state as one of its goals.”
Off-mainstream research works of the last decades like those of Caroll Quigley (Tragedy & Hope: A History of the World in Our Time, 1975) or Antony C. Sutton (Wall Street & the Rise of Hitler, 1999) showed how the Anglo-American power block and its financial elites worked towards two world wars in the first half of the 20th century. This is in accordance with the over 100-year-old geo-strategic concept of Anglo-American power elites ruling that a political and economic collaboration on the Eurasian continent – say with Germany and Russia in its center – has to be prevented by all means. Such tight collaboration would be seen as a threat for the global power position of these elites.
This policy was obviously still pursued after World War II and still remains a main theme as it was, for example, formulated very frankly in the geo-strategic considerations of the former US National Security Advisor, Zbigniew Brzezinski, published in 1998: “The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And Its Geostrategic Imperatives”.
What is the purpose of the Anglo-American post-war Europe project with Monnet as its promoter? Bracher gives a first answer to this question: “The overall scenario of these years suggests that there has been a group of people who was pushing the Cold War, using it as a backdrop for other plans. The exaggeration of the Soviet danger created a political-psychological situation making Europeans ready to team up under the umbrella of the US, thus strengthening the German ties to the West. Monnet himself described the psychology of the situation in his memories: ‘Great decisions are made only in the face of imminent danger.’”
Bearing in mind this role of Jean Monnet, it makes sense to ask “Who was Jean Monnet?” A lot of material can be found in the 1000- page biography of Eric Roussel, “Jean Monnet, 1888-1979” (1996). It contains valuable material regarding the persons he was intensely cooperating with.
Jean Monnet and the EU of today
The EU of today is a supranational entity. The member states have given up large parts of their sovereign rights. It was Jean Monnet who resolutely promoted the construction of supra-national institutions. They were implanted top-down with the goal that the states and the citizens comply with and subject to their guidelines. For Monnet, such top-down established institutions were more important than those developed by the citizens themselves.
The Treaty of Lisbon which became effective in November 2009 stands for a further renunciation of sovereignty and constitutionality for the European states in favor of a rule of EU institutions ignorant of the citizens’ interests. Sovereignty and constitutionality, the self-determination of a constitutional nation, as it has been defined since the times of the French Revolution, were destroyed step by step, a modus operandi which is found throughout the history of the EU.
Monnet often said that the existence of nation states is superfluous and even dangerous for peace. Hence they need to be abolished. The supranational “United States of Europe” have to substitute them and the states have to transfer essential rights of sovereignty to them.
But Monnet went even further. In theory and practice, he objected the elected representatives – they represent the sovereign, the people. Whenever possible, he was operating around them, founding, in addition to the existing elected bodies, private “committees” which he filled with the people he trusted, coming from all areas of public life.
These committees were serving the purpose to organize Europe to the taste of Monnet, also incorporating potential dissenters. A special role was reserved for the “Action Committee for a United States of Europe”. On the other hand, there were commissions which had the task of restructuring individual states from within. Along these lines, a restructuring of whole regions in American style took place in France 1945/46, including the gigantic project “Bas-Rhône-Languedoc”. Here we see the “regionalization” of Europe at work which is also directed against the nation state and is implemented in a purely economic fashion, ignoring long established, evolved structures. The investigations of Pierre Hillard found that Europe is suffused and pervaded with organizations, associations and clubs which are designed to blow up the nation state from within.
To facilitate this development, Monnet was repeatedly resorting to money from the Anglo-American part of the world. He was able to draw on his connections with his closest friends from high finance and politics, relations going back to a time long before World War II.
Monnet, the Financial Elites and Global Power Politics during the World Wars
Long before a “Unified Europe” was officially a topic, Jean Monnet was active in the international business world. Born in 1888 as the son of a Cognac merchant, he left school at the age of 16 and went to London to be introduced to the work of the City in the house of his father’s a business partner. Two years later, he was sent to Canada where he made his first contacts that were to last a lifetime. He was settling important contracts for his father’s Cognac firm, including one with the Hudson’s Bay Company which had the privilege to sell the trappers liquor to the Indians. Among the managers of the Hudson’s Bay Company, he met people who were to have a hand in the “fate of the world” later.
Before the beginning of World War I, Monnet was in the USA and again building up business relations lasting a lifetime. He was traveling to England, Scandinavia, Russia and Egypt. When World War I started in July 1914, he returned to France.
But 26 year old Jean Monnet was not drafted for military service. Instead, he had a conversation with the French President René Viviani, arranged by his father’s lawyer. He presented him the Hudson’s Bay Company offer for a credit of 100 million Francs in gold for France on the account of the Banque de France, in order to buy war material in the USA. The business was completed. Additionally, the Hudson’s Bay Company made its merchant fleet available to the French government.
After the French-American business was completed, Monnet went to London to convey a similar French-British-American business. In the negotiations he met influential politicians and businessmen.
But Monnet did not stick strictly to business matters. He was combining business and politics by advocating the foundation of an Allied Committee for Overseas Transport. After the foundation of the committee in 1918, two million American soldiers were shipped to Europe.
On the French side, Monnet was closely collaborating with the “Super Minister” Etienne Clémentel as a consultant. Clémentel was fostering the idea of an inter-allied control of raw materials which was to last beyond the times of war. This idea was later realized by Monnet as the European Coal and Steel Community.
Jean Monnet "producing" the first European steel ingot on 30 April 1953 in Esch-sur-Alzette. Credit © European Community, 2005
According to his motto that men only consent to changes under the pressure of the conditions – here it was the pressure of the war economy – Monnet had accomplished a decisive step towards the realization of the “project of his life”: the limits of the nation states were exceeded and the dismantling of sovereign rights had started. Now, banks and trading companies were able to pursue their business without being impeded by national borders – all this with the politicians’ support.
Based on his close relationships with English politicians and businessmen, to the American world of business and banking and to influential French politicians and bankers, Monnet was appointed Deputy General Secretary of the newly founded League of Nations. His network of relations included all those who were responsible for the shaping of the post-war area.
Monnet made use of the League of Nations as an institution to network with decision makers on the international level. There he was closely cooperating with international officials of the highest ranks and added more politicians to his network of relations. This extension of his network seems to have been Monnet’s main activity: he participated only in half the sessions of the League and wrote much fewer dossiers than his colleagues.
The League of Nations was now dealing with the issue of keeping the structures intact between the nations built up during the war since this was an important requirement for international free trade. The other important war-time achievement, the cooperation between politics and business, could still be improved, particularly in the areas of transport and credits.
In 1922, Monnet left the League of Nations to direct his activities towards the world of finance. He became vice president of the powerful American investment bank Blair & Co., organized considerable financial operations and added even more influential persons to his American network of relations. In addition, he founded the US Bank Monnet, Murnane & Co. In these times, he was at the center of the international high finance, participating in the construction of powerful Anglo-American financial syndicates. In his function as vice president of Bank Monnet, Murnane & Co., based in Paris, Monnet played a decisive role in stabilizing the French currency in 1926. He won the confidence of the president of the Federal Reserve Board and hence was trusted officially with the role of an intermediary between France and the USA regarding the questions of the refunding of the French war debt and the bilateral financial relationships. He brought the American position forward providing that the Banque de France would close contracts with other reserve banks, in particular the Federal Reserve, thus tying France closer to the US, a country that had hitherto strongly insisted on independence,. He was also involved in the foundation of the Bancamerica Blair and the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in Basel, Switzerland.
In 1936, after the occupation of the Rhineland by German troops which violated the Treaty of Versailles, he met the former German Chancellor Brüning in the US who informed him plausibly that Hitler would be backed by his army in a new war unless the western democracies would interfere. But Monnet did not do anything to prevent the outbreak of this war. On the contrary: he had met William Bulitt, the US ambassador in Paris, who was a close confident of Roosevelt. And he convinced the US government to build war planes for France. And, when the obstacle of the American neutrality law was overcome, this helped to curb the US economy.