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The Biggest Problem the EU Isn't Talking About


The euro crisis is so large, and its real world effects so tragic, that people often forget that the monetary mess is only one of many areas in which the EU isn’t working. Here’s a big one: Europe doesn’t have a security strategy and doesn’t want to talk about it. Judy Dempsey, editor-in-chief of Strategic Europe at Carnegie Europe, writes in a letter to the New York Times:

“Apart from a very few countries, such as France and Britain, the Europeans have been very complacent about strategic affairs,” said Rem Korteweg, defense expert at the Center for European Reform, a research organization in London. “It’s as if the world outside does not affect them.”

This is confirmed by a new study from the European Council on Foreign Relations that analyzed the national security strategies of the 27 member states. Olivier de France, one of the authors, said the strategies showed that there was no common purpose or common strategic culture that could give Europe’s foreign, security and defense policy substance. “There is no shared ambition about Europe as a global player or about the allocation of defense resources,” Mr. de France said.

The European project, one of the grandest and most ambitious political projects ever devised, is in serious trouble. The US needs and wants a dynamic, successful, and outward-looking Europe.

For a long time, Americans have stayed out of the discussion over Europe’s future. But it may be time for those who care about the Transatlantic alliance to speak up. Europe is in trouble, and smart Europeans are increasingly concerned about the worsening outlook.

The decisions about Europe’s future are not for Americans to make, but the time has come when a few friendly suggestions wouldn’t hurt.

[Broken euro image courtesy of Shutterstock]

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  • lukelea

    The Americans in their quest for empire have pretty much shut Europe out of the security equation. After all Europe faces no military threats on its borders unless you want to count Russia, while the US Navy controls the seas. There’s not much left to do except provide auxiliary troops for US efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan and cooperate in the embargo imposed upon Iran.

    This last is the thing I find most interesting. The EU does command vast economic resources. Its combined economy is bigger than ours. The cheapest and most effective way for it to contribute to world peace and the promotion of human rights and democratic values would be to work with the US, Japan, and our other major allies and trading partners to enforce civilized norms as a condition of doing business with countries like China, Russia, Venezuela, etc. In other words expand what we are now doing to Cuba and Iran.

    Sure, China would be outraged in the beginning. And no doubt Western corporations who have become addicted to low-wage labor in China and the profits they bring, would not be too happy about it. There would be economic dislocations in this country on a scale of those we saw, and are seeing still, when we entered into our no-strings-attached China trade twenty years ago.

    But who is calling the shots here? Big disloyal money? Let’s hope not. In the long-run leveraging the West’s industrial might is the best and well as the cheapest way to obtain our foreign policy goals all over the world. What’s more this opportunity won’t last forever.

    At least this is the way it looks to me. Capital has the power to do good in the world if the countries who control it make the right decisions.

    • Corlyss

      “The Americans in their quest for empire have pretty much shut Europe out of the security equation.”
      Gosh! And the Europeans were soooooooo unwilling and reluctant to be thrown into that briar patch, weren’t they! We had to drag them kicking and screaming into all that social spending in lieu of defense spending! Just a shame what thugs we turned out to be, no?

  • wigwag

    The best proof of the point that Via Meadia makes in this post is provided by the persons selected by the EU to serve as its “High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy.” The person filling that post is the ridiculous Baroness Catherine Ashton of Upholland. A bigger twit you will never see.

    To give Baroness Ashton her due though; she has achieved the impossible. She’s made Secretary of State Kerry look like a veritable savant when it comes to foreign policy. Unfortunately, that’s about the only thing she’s accomplished.

    Actually it’s not hard to understand why she was selected by the EU nations to be their chief diplomat and “go to” person on security affairs. The Baroness embodies all the attributes of the European nations she represents; she’s weak, craven, clueless, credulous and she whines incessantly.

    Europe and Baroness Catherine Ashton of Upgolland; you couldn’t ask for a more perfect match.

    • Corlyss

      “Baroness Catherine Ashton of Upholland. A bigger twit you will never see.”

      Wonder how they recognize her in a political organization consisting of nothing but twits?

  • ljgude

    One senses that China has a national will. Europe? Beyond stuff like regulating the size of Brussels sprouts and scolding Google, its hard to see. With its structurally flawed economic union and cultural fragmentation its an an amalgam rather than a coherent entity. I hope they find their way, but it looks like coming apart to me.

  • Corlyss

    “Europe doesn’t have a security strategy and doesn’t want to talk about it. ”

    This isn’t really news or even a fetching insight. It’s been true and so obvious since 10 Nov. 1989. Huddling under the American shield for 60 years didn’t help them attain a sensible view of their vulnerability. They’ve squandered their money on giving their citizens a false sense of security, replaced God with the State Almighty, and promised Everything to Everyone. Now that the bill comes due, and the world’s become a more dangerous place due to America falling into the hands of a complete incompetent, they discover they have a problem.

  • Pait

    Considering what a mess the Europeans achieve in areas where they have a plan, I think it is better that they do not develop a defense strategy. I feel safer knowing that armies from the free English-speaking peoples continue to have the last word in Germany.

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