The Malta Independent 3 February 2023, Friday
View E-Paper

The victors of war

Alfred Sant MEP Monday, 28 November 2022, 08:00 Last update: about 3 months ago

Once, a long time ago, during a deep crisis between the US and the USSR of those days, a friend of mine asked: But if instead of pursuing the option of nuclear war, or even of a non-nuclear world war, one side or the other would just accept to surrender everything to the other side? -- which would then  take control over everything? What would happen as a result? Would the “victor” simply go on dominating the side which had surrendered? And what benefits would that give “him”?


Things did not pan out in the way he seemed to want them to go. Nobody surrendered and for decades, the threat of war -- though it stayed “cold” -- persisted. But his suggestion carried interesting implications. It seemed to convey the idea that in a total war on a global scale when one side overpowers completely the other, it will then find that the victory has changed everything in ways that keep all things like they were before.

However the problem is that most wars are started for limited reasons. Victors want to take over what they went to war for. The victory sought is one with limited consequences that the winner can control and turn into outcomes that will be of benefit to “him”.                



The authoritarian argument vis à vis governance is that democracy promotes abuses which cannot be controlled because the members of a democratic government find themselves always under threat. This is that they will lose votes if they strive to control abuses. Too often, politicians on opposite sides of the political spectrum end up competing between each other for electoral advantage according to who best promises to turn a blind eye to abuses.

Obviously, this happens. However the argument can hardly be pushed far. For in an authoritarian system abuses frequently just explode. They benefit favourites and individuals close to the inner circles of authoritarian power, which also needs their unconditional support in order to remain in control.                



In coming months, expect claims to go on being made that the European Union should on a number of issues, change its decision-making mode from one based on unanimity to one based on a so-called “qualified” majority.

It should not be assumed that all aspects of such a change would go against Maltese national interests. For instance with such a change regarding European immigration policies, an arrangement could be reached that would fit better with our interests. However the same does not apply in other policy area; such as in matters related to how member states run their taxation system if the EU gets the right to intervene. The same is true for other issues.

On balance, when all relevant factors are taken into account, it is not in the island’s interest were the qualified majority rule to be implemented. Apart from this, I have seen in these years at the European Parliament how when it is a question of adding up all the available voices within the EU, unless there is some protective mechanism, the will of the majority naturally always prevails. In it, influence of the larger member states is inevitably dominant.


  • don't miss