Europe should call off its mission impossible

This column by By Anand Menon in the Financial Times argues that the EU should not create its own defence policy. It says

Proponents of the EU defence force claim it is necessary[ul][li] to allow Europe to contribute more to the overall western defence effort []to exert some influence over US foreign policy[]to provide greater legitimacy to calls for increased defence spending in Europe.[/ul]OTOH Menon argues[ul][]It would be inflexlible, since EU decision-making requires concensus, which typially takes years to achieve[] it is precisely those states - Germany for example, where one would have expected the legitimising force of the EU to be greatest - that are proving most unwilling to raise defence expenditureThe US might not cooperate (as they do with NATO) since the EU defence force would be intended as a counter to the US[/ul]I would note that Menon’s second reason seems oddly chosen. It’s certainly possible that Germany would raise defence expenditure as a part of the EU, thereby accomplishing one of its goals.[/li]
IMHO the whole idea of the EU having its own military seems ludicrous. Europe long since made the decision not to spend the money on a modern military. Given their social spending obligations, they hardly have the political will now to tolerate the economic and/or political upheaval that would result from huge defence spending. So, they aren’t going to do it – not on their own, not as a part of NATO and not as a part of the EU. This nutty idea simply illustrates that the oligarchs who run the EU are out of touch with reality.

Link for the OP is http://news.ft.com/servlet/ContentServer?pagename=FT.com/StoryFT/FullStory&c=StoryFT&cid=1037872479731&p=1012571727126&ExpIgnore=true

december: IMHO the whole idea of the EU having its own military seems ludicrous. […] This nutty idea simply illustrates that the oligarchs who run the EU are out of touch with reality.

Really? RAND analysts Charles Wolf and Benjamin Zycher took it seriously enough to produce an entire report on the prospect (European Military Prospects, Economic Constraints, and the Rapid Reaction Force). They concur that the rhetoric is currently more advanced than the actual planning, but seem to consider it quite possible that the necessary funding would be in place by 2007, and discuss the ways in which the US and NATO would wish to work with such a force.

And, IMHO, the more actions the US takes that are perceived by the European nations as unilateralist or high-handed, the greater and stronger will be the European “political will” to create a defense force of their own. Nothing like some good ol’ public outrage to galvanize popular support.

I’ve never understood the motivation, really. Just to have cool planes? To say they can? The reality is that as things are they can play at being allies when they want to (and the US will accept token support), and be snarky when they don’t. All the perks none of the risks.

If the goal is simply to embarass themselves less, well, whatever. But if the idea is to actually dream of being a counterweight or a competitor to the US, you’re right: not in our lifetimes.

If they need help, they can just whistle for Sammy, then bitch about the lousy job he does.

december has hit the mark in a bullseye. Sadly.
Napoleon said that morale is to the physical as 3 is to 1. There would be no morale, because:[list=1]
[li]Many of the citizens of European nations despise each other.[/li][li]Few people love the institution of the EU. People will sacrifice their lives for their country, but not for an ambigious economic pact.[/li][li]Language barriers, especially under the stress of battle.[/li][li]The It ain’t our military, so why should we pay so much for it syndrome.[/li][li]What system will be used to train officers? [/li][li]Resistence from factions within each & every nation in the EU to dismantling the individual militaries. Reason: mutual mistrust.[/li][li]Resistance to dissolution of individual national militaries from military officers, to the point of refusal to serve, & resignation of commissions.[/li][li]Resistance to dissolution of national militaries by arms dealers through lobbying.[/li][/list=1]

Are there not two quite separate issues here?

  1. How much resources to commit to defence.

  2. Whether to operate a common defence policy or a series of separate (but more-or-less coordinated) national defence policies.

It seems to me perfectly possible, at least in theory, to have a common defence policy which does not call for a commitment of resources on the scale of, say, the United States. No?

Well, Bosda, your reasons for dislike of a European army for nationalistic reasons might be true for old people, but the relatively young people who would be the majority of the organisation are used to thinking of Europe as a whole and are used to having social relationships with people from many countries. In my experience, young Europeans today would have no problem working in a setting where there are multiple nationalities. And language barriers wouldn’t be a problem if the EU heeded the advice of language rights organisations.

UnuMondo

Bah! The perspective from the west is desperately narrow minded and short sighted. The idea that the European Defense and Security initiative should be an EU army in the style of the US armed forces is… well… tin soldier level political reasoning at best.

The EU ‘army’ is not really a cohesive force per se; it is a framework for cooperation with a central command structure that uses the resources of the individual states in order to enable execution of the joint defense and security policy. That it will take on the role of command for joint EU military operations abroad is really no change as to the past save that the structure is fixed and independent of NATO. The goal with this is to avoid further occurrences like the US behavior and the member states inability to act independently as regards for instance the Balkans. It’s also a relief for the non-NATO member states who thus don’t have to deal with political backlash resulting from subjecting their forces to an allied command structure they do not belong to.

However, it is mainly meant as a way to ensure that there is readiness to cooperate in civil rescue and continental military defense operations. In as much it does not replace the national armed forces of the member states, it merely adds a level of cooperation to them.

A wonderful example of how this is working out is the recent exercises in chemical catastrophe relief in France prompted by the current looming terrorist threat. France and Spain have worked hard the last couple of years to achieve a level of material and procedural cooperation so that a joint effort in such areas can be put to maximum effect. England and Germany have lagged in this respect. Due to the EDSI there are now stricter guidelines and measurable milestones that need to be met in order for everyone to get on the same page. While as earlier such exercises have been surrounded with quibbles over who decides what and what command structures to use, this most recent one was carried out in a spirit of constructive cooperation – since the argument has been settled on the political level – get it?

That’s what the ESDI is about, not parading atomic subs and aircraf6t carriers around the world to show our might and glory. We leave that up to France and the UK at their own discretion.

Sparc

Just heard this on the news.
Holland is thinking about building a couple of aircraft carriers.

…and Lichtenstein has advanced plans for a new atomic sub program.

…and Germany will cut defence spending, reducing the number of Airbus transport craft and missiles it intends to buy.

Hah, you may laugh now. Just wait untill we rule the seas again.

Cite?

Now to something completely different…

What the hell is this all supposed to mean Bosda?

[quote]

  • Bosda Di’Chi of Tricor*[ol][li]Many of the citizens of European nations despise each other.[/li][li]Few people love the institution of the EU. People will sacrifice their lives for their country, but not for an ambigious economic pact.[/li][li]Language barriers, especially under the stress of battle.[/li][li]The It ain’t our military, so why should we pay so much for it syndrome.[/li][li]What system will be used to train officers? [/li][li]Resistence from factions within each & every nation in the EU to dismantling the individual militaries. Reason: mutual mistrust.[/li][li]Resistance to dissolution of individual national militaries from military officers, to the point of refusal to serve, & resignation of commissions.[/li][li]Resistance to dissolution of national militaries by arms dealers through lobbying.[/ol][/li][/quote]
    [ol] [li] Excuse my French, but that is condescending derogatory fucking bullshit. To not mention that it is wrong.[/li]
    [li]Cite me that state institutions in the member states are more popular than the federal ones. Cite me that Europeans would be happy to ‘die for their country’… goddamned fucking hedgehogs and porcupines. The EU exists specifically because the European populations are amongst the most war wary peoples on earth. Read some history, come live here for a while, or maybe just read the news and follow the debates on the war against terrorism.[/li]
    [li]That’s probably why the winning sides failed so desperately at Waterloo, in WWI and II, Operation Desert Storm and Afghanistan. Joint military efforts across language barriers have been more or less the rule in any larger scale conflict as long as mankind has been waging war… [/li]
    [li]?¿?[/li]
    [li]That’s the whole idea, to streamline those things… but maybe the European military strategists and pedagogues are too backwards and stupid to work that one out, what-with their language differences they might have to spend to much time trying to understand each other. You’re probably right! We should fuck the whole thing.[/li]
    [li]Yes… well if it wasn’t for the tiny and somewhat relevant fact that the EDSI specifically calls for the reverse, i.e. keeping the member state armed forces in place you might have had half a point there.[/li]
    [li]Apply previous comment again.[/li]
    [li]Hmm… that’s funny. Ever hear of Euro Fighter? Do you know anything at all about the European defense and arms industry? There isn’t a major weapons system on this continent that doesn’t involve extensive cooperation across corporate and political entities. As a matter of fact the arms industry is so intricately co-owned by itself that it is hard to say which company does what. Trust me when I tell you that the lobby is rather pro cooperation than con. They need it in order to minimize the huge efforts they have to make in order to achieve a sufficiently coherent customer base to finance their large, heavy and expensive projects… such as the Euro Fighter.[/ol]I am continuously flabbergasted by how much some folks just must look down the length of their nose and snort contempt crap every time the EU or European is mentioned.[/li]
    Sparc

Sparc just saved me a lot of typing. I do not know why some Americans who know close to nothing about Europe feel obligated to tell us how much Europeans hate the EU and the Euro and anything European. I see no European countries complaining about the EU or trying to get out and I see quite a few trying to get in. It seems some Americans have some insecurity problem with the EU.

The question of whether or not there will be an European military force is already settled. There will be one, your opinion notwithstanding.
The issues which aren’t settled are :

-To which extent this force will be independant from or will rely upon the NATO structures? That should probly be decided within some years.

-Will it be limited to the current project of a “rapid intervention force” and common weapon development projects, or will it be extended to other military areas? To give an example, here, there’s a currently debate about the second french carrier. Should it be a “french” ship, or an “european” one? It will take longer to decide what will be the extent of the military integration.

-How will the decision to use this common forces will be taken exactly? That’s part of the current work on the reforms of the EU political structures. We should know more about it in the incoming years. Next year, the current european convention should make its proposals, which should be a basis for further negociations, for instance. There could very well be an european presidency before the end of this decade.
By the way, there’s already an european military unit (including elements from Germany, France, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium and I believe Luxembourg), which has been constitued around the kernel of the former Franco-German armored brigade, and which is also a laboratory for future european integrated forces. And by the way, according to what I read, there are actually language issues.

But what if Uncle Sammy doesn’t come because he doesn’t want to get his feet wet? The Europeans don’t want to rely on domestic US politics when there’s a military situation in their backyard that they’re willing to respond to.

I’m sure you’e right, clairobscur. If the EU has chosen to do this, they will do it. I agree that the issues you mention are interesting and important.

However, the issue the OP is addressing is, Will it work? After alll, success requires more than good intentions.[ol][] Will the European military force become a modern, effective efficient military?[]Will it never moderinize, and remain mostly of symbolic importance?[]Will its formation weaken NATO and result in Europe having weaker defence?[]Will the costs connected with this force and other EU adventures eventually produce severe economic problems in Europe?[/ol]

Well, december, if you check out the link I provided above, you can get some information that will help you answer those questions.

december 1: IMHO the whole idea of the EU having its own military seems ludicrous. […] So, they aren’t going to do it – not on their own, not as a part of NATO and not as a part of the EU. This nutty idea simply illustrates that the oligarchs who run the EU are out of touch with reality.

december 2: I’m sure you’e right, clairobscur. If the EU has chosen to do this, they will do it. […] However, the issue the OP is addressing is, Will it work?

You know, december, you should really ask your evil twin to stop posting OP’s without explaining to you what they’re actually about.