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Better Late Than Never?

April 29th, 2003 - 9:29 am

From Bloomberg:

Stressing they want to strengthen Europe’s alliance with the U.S., not weaken it, four states that opposed war in Iraq urged Europe to pool military spending and develop joint intervention and transport forces.

The leaders of France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg said their proposals are open to all members of the European Union.

“We believe the time has come to take new steps in the construction of a Europe of security and defense, based on strengthened European military capabilities which will also give a new vitality to the Atlantic alliance and open the way to a renewed trans-Atlantic relationship,” a joint statement said.

In professional political terms, this is called “sucking up.”

Sure, it might be nice in the future if continental Europe had a military able to fight alongside our own in some distant land. But there are two big problems.

First, their proposal isn’t just about sucking up to us. Of course Germany would like better relations with us again, and (believe it or not) so would France. But they still see a European Rapid Reaction Force as a counterweight to our military, not just an add-on to it. “You need us to help you fight,” they’d love to be able to argue, “so we’re going tot help decide where and when and how.” A Franco-German RRF would more likely be used in the same way as France’s UN veto than it would to act as an allied army.

Second, it ain’t gonna happen. Neither France nor Germany (the only two nations big enough to count) can afford a deployable military without slashing their welfare states. Cutting entitlement payments to populations as gray as theirs is about as likely as a crack ho getting a jumbo mortgage at 5.5%. Besides, Europe has been talking about these improvements for years without doing anything much to achieve them.

And so NATO will continue in its new role as the Press Release Alliance, and nothing more.

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