I often express disgust on this blog at hero worship of politicians. I think it’s undignified and undemocratic and often based purely on loyalty to colour rather than the expression of preference for policy or even management style.

But in this moment of crisis when the peace we took for granted on the European continent for the entire lifetime of my parents, born after the end of World War II, is under threat, and when “heightened nuclear alert” is being used for the first time in some four decades in the polite conversation of political leaders, I don’t mind expressing gratitude to the leaders who had the foresight of leading us into the EU.

If they had sold the argument for membership at the time as a desire for peace the country would have mocked them with raspberries for highfalutin emptiness. Instead, they managed, just, to outmanoeuvre the Labour Party with narrow arguments about how much more money would flow in the country as an EU member state compared with the country outside the EU.

This is the way of the world. People don’t worry about the damage that can be caused by storms when they’re lounging on a beachside deckchair licking the sun. Consider the Brexit referendum. Even as Vladimir Putin’s oligarchs were buying out strategic properties in London like Count Dracula, even as disinformation campaigns interfered in domestic politics, even as Putin’s spies killed people with polonium and novichok on British territory, it was no use for Remain campaigners to remind voters that the EU was a force for peace. Voters weren’t thinking about war. They were thinking about making more money out of the EU than they were inside it.

Imagine for a moment we weren’t members of the EU.

The EU is arming the Ukrainians and pledging EU membership for Ukraine. They ordered Russian-owned aircraft out of European airspace, including private jets. They banned Russian propaganda TVs from broadcasting in Europe. They blanked out (some) Russian banks from the financial system. They undertook to stop granting Russians European citizenship for money. You can argue this isn’t enough and more action is justified, even action that is short of declaring war on Russia. But you can’t say that Europe has proven near as weak and divided as Vladimir Putin expected.

In a time of crisis – not an institutional deadlock, or quarrels with some Thatcherite brinkmanship on discounts from budget expenses, but a crisis of war and aggression within earshot of home – the EU stepped up. The EU showed there’s very much a point to the EU.

These measures the EU adopted were just the sort of measures that Robert Abela has been for days saying he would want to avoid, “to remain neutral”, “to make sure there’s no impact on Maltese investors”, not to do like the Nationalists and “paint Russians with the same brush”.

If Robert Abela ran a country which was outside the EU, his decisions, under the veil of neutrality, would have been an effective alliance with Russia and Putin’s war crimes.

This is not indulgence in historical speculation. This is a cold analysis of Robert Abela’s remarks over the last several days contrasted against resolute decisions taken by the EU that Robert Abela could not stop.

I know many people had hopes about joining the EU that were disappointed over time. I know people expected that when Joseph Muscat and Robert Abela behaved the way they did, someone somewhere would come down from the North and set them straight. I know some people wondered what the whole point was if an incompetent and or corrupt government could not be stopped from harming us. Perhaps a false expectation grew that told us joining the EU could save us from ourselves.

Now that it matters most, our EU membership is doing just that. In place of Robert Abela’s blubbering fudge, we are being represented by the EU which was perhaps slow to react but now that the giant has been woken, it is saying and doing the right things.

Never more than now, perhaps, is the incongruence between the national governments we elect and the path we chose 20 years ago to join the EU been as stark and as ironic. At the risk of sounding like a hero-worshipper we have Eddie Fenech Adami and his team to thank for that.