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The EU’s American Queen Ursula von der Leyen is retooling the bloc for war

(FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP via Getty Images)

(FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP via Getty Images)


March 4, 2024   8 mins

Ask most Europeans what they think about the EU, and they’ll tell you it’s relentlessly dull. It’s all bureaucrats in statement eyewear overseeing arcane regulations about the curvature of cucumbers; impenetrable corridors in the staid outposts of Luxembourg and Strasbourg; and a multiplicity of councils, commissions, parliaments and courts — the precise remit of each entirely mystifying to the layman.

Yet this dullness is integral to the union’s purpose as a peace project. As political philosopher Luuk van Middelaar observed in Passage to Europe, the EU was supposed to represent a “flight of history into bureaucracy” — an attempt to swap the “unpredictability and pathos” that had long characterised relations between European states with “sober interweaving interests”. Wars would be replaced with consensus, law and tedious regulations; potentially incendiary political and ideological divisions would be blunted by heavy technical jargon and compromise. The resulting facelessness was embodied in an apocryphal question attributed to Henry Kissinger: “Who do I call if I want to call Europe?”

But all is changing. The EU is becoming less boring and less democratic, and it has acquired a face: European Commissioner Ursula von der Leyen, who last month confirmed that she will seek another five-year term.

The “Queen of Europe” has been described as “Napoleonic”, “dictatorial”, and “imperious” by detractors, impressions that have been aggravated by her personal idiosyncrasies and flamboyant, patrician air. She is, after all, the wife of Heiko von der Leyen, a scion of an aristocratic family that made its fortunes in silk. She is also a dressage rider and performs in equestrian events, her equine passion inherited from her late father, Ernst Albrecht, one of the nascent EU’s first civil servants and a prominent politician in Germany’s CDU. When Von der Leyen’s pony was mauled to death by a wolf in 2022, the Commission announced that it would downgrade their protection status to allow for culling, much to the horror of wildlife conservationists. An energetic mother of seven, she allegedly sleeps in a modest 25-square-metre room on the 13th floor of the Commission’s Berlaymont building. She is also said to maintain an ascetic discipline in other areas of life, refraining from both alcohol and meat.

Yet such eccentricities fail to capture the transformations within the EU since she came to power. Indeed, her reign is defined by the re-dramatisation of European politics — something which will continue if she manages to secure another term in June, which she probably will.

Von der Leyen’s tenure has been marked by an acceleration of what Perry Anderson has termed “European coups” — the gradual agglomeration of power in Brussels. Even the manner in which she became Commissioner in 2019 represented a break with a procedure designed to lend the EU executive greater democratic legitimacy. In 2003, a Franco-German agreement established the foundations of what would become the Spitzenkandidaten (“lead candidate”) process, whereby the political family with the most votes in the European Parliamentary elections would secure the office of Commissioner for its pre-chosen candidate. But in 2019, Von der Leyen was not the Spitzenkandidat of her European People’s Party (EPP) — instead, she was handpicked by EU leaders Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron. The EPP’s Spitzenkandidat, Manfred Weber was thwarted by Macron, who viewed him as unqualified. Von der Leyen, on the other hand, was a long-time Merkel loyalist and, as Macron noted, spoke French exceptionally well. The then-German Defence Minister was also amenable to closer military cooperation with France and had spoken of the need to create “an army of Europeans” — another point in her favour for Macron.

In other words, Von der Leyen’s very rise constituted a quiet coup. Beyond the pretty verbiage about defending democracy, it amounted to what Anderson has described as “the quiet settling of affairs between elites in camera, above the heads of an inert populace below”. Perhaps as a result, Von der Leyen has started to rewrite her origin story, claiming that she “ran in 2019” — referencing a campaign that never happened. For the Queen of Europe, both reality and democracy are malleable.

Yet Von der Leyen’s weightiest revisionism concerns the EU’s foreign policy. In 2019, she identified the creation of a “geopolitical commission” as one of her main priorities as Commissioner. The EU, she asserted, needed to become a major “geopolitical” actor “to shape a better world order”. Chaos and crisis demanded that it “learn to speak the language of power”. Then came the twin threats of Russia and another Trump administration, both of which lent these aims a greater urgency. The result is that Von der Leyen’s EU is gradually being retooled for war.

Two years ago, EU officials broke the taboo on financing lethal weapons when they decided to fund the provision of lethal military aid to Ukraine. As article 41.2 of the Treaty of the European Union explicitly prohibits “expenditure arising from operations having military or defence implications”, this move required some creativity to circumvent. Towards this end, the EU mobilised the European Peace Facility (EPF), a misnomer for a tool engineered to finance military engagements abroad. To get around the proscription on the financing of war, the EPF has been designed as a €5 billion “off-budget” instrument.

Nor does the drumbeat of war stop there. On Tuesday, the Commission is set to unveil a “sweeping” European defence industry strategy, which will shift the EU’s defence industry to a war-footing, while “upending the way it finances and sells arms”. Von der Leyen has said it will aim to “turbocharge our defence industrial capacity over the next five years”, with a focus on joint procurement.

This approach draws on the Commission’s precedent-setting joint procurement of Covid vaccines, an effort now being touted as a model for success but still mired in major controversy: Von der Leyen’s private text message exchange with Pfizer Chief Executive Albert Bourla — hammering out the details of the April 2021 deal for 1.1 billion doses of the vaccine — has been shrouded in secrecy, with both journalists and the European Court of Auditors stonewalled in their attempts to gain access to the conversation. Suffice it to say such a precedent does not bode well for transparency in the massive new defence procurement process.

And nor do its other components. The new strategy will, for instance, reportedly include the opening of a Defence Innovation Office in Kyiv and the establishment of a new defence commissioner role. It is very likely that the new defence tsar will hail from Poland or one of the Baltic States; RadosƂaw Sikorski, Poland’s current foreign minister, is viewed as the top candidate. If this does happen, we will see Europe’s centre of gravity shift East, with the more hawkish rhetoric and policies of what George W. Bush once called “new Europe” overtaking that of “old Europe”. In other ways, too, the Commission’s new defence strategy would also make the EU more American: one proposed measure copies the US Foreign Military Sales scheme, the programme that allows Washington to sign contracts with foreign capitals directly, thus streamlining arms sales.

Elsewhere, Von der Leyen is also seeking to strengthen her “geopolitical commission” by reinvigorating the EU’s dormant enlargement process. Or so she claims. Effectively dead since Croatia joined the bloc in 2013, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has supposedly brought it back to life. In June 2022, the EU extended candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova, with Von der Leyen championing the move: only recently, she said she was “working our own reforms to prepare for a Union of 30-plus member states”.

There was, of course, no mention of the fact that accession is notoriously lengthy and tortuous: Serbia has been a candidate country for 12 years and Montenegro for 14. Meanwhile, Turkey was officially extended candidate status at the end of the last century. But Von der Leyen believes she knows how to make it work. And naturally, it would mean breaking more taboos.

Critics of enlargement fear the new member states from Eastern Europe would wield their veto in foreign policy decision-making, paralysing the union and eroding its cohesion. Von der Leyen is thus pushing to scrap unanimity in foreign policy decision-making, which would see “qualified majority voting” take its place — a move that opponents suggest will undermine national sovereignty, depriving member states of their cherished veto.

Yet even if Von der Leyen gets her wish, which would also undercut intransigent Hungary, it is unlikely to mean a fast-track to membership for Ukraine. As a result, EU insiders have dismissed her renewed enlargement talk as “virtue signalling”, while others point out that absorbing an agricultural powerhouse such as Ukraine would be extraordinarily costly and risks provoking more farmers’ protests across the continent. Poland, which has seen months of demonstrations over a glut of cheap Ukrainian grain, is currently among the most outspoken supporters of preserving the unanimity rule in EU foreign and security policy decision-making. Other defenders of the veto say unanimity encourages harder negotiations and promotes consensus. Middelaar agrees, noting that “it is the psychological certainty of being able to block a resolution if you truly oppose it that makes consensus possible”. Besides, as Anderson writes, “the alchemy of the Union is to achieve unanimity through the threat of majority.”

In the end, while an independent European defence industry and foreign policy may very well seem prudent in the current geopolitical context, Von der Leyen’s approach is not. At present, her rhetoric and actions do little more than mimic the kind of stale neoconservatism favoured by some in Washington. She does not seek to articulate her own vision or supply a real alternative, but rather aims to fill the theoretical vacuum left by a withdrawing US with the fading empire’s own logic.

“Her rhetoric and actions do little more than mimic the kind of stale neoconservatism favoured by some in Washington.”

Yet the muscular approach to defence also serves a more self-interested political purpose. Ahead of this June’s European Parliamentary elections, Von der Leyen is courting the European Right. This marks a departure from 2019, when she was regarded as something of a CDU liberal. Back then, she championed gender issues, such as childcare for working mothers, as well as green policies. Come June, however, it is the populist Right who are projected to prosper.

Significantly, Von der Leyen is only making overtures to a specific segment of the European Right: the faction that is pro-Nato. The dividing line here is clear, with Von der Leyen criticising the AfD, Marine Le Pen, and Geert Wilders of the Identity and Democracy group (ID), but embracing members of the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), which includes Giorgia Meloni’s Brothers of Italy and Poland’s PiS. There is little substantively different between the two groups on anything other than Nato: the ID is critical of the alliance, while the ECR is comprised of some of its most ardent supporters.

For those on the hard-Right now embracing Nato, the adoption of an Atlanticist foreign policy makes a certain sense: it offers a sort of purifying absolution, and a ticket to the political mainstream. Consider the Sweden Democrats and the Finns (formerly the True Finns), both now members of the ECR. Both parties were once against Nato membership, but dropped their opposition in recent years as it became clear power was on the horizon. Sweden’s centre-right coalition relies on support from the Sweden Democrats for its majority in parliament, while the Finns are now part of the conservative governing coalition. In both cases, a sufficiently pro-Nato stance is political gold dust; all other supposed principles and values, it would seem, are negotiable.

And crucially, this runs both ways. In recent months, as the two became cosy, Von der Leyen has embraced Meloni’s hardline stance on immigration: last year, the pair travelled to Tunisia to reach an agreement on limiting migrant departures and toured the migrant reception centre on Lampedusa together. Both trips embodied a shift at the heart of the EU — that, as segments of the populist Right move towards the mainstream on foreign policy, the centre is sliding to the Right on most other matters, particularly migration.

Just like Von der Leyen, then, the EU as a whole is a creature of ideological plasticity, constantly mirroring developments on the other side of the Atlantic. Over in the US, a nation bracing for its own election, many of the liberals who once decried “kids in cages” as evidence of Trump’s fascism now support bipartisan proposals to beef up border security in return for continued military aid for Ukraine. A less boring EU thus seems to be a more American one, ruled by an imperious queen taking her cues from Washington. In pursuit of a bloc that has “learned to speak the language of power”, Von Der Leyen risks slowly turning a bureaucratic peace project into a prisoner of its own militarism.


Lily Lynch is a writer and journalist based in Belgrade.


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A D Kent
A D Kent
3 months ago

Shame you didn’t go back an extra generation for VDL’s heritage . It’s as unsavory as it is unsurprising. She is as corrupt as the institution that she allegedly serves.

Oh and Dressage is the most pointless pursuit ever dreampt up by mankind. I tried it once, but was disqualified for over use of the whip.

michael harris
michael harris
3 months ago
Reply to  A D Kent

Please fill us in about the previous generation, A.D.

Andrew F
Andrew F
3 months ago
Reply to  A D Kent

Is dressage (in Nazi uniforms) and whip something guy in charge of Formula 1 did?
I did not know Ursula was into kinky stuff.
I think now she is well suited for her role.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  A D Kent

Oh and Dressage is the most pointless pursuit ever dreampt up by mankind“.
I won’t have that! It’s Rugby League! 

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
3 months ago

So, the German Empire vs.the Russian Empire Round 3 approaches.
Britain would be well advised to remain on the sidelines this time. Regrettably Britain’s rulers like to strut the world stage, and “lead by example” which always ends in the British populace suffering and becoming poorer. Naturally, not the case for the rulers.

Alan Thorpe
Alan Thorpe
3 months ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

The British were put on the side-lines by WWII. I have just watched the PSB channel documentary about FDR. It makes it clear that Roosevelt and Stalin ignored Churchill and co-operated to get what they wanted and neither cared about what happened to Europe. FDR apparently said Churchill was drunk from breakfast on and that was our problem.

Andrew F
Andrew F
3 months ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

Whether Churchill was drunk or not is irrelevant.
Big Three was really Big 2.5 by the time of Yalta conference or even earlier.
USA provided finance and equipment and Russia cannon fodder.
Britain was just big aircraft carrier of coast of Europe by 1944.
Yes, without uk resisting in summer 1940 after fall of France, liberation of Western Europe would not had happened.
That is why pathetic French winging is so ennoying.

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew F

I believe the phrase is ” Britain provided time, America the treasure and Russia the blood”.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
3 months ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

America has always been the arch manipulator.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Carl Valentine

‘We’ taught ‘em and they learnt well.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

That is FAR too generous to the UK. In reality we were an irrelevance, and a rather conceited one at that.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew F

Fortunately as both the CIGS* supposed and ‘Ultra’ intercepts confirmed we were NOT the target for 1940 but merely a distraction to hoodwink Joseph Stalin.
Astonishingly it actually worked!

POSTED AT 0903 GMT and immediately SIN BINNED. Wonderful!!!

(Chief of the Imperial General Staff.)

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
3 months ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

Hi Alan, that all makes sense. Can you tell me what the programme was called, I would like to watch it. Thanks

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Alan Thorpe

Drunkenness was irrelevant, it was lack of intellect that was ALWAYS the problem.

Citizen Diversity
Citizen Diversity
3 months ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

Monnet and Salter would be horrified.
There was always a myth of peace that hung about the EU’s claims for itself. The sort of war that was fought between 1914 and 1918 needed huge amounts of coal and steel. The European Coal and Steel Community was a post Second World War creation. No use in preventing a war between Nato and the Warsaw Pact.
Now that there is a European war likened to the one that featured battles such as Verdun, Mother Europe’s intentions, if correctly stated here, have a certain pragmatism.
The EU referendum occurred on the centenary commemoration of the battles of the Somme and Verdun.

Andrew F
Andrew F
3 months ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

No idea why you got so many upvotes?
Probably from people who don’t know recent history?
Whether it was ww1 or ww2 Britain could not allow Germany to dominate Europe.
Because it would become German (or Russian after ww2) colony in the next 10 to 20 years.

Michael Cazaly
Michael Cazaly
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew F

True enough…the correct response to both was to allow both to tear each other apart and then take advantage of it…

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
3 months ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

Agreed, Churchill screwed us big time. Maybe one of the reasons he lost power after WW2.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Carl Valentine

He got back in 1951!

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Michael Cazaly

Exactly!
The traditional method of British warfare, at least up until the catastrophe of 1914.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew F

And now we are all American vassals… Maybe better keeping it local?

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew F

And so we have become an American ‘colony’, is that really preferable?

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
3 months ago

Wow. This is deeply incisive as well as beautifully balanced and crafted, and of course compelling. We are indeed governed by a new Louis XVI, complete with a similar vision of liberalism. Perhaps with a similar outcome, things being as they are.

David Harris
David Harris
3 months ago

“We are indeed governed by a new Louis XVI…”
We aren’t, but they are.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago

Surely you mean LOUIS XIV?

Andrew F
Andrew F
3 months ago

No, he is correct.
Under Louis XIV France was great power.
Under Louis XVI, it looked great but rotten to the core.
Then we had Corsican midget who run France into the ground and allowed rise of Prussia.
The rest, as we know…

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew F

I was thinking of “L’État, c’est moi”.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew F

I was think more along the lines of: “L’État, c’est moi”.

Incidentally I would maintain that under Louis XIV France was THE great power and remained so even after its victory in the somewhat debilitating War of the Spanish Succession.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrew F

midgit? Do you know anything about French history and Napoleon’s legacy to modern France? He picked up a country in agony after the Revolution and created all of our main institutions that have held France up to this day. Please review your text.

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
3 months ago

No mention of her incompetence as German Defence Minister.

D Glover
D Glover
3 months ago

No mention either of the astonishing rise of our own Catherine Ashton (now Baroness Ashton) to ‘High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy’ without having been a diplomat or ever being elected by any voters to any office.

Peter B
Peter B
3 months ago
Reply to  D Glover

One of Gordon Brown’s many “top picks” for high office (honourable mentions also to Jacqui Smith, Harriet Harman, Andy Burnham, Hazel Blears, Andrew Adonis, Dawn Primarolo, David Lammy, Dawn Butler, …).
As they say, first rate people hire first rate people …

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
3 months ago

Ernst Albrecht wasn’t just a civil servant in the nascent EU. After studying, he basically walked into the position of Chef de Cabinet at the Commission, head of department. An unusually immediate career progression for most, but not for an Albrecht. His daughter has benefited from that same luckiness for career progression, and so too her siblings. They are a hĂŒbsche (noble) family that have been so remarkably flexible as to prosper under all of Germany’s governments, all of them.

We mustn’t visit the sins of the family on the children. Except of course if those sins are nepotism and oligarchy. If one looks at the early Commission, it was almost entirely a job creation scheme for continental European blue bloods such was the strong presence of the old hĂŒbsche families. Ernst Albrecht was a suitable recruit.

You don’t have to speculate how the new Commission saw themselves. One Ernst Albrecht published a book setting out the grand philosophy for how Europe was going to be run. He was going to try and put this into action almost immediately after another vertiginous rise through the ranks of his new political career to become president of Lower Saxony in 1976. In the late 1990s, I first (scan) read his book because it was on the reading list for those looking at a career with the Commission, so hardly an insignificant book.

Titled “Der Staat, Idee und Wirklichkeit. GrundzĂŒge einer Staatsphilosophie” (The State, Idea and Reality: Outlines of a Political Philosophy), Ernst explains in the highest of high German how people like him need to rule over people like you and I for the greater good. It would be generous to call it paternalistic, I’d call it thinly disguised aristocratic chauvinism. It has some eye-opening things to say (although it isn’t very quotable because of the awful plodding language used) including this gem: “autocracy or the rule of the few creates a better order than rule by the people”.

And that is pretty much how he ruled Lower Saxony. He created a personal fiefdom from a political party he had seized control of, and took great liberties with the loyalty of its voters until, after 24 years and dozens of scandals, Ernst lost his grip on power. Not least of the scandals was the public inquiry in 1986 revealing his role in a false flag operation that led to one innocent man dying in prison. Ernst did a secret deal for a close ally to lead his party in the next election but for him to stay on as president, but his patsy and his party lost anyway. He didn’t take too kindly to any of this, and nor did his family. In fact, his daughter – VDL – saw it as a personal affront by the voters to remove him. Even years later, in her finest impression of an 18th century aristocrat, she described the democratic decision to oust him and his party as a disgrace. VDL’s dismissal of democracy echo the philosophy of her fathers book.

Like her father, VDL seems utterly incongruous in an idealised autocratic governing system, let alone a democratic governing system. Her dismissal of the concerns of ordinary voters and the electoral damage she caused her party would have ended most political careers, but worse than that is the complete absence of any managerial ability. She can’t lead and she can’t manage, so by what metric was she appointed – unchallenged – to President? Even if we accept her dad’s philosophy, out of the few, why on earth her?

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
3 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Now, that history is just incredibly interesting. The pattern is one of classic liberal fascism, with which I can claim to be very particularly familiar.

Andrew Boughton
Andrew Boughton
3 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Now, that is deeply interesting. You might find this national media article curious. It was actually from a draft book proposal created in 2005, shared with some people in DC. https://www.smh.com.au/business/three-cheers-for-the-ideals-of-guided-capitalism-20090703-d7qw.html

N Satori
N Satori
3 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Rather intrigued by your translation of hĂŒbsche as noble – a more literal and common translation of the word is pretty or perhaps charming – I made a quick Google search for HĂŒbsche Familien which revealed details of a social class below and rather despised by German aristocracy. An English equivalent might be the old established upper middle classes or the professional classes.

I assume the false flag operation you mention was the Celle Loch plot where the German secret services bungled a prison break which was set up to look like the work of the Red Army Faction. The escapee would have been Sigurd Debus. He died as a result of his ten week hunger strike (Google search again). Is that the death you refer to?

I must admit that the rather lofty idea “autocracy or the rule of the few creates a better order than rule by the people” did not leave me shaking with either rage or fear. It is actually an idea worth discussing – especially when we see that rule by the people has become more of a pious hope than a political reality.

Nell Clover
Nell Clover
3 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

Yes, the translation is not exact and describes what they became. They’re more than the English new money industrialists, who for the most part stayed out or governing.? More a new nobility because money *and* power eventually flowed their way and they formed a new dynastic elite.

Yes, Debus. Albrecht’s plotters planted evidence in his cell, evidence that would have seen him not leave prison before he was an old man. We now know he was utterly innocent, so we can very easily imagine why he felt compelled to appeal to the public by hunger strike against a state that was abusing its powers. As it was, it still took years to reveal what Albrecht had conspired with others to do.

Where is the rule by the people? Today I sit in the UK with a legislative programme entirely different to the last manifesto led by a man who wasn’t even elected by his party. The next government will win a majority without a meaningful manifesto. Throughout, uninterrupted, the civil service develops policies and then babysits its ministers (who will be gone in 18 months anyway) to push the legislation through parliament. This arrangement has got stronger after each election since 1970. My type of person has only had the franchise since 1918 and despite all of the preceding issues, for UK citizens this has been the very pinnacle of freedom and human development. We can look at all the cesspits of the world to see where fully autocratic government gets ordinary people.

N Satori
N Satori
3 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Has rule by the people evolved (devolved?) into rule by factions, by pressure groups and especially by the pernicious influence of those ever-righteous activists so sure of their moral authority that they see no need to tolerate dissent or even debate?

Perhaps the system of democracy that originated in the small city state of Athens 2.5 millennia ago is no longer a realistic system of governance for the enormous mass societies of our developed world.

Judging by the uninspiring choices that face Britain and America in the forthcoming elections (not to mention how the nations will actually be governed whichever side wins) democracy in its current forms is proving to be deeply unsatisfactory. What alternative is there? God knows! But we should at least begin to put our best minds to the task.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
3 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

Ugh. This never works because the benevolent dictator, or the enlightened autocracy, is inevitably replaced by the opposite. People forget that China really was opening up and becoming more free during the early days of 2000 – until Xi took over.

John Riordan
John Riordan
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

This is the thing most people never get about the EU – it might be all rainbow flags and hands-across-the-water now, but once the transfer of power is complete it will inevitably end up run by the sort of people who ought to be in straitjackets instead of holding any power over the lives of others.

This is why democracy – the messy, never perfect, and sometimes downright infuriating system we’ve learned the hard way shouldn’t be messed with – remains the winning formula to date. And I predict that as long as the levers of government power are pulled by humans at all, it’ll remain the best system. Only when the government is run completely automatically by a system to which the concept of power is meaningless, will democracy become superfluous.

B M
B M
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Benevolent dictators are mostly benevolent to themselves.

Kerry Davie
Kerry Davie
3 months ago
Reply to  B M

‘Benevolent dictator’ may well be the archetypal oxymoron. But you’re right: the benevolence usually runs in a quite particular direction.

N Satori
N Satori
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Thanks for the knee-jerk response but I was hoping for something better.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
3 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

That’s totally fair NS. I agree that democracy has been largely hijacked by the bureaucracy, interest groups and NGOs, many funded by govt itself. I’m willing to discuss the evolving nature of democracy. Didn’t mean to be dismissive of a thoughtful comment.

Simon Blanchard
Simon Blanchard
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

I agree that democracy has been hijacked but your list missed out capital.

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Quite. Democracy is, as Churchill pointed out, ‘the worst possible sort of government, apart from all the others’.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
3 months ago
Reply to  Coralie Palmer

That is rich coming from Churchill, who was a disaster for our country and who’s decisions ensured Britains future poverty and loss of status, and of course brought US hegemony! The man was a fool.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
3 months ago
Reply to  Carl Valentine

Thank you historian Valentine for that inspired analysis. Not! That’s a truly ridiculous remark. Churchill had many flaws, but he was reason – together with a few noble people in his own and the Labour parties – who ensured this country did not become a vassal state of the Third Reich. France certainly did so.

So, you do everything you can to win the war including begging or borrowing from the Americans – or go under. That was the polarised choice in 1940.

It was certainly not Churchill’s fault that Hitler wasn’t crushed a few years earlier when Germany was militarily much weaker than Britain and France. He was warning against the rise of the Nazi tyranny when very few others wanted to either hear this – or more importantly – do anything about it, which includes the many guilded clever idiots at the University of Oxford!

As for the dreaded “American hegemony” – whose hegemony would you rather have? Theirs, the Soviets, the German National Socialists or the Chinese?

Andrew F
Andrew F
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim Veenbaas

Keep dreaming.
China was just playing longer game.
But still having the same plan: to dominate the world.
Nothing wrong with that from their perspective.
Shame that idiots like Kissinger and American Presidents following his blueprint allow China rise.

Andrew Fisher
Andrew Fisher
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew F

ClichĂ©. China didn’t appear to be “playing any sort of “long game” as under Mao it either slaughtered our staff millions of its own citizens and destroying vast amounts of Chinese cultural heritage.

The jury is still out on whether China can become the world hegemon. For a start its internal culture is far less attractive than the American one still is to outsiders. What happens when China starts having its soldiers being killed by islamist extremists for example in various parts of the world? It will have to increasingly take on the difficult role that the United States has had in protecting international infrastructure. Will it do any better than the United States? The Chinese reputation in Africa is already pretty poor, and represents almost a caricature of the worst kind of colonial attitudes. There are major structural and economic issues, and the general point on autocracy, which is that the autocrat becomes surrounded by yes men. But it’s true that West seems to be going through terrible period of self-destructiveness so we will have to see.

Katalin Kish
Katalin Kish
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew F

How exactly do you propose to stop China?
Have you noticed: Western countries hate themselves, degrade their heroes, disenfranchise their own children with gusto.

Dermot O'Sullivan
Dermot O'Sullivan
3 months ago
Reply to  N Satori

autocracy or the rule of the few creates a better order than rule by the people

This phrase (using Google) comes from The World Socialist Web Site and may be unreliable. I’m not saying Albrecht didn’t say it but I would prefer a verifiable source.

John Riordan
John Riordan
3 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – you should be writing articles for Unherd, not commenting beneath them.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
3 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Wow. Well informed, much revealing comment. My spidey senses were triggered when the author noted her family fortune was made in silk – fricking silk!! How old is this old money?

Derek Smith
Derek Smith
3 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

I guessed that there was a lot more to VDL’s father than what was reported in this article.

Thank you Nell for your deeper dive. These people are terribly predictable.

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
3 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

I believe her Ilk – the ones who are taking the world to a hellish dystopia – I mean she is likely the puppet of the actual Cabal, Like Biden Trudeau, Sunak and so on – but I believe they are demons of Biblical proportions, although perhaps lesser ones under the true devils who remain hidden.

They met the Devil and sold their soul for power. She is the very face of evil.

Kevin Godwin
Kevin Godwin
3 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

What metric? she spoke near fluent french which endeared herself to Macron.

Andrew F
Andrew F
3 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

Great post, I knew only some of the angles.
Let’s remember though, that VDL only got through selection process because she promised to respect some red lines that PiS drew.
She promised and then renaged.
That is politics, so nothing new here.
Problem is that failing national politicians like her get promoted into EU top jobs, so they don’t interfere in real politics.
Which is pseudo alliance between French president and German Chancellor.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
3 months ago
Reply to  Nell Clover

You must be old, Nell, but.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
3 months ago

I see VdL’s appointment through a slightly different lens, this article is far too diplomatic about it. She was heaved into her current position in a spectacular spit-in-the-eye for European voters promised “more democracy” before the last election, with repeated assertions that the Commission President would be chosen according to the Spitzenkandidat-process. She was palatable to Macron and Merkel had an opportunity to get rid of probably the worst defence minister Germany ever had.
The way VdL acts is based on the knowledge that no matter how anti-democratic the EU is, no country will ever leave again. Her very appointment is proof that voter sentiment means absolutely nothing in Brussels and this is simply getting more brazen as time goes on.
Look at the unfreezing of EU funds for Poland recently. Until now, payment of some of those funds were made conditional on the judiciary reforms introduced by the PiS government being reversed: the money would only flow once the changes had been made. Now Donald Tusk (strangely a mate of Uschi) is in office, those requirements were suddenly dropped and Poland got the money based on mere assurances from Tusk that the changes will be implemented. There is no guarantee at all he’ll be able to do that.
Whatever happened behind closed doors, the optics of this are absolutely dreadful and confirms voters’ worst impressions of the EU. And irony is: this apparent political nepotism – a sort of corruption, really – is happening as part of a rule of law procedure against Poland.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

She was palatable to Macron and Merkel had an opportunity to get rid of probably the worst defence minister Germany ever had.
Plus, she replaced Jean-Claude Juncker, the most repulsive politician in Europe, so she only needed to be better than him to look good.

Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
3 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Trans nationalist organizations like the EU and UN are enemies of democracy.

Coralie Palmer
Coralie Palmer
3 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

I wouldn’t call it a sort of corruption. I’d just call it corruption.

Andrew F
Andrew F
3 months ago
Reply to  Katharine Eyre

Great post as usual.
Yes, people forget that Van Der Lier promised more EU democracy to countries like Poland.
That is why PiS was inclined to have her as EU leader over supposedly more “centralising” candidate.
You comments about so called abuse of judicial process in Poland are correct.
Appointment of judges process was never part of EU treaties.
It was always prerogative of countries.
What PiS proposed in Poland is the same process which is in place in Germany and Spain.
Problem is not the process, but whether judicial decisions are aligned with what Germany and France wants.
As Chirac told Polish PM many years ago:
You should be happy to be in EU and do as you are told.

Jonathan Nash
Jonathan Nash
3 months ago

It will be interestingto see whether the peoples of Europe vote for her when she stands for a second term. Oh, wait…

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

Unfortunately, we, the people of Europe, won’t be voting to elect the European Commission. The Commission is appointed by the Member States’ governments, but needs the approval of the European Parliament to take office. We will, however, be voting in elections to the EP in June.

Andrew F
Andrew F
3 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Reality is:
1) turnout in EU elections is abysmal.
2) no one knows who their EU mp is (great for EU beaurocracy).
3) all this elected Euro mps have no legislative initiative.
They are just rubber stamp for Fourth Reich (sorry EU).
Apart from that why don’t we like it?

Kerry Davie
Kerry Davie
3 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan Nash

“Oh, wait…..” indeed!

Peter B
Peter B
3 months ago

Nonsense.
The EU and Von der Leyen are incapable of organising and running anything efficiently. So zero chance they can produce a coherent, credible and strong military and defence policy and defence forces.
These people are talkers. Not doers.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Maybe, but if they can increase military spending, and arms production, then that is a start. Western Europe will be at war with Russia soon enough.

Peter B
Peter B
3 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

You are more optimistic than me about the efficiency of EU defence spending. 1 Euro of any EU backed defence budget probably translates into 10c of frontline military capability. Plus a massive time lag before any of that happens. Timescales for developing and building defence kit are legendarily slow (except in real emergencies like the Falklands War) and the EU approach isn’t going to improve the batting average here.
It is far more likely this will end up as a state support operation for EU defence industries to “protect jobs”.

Simon Phillips
Simon Phillips
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Given von der Leyen’s infamous track record of procurement whilst German Defence Minister, this is only going one way.

Andrew F
Andrew F
3 months ago
Reply to  Simon Phillips

Yes, but she was just doing what Soviet agent Merkel wad ordering her to do.
It is amazing how all the remainers on here and other forums suddenly forgot this amazing German politician, Merkel?
The same in uk with useless cow in Scotland.

Mike Downing
Mike Downing
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

Surely this is a belated attempt to correct some of the deindustrialisation caused by the net zero nonsense.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

I’m not that optimistic about it, but the EU is richer than Russia, and has a greater population than Russia, so there is at least some hope. It could do with some more nukes though. It would be unwise to rely on the French. Anyway, the Ukraine war has taught us that Russian military procurement is hardly “best practice”.

Kerry Davie
Kerry Davie
3 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Except Russia is a country; the EU, whatever it professes to be, is not.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  Kerry Davie

It doesn’t matter whether it is a country or not. What is important is that it has factories to build weapons.

Peter B
Peter B
3 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

You can’t have nukes run by committee. It’s the ultimate real time problem. No way the EU can ever make such a decision in the seconds available.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter B

I am not saying the EU would operate the nukes. I am saying that more countries in the EU would have nukes. With Britain’s departure, there is only one, and (unfortunately) it’s the French.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago

Yet this dullness is integral to the union’s purpose as a peace project. 
And here was me thinking that its purpose was as a free trade zone.

R Wright
R Wright
3 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

‘Ever closer union’

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  R Wright

That was only post-Maastricht. It started out as a free trade zone. If it had stayed one, Britain would probably still be in.

Kerry Davie
Kerry Davie
3 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

And when it reverts to one, and only that, Britain could well come back in. It’s delusions of empire grandeur and all encompassing self image will (hopefully) eventually trip it up.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
3 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

If you know your history you’ll know that it aimed to secure peace by free trade. If they secure the free flow of goods (e.g. coal and steel) across borders subject to mutually agreed terms there will be less need to invade to procure those goods as European countries had done for the entirety of their histories.
We take free trade for granted now but it is a relatively recent phenomenon. We’ve been hearing a lot recently the aphorism “when goods don’t cross borders, Soldiers will”. We reinstate these barriers at our peril.

Hugh Bryant
Hugh Bryant
3 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

That’s a slightly rose-tinted view of a project that was, and still is, basically about maintaining Napoleonic dirigisme in the face of the ‘anglo Saxon’ democracy imposed under the Marshall Plan. Read the Monnet-Spaak correspondence.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

That “European Peace Project” was always laughable. The British could never take it seriously.

Andrew F
Andrew F
3 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

It was not about free flow of goods but about cross share holding of assets.
So, there was no point in bombing factory which was part owned by you.
Your extrapolation from that to war in Europe is melodramatic.
What about helping Ukraine win its war?

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
3 months ago

Ursula Underhand Liar is just the latest in a long march of ego-driven, self-deceived politicians, mindlessly pounding the ground towards a chimerical Ever Closer Union.

As this pied piper leads Europe to war in the name of peace, telling lies in the name of truth, she goes on playing the twee little tune of “the flight of bureaucracy in to history”, harder and louder. But the crowds are becoming disenchanted with her false, hollow promises of salvation from epidemics, and of equity and justice. They know freedom isn’t slavery to her flimsy, utopian narratives. They are turning away, their attention captured by the sight of her big, neglected palace, built on sand in high hopes of a brighter future seventy or more years ago, finally conceding its debts to nature, and gradually falling down, brick-by-brick, and beam-by-beam.

The crowd, in its wisdom, knows that sooner or later the structure will suffer a final precipitous collapse, enveloping its innocent, delusional residents. Ursula Underhand Liar’s false beliefs will bump up against solid reality, most likely on a battlefield. But no-one can tell how much suffering will, in the mean time, be inflicted by this reality-denying autocratic aristocrat. Who gets to choose the siren tunes to be played after it all does come crashing down?

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

Very rookie to confuse the pied piper and siren metaphors. You need to revise your hyperbole and bombast notes.

Andrew F
Andrew F
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

While I voted for Brexit, idea that EU would just collapse is delusional.
It is more like ideological, quasi religious project.
Till it suits Germany and France, it will carry on regardless of economic inconsistencies.
It took 30 years war in 17th century to sort out new order of Europe.
Let’s hope it is not that again.

Stephen Feldman
Stephen Feldman
3 months ago

She is now Euro-Tyrant

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago

I was never that keen on her, but if she is standing up to Russia, she has gone up in my estimation.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 months ago

There is nothing whatsoever special about von der Leyen, she is a typical and bog-standard product of EU horse-trading, compromises where you invariably end up not picking the best candidates, but instead pick significantly less able people (but more politically savvy) because they are acceptable to a much wider range of technocrats and bureaucrats. Nor is there any evidence that she would have the first clue about doing a competent job of managing the militarisation of Europe in the face of geopolitical threats to the east – people surely haven’t forgotten the sequence of COVID vaccine procurement fiascos, so I wouldn’t say logistics of that type are her strong point. Which begs the question, what are her strong points? Well, I would say she is the Jim Hacker of EU politics, which is about the best that can be said of von der Leyen.

Sherry Hallmond
Sherry Hallmond
3 months ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Checkout family connections in USA/Germany?

Peter O'Dwyer
Peter O'Dwyer
3 months ago

Ursula Von Der Leyen was one of the first sensible German defence ministers in recent times. In my view, she is a very good politician and diplomat. Fortunately for Europe, she happens to be in the right place at the right time.
Cometh the hour, cometh the woman.
She does have a slight blip on her CV, in that she was caught massively plagiarising her thesis for a PhD.
However, in this context, I worked in Germany for many years and knew many other chaps and lassies who did exactly the same. Because having a “Doktor” in front of your name is a right of passage to higher echelons of politics and industry in Germany, and almost obligatory if you want to succeed, cheating is almost ubiquitous.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
3 months ago
Reply to  Peter O'Dwyer

Please tell me you are being satirical….

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
3 months ago

Von der liar is everything that is wrong with the European Union.
She makes me shudder.

Simon Boudewijn
Simon Boudewijn
3 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

Like Boris – she is pure evil behind a mask. No less evil than Hi* ler, only she is not out to make her race a super power like Hi* ler because he wanted their success – she is out to make all mankind slaves to the demonic elite, and thus is even worse than him.

She is one of CS Lewis’s ‘That Hideous Strength’. They are all in the West.

Andrew F
Andrew F
3 months ago

I am happy to listen to your explanation why Boris is evil?
Clever but lazy, unfaithful to his wifes or girlfriends, incapable of being effective PM, but evil?
What about Tony Blair then?

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew F

Boris was ok. He had real talent, although it did not extend to administration.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
3 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

Talent my ar*se! What he spoke Latin? give me a break, he was a narcissistic fool and unpleasant, and evil yes, he encouraged the Ukrainian war to continue with countless further loss of life.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  Carl Valentine

If it is indeed true that he encouraged Ukraine to remain at war with Russia, that is another reason to like him.

Carl Valentine
Carl Valentine
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew F

They were both disingenuous

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
3 months ago

Good job we’re out!

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
3 months ago

Those ‘kids in cages’ which the author says people attributed to Trump’s doing, was actually an Obama move – Obama built those cages and deported more illegal immigrants than has any modern President including Trump – about 3 million. The American Left is opportunistic and hardly rational.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
3 months ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

Obama deported, yes. Plenty of evidence about that. Where’s the evidence about the cages? Saying so does not make it so.

Andrew F
Andrew F
3 months ago
Reply to  Cathy Carron

I did not know that.
So it was Obama one real achievement, would not you say?

Richard C
Richard C
3 months ago

Pretty much a ridiculous article from start to finish. A complete waste of time except for the comments, notably from Nell Clover, which were much better than the actual article.

JR Stoker
JR Stoker
3 months ago

Sleeps in a modest 25square metre room? Are you being sarcastic?

Andrew F
Andrew F
3 months ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

No, it missed the zero or two on the end.
But probably right size for the German military ammunition storage…

Kerry Davie
Kerry Davie
3 months ago
Reply to  JR Stoker

That probably includes the en-suite, yoga room, and meditation nook.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
3 months ago

I can certainly see why a Trump second term would be considered a threat by the EU. He told them that the US is sick to death of paying for their defense and they needed to honor their obligations or make some very painful discoveries.
As for us Americans, we enjoyed four years of peace, a secure border, a good economy, energy independence, and a return of manufacturing to our nation. If Trump manages to survive what the political establishment is clearly setting him up for, he will win in a landslide.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago

Hopefully he doesn’t survive it then.

Andrew F
Andrew F
3 months ago

Problem with your analysis (or wish?) is that countries most likely to suffer Russian aggression, like Baltic States or Poland pay already more than 2% of GDP into military budget.
People who don’t are clowns Russian apeasers like France and Germany.
Which, somehow talk about European Strategic Independence.
Total joke.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew F

I can’t speak about France, but the fact that Germany has until recently been so accommodating towards Russia must be laid squarely at the feet of Gerhard Schroeder.

Kerry Davie
Kerry Davie
3 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

But when was he last running the place? Something like almost 20 years’ ago?

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  Kerry Davie

Yeah, he left office in 2005, and he’s he’s spent the time since sucking up to Putin.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
3 months ago

The greatly admired, much loved and saintly President of the Commission, our Ursula, was sadly, a veritable disaster as German defence minister, and just about avoided a parliamentary enquiry at the end of her ignominious tenure, a fact which, fortunately, is discreetly overlooked today. All committed Europeans rejoice that she is the chosen one, and give thanks to Merkel and Macron for imposing her rule on us.

Abe Stamm
Abe Stamm
3 months ago

I don’t understand the title of this article, ” The EU’s American Queen “? Without doing a lick of research, I can confidently claim that 99%, but probably closer to 99.6% of Americans have absolutely no idea who Ursula von der Leyen is. The vast majority of Americans could care less what the function of the EU is, or who it serves. We’re a nation-centric country…and while we’re certainly cognizant of EU members: France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands, as a whole Americans have only a vague awareness when it comes to: the Republic of Cyprus, Croatia, Malta, Slovakia and Slovenia.
In short, von der Leyen isn’t an American Queen…at best she’s a puppet of the U.S. Military Industrial Complex. If she’s positioning the EU to become militarized, the majority of contracts for armaments will have “Made in the U.S.A” stamped on them…or she can kiss her reelection goodbye. Importantly, the EU doesn’t form a military industrial machine without NATO…and the U.S. controls NATO, whether Europeans like it or not.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  Abe Stamm

That may be right, but if it is, it is, then it is time that the EU formed its own military industrial machine.

Brian Doyle
Brian Doyle
3 months ago

No mention whatsoever of the huge elephant in the room CHINA
who last week by way of a Unnamed Foreign office spokesman ( which means it had President Xi,s approval )
This message was immediately sent in response to last week’s EU parliament
Which has no power to pass legislation
However they issued a statement regards China/ Taiwan
Whereby it stated that Both China and Taiwan had equal rights
This is a complete contradiction of The long standing UN and International position of The One China Policy

China warned that such statements were
Dangerously close to China’s Red line on
It’s Sovereign territory of which Tawain

And it’s waters are Chinese
China clearly stated that to continue with
Such statements and policies Then would have the gravest of consequences for EU / Chinese relations and if adopted
Then major conflict is guaranteed
There is a Old Chinese proverb
‘ Those that Play with Fire end up being burnt ‘

Over to you Von Der Leyen
I detect a whiff of buring flesh here

JOHN CAMPBELL
JOHN CAMPBELL
3 months ago
Reply to  Brian Doyle

Not poetry, just bad English.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  Brian Doyle

Taiwan has been an independent country for three quarters of a century. It is time the world just accepted that fact. Appeasing China has got us nowhere good.

Andrew F
Andrew F
3 months ago
Reply to  Brian Doyle

Do you believe that China cares what EU has to say about Taiwan, never mind pointlessEU Parliament?
What China cares about is USA willingness to defend Taiwan.
Then, you might argue that Taiwan willingness to defend itself is critical.
Does anyone believe that USA is going to allow Taiwan technology to fall into Chinese hand intact?

Lone Wulf
Lone Wulf
3 months ago

“In the end, while an independent European defence industry and foreign policy may very well seem prudent in the current geopolitical context, Von der Leyen’s approach is not.”
Really? As German defence minister she supported day care for soldier children, sank millions in the renovation of an old sailing ship the Gorch Fock and spent more tax payer money on consulting than tanks and ammunition. The Queen must go!

Dick Barrett
Dick Barrett
3 months ago

If the Eu evolves in the direction charted here by Lynch, with or without the Neo-Nazi Von Der Leyen at its head, then Ireland will have no choice but to consider leaving the EU.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  Dick Barrett

Goodbye and good luck!

Andrew F
Andrew F
3 months ago
Reply to  Dick Barrett

And what happens then to Ireland money laundering racket, so far tolerated by EU?

Hazel Gazit
Hazel Gazit
3 months ago

Let’s not forget that as German Minister of Defence, she was an unmitigated disaster. If she’s angling for war, shall I start investing in broom handles? Like all civil servants, she was just promoted to a higher level of incompetency.

JĂŒrg Gassmann
JĂŒrg Gassmann
3 months ago

Von der Leyen is not breaking taboos – she is breaking the law.

Arthur King
Arthur King
3 months ago

Russia is facing a serious demographic winter that will eventually implode his federation. Stall for time, give him the Russian provinces in the Ukraine.

D Glover
D Glover
3 months ago
Reply to  Arthur King

The Russians are stealing Ukrainian children to augment their population. They get ’em young and raise them Russian.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  D Glover

That is very cruel. Imagine the indignity of being forced to grow up Russian.

Pip G
Pip G
3 months ago

UvL seems to be someone who gets things done, and -while I do not know the approach of any other candidates – can safely be re-elected.

Her approach to Defence, NATO, filling any vacuum left by USA disengagement, and immigration seems sensible.

The opaqueness of laws and decision making in the EU applies to all aspects of the EU. Single nation veto -v- Qualified Majority may make individual member states uneasy, but QMV will stop members such as Hungary defeating the common will.

This leaves the position of the UK. We too must improve our defence procurement rules and join in pooled design and production of weapons: to reduce costs and benefit from common products within NATO.

Dennis Learad
Dennis Learad
3 months ago

Despicable parasite not fit for purpose, dunderhead unelected lap dog for the USA Warmonger. The French the British the Germans the Dutch the Italians ALL good at bombing and killing innocent men women and children in countries that cannot fight back or retaliate. Let’s see when missiles fall on London, Paris, Frankfurt, Milan, Amsterdam?? because you dunderheads will have some explaining to do to your citizens, you will be entering the big league. You fools will be cannon fodder for the USA Warmonger unless they want to put troops on the ground and send missiles to Russia then add Washington or New York for some missile damage. You all know this is a PROXY WAR for the USA and the EU and the UK are puppies and way out of your league. WHY countries still want to be members of the corrupt foul Brussels Club hi-lites the mentality of UK and European governments. The “EU” produces NOTHING!! it sells NOTHING!! it makes not one Euro NOTHING!! It is a Government without a COUNTRY!! It TAXES the EU fools; it spends and enjoys the fruits of the EU Countries labour. If the penny has not already dropped for you it is called WORTHLESS!! It is a PARASITE bleeding the EU Countries DRY of Money!! but more important it takes away your NATIONHOOD your PRIDE and most of all your INDEPENDENCE and SOVEREINTY!!

Red Reynard
Red Reynard
3 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Learad

I’m going to guess that you’re not from here, from Europe, I mean. Because if you were, the penny would have dropped – the UK is not a member of the EU.
Of course it is possible your apoplectic outburst caused your frenzied little fingers to mistype. In which case; who’s the dunderhead?
Now, I’m sure you have something to say, but a stream of consciousness invective is not the best way to go about it.
So. Take a breather, have a nice cup of tea, and try again.
All the best.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Learad

Don’t beat about the bush! Tell us what you really think!

Andrew F
Andrew F
3 months ago
Reply to  Dennis Learad

Listen retard.
Just stay away from your laptop.
Have some covid bat soup and keep reading Xi books.

William Brand
William Brand
3 months ago

Europe needs its own nuclear umbrella because America is folding its umbrella. America will no longer pay for Europe’s defense. In any case America is scheduled to be destroyed by God as per Revelation 18. Europe is scheduled to be ruled by the Antichrist. Its army is scheduled to fight China at the field of Armageddon probably in 2033.

B Emery
B Emery
3 months ago
Reply to  William Brand

If America is going to be destroyed by God and Europes going to be run by the anti christ does anybody need a nuclear umbrella?
I mean, do nukes work on vengeful God’s and antichrists?
If Europe’s going to be ruled by the anti christ also might be best to actually not then equip said antichrist with nukes, perhaps.

Red Reynard
Red Reynard
3 months ago
Reply to  William Brand

Hmm, seems a little unfair on the poor yanks; for God to destroy them. After all it would be the Europeans that have an antichrist at the helm. . . he’ll have fu**ed up the wrong people.
So much for the infallibility of God, eh.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  Red Reynard

Good point. The Americans are still generally Christian. The Europeans are abandoning Christianity in their droves.

Kerry Davie
Kerry Davie
3 months ago
Reply to  Martin M

They still believe in god though; it’s just a change of name to ‘Allah’.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  Kerry Davie

You are referring to new migrants. The people with European heritage going back a way are moving on from Christianity.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  William Brand

The best thing that Europe has going for it is that it’s leaving all this “Christianity” nonsense behind.

Andrew F
Andrew F
3 months ago
Reply to  William Brand

Can you send us stuff you are smoking?
Next big thing in IT should be mobiles and laptops with viping facility.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  William Brand

Armageddon? That’s on the M3, just East of Basingstoke, right?

William Brand
William Brand
3 months ago

Europ’s proper ruling family are the Habsburgs. Do they have a suitable Heir to the throne? Most of the family were damaged by inbreeding. A bit of genetic engineering is called for to produce a suitable prince.

Andrew F
Andrew F
3 months ago
Reply to  William Brand

Ginger t****r and failed actress are looking for a role?

William Brand
William Brand
3 months ago

In the next few years Europe is scheduled to be ruled by the Antichrist. Many believe that said individual shall be, like Jesus, a Jew of the line of David. Does this Lady qualify? Has anyone checked her genetic credentials for the office of Antichrist.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  William Brand

Jean-Claude Juncker was pretty bad, but I’m not sure he was the Antichrist.

B Emery
B Emery
3 months ago

Nato idiocracy converses with EU idiocracy on how to continue exploding the eurozone.
Sounds like they’ve got it covered.

can't buy my vote
can't buy my vote
3 months ago

The best thing one can say about the EU is they meant well.

Kerry Davie
Kerry Davie
3 months ago

The Road to Hell, and all that, eh?

Andrew Stoll
Andrew Stoll
3 months ago

I never completely trust teetotallers and vegetarians in positions of power, especially when both comes in one person. In what else might she feel holier than thou?

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Stoll

At least she hasn’t got a silly moustache like that other teetotaller vegetarian.

Carmel Shortall
Carmel Shortall
1 month ago
Reply to  Martin M

She uses Veet, fool!

Kerry Davie
Kerry Davie
3 months ago

Can we expect a ‘new broom’ then?

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
3 months ago

2019 was straightforward election fraud. Weber would also have been a much better Commission president. Ursula von der Leyen is as thick as two short planks and does not understand history or politics. The worst defense secretary in the history of Germany by a long shot. The EU is going to hell in a handcart. Driven by dogma and utopian fantasies.

Martin M
Martin M
3 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

All that might be true, but if she’s readying Europe for war with Russia, she is ok by me!

B. Libbrecht
B. Libbrecht
1 month ago

Great article. It fits with my impression that Von Der Leyen does some significant things right but not entirely, and her overall vision remains a bit of a mystery. It could have been much worse though. I think it would be hard to find a risk-less leader for the European project, but the importance of NATO cannot be overestimated in view of the threat from China, Russia, Iran.