Clint Azzopardi Flores is running for the European Parliament on the Labour Party’s ticket. He’s a banker who spent time working in Malta’s embassy in Brussels. Judging by this article of his he’s also a nutcase. By that I don’t mean he’s somehow exceptional. Though to be fair these choice quotes from his analysis of the geo-political situation are rare outside the loony right.

“When NATO was created, the idea was mainly to keep the Americans in, the USSR out and Germans down.” “Ursula von der Leyen is German and so is Manfred Weber… The way they are positioning themselves, is exactly how Germans positioned themselves in the 1930s.” And again. “The way Ursula von der Leyen, Manfred Weber and all their German associates are operating within the structures of the EU is reminiscent of Germany’s political climate in the 1930s.”

“The Germans must be kept down. We do not afford to have them armed to their teeth. You can feel the 1930s nostalgia when they speak. It is actually chilling.”

This is not a joke. Nor is this from Versailles, circa 1919.

The Labour Party’s MEP candidate then proceeds to blame “the Germans” for the war in Ukraine, not the one in 1940, but the one raging right now. To sustain his arguments, he points to the pockmarked walls in his Bormla, where signs of the Second World War persist.

This is a slightly more ridiculous version of the discourse that Robert Abela has been fanning to discredit Roberta Metsola, who is not German, but who apparently is to blame for the serious security concerns we are all facing.

No one wants war, except the people who start it. It should be obvious that the invasion of Ukraine happened because Russia’s leadership wanted it to. Excusing their criminal act, like Azzopardi Flores does, is a form of complicity. Russia did not invade Ukraine because Ukraine was wearing a short skirt. It invaded Ukraine because of Russia’s naked and raw imperialism.

Understanding the intent of Russia’s leadership is not the same as warmongering. Being ready to respond to aggression with appropriate defence is a responsibility of political leaders. Spending money in defensive armaments, whether to deploy them to Ukraine or to increase capability in case the aggression comes closer to home is an unpleasant duty for any government. Ignoring the growing threat and indulging in a false sense of security is an unforgivable dereliction of duty.

If Malta wants to ignore all this and operate under the illusion that its neutrality could keep it safe, that is Malta’s choice. No one has the right to relieve us of our inward small mindedness. We can rest easy with the assumption that Russia would never bother with us. That their imperialist ambitions would never reach the middle of the Mediterranean Sea.

None of that gives us the right to undermine the efforts of the rest of Europe to protect itself. If we feel no brotherly concern for the clear and present danger faced by Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, and Romania, not to mention Moldova, and of course Ukraine, it’s because we’ve never really committed to the solidarity of European unity.

That’s fine. I can’t force Azzopardi Flores to feel anything, let alone make him understand that if he is going to make analogies with the 1930s right now, he’s comparing the Nazis with the wrong side.

I can tell him however that if he plans to use his right to access European democracy, and perhaps a seat in the European Parliament, to undermine Europe’s ability to defend itself and to side with the aggressors, he would be no better than a collaborationist quisling.

We can only hope that his cheap political rhetoric, the cynical way he exploits the ignorant prejudices of his voters, and his complete confusion between politicking in an election campaign and lying by grotesque exaggeration, will never actually have a material consequence. We can only hope the real threat of war we are facing never materialises. We can only hope Europe will never need Azzopardi Flores to prepare itself for the worst.

In his article he complains that in arguing for the preparation for war, “the Germans” have forgotten what the European project was about: in his words, “keeping the Germans down”. “Keeping the Germans down” was the solution at the end of the First World War. At the end of the Second World War, the solution was the opposite: to work together as Europeans in the spirit of mutual dependence, to open our borders to each other to share resources freely, and to create a safe area for democracy protected from those who would try to undermine it.

Azzopardi Flores does not understand this. His party doesn’t understand this. Perhaps they’re right that this country never understood it.