The effect of a European Superpower

In this thread tomndebb said:

How would this affect the U.S.? What if the European countries, at least, formed a “superpower”? The U.S. has fashioned itself “the world’s policeman” and has spend billions of dollars for its “service revolver”. Would a European Superpower take over “policeman” duties? If so, would this allow the U.S. to spend its money on domestic programs?

Or would EuroSup keep the U.S. from interfering in other countries and leave those countries to solve their own problems?

Would the existance of EuroSup make the world safer, and cause the U.S. to act in a less unilateral manner? Or would our allies become our enemies and increase the possibility of nuclear conflict?

I hadn’t thought of this before, so I haven’t researched it or formed an opinion and thus cannot debate it myself. What do you think?

(Incidentally, I just heard on CNN Headline News as I finished typing this that the number of wars in the world has fallen. 19 now, compared to 33 in 1991.)

I’ll be quite open and say I don’t know for sure, and am just going to speculate.

Firstly any European superpower is going to be nothing like the EU of today.

It is obvious that the governmental structure and economic structure of the EU is not compatible with superpower status.

Also, the governmental structure and economic structure of the internal EU nations is, mostly speaking, no compatible with superpower status.

If you combine Italy, France, Germany, Spain, you get a pretty good-sized population and a nice sized economy. But the people in those countries have not nor have they been for a long time willing to spend as much on defense as the United States does.

None of these countries has any global force-projection networks even remotely comparable to the U.S. Armed Forces (compare the force-projection of the U.S. Navy to any other in the world.)

A European superpower is possible but it is a long long way off. It’s going to involve a fundamental change in how individual European countries think of themselves and of the world, and a fundamental change in how Europe works together, because the EU just isn’t the template for a superpower. Though it may be a very small first step.

Ultimately I tend to think the next superpower to come up will be China. But it’s hard to say what happens with China because China has a 2,000 year history of caring a lot about being regional hegemon but not caring much about expanding any further than that.

The fundamental idea throughout the Age of Imperialism up until WWII was that if any one power was able to unify Europe, the world would follow. But that logic doesn’t really apply anymore.

We’re probably heading to a multipolar world.

The U.S. and China will be the big boys for a long time.

But there will also be very significant players on other tiers.

I sort of see it going like this in say 40 years:

1st Tier Nations: U.S., China

2nd Tier Nations: Some sort of union in Europe

3rd Tier Nations: Russia, India, possibly Japan.

All those nations will be significant powers capable of interacting with each other.

While I say we will be soon moving to an era of two-superpowers once again, I think we are going to be in a more multi-polar international system where two of the poles just happen to be really powerful.

I can’t see Western Europe and China forming any kind of permanent alliance. Possibly they might join together on some temporary ad hoc basis, but I’m having trouble imagining what even that could be.

A western european military alliance would never be strong enough to challenge the U.S. militarily, at least not without a huge increase in military spending which I don’t think their citizens would support. (Of course I’m speaking strictly in terms of conventional weapons.) Also, no matter how our policies diverge, I can’t see Europe and the U.S. going to war. What could either side possibly gain that would be worth the carnage, especially if nukes were involved? Our economies are too intertwined now.

Given that, I could see a lot of good coming from a western Euro military alliance. They might be able to handle peacekeeping in places like Darfur or Bosnia, which would be a load off the U.S. They might make for good international law enforcement and genocide prevention, at which the U.N. has failed so miserably.

I mostly agree with, apart some details, but I would add too that a number of countries now considered as minor, becoming more wealthy and more powerful, won’t be so easy to mess up with in the future. A superpower can curently impose its will on many nations, because it has the means of crushing them militarily, to strangle them economically, to stample on them diplomatically. But say 25 years down the line, I suspect that a lot of countries couldn’t be dismissed that easily, even by a hypothetical superpower. They’ll have the means to speak up, and trying to subdue them might become a much more serious issue than now. For instance, invading an Irak as economically and technically develloped than say South-Korea is currently wouldn’t be a stroll.
I too believe we’re heading towards a multipolar world.

Forgot to mention I was responding to ** Martin Hyde **

I could (maybe) see Europe migrating to some sort of tighter nit federation (maybe some kind of United Countries of Europe similar to the old US when states were semi-soveriegn), but it will be a long time coming (if ever). I just don’t see them giving up their various national heritages to form a tighter union…not in the forseeable future. And without that, they will never be a unified superpower in their own right (economic, military, unified diplomatic, cultural, etc).

My bet is on China to become the next superpower…but I still dont see them as an equal rival to the US, not for decades to come anyway (and thats IF they make the transition and completely throw off the brakes on their economy and the baggage of their government). They simply have too far to come (or the US has too far to fall) to make that a reality soon.

As to IF Europe ever unites and becomes an economic and military superpower to rival the US, I just don’t see how they would ever become serious antagonists. There is simply too much history between us…as well as too strong of bonds economically tieing us together. It would be economic suicide for either ‘nation’ (thinking of Europe as a united federation of nations) to attack the other…it would destroy their economy’s, even if they ‘won’.

Personally, I’d welcome the Europeans increasing their military capabilities and taking a more active role in the world. I don’t think its going to happen any time soon, not with the current climate in Europe, but I think it would be a good thing if they did.


Firstly, the idea of China and Europe teaming up militarily is a pretty big stretch, so I’d say it’s much more reasonable to just look at a European scenario.

Secondly, you are assuming that the US acting unilaterally is, ipso facto, making the world less safe. It might sometimes have that effect, and sometimes have the opposite effect.

But I actually think a stronger Europe would increase rather than decrease the frequency of US unilateral action. A stronger Europe would have more ability to go its own way and not cooperate with the US. The US, for its part, would find itself with the means to act unilaterally, and with allies that are less interested in cooperation. It’s not like a strong European military would intervene to stop the US in a situation like, say, Iraq. And if we look at Gulf War I, it was partly because of our allies that we didn’t just take Baghdad and be done with it the first time. Whether or not you think that was a good thing, it was the involvement of other countries that helped temper an American action that might very well have broadened the scope of tha war.

In this thread, some genius said:

You can quibble with the economic figures, but it boils down to whether the european populace is willing to do what it takes to spend a comparable amount on defense. As things stand now, I don’t think so.

And no, China won’t be “teaming up” with anybody.