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Gnomemoot 1: Are Europeans military freeriders? (Discovery)

by Colman Fri Sep 8th, 2006 at 05:07:04 AM EST

Prompted by this comment from wchurchill

any reason Europe can't clean up its own mess, without involving US bombing or troops?
it strikes me that it might be useful for us to have a look at the mutual military and diplomatic history between Europe and the US over the last fifty years or so, including as much of the stuff that happened behind closed doors as we now have access to.

There is an oft-expressed US view that Europe freeloads off US military might. There is a complementary view that says that the US has worked to ensure that Europe was not capable of independent military action. I think it needs teasing out.

This is about NATO, the cold war - and what happened afterwards - countries that were forbidden to act outside their own borders until recently and political and economic pressure applied to ensure US military dominance.

Yesterday Booman posted this 1992 NYT article about a Pentagon policy statement...

Western Europe

NATO continues to provide the indispensable foundation for a stable security environment in Europe. Therefore, it is of fundamental importance to preserve NATO as the primary instrument of Western defense and security as well as the channel for U.S. influence and participation in European security affairs. While the United States supports the goal of European integration, we must seek to prevent the emergence of European-only security arrangements which would undermine NATO, particularly the alliance's integrated command structure.

East-Central Europe

The end of the Warsaw Pact and the dissolution of the Soviet Union have gone a long way toward increasing stability and reducing the military threat to Europe. The ascendancy of democratic reformers in the Russian republic, should this process continue, is likely to create a more benign policy toward Eastern Europe. However, the U.S. must keep in mind the long history of conflict between the states of Eastern Europe and those of the former Soviet Union ....

The most promising avenues for anchoring the east-central Europeans into the West and for stabilizing their democratic institutions is their participation in Western political and economic organizations. East-central European membership in the (European Community) at the earliest opportunity, and expanded NATO liaison .....

The U.S. could also consider extending to the east-central European states security commitments analogous to those we have extended to Persian Gulf states.

The Pentagon seems to come down on the side of the complementary view.

by Omada on Fri Sep 8th, 2006 at 05:27:16 AM EST
That definitely tends to support my view of at least one important strand of US thinking that views Europe as a collection of vassal states.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Sep 8th, 2006 at 05:29:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here is another important strand:

"To put it in a terminology that harkens back to a more brutal age of ancient empires, the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together." [Zbigniew Brzezinski]

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Sep 8th, 2006 at 01:26:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]

any reason Europe can't clean up its own mess, without involving US bombing or troops?

The Suez crisis made it clear to European powers that they were not to clean messes on their own without US supervision.

The UK chose subversience to the US in the hope of influencing it discreetly; France chose theatrical independence, both became powerless unless they combined their voices, which happened only rarely.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Sep 8th, 2006 at 05:33:26 AM EST
In addition, nobody can clean any mess without the acquiescence of the Big Five at the UNSC. Unless, of course, you are one of the Big Five and can act outside of international law because your veto protects you.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Sep 8th, 2006 at 05:34:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which doesn't let France or the UK off the hook.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Sep 8th, 2006 at 05:37:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You need the acquiescence of all the Big Five. So if the US, China or Russia veto a UK/French operation, it becomes illegal.

But then it cannot be a "European" operation because the is not going to act outside the UN.

NATO counts as US vassal states.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Sep 8th, 2006 at 05:39:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How much control over NATO does the US have? It can prevent action, but it can't force it? Can all the members prevent action?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Fri Sep 8th, 2006 at 05:40:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Some decisions require unanimity. But I think that, on a number of decisions, only the US has a veto. If you remember the run up to the Iraq War, there was a big flap because not only France blocked the use of NATO assets to help the US attack, but Germany, Turkey and Belgium (I think) as well, and that created a blocking minority that could not be overruled.

We'd need to go into the treaties to check it out.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Sep 8th, 2006 at 05:52:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The thing is, as Iraq had not attacked the US, article 5 could not be invoked by the US to force anyone to take action. That's why the use of Turkey as a staging ground came down to a parliamentary vote.

In the case of Afghanistan, NATO members invoked article 5 but the US responded "thank you, boys, you're really cute, we can do this alone". However, the ongoing NATO operation is presumably still legal on that basis. I note that the US did not seek UNSC authorisation for military action (could have been easily obtained), still hasn't sought to put the NATO operation under a UN umbrella, and there is still no UN peacekeeping mission to Afghanistan.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Sep 8th, 2006 at 05:56:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I note that the US did not seek UNSC authorisation for military action (could have been easily obtained)

It got broader authorization than just Afghanistan. In its initial Sept 12 resolution 1368 on the 9/11 attacks the SC effectively declared them to be an act of war under the UN Charter and invoked the right to individual and collective self defense as provided for in the Charter. It then talks about how 'those responsible for aiding, supporting, or harbouring the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of these attacks will be held accountable'.  Taken together this amounts to a blank check for the US.

In UNSC resolution 1378 (Nov. 14 2001) specifically on Afghanistan it says

"Supporting international efforts to root out terrorism under the Charter of the UN and reaffirming also its resolutions 1368 (2001) of 12 Sept 2001 and 1373 of 28 Sept 2001" (a detailed resolution on worldwide anti-terrorist measures)


Condemning the Taliban for allowing Afghanistan to be used as a base for the
export of terrorism by the Al-Qaida network and other terrorist groups and for
providing safe haven to Usama Bin Laden, Al-Qaida and others associated with
them, and in this context supporting the efforts of the Afghan people to replace the
Taliban regime,

And then in UNSC Res 1386 of Dec. 20 2001

Reaffirming its strong commitment to the sovereignty, independence, territorial
integrity and national unity of Afghanistan,
Determining that the situation in Afghanistan still constitutes a threat to
international peace and security,
Determined to ensure the full implementation of the mandate of the
International Security Assistance Force, in consultation with the Afghan Interim
Authority established by the Bonn Agreement,
Acting for these reasons under Chapter VII of the Charter of the United
1. Authorizes, as envisaged in Annex 1 to the Bonn Agreement, the
establishment for 6 months of an International Security Assistance Force to assist
the Afghan Interim Authority in the maintenance of security in Kabul and its
surrounding areas, so that the Afghan Interim Authority as well as the personnel of
the United Nations can operate in a secure environment;
2. Calls upon Member States to contribute personnel, equipment and other
resources to the International Security Assistance Force, and invites those Member
States to inform the leadership of the Force and the Secretary-General;
3. Authorizes the Member States participating in the International Security
Assistance Force to take all necessary measures to fulfil its mandate;

So to sum up, immediately after 9/11 the UN declared that 9/11 was an act of war which justifies military action by any and all states against those involved in harbouring or supporting those behind the attacks. It then tied Afghanistan specifically to that resolution, and finally expressed its strong support for a military force in Afghanistan. What in all of that suggests to you that the US didn't seek or obtain authorization for its war in Afghanistan?

by MarekNYC on Fri Sep 8th, 2006 at 02:57:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I stand corrected.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Sep 8th, 2006 at 03:41:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Depends upon the case, I guess? If a NATO country is attacked, the entire alliance is obliged to respond. When we're talking about an unprovoked offensive (Kosovo), small members can't prevent it. Greece IIRC was not too happy about the Kosovo campaign (which was undertaken without UNSC backing). But the diplomatic pressure from the bigger states becomes such that they're forced to go along.

If Italy had also objected seriously, it would have been a lot more difficult to fight the campaign, because Italy was used as a base. So if it's in the backyard of a larger member, that member may be able to prevent action.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Sep 8th, 2006 at 06:02:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One real consequence though is that France completed its plans for a really independent nuclear forces.

There are questions as to whether the UK could ever use its nuke independently of the USA (raised only in UK circles, as far as I know, I've never ever seen the UK's nuclear deterrent mocked in France), but not about France, and that certainly creates a credibility for Europe on the military front, at least defensively, and thus a voice in the discussions.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Sep 8th, 2006 at 05:45:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Regarding France's independence, can someone explain France's relationship with NATO? Is it or is it not fully integrated with it, and how did it get that way?

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Sep 8th, 2006 at 05:52:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It was fully integrated until 1966, when it left the integrated military command and remained only part of the political bodies on NATO.

In practice, it is integrated militarily (in that it chooses to systematically work with NATO, and has worked on coordination and compatibility issues), but France retains a veto on its participation on a case by case basis.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Sep 8th, 2006 at 05:53:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Also, France has its own military planning and Command and Control capacities.

One of the big flaps recently was about giving the EU similar capacity - based on existing French assets, naturally.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Fri Sep 8th, 2006 at 05:55:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The EU's command and control capabilities have already been tested at least once , in the exercise MILEX 05 last year.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Sep 8th, 2006 at 05:59:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Surely the only reason why the UK keeps a nuclear deterrent is because our friends across the Channel have nuclear weapons....

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson
by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Fri Sep 8th, 2006 at 06:51:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry Jerome, but I think that this is a very tendentious interpretation of Suez that ignores the fact that it was an Israeli-UK-France colonial conspiracy that was undertaken before the rules of cold war conflict had been crystallised. Eisenhower stepped in to prevent the mess that had been created from escalating out of control, which left Nasser and the Soviets, without firing a shot, as the victors.

On a more general note, both France and the UK have undertaken independent military actions in their old colonial arenas: France in Ivory Coast, France ( in alliance with the US ) in Chad against Libya, the UK against Argentina, the UK in Sierra Leone.

Whilst it's true that Blair has been utterly subservient to the Bush and Clinton administrations, it's worth noting that Wilson was very resolute in refusing to deploy forces to help in Vietnam, Thatcher went postal over US intervention in Grenada ( I still don't understand what the hell that one was all about beyond "covering" the US's withdrawal from Lebanon ), and was none too pleased at Reagan's indifference to the Falklands, given the lack of support that was offered to the MoD in mounting what was a spectacularly complex and risky operation.

It's also worth posing the question in reverse by considering the extent to which the US military requires the basing, logistical support and airspace corridors that the NATO structure gives them as a platform to project power outside the strictly defined theatres of NATO operations. The inability of the US to invoke NATO articles over Iraq was a major headache, and if Blair had not been enthusiastically on board as a crucial enabler, the loss of Fairford and Diego Garcia as launch bases for US bombers would have been a serious obstacle.

by londanium on Fri Sep 8th, 2006 at 09:46:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't understand what's "very tendentious" about what Jérôme says. He doesn't go into value judgements about the expedition, simply points out that it was stopped by Eisenhower. Wikipedia :

The operation to take the canal was highly successful from a military point of view, but a political disaster due to external forces. Along with Suez, the United States was also dealing with the near-simultaneous Soviet-Hungary crisis, and faced the public relations embarrassment (especially in the eyes of the Third World) of criticizing the Soviet Union's military intervention there while not also criticizing its two principal European allies' actions.

Thus, the Eisenhower administration forced a cease-fire on Britain and France, which it had previously told the Allies it would not do. Part of the pressure that the United States used against Britain was financial, as Eisenhower threatened to sell the United States reserves of the British pound and thereby precipitate a collapse of the British currency. After Saudi Arabia started an oil embargo against Britain and France, the U.S. refused to fill the gap, until Britain and France agreed to a rapid withdrawal.

I'm not quoting this to condone the Anglo-French colonial invasion, just pointing out that Suez was a watershed where it became clear that Britain and France were no longer free to act in their (perceived) interest without US say-so. The operations you mention  (Ivory Coast, Chad, Sierra Leone, Falklands) were/are accepted by the US -- and, with the exception of the Falklands, are minor anyway (and how well was the Falklands War accepted by the US, as you yourself say?)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Sep 8th, 2006 at 11:33:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Excuse me, we did not "undertake" action against Argentina, and the US failure to support us in our response to Argentine attack is one the the major reasons why we describe the American attitude as one of vassalage and not alliance. Aliies support each other in their defence against attackers. Vassals must come to their liege's aid in his wars, but may not expect their liege to come to their aid in theirs.

As for European "freeloading", I say what I always say: get your bases out of our countries and make us support our own defence infrastructure... I dare you.

Bet you won't.

by Del C on Fri Sep 8th, 2006 at 01:55:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
'Undertake action' is pretty neutral in my ears as to 'who started it'. Of all nitpicks...

But then I'm not a native English speaker, so I might be wrong.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Sep 8th, 2006 at 02:05:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, since the Falklands war was such a boon to the Thatcher cabinet, it seems plausible to me that she asked the US and NATO to butt out so they could do some good old colonial asswhumping on their own. I have absolutely no evidence of this thought. But if I were an embattlened Tory prime minister I wouldn't want the Americans to (again) "steal" a British victory.
by Trond Ove on Fri Sep 15th, 2006 at 12:59:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One the Falklands, I thought that the U.S. supplied the English Harriers with fresh Sidewinder missiles which were supposed to have been a great help. There's support and there's support, I guess. Schröder also 'wasn't supporting' the Iraq war, which Bush is supposed to have been dismayed about and why Bush likes to rub Merkel's shoulders.

But Germany still collaborated to a pretty large degree. So after the kiss and make up, the people actually running things at the ground level don't even have to reconnect anything, because the actual difference the entire show made to what's being done on the strategic or ground level is non-existent.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Sep 8th, 2006 at 01:59:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There was no diplomatic cover. Which didn't play well with the rosy picture of Maggie and Ronnie arm in political arm. (Tentacle. Whatever.)

You have to remember that while this was happening, the UK was being used as Airstrip One for US cruise missiles, which would have led to near-instant nukular obliteration of large parts of the UK if the Soviets had decided that an attack was imminent.

And in the happy atmosphere of paranoia at the time - comes free with every Radical Right Republican Gubment - we came this -><- close to becoming flash-fried corpses and clouds of highly radioactive dust floating over a glassy rubble-strewn landscape.  

With the US, the deal is always one way. The US gets UK intelligence by default. The UK gets US intelligence when the US feels like it.

It's the same with the rest of the 'special relationship.'

Here's a quote of a quote from an earlier diary that's worth repeating:

More recently, it's become more accurate to say that the US bursts into the kitchen like Biffa Bacon after 15 pints of wifebeater, tries to cook chips, slashes itself chopping the spuds, breaks the crockery, sets the curtains on fire, keeps trying to cook the chips, realises the kitchen is on fire, throws the pan through the window, misses, spilling burning lard all over the place, tries again, this time smashes the window successfully, burns itself, then collapses in a pool of tears and urine at the bottom of the stairs, alternately begging the Europeans to get up and clean up the mess and threatening to spank them like the little sluts they are.

Honestly, the suggestion that Europe should clean up its own messes is just diplomatic masturbation.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Sep 8th, 2006 at 04:09:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can understand that the US provided no diplomatic cover for the Falklands campaign, it had to deal with the South American countries as well and didn't have any objections to the dictatorship in Argentina.

So it had nothing to gain from open support. Just as the UK had nothing to gain in Vietnam (or in Iraq, but we'll call that a rather major mistake of the UK).

What I was saying is that this doesn't matter very much. the UK got what it needed from the US: weapons and silent assent, and in the run-up to Desert Storm Maggie and Bush Sr. were a warm and loving couple. So to say.

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Fri Sep 8th, 2006 at 06:15:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Re: The Falklands. The US also relieved the British Naval war ships of NATO duties so they could participate in the war. In addition, there was ("reported") to be a great deal of intelligence support.  I might remind you all that whatever support was supplied was done so knowing full well that US/Argentinian relations would be harmed. The US did pay for a time in its relationships not only with Argentina but most other Latin American countries that it considered allies. I believe that the only reason the US felt some freedom to support one ally against another was due to the fact that the Argentine occupation of the Falklands was an unprovoked attack based on spurious claims of ownership and ultimately upon the Argentine regime's desire to deflect growing domestic discontent.

For the record:  I don't believe for a moment that US national policy sees Europe as either military freeloaders or, as frequently mentioned above, vassal states.  This is not to say that no one in the US sees it that way, just as some in Europe would argue that it is so. In the years following WWII when Europe was obviously in need of support, the US did take actions that would seem to indicate a subordinate role for Europe, but one could hardly contend anything like that has occurred in recent times.

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Wed Sep 13th, 2006 at 11:00:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
According to Carlos Escude in the book linked to below, the United States were officially critical of the Argentine Junta during the Carter era, while at the same time issuing massive loans and credits to them. During the first Reagen years, this turned to overt support as well as even more financial support, helping sustain the economic boom that kept the Junta popular among the Argentinians. The bubble burst, they attacked the Falklands and the United States withdrew both overt and covert support, meaning virtually all economic assistance and loans.

The Argentinian economy, already reeling, went into a tailspin, and the Juntas days were over. So while the US did actually punish the Argentinians for their little adventure. Anything else would frankly have been bizarre, thought. Britain was after all far more important to US interests than Argentina.

http://www.amazon.com/Exporting-Democracy-United-States-America/dp/0801841321/sr=1-3/qid=1158338797/ ref=sr_1_3/103-7150034-7295813?ie=UTF8&s=books

by Trond Ove on Fri Sep 15th, 2006 at 12:53:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ReagAn. That's what happens when one doesn't preview...
by Trond Ove on Fri Sep 15th, 2006 at 12:56:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Meh. I'll avoid starting a flamewar by posing some different questions:

a) Is EU military capability insufficient to acheive its declared goals?

b) Is it insufficient to acheive some extra goals "we" might like to see it undertake? (Possible example: Darfur?)

c) If the answer to one or both of these is "yes" how do we want an EU military capability to be organised? Or do we simply want to see greater national military capabilities within the EU?

d) What are the real economic implications of all this? I think it is not a simple picture. It is true, for example, that military spending is spending that cannot be put directly into schools/hospitals/unemployment benefits. But at the same time, it is almost certainly "Keynesian spending" of some form and there is evidence of that within the US.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Fri Sep 8th, 2006 at 07:19:07 AM EST
A necessary question previous to a) and b)

What are the EU's goals in the area of global policy and security, and what should they be?

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Sep 8th, 2006 at 07:28:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
i believe we in europe should lead by example, showing values and exemplifying the quality of governance that will win respect by generosity and understanding, not by bluster and force.

let's show the world what societies could be when all that money sunk, repetitively and often unnaccountably, without positive trace. wars are being won and lost on the economic plane these days, viz the huge amount of capital flowing out of italy and europe for energy and gas.

that is a loss akin to that of battle, because the capital was created by resources, (often all too finite), or by work (and sadly, pure cunning), both of which may not be as emotive as losing one's sons and daughters, but which i submit is almost as destructive.

waste is the biggest 'bad habit' we have.

many people are trapped in unecological lifestyles they do not endorse in their hearts; however the immediate way forward is not obvious, beyond switching light bulbs and maybe buying a prius!

there is a tremendous amount of popular-mechanics-level tinkering around, but awareness and encouragement is nowhere near sufficiently high, imo.

it shoud be a heavily subsidised ptiority, asap.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Sep 8th, 2006 at 08:04:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
let's show the world what societies could be when all that money sunk, repetitively and often unnaccountably, without positive trace, is poured instead into quality of life enhancement.

what i meant to say....preview is yr friend...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Fri Sep 8th, 2006 at 08:07:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
a) Yes: a declared goal is fast deployment of peacekeepers into crise regions, and at least plane capacity is not sufficient for that. In practice, troop strength isn't either.

b) Even more so, though differently. (Speaking in my own name.) EU peacekeepers are undermanned, under-trained and under-educated for naively under-planned missions, too, even if less so than Americans (not all failures in Iraq's British zone, Afghanistan, Kosovo and Bosnia can be blamed on the Americans).

c) I'm not interested in nuclear deterrence, aircraft carriers and heavy weaponry. (The best defense anyway is economic decentralisation.) I would be interested in peacekeeping/making, and that organised at EU rather than national level, an army not focusing on bombing the hell out of places or just driving around in patrol jeeps or force protection, but on understanding the situation and people, doing "civilian" work, and protecting unarmed from armed population. Tho', where do I take the able leaders who 1) are reality-based enough to seek infos and undertand the situation, 2) know where they want to go, 3) can get the necessary rather than alibi forces, 4) know and want what's good for the locals even at the expense of what's good for the EU?... (As I said I'm a recovering liberal interventionist.)

d) Well, spending on the army I have in mind would directly more benefit the economies of other countries not the EU. Its effect for the EU could be a reduction of refugee streams.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Sep 8th, 2006 at 01:23:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Some thoughts :
  • Google for 'war' and you have  "circa 1.600.000.000 voor War (0,52 seconden)".

  • Google for 'peace' and you have "circa 643.000.000 voor peace (0,38 seconden)"

  • Oddly, googling for 'ministery of defence' gives 17.300.000 hits and 'ministery of peace' 44.300.000 hits.  Almost every country has a MOD but I couldn't find one with a MOP (except in Orwell's '1984').

  • poemless diary My 2 Kopeks was a strong statement supported by many here on ET and overthere on dKos.

  • Why should we follow military logic for conflict control?

  • Iraq shows that the most powerful, sophisticated and advanced military power cannot resolve conflicts. (Afghanistan going the same way but with Europe involved).

  • Why are most international 'peace'-missions conducted by military(trained for war) and not by civilians? (yes, maybe there will be casualties but with military they are guaranteed).

  • Shouldn't we give more attention to civilian initiatives and reinforce this powers for conflict control?. On the European level there are perhaps opportunities: miltary organisation is now started with the battlegroups. Why not a civilian E-FAST organisation? (First Aid and Support Team).


The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)
by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Fri Sep 8th, 2006 at 10:12:52 AM EST
There is an oft-expressed US view that Europe freeloads off US military might. There is a complementary view that says that the US has worked to ensure that Europe was not capable of independent military action.

Regarding the first, just what military threat does the US protect Europe (EU, NATO) from?

The second is closer to the truth.

Part of it is inseparable (and difficult to distiguish) from using imperial might for simple commercial pushing: think of the blackmail in a number of aircraft tenders, attacks on rivals of Lockheed and Boeing, guarding of technical secrets in joint projects, and general advocation of higher spending.

But there is also the long war against a NATO-independent EU military and the Galileo satellite network, the fake cooperation ("war by committee") in the Kosovo War when US commanders kept critical decisions and much information for themselves, the operational independence of US troops in joint NATO peacekeeping missions, the tactical exploitation of former East Bloc states to corner old NATO members.

However, let us notice that there has been a de-facto change in the last year or two. Whatever the rhetoric and the wishes, US leaders seem to have became aware that their military is overstretched. This forced some policy changes: handover to the EU (not "other NATO"!) on the Balkans, strategic orders from Airbus. Though I don't think we see support for the emergence of a militarily strong and indendent Europe, only a suspension of working against, intended as temporary.

Then again, I don't want the EU to turn into a military superpower. Military superpowers become empires, empires exploit and empires rot from inside and ewmpires collapse. Let's stay something else, let's stand for some progress. Even military integration should fit into the European demilitarisation which the EU brought.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Sep 8th, 2006 at 01:51:48 PM EST
just what military threat does the US protect Europe (EU, NATO) from?

I searched the US government sites for policy on Nato, and found very little--maybe I should have persevered.  But a very short speech from Bush at a NATO meeting answered why NATO was necessary.  

Our nations established NATO to provide security for the free peoples of Europe and North America; to build a grand alliance of freedom to defend values which were won at great cost.  We've succeeded, in part.

     The NATO alliance deterred the Soviet Union.  It provided the time and space for free peoples to defeat communism.  And it brought the Cold War to a bloodless end.

 Fine, mission accomplished and it was a great thing for the world, imho.  But Bush goes on to make a short comment about the future
Now, we have a great opportunity to build a Europe whole, free and at peace, with this grand alliance of liberty at its very core.

     That work has begun.  By bringing in new members, we extend the security and stability through central Europe.  By establishing the partnership for peace, we reached out across central and eastern Europe and Eurasia.

Why is it still "we"?  
By our actions in the Balkans, we halted ethnic cleansing in the heart of Europe and halted a dictator in the process.
Aren't these issues in reality European issues.  The EU has the finances to address these independently--and in many, perhaps most, are.  So in a post Cold War era, these issues need to be thought about in a new context--today's context.  I would imagine that the EU and the US would often act in concert.  At other times, various countries such as the UK would perhaps independently act with the US.  But it's time basic things such as NATO, American military bases in Europe, and other issues to be rethought, IMHO.  I for one would support a mutually developed plan between the EU and the US to close US military bases in Europe over some time period that made sense--maybe a 5 or 10 year period.  And for Nato to be redefined at a minimum,, and perhaps disbanded.  I would think many, maybe most, on this site would agree.
by wchurchill on Sat Sep 9th, 2006 at 01:06:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not so sure I agree about the disbandoning of NATO. At some point you get to the question of whether Western values are desirable or not, and with a global UN that has a strongly non-Western viewpoint on many issues, isn't there a place for an organization that is in fact, bluntly representing American and European values?

It seems to me that one can argue about the structure of NATO, and the membership, and some of the activities, but when you get right down to it the West is a minority in the world, a rich, privileged minority, and if you want to take a strictly fair approach, a first step would be a substantial redistribution of wealth from North America and Europe to South Asia, China, etc.

Perhaps this is one of those "elephants in the living room" that cannot be discussed...

by asdf on Sat Sep 9th, 2006 at 09:29:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
AQre Western values military ones?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Sep 9th, 2006 at 11:02:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I respect your view, though I disagree at this point.  But I realize and accept that one needs to be very careful about tearing down an institution that has served its constituents so well.  And Nato certainly did that during the Cold War.

But, times change, and institutions need to respond to those changes, or cease to exist in their current form.  I'm concerned too, that American and European values are no longer shared,,,,or at least are taking divergent paths.  

I wonder too, if it wouldn't be healthier for Europe to have to make clear choices about military spending.  I may be wrong, but it seems to me the existence of Nato and a strong US military presence, has a tendency to minimize those decisions, those choices, when placed in the context of all of the other political and social choices that are made in elections and in the ongoing political dialogue.

by wchurchill on Sat Sep 9th, 2006 at 12:42:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Recently I have been getting a feeling that "Western" really means "Anglo-American" and that talking about "the West" is just a way to keep Mainland Europe within the fold, but without really considering its interests or opinions.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Sep 9th, 2006 at 02:30:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, from different viewpoints, many of us seem to have arrived a this conclusion. I would not be opposed to an EU-US-Canada(-Russia?) joint military body/forum, be it named NATO or something else. (Though one less based on shared values or interests, as asdf suggests, but on the principle that talks and daily meetings greatly reduce the likelyhood of violent conflict.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Sep 9th, 2006 at 11:10:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BTW I will admit here that until there is still a pro-NATO majority in European allies' public opinion (check my transatlantic trends diary), even if reducing steadily, it's still only the time of advocacy, not policy re-thinking...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Sep 9th, 2006 at 11:14:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What's Gnomemoot?
Does it mean someone will provide a more or less definitive answer (or summary of the pros and cons) based on the info provided in the comments so that I don't have to read all comments?

Atlantic Review - A press digest on transatlantic affairs edited by three German Fulbright Alumni
by Atlantic Review (bl -at- atlanticreview dot org) on Sat Sep 9th, 2006 at 01:05:01 PM EST
I will summarise later on: the theory at this stage is that we should be establishing facts rather than offering opinions. Of course, people don't stick tightly to that ...

Definitive answers are harder, but this seems to be a really good way of establishing some sort of believable picture of reality.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sat Sep 9th, 2006 at 01:17:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, and I thought it was Extreme Debating - last one left standing, no time limit kinda thing...

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Sep 10th, 2006 at 03:48:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, it's a heady debate at glacial speed... Like an Entmoot.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 10th, 2006 at 04:08:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I feel like moraine...

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Sun Sep 10th, 2006 at 04:35:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It might be helpful to get some spending numbers on the table for this discussion.  for example, how much does the US spend on military/defense, and how much does the Eu, and counrties independently , spend.  and who supports nato, and at what levels.  Or whatever people think the relative numbers are on this issue.  I'm not trying to put any spin on this, but rather get facts relative to the discussion on the table.  I guess at this point in our discussion, we have not really agreed even what those numbers/facts would be  (spending facts, as well as others).  -:)
by wchurchill on Sun Sep 10th, 2006 at 05:18:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Okay... Nationmaster, here we go!

Nationmaster: Military Expenditures, per capita

Israel $1,429
Singapore $1,010
USA $936
New Caledonia $888
Brunei $885
France $767
Greece $574
UK $524
Cyprus $492
Sweden $488
Germany $471
Denmark $455
Netherlands $396
Italy $348
Finland $344
Luxembourg $315
Belgium $297
Spain $213
Slovenia $184
Austria $183
Ireland $174
Malta $151
Portugal $122
Estonia $116
Czechia $116
Hungary $108
Poland $91
Slovakia $75
Lithuania $64
Bulgaria $48
Romania $44
Latvia $38
(Top 5 and EU-27, "big six" by population bolded to get an idea of where the EU average is likely to fall)

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 10th, 2006 at 05:50:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
New Caledonia is an Overseas Territory of France...?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Sep 10th, 2006 at 11:48:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, it does have a separate CIA World Fact Book entry (which does say it is an overseas territory of France).

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 10th, 2006 at 03:12:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Could it seem a relevant factoid to the CIA to separate the defence budget of New Caledonia from that of France? Strange...
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Sep 10th, 2006 at 04:01:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nationmaster: Military expenditures (% GDP)
Oman 11.2%
Eritrea 10.4%
Ethiopia 9.9%
Afghanistan 9.1%
Mali 8.6%
Greece 3.0%
Cyprus 2.5%
USA 2.4%
France 2.3%
UK 1.5%
Bulgaria 1.5%
Poland 1.5%
Estonia 1.4%
Germany 1.4%
Romania 1.4%
Sweden 1.3%
Italy 1.2%
Slovenia 1.2%
Netherlands 1.1%
Czechia 1.1%
Malta 1.1%
Hungary 1.1%
Lithuania 1.0%
Denmark 1.0%
Slovakia 1.0%
Finland 1.0%
Belgium 0.9%
Spain 0.9%
Portugal 0.8%
Latvia 0.6%
Austria 0.5%
Luxembourg 0.5%
Ireland 0.4%
(USA bolded as it falls among the EU27)

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 10th, 2006 at 06:01:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think you looked at the wrong page.

Nationmaster  Expenditures > Percent of (GDP by country)

In Percentage:

#1        N. Korea        33.9       
#2       Mali              15      
#3       Saudi Arabia      13      
#4       Ethiopia      12.6      
#5       Oman              12.2      
#6       Eritrea      12      
#7       Qatar              10      
#8       Israel              8.75  

#22        Greece        4.91
#28        Turkey        4.5
#39        Cyprus        3.8
#47        United States    3.2
#62        France        2.57
#66        Romania        2.47
#69        United Kingdom   2.32
#71        Portugal        2.2
#74        Norway        2.13       
#75       Sweden              2.1      
#76       Czech Republic      2.1
#80        Estonia        2

etc etc etc...

by Trond Ove on Fri Sep 15th, 2006 at 01:27:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Nationmaster: Military expenditures
USA $277 bn
EU27 $151 bn
China $55.9 bn
Japan $39.5 bn
Saudi Arabia $18.3 bn
Russia doesn't seem to be on the list...

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 10th, 2006 at 06:20:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
so on these figures how are the EU freeloaders? Does the US really want the EU to follow it's policy by having a two war strategy?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Sep 10th, 2006 at 01:33:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
List of Nationmaster military statistics. Knock yourself out.

The "Forces in Europe" sub category might be most relevant to this discussion.

Nothing is 'mere'. — Richard P. Feynman

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 10th, 2006 at 06:23:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
These figures are very interesting.  It does seem that Europe has enough of a military spending base to take care of itself and its own interests.
by wchurchill on Fri Sep 15th, 2006 at 03:39:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You'd think. There is a hell of a lot capacity duplication and failure to exploit economies of scale in the Eu-27 headline figure and, absent a supra-national EU defence organistion, I don't see that going away entirely.

We could get better at coordinating capacities and procurement however and there's a lot of slack to squeeze - but there would be some uncomfortable compromises that would need to be made however, and if the US is intent upon playing off 'vassals' and keeping europe militarily dependant they would have plenty of touch points to influence/subvert the process.


-- #include witty_sig.h

by silburnl on Thu Sep 21st, 2006 at 07:20:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
European Defence Agency.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. — Euripides
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Sep 21st, 2006 at 07:23:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The answer is quite clear to me (and I must admit that my support for isolationism grows by the minute): Throw out NATO, close the American bases in Europe, and let Europe see to its own defense.  That way, no one has any reason to complain: No charges of European freeloading, or of American desire for European dependency.  Everybody's happy, right?

I really and truly cannot take international organizations seriously at this point, even if I agree with the goals in principle.  If the US pulled out of NATO and the UN tomorrow, I wouldn't lose any sleep.  If it's not a problem of the US and Britain ignoring the Security Council, it's a problem of China's ties to the Sudanese government.  Close it, and sell the building (which should grab a high price given the location).  Let's stop pretending that it's not a waste of time and money.

As for NATO, the Cold War is over, contrary to what Dick Cheney would like us to believe.  There is no use for it anymore.  I don't know why we would need an organization centered on "western values," as (I think) afew noted above.  I'm not terribly worried about an assault from other sets of values, because, frankly, I don't think Islamic theocracies and Asian communist parties have much chance of outliving the iPod and Kentucky Fried Chicken.  The burqa simply is not going to defeat the two-piece swimsuit in the long run, which is why I have just about as little respect for the current War on TerrorTM as I have for the legacy of the Cold War.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Sat Sep 23rd, 2006 at 05:58:14 AM EST
i feel the opposite may be true, if anything, we need to expand NATO, the use of multinational organisations, is that they generally act as a brake on the ambitions of individual member states. In most cases we would wish that international bodies would spend all of their time talking rather than achieving anything

for example, If The UK and USA cannot persuade their NATO partners into joining in in a foreign adventure, then it shows their adventurism in sharp relief.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Sep 26th, 2006 at 02:25:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
European countries could kick out NATO any time they want. Obviously they don't want to.

But your two-piece swimsuit argument doesn't go anywhere. There is serious concern among scholars in the U.S. (I don't know about Europe) as to whether so-called Islamist "terrorism" is an anomaly or a fundamental issue with Islam. This is not exclusively from the right side of the spectrum, either. It is an issue that is undergoing serious discussion in the academic community. There are some very serious problems here that usually get drowned in the partisan bickering...

by asdf on Tue Sep 26th, 2006 at 11:20:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Diary, please, so we can debate it. Related diaries:
* Reza Aslan on Islam by Metatone on January 23rd 2006

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Oct 4th, 2006 at 02:46:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
who saw action, I would say that the less a country spends on "defence" the better. "Defence" inevitably becommes offence, so the less spent the less likely offence can be practiced. Plus quite honestly there are better things to spend the money on in all of our countries like social programs for our own citizens. I wouldnt want Europeans to start trying to big up how much they spend on "offence" or even worse try to increase it. Things are more right in Europe than the US. Dont rise to the US bait of Europeans dont pay their way. Respond by saying we have more pressing issues to deal with than starting unneccessary wars.
Oh and the official numbers of what the US military machine spends on death and destruction are far too low. It doesnt include all the black money from a variety of sources that is siphoned off into highly questionable programs.    
by observer393 on Tue Oct 3rd, 2006 at 11:35:37 PM EST

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