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#14764901

Why Europe became a baby

Has Europe been infantilised? Is it now less capable than other regions or nations of determining its future with the force and strength required to preserve the coherent governance and relatively high standards of living that it’s shown since the last war? That war, devastating as it was, seemed to teach a series of lessons on how to avoid more war, grow economies and remain a centre – even, the centre – of world power

Were the lessons wrong? Here are some reasons for asking the question.

For most of the post-war period, the states of Europe, both the majority within the European Union and the few which have remained outside, have been covered by a security umbrella held over our heads by the United States. Earlier this week, a U.S. armoured brigade disembarked in the northern German port of Bremerhaven: it will base itself in Poland, and spread out eastwards next month to the Baltics, Romania and Bulgaria. The tiny Baltic states – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – border Russia; the coasts of Romania and Bulgaria are on the Black Sea, which Russia controls.

"Let me be clear,” said U.S. Air Force Lieutenant General Tim Ray, deputy commander of the U.S. European Command, as the tanks clanked on to Bremerhaven’s streets. “This is one part of our efforts to deter Russian aggression, ensure the territorial integrity of our allies and maintain a Europe that is whole, free, prosperous, and at peace". For decades, Europe’s instinct has been to send for the U.S. cavalry, once threatened. And the U.S. instinct has been to send them: it has, said General Ray, a “rock solid commitment to Europe”.

The United States, at first reluctantly, has since the 1940s taken on the responsibilities of a hegemonic power with increasing enthusiasm: nowhere has that posture been more “‘rock solid”’ than in Europe. The Europeans have done their part – most (not all) are members of NATO, and contribute to its force levels. But most – including the major states of France, Germany and Italy – pay less than the agreed 2 percent of GDP on defense: the United States put in $650 billion in 2015, 3.61 percent of GDP. The Europeans are not free riders, but they are easy riders. The ride has suddenly become rougher.

Europe, with Britain (2.21 percent of GDP spent on defense in 2015) as a partial exception, developed a worldview in keeping with its modest defense spending. It was a “post modern” view, one which transcended both the nation state and the multinational empires of the 19th and early 20th century – the last of these, the Soviet Empire, collapsing in the 1980s, seeming to put a last full stop to an era.

Most European politicians, and U.S. liberals, endorsed the coming of the new era: the most active and subtle ideologist of the view was the British diplomat-cum-intellectual Robert Cooper, an adviser both to Tony Blair and to the European Union’s foreign policy chief (1999-2009), Javier Solana. In an influential essay in 2002, Cooper wrote that the main features of the post modern state were “breaking down of the distinction between domestic and foreign affairs; mutual interference in (traditional) domestic affairs and mutual surveillance; the rejection of force for resolving disputes; the growing irrelevance of borders; and security… based on transparency, mutual openness, interdependence and mutual vulnerability”.

When U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry condemned Russia’s aggression in Ukraine in 2014, he said that “"You just don't in the 21st century behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pretext” – an echo of Cooper’s “rejection of force”. Yet it now sounds like the last blast of the trumpets of a defeated army: Russia, hardened by life in a tough geopolitical neighborhood, did invade Ukraine, on the pretext – not, in President Vladimir Putin’s mind in the least “‘trumped up”’ – that it is inseparably bound to Russia, while Putin and most Russians believe Crimea, annexed in 2014, has always been Russian. The annexation, as the University of California political scientist Daniel Treisman wrote, overturned “in a single stroke the assumptions on which the post–Cold War European order had rested”.

Finally, many European leaders – again, excepting the British – at least publicly believed in a secular paradise, which would be a federal European state. Last summer, then-Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi invited German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande to meet on the island of Ventotene where, in 1941, Altiero Spinelli, then a prisoner of the Fascist government, wrote a manifesto calling for a united Europe. In later life, he became an EU commissioner in Brussels, where the building housing the EU’s parliament bears his name. The three leaders paid homage at his tomb: Renzi dismissed Britain’s recent vote for Brexit, and said that “Europe after Brexit will relaunch the powerful ideals of unity and peace, freedom and dreams”.

Yet, like children unable to give concrete forms to their dreams, European leaders have taken only the most hesitant steps towards closer union. The growth and popularity of the nationalist parties of the right almost everywhere has imposed a kind of stasis on the continent’s politics: the hope is that in Dutch, French and German elections this year the nationalists will be defeated and the progress towards closer union re-started.

Even if that happens, such a rekindling of the ideal will be hard to make concrete. This week, Germany’s former Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer wrote that “the EU should be preparing for some profound shocks. The incoming U.S. president, an exponent of the new nationalism, does not believe in European integration”, pointing out that Trump has suggested he may not uphold NATO treaties to protect any threatened member. Fischer’s antidote is a European military, developed by Germany and France: a project often mooted, never seriously pursued.

Brexit, a shock all around, will combine with a Trump presidency to force the EU to put away childish things, and ask hard questions of itself. Infancy may be ending: always a hard transition.

Reuters

It's not quite the "end of history" yet. One can only marvel at the hubris and stupidity of people like Cooper and Fukuyama. The problem is that "intellectuals" like this often advise our politicians and they sometimes believe this advice and then act accordingly.

The question now is: Will Europe grow up?

(Note that I said Europe, not EU. ;) )
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#14764946
It will need another war to wake up. Luckily, we already have an army of people with a clearly expansionist and violent ideology in our midst. :roll:
#14764959
I sense the end of NATO, and not because of this 2% bollocks. The EU wants to pull in resources to create one large army. The US under 'Trump' has pretty much declared a hatred of the EU (seems strange to provoke a fight with a proven ally). Europe has no real threats to it apart from Russia and they don't have the population to do a ground offensive to take all of the continent or the money (to finance a war) to be a real threat to them either. And then there is Global opinion. So when you weight all this up, along with the fact that the cold war is over, why do we still need NATO? After all, the US's war policy decisions has been the main cause of Europes problems since 9/11. Europe, mainly due to NATO, has always backed the US in all their illegal wars (hence backed their problems). Maybe NATOs demise coupled with treaty agreements might in the end be beneficial for everyone.
#14765003
B0ycey wrote:I sense the end of NATO, and not because of this 2% bollocks. The EU wants to pull in resources to create one large army. The US under 'Trump' has pretty much declared a hatred of the EU (seems strange to provoke a fight with a proven ally). Europe has no real threats to it apart from Russia and they don't have the population to do a ground offensive to take all of the continent or the money (to finance a war) to be a real threat to them either. And then there is Global opinion. So when you weight all this up, along with the fact that the cold war is over, why do we still need NATO? After all, the US's war policy decisions has been the main cause of Europes problems since 9/11. Europe, mainly due to NATO, has always backed the US in all their illegal wars (hence backed their problems). Maybe NATOs demise coupled with treaty agreements might in the end be beneficial for everyone.


Proven Ally? Only Proven Ally is Britain and Russia, the rest were either proven enemies or inept Allies. Only those countries fought alongside us against a powerful enemy and together we won. Germany now for some reason is a proven Ally? Poland? Italy? Fucking France?
#14765009
:eh: You really think Russia is your "proven ally," just because their and your interests happened to coincide almost a century ago?

Oookayyy then...
#14765226
B0ycey wrote:I sense the end of NATO, and not because of this 2% bollocks. The EU wants to pull in resources to create one large army.

I disagree, mainly because the EU and most of its member states have not seriously thought about security for a long time outside the NATO alliance where they have, as mentioned in the article, relied predominantly on the US. Their main objectives with respect to military cooperation have always been more EU integration and cutting costs. With few exceptions they are so woefully unequipped to replace NATO, I'm actually worried for European security if they get serious and try it.

Rugoz wrote:Oh now Russia is suddenly a threat and not a friend anymore? :lol:

In case that was directed at me, I have never called Russia a friend. And yes, Russia is certainly dangerous and is not only doing everything to protect its sphere of influence but can be expected to try and expand it in the future, especially since it has now outmaneuvered the west twice, once in Ukraine and once in Syria. However, Putin is not some kind of irrational lunatic that cannot be negotiated with, so I absolutely welcome the idea that the US and Russia try to come to an understanding and if that is not possible a stalemate in the cold war tradition. At the same time, showing weakness or lack of resolve should interests clash - imagine for example a renewed conflict in the Balkans - would be equally disastrous as not trying to talk and reopen back-channels. We need both.
#14765227
Rugoz wrote:Oh now Russia is suddenly a threat and not a friend anymore? :lol:

Europe doesn't need to spend more, it needs to spend it more effectively.


The alt-right goes from "Russia is our ally" to "we worry about European security from Russian aggression" should the EU deal with its own security in a jiffy.
#14765230
The alt-right goes from "Russia is our ally" to "we worry about European security from Russian aggression" should the EU deal with its own security in a jiffy.


I think Europe and the US need to share blame on this one. The US wanted to be the protector and Europe said, "sure spend your money." Both were being short sighted, as politicians tend to be. Europe should never have allowed it and the US has no need to have armed forces in Europe. There is no excuse for Europe not being militarily capable of defending itself.
#14765338
Kaiserschmarrn wrote:I disagree, mainly because the EU and most of its member states have not seriously thought about security for a long time outside the NATO alliance where they have, as mentioned in the article, relied predominantly on the US. Their main objectives with respect to military cooperation have always been more EU integration and cutting costs. With few exceptions they are so woefully unequipped to replace NATO, I'm actually worried for European security if they get serious and try it.


I would put things differently, but most of what you write here is true. And this is the real reason that NATO countries that have spent less than 2% on defence have kept mostly quiet when the subject comes up. But NATO today is obsolete and in essence could become a treaty. And if the EU does create its own defence force in a decade or so time, I think EU countries will start pulling out of NATO because they won't need it. But that is my opinion. Perhaps I will be wrong. We'll see.
#14765657
B0ycey wrote:
I would put things differently, but most of what you write here is true. And this is the real reason that NATO countries that have spent less than 2% on defence have kept mostly quiet when the subject comes up. But NATO today is obsolete and in essence could become a treaty. And if the EU does create its own defence force in a decade or so time, I think EU countries will start pulling out of NATO because they won't need it. But that is my opinion. Perhaps I will be wrong. We'll see.

I may be misunderstanding what people mean when they say "NATO is obsolete". For me it's always been a defense pact and they are never obsolete unless they can be replaced by something equivalent or better. NATO is based on a treaty (the North Atlantic Treaty), so I'm not sure what you mean by "in essence could become a treaty".

99% of the time defence is about safeguarding against present and future (often unknown or difficult to predict) threats. 99% of the time people seem to ignore the latter when they talk about NATO or defence in general.

I think you are right that if the EU creates a joint defence force in the future, we can expect the member states to pull out of NATO. One of the problems I have with the way this has been debated is that Continental Europeans often claim and probably truly believe that they are prevented from creating their own defence pact by the UK, but this is only true in an EU context. Nothing prevents them from agreeing to a joint defence and starting to build a structure similar to NATO. If they really thought NATO was obsolete and/or were truly concerned about European security, they would have done so years ago. So all this talk that they can finally go ahead building a joint defence now that Britain will leave is in my view just about more EU rather than a genuine concern about European security. In that sense, it's analogous to the eurozone which was also about more EU integration rather than a genuine belief in the economic benefits. Things like this are almost always a bad idea and come back to bite you.
#14765678
Kaiserschmarrn wrote:I may be misunderstanding what people mean when they say "NATO is obsolete". For me it's always been a defense pact and they are never obsolete unless they can be replaced by something equivalent or better. NATO is based on a treaty (the North Atlantic Treaty), so I'm not sure what you mean by "in essence could become a treaty".


Close, but you left out the last and most vital word 'Organisation'. NATO is an organisation. It was needed during the 'Cold War', but today what use is it? To me it is obsolete. A basic treaty of alliances would work just as well as a deterent.

99% of the time defence is about safeguarding against present and future (often unknown or difficult to predict) threats. 99% of the time people seem to ignore the latter when they talk about NATO or defence in general.


Hence you have alliances. Europe doesn't need NATO. It needs the USA. NATO is a complete waste of time if the USA wasn't in it. So with that logic why waste time and money on a project when a basic US treaty will do?

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