War, Europe's Backbone

BERLIN/BRUSSELS |

BERLIN/BRUSSELS (Own report) - Politicians in Berlin are using the German imposed dictate of EU austerity to renew the demand for the creation of an EU Army. The strict application of the so-called stability criteria, put through by the German government, imposes drastic austerity measures on all EU member states, which could even cut into their military budgets, according to Berlin. This cannot be achieved except at the expense of a loss of military power, unless steps are taken toward consolidating all of the individual armed forces in Europe using the synergic effects to reinforce the united European army. Berlin has been pursuing this objective for years, confronting - at times open - resistance inside the EU as well as from the United States. Germany has been pushing these plans to enhance its position - with military means - in the new constellation of global forces being created by China's rise to become a world power. The German liberal press explains that a combat-ready EU Army would "almost be like a new backbone for Europe."

Military Division of Labor

For weeks, mass distribution media and influential politicians have been renewing their pressure for the formation of an EU Army. They explain that this year, various countries have cut back their military budgets to great extents. The budget of the Spanish armed forces sank by nine percent, Italy has announced a new cut of ten percent, France has to save five billion Euros over the next three years.[1] According to the current planning, the German Bundeswehr is also confronting massive cuts. This can only be achieved without considerable loss of military power, if they can successfully "eliminate the superfluous duplications of tasks among the 27 member states," considers the Chairman of the Munich Security Conference, Wolfgang Ischinger.[2] "Does each European statelet really need to have its own general staff academy or its own small navy?" Ischinger rhetorically asked, "does each EU country really need its very own extremely expensive - because small - air force?" Of course, this, above all, would mean that the smaller countries "no longer will have the complete spectrum of military means at their disposal." This is how this German politician explains their relinquishment of military sovereignty, even though already today, they would, in fact, be incapable "of going to war" alone. Therefore "the limited means (...) would be much more efficiently invested" if the EU countries would undertake a military division of labor.

Own Weight

Not only the liberal press ("Zeit für eine europäische Armee" ["Time for a European Army"] [3]) but, for example, also the SPD military specialist, Hans-Peter Bartels, is making similar appeals. Bartels, who has been the deputy spokesperson for the "Security and Defense Policy Workgroup" of the SPD Bundestag caucus since 2002, is pleading for "a division of labor, cooperation and ultimately - at the end of a long process - a European Army." This could "help all of the EU partners to save resources."[4] But Bartels warns against using the EU Army project to justify savings in the German budget. Even in the future, the Bundeswehr will "not be the sole source of professionals for missions abroad," but will also "have to maintain its own weight in Central Europe" - meaning the high priority of a strong German armed forces for Berlin's hegemony over the future EU Army.

A New Balance of Powers

For years, Berlin has been campaigning for the creation of an army of the EU. Werner Weidenfeld, one of the most influential political advisors in Germany, has often explained why. Three years ago, Weidenfeld wrote: "Europe needs its own army." The "US-predominated unipolar moment" is on its way out; with the rise of China and India, a "multipolar world order is taking shape." This will "recalibrate a new equilibrium between the old and the new great powers."[5] The EU must play an active role, "otherwise the old continent is threatened with a creeping marginalization." The creation of an EU Army could "lift Europe's military capabilities" and, in addition, "increase pressure on the EU nations to develop a common European culture of strategic thinking and planning" - "not just in a regional but in a global perspective." This promises more impact in future global political disputes, thereby reinforcing the global clout of Germany and the EU.

No War Dictate

Berlin has, on several occasions, been confronted with opposition to its calls for the creation of an EU Army. The most recent occurred at the Munich Security Conference in early February 2010.[6] At the time, the German Foreign Minister, Guido Westerwelle had expressed that the "common European security and defense policy project" would, in the future, be "a motor for Europe's continued consolidation."[7] Just a few hours later, the Danish Foreign Minister remarked that he supposes that the German suggestions of a transfer of military competence to the EU, is the "expression of a misunderstanding." Denmark will not have anyone dictate which wars it has to wage.[8] This is based on the realistic presumption that, as soon as an EU Army is called into existence, particularly the smaller EU member nations will, in practice, have hardly any influence on war decisions predominated by the hegemonic power, Germany.

Marginalizing NATO

The plans to create an EU Army are also heightening tensions between Germany and the USA. Already years ago, Washington had warned that a common European armed forces could weaken NATO, and the USA would not idly stand by and let this happen.[9] Early this year, US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton reconfirmed that Washington is strictly against Paris and Berlin's contemplations to "supplant NATO".[10] Immediately following the German Foreign Minister's speech, where he reiterated the demand for the creation of an EU army, at the Munich Security Conference in February 2010, Washington's prominent Heritage Foundation observed pointedly that this project would "draw resources away from NATO." Therefore the USA must oppose the German-European military plans.[11]

Nuclear Forces

Berlin would not only be benefiting from the enhanced striking power of an EU Army, but, above all, from its acquiring access to nuclear weapons, that would derive from the integration of both the French and the British nuclear forces. This holds far-reaching consequences for the domestic consolidation of the EU. "A standing army for the union of all nations - that would almost be like a new backbone for Europe" according to the liberal press.[12] Making the EU Army and its wars the main pillars of European unification would make a bloody expansion, even more than ever, Europe's trademark and simultaneously the primary element of the continent's domestic consolidation.

[1] Zeit für eine europäische Armee; www.sueddeutsche.de 13.07.2010
[2] Luxemburg können wir auch noch beschützen; www.zeit.de 11.06.2010
[3] Zeit für eine europäische Armee; www.sueddeutsche.de 13.07.2010
[4] Guttenbergs Schrumpfkur offenbart Strategielosigkeit; www.welt.de 07.07.2010
[5] Werner Weidenfeld: Europa braucht eine eigene Armee; Cicero, März 2007
[6] Westerwelle fordert EU-Armee - und stößt auf Widerstand; www.zeit.de 06.02.2010
[7] see also Europas Motor
[8] Westerwelle fordert EU-Armee - und stößt auf Widerstand; www.zeit.de 06.02.2010
[9] USA warnen Europa: Eine EU-Armee kann die NATO gefährden; www.abendblatt.de 02.12.2003
[10] Clinton's Remarks on the Future of European Security, January 2010; www.cfr.org
[11] Don't Let EU Army Undermine NATO; blog.heritage.org 09.02.2010
[12] Zeit für eine europäische Armee; www.sueddeutsche.de 13.07.2010