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Europe Post-Brexit
The Real Importance of the EU Defense Discussion
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  • Andrew Allison

    The proposal to create a joint European military headquarters and increase cooperation among their armed forces came from Juncker, and represents an attempt to increase the power of Brussels at a time when the tide is going the other way. There already exists a unified military command structure, it’s called NATO.
    Certainly the French will do everything in their power to increase to influence of France vis a vis Germany, and the creation of a joint military command dominated by France but paid for by Germany fulls under that rubric. Whether the Germans are willing to go along is questionable.

    • f1b0nacc1

      The problem (from the point of view of the EUnicks) is that NATO includes (and is dominated by) the Americans, and that means that it is not a truly European institution, as it isn’t answerable to the EU in any meaningful sense.
      Your broader point is entirely correct, especially your caveat that the Germans may not be willing to go along with this….

      • Andrew Allison

        Yes, the concept that he who pays the piper calls the tune does seem to escape them. What the also fail to grasp is the if Europe can (pretend to) defend itself, there’s no need for the US to do so. A parallel organization to NATO would give impetus to the anti-NATO spending argument.

        • f1b0nacc1

          First good argument for an EU army that I have heard. Better still, lets concentrate their minds a bit…the US should withdraw from NATO immediately, offer bilateral agreements with very strict conditions to those countries that can meet them, and let the rest of them rot.

          • Andrew Allison

            I knew you’d like it [grin] The biggest obstacle to a US withdrawal from NATO is, ironically, the US military. Just think of all the staff officers and procurement which would no longer be required, not to mention the loss of tax-payer funded sojourns in Europe.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Tell me about it…I have worked rather extensively with US military in NATO, and it is absolute poison. The single most effective step we could take to both improve our defense posture and reduce our financial burden long-term is to leave NATO immediately.

          • Andrew Allison

            But you repeat yourself [grin] I agree, but the question is not so much what the Idiot, er European Union does but how do we regain control of our very own featherbedding military.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Start making cuts, and target the cuts (which the military cannot control, they have a terrible record of lobbying effectively) at sacred cows. The F-35 is a superb example of something that is begging to be eliminated, and that will destroy a lot of milicrat careers when it is. The LCS program is another one. Start gutting multiple commands by explicitly terminating funding for the programs that support them (NATO is a great example, but most of the ‘Joint’ programs are superb choices as well), and then consolidate commands by region. The key is to kill off the billets, and give the top level officers nowhere to go. Then start killing officer slots by killing the funding directly (preserve the NCOs and enlisted men), and let the swivel chair hussars fight it out amongst themselves.

            Another terribly effective technique is to go after the contractors (big and small, don’t underestimate the cumulative damage done by the little shops), specifically focusing on stopping revolving door hiring (say no hires of military personnel drawing pensions within 10 years of their retirement date, and immediate termination of pensions when hired), and the enforcement of real anti-trust litigation against the biggest contractors (Lockmart and Norgrum should lead the list, but there are plenty of others).

            Of course this works best when you have congress and the presidency controlled by the same party, preventing the JCS and their ilk from arbitraging the leadership. When all this is done (yeah, right…I can dream) take 1/3 of the savings and give it back to the treasury, 1/3 to reform the VA (dependent upon a thorough housecleaning of the staff from top to bottom – this requires serious civil service reform, but since I am dreaming anyway….), and 1/3 to make some useful purchases that meet real defense needs (restart the F-22 production line, talk to General Atomics about their Predator Cs, look into licensing the MEKO frigate designs, and a few others) and won’t break the bank.

  • gabrielsyme

    It is difficult to see how a rival pan-national military structure could possibly increase European security. Internal political machinations between Germany and France, endless debates about procurement, chain of command and deployment policy and a structural rivalry with NATO all point to a European Army weakening rather than strengthening security.

    Moreover, NATO has already produced a disincentive for individual countries to invest in their armed forces, free-riding on the investments of others. A European Army will only compound these problems.

  • Fat_Man

    Yet another reason to dissolve NATO.

  • FriendlyGoat

    The more cohesive Europe is, the better for the USA. WE need to remember that Brexit has not occurred or even been negotiated and when it does, it may be 1/4 or 1/3 or 1/2 of a real exit. The one thing we know is that if Europe goes chaotic, we get drawn in. That was supposed to be what we learned in the 20th century.

    • f1b0nacc1

      Putting aside for a moment the truth of the assertion “a more cohesive Europe is better for the US” (why?), lets remember that we were pulled into the various European squabbles in the 20th century because Europe was at the time the center of the world in all meaningful ways. That is no longer the case, and its irrelevance is likely to increase rather rapidly over time.

      • FriendlyGoat

        You’ll be surprised how relevant Europe will be if it becomes a combination of Russian in some places and Islamic in others.

        • f1b0nacc1

          Russia is an economic basket case in the process of demographic collapse (similar to the EU in that sense), whose only ‘redeeming’ feature (in terms of great power status) is a nuclear arsenal (most of which is rapidly decaying) and a military that is valuable as a policy instrument only on the margins. The Islamic world’s primary geostrategic asset is oil, and that is a rapidly depreciating asset at best. If the EU, the Russians, and the Islamic world end up in each other’s embrace, they are welcome to this rather perverse three-way.
          You still haven’t answered my question….why is a ‘more cohesive Europe’ better for the US?

          • FriendlyGoat

            A more cohesive Europe is the only way we will be in alliance with it.
            We cannot rely on people who are too busy squabbling with each other to be of any value to the “free world”. As for the economic problems of Russia and Islam, those are precisely the reasons they are increasingly dangerous—–not too far different from Kim’s DPRK really. The lower they go, the more bizarre the consequences we can expect from them. Sorta like “clinging to guns (Russia) and religion (lands of Islam).

          • f1b0nacc1

            We are not in alliance with Europe now…they have this bizarre codependency relationship with us, true, but that isn’t an alliance. The Brits, the Poles, and a few others are serious about alliances and the reciprocal responsibilities associated with them, but the French, the Germans, the Italians, etc….hardly. Let them deal with their problems on their own, or come back to us cap in hand with a better understanding of their real status. Europe is not terribly important anymore (you seem to be arguing that they are important because they are important, I don’t mean to be putting words in your mouth here, but you haven’t demonstrated how they provide any useful value to us other than a place to park surplus tanks and provide extra billets for officers who like exotic cuisines), and they represent a net drag on our resources. If they cannot demonstrate otherwise, perhaps it is best to stop writing them a blank check for their own protection.

            Your point regarding the Axis of Evil (you do realize you have in fact defined our enemies the same way as Bush did, don’t you?….you are correct here, but it is amusing…) is reasonable enough, but it is important to recognize that for Russia that ship has sailed, and that for the Caliphate and the Norks, we have made that situation worse by our own failure to act. Decapitating the Iranians and systematically acting to do the same to the Norks isn’t politically feasible, but it is about the only practical way to stop the problem from getting worse anytime soon. The Russians are a mess, but what possible advantage does wasting our time with the EUnicks offer us in dealing with them. Let the Russians act out their fantasies of great powerdom with the Europeans, and see how much luck they have. As for the muzzies, spank them when they get out of line, then ignore them until they do again.

          • FriendlyGoat

            Perhaps my best short answer to your question is found here:

            https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_(nominal)
            It contains lists of GDP by country. The countries of Europe may have immigration problems, but they are not “bit players” on the world stage at this time. Generally they are democratic and share “western” ideas of freedom and governance. Given Russia, China and Islam, it is not in our interest to cheer for the European countries’ decline or to drive them into other orbits. There are only so many friends of substance to have in this world.

          • f1b0nacc1

            Nobody is cheering for the decline of Western Europe, in fact I lament it often. That does not mean, however, that I deny it is happening, or pretend that it is likely to be reversed without very big changes on how they (the EUnicks) decide to handle their future. Incentives matter (I know, this is anathema to the Left, but it is true nonetheless), and if the European states aren’t give clear cut choices, they will not have any incentive to change their ways. The US does not have unlimited resources, and if the EUnicks will not alter their own policies to share a reasonable part of the defense burden, then we can only look to our own interests first, and alter our strategies accordingly.
            Regarding their GDPs, this is all well and good (though I would argue that you are looking at a snapshot…most of these countries will not be major economic powers a generation from now…), but they are military pygmies, with defense establishment that would have a hard time overcoming the concentrated will of a girl’s school for the lame. Their demographics are awful to boot, which means that they have little prospect of changing the trends that lead them to become even more pathetic in terms of military power in the future.
            As for them being ‘democratic’ and sharing ‘western’ values, yes and no. The disaster of uncontrolled immigration from the middle east is doing immense damage to their social structure, and the EU is profoundly anti-democratic at its core. The continued decline of their welfare states are only making the situation worse (note that this will also make it impossible for them to commit any real resources to rehabbing their military establishments over time), and there is very little indication that they have the will or inclination to change this. There are exceptions of course (the Poles, for instance, have shown some reluctance to walk down this dark path, though they also have some ugly authoritarian impulses), but by and large the EUnicks have forfeited the right to demand the benefit of the doubt.
            Rather than simply cling to a group of dying cultures, giving them no reason to change their ways, I propose that the US make it clear that future alliances will be based upon mutual self-interest, and reciprocal responsibilities. “What have you done for me lately” and “what will you do for me in the future” should be a big part of our thinking, as well as what our realistic capabilities and goals are. If we are to prevail over the Axis of Evil, we will do so only by acknowledging not only the threat (and I am pleased to see that we agree on this), but what our realistic options are to cope with it. If the EUnicks wish to change their ways and reform, wonderful…let us welcome them as valued friends…if not, well we can regret their decline even as we understand that it is real.

          • FriendlyGoat

            The more Europe is unified in thought, the more likely it is to recognize its vulnerabilities and be allied in its own tangible defense.
            It’s true that the USA should not be their defender of first resort in this age. But, to me, squabbling and fracturing does not increase their likelihood of success any more than Texas seceding from the United States would make either Texas or the United States more prosperous and secure.

          • f1b0nacc1

            That is a thoughtful and intriguing insight. I am not entirely sure that I agree (one might argue that Europe could unify as a pacifist entity, obsessed with its own internal issues at the expense of everything else, for instance), but there is must to recommend to that line of reasoning. Sadly, I think that given the nature of Europe (the north/south split for instance, and the very large number of completely divergent cultures), that such unification is largely impossible without profoundly anti-democratic (and self-defeating) steps taken to accomplish it.
            The United States succeeded as a continent-spanning entity for many reasons, but one of them was the relatively monolithic culture that inhabited it. In the early days of immigration, we demanded that a melting-pot approach be followed, rather than today’s multiculturalism, for instance. Yes, we are diverse, but only within a fairly narrow range of diversity, and that is a much narrower range than what you see in Europe today. Superstates are not always (or even often?) the solution, and the EU is clearly not succeeding as presently constituted. Truly federalized systems make more sense as a model for these large states (I note here that you and I would probably differ strongly on this), and the failure of the EU’s centralized focus vis a vis the more federalized model of the US may be something of a supporting example.
            As a minor point, I can find plenty of Texans who would tell you that secession would be a great idea for Texas (grin)….

          • FriendlyGoat

            Yes, one might even find 52% of Texans who would like to drag the other 48% through a secession, just as we saw 52% of votes for “leave” and 48% of votes for “stay” in Britain. So I didn’t bring that up for no reason. Slight majorities can be assembled behind big mistakes (grin).
            Europe though, (as you put it earlier) is “important because it is important”. If this wasn’t true, the Islamists would not be trying to either intellectually “capture” it or perform terrorism upon it, no?

          • f1b0nacc1

            I would wager that the number is a LOT higher than 52%….if you dropped Austin out of the voting, it wouldn’t even be close (grin)…

            The Islamists are going where there is money to be had and the resistance isn’t strong. That makes Europe (a rich, senescent society) an easy target. You might argue that the Islamists aren’t trying to capture it intellectually (they rarely do much intellectually, like most barbarians they have little patience for such things), and the use of terrorism is simply a mechanism to bully. It does seem to be working…

            As for ‘why’…Willy Sutton said it best (he really didn’t, but so goes the myth…), “That’s where the money is”

          • FriendlyGoat

            Well, you have been asking me to tell you why Europe is important.
            There you have it.

          • f1b0nacc1

            You have indeed answered my question, and I thank you for that. I don’t agree with you (much of Europe’s wealth is transitory, they have little in the way of real productivity for instance, their military is a disgrace, and the society is circling the bowl), but it is certainly not an unreasonable or irrational point of view. We owe an enormous debt to the Europeans for being so utterly awful that they drove out the only thing of value (our ancestors) that they had….grin…

            Regarding friends not letting friends drive drunk, we can help the EUnicks by offering them a clear choice forward. If they accept it, we can help them, if not, we must do what one does when living with an alcoholic (and I had this very unpleasant experience many years ago), acknowledge that we cannot change them if they don’t want to change themselves, wish them good luck, and get far, far away.

            You might not believe this, but I read HRC and her mini-me’s book. It reads like what it is…a vapid campaign tract. No shame in that, the GOP does that sort of silliness too…and the books is getting the disinterest that it deserves. Might not surprise you though that I loathe the title….

          • FriendlyGoat

            My goodness, I haven’t even read “Stronger Together” yet. Just liked the title.

          • f1b0nacc1

            As the inimitable Mae West said, “goodness has nothing to do with it”

  • FriendlyGoat

    The more cohesive Europe is, the better for the USA. We need to remember that Brexit has not occurred or even been negotiated and when it does, it may be 1/4 or 1/3 or 1/2 of a real exit. The one thing we know is that if Europe goes chaotic, we get drawn in. That was supposed to be what we learned in the 20th century.

  • ljgude

    ” The Western alliance had enough problems already; the next American president is going to face more difficulties in Europe than Barack Obama did.” I have to say that I don’t think that floating a proposal for a joint EU military command is much more than a trial ballon and that in any case the next president will automatically have more problems with Europe because it has lost a key member and is doing nothing to rectify its structural flaw of the unified currency with separate national fiscal policies. I also think the reality of the Russian threat will cool the jets of the French or anyone else who wants to wind down NATO. If the next president is Trump who has said he wants Europe to pay more for NATO, then the EU might say fair enough and we will do it our way along the lines of the current proposal. In any case the EU of the future will be different without the Brits.

  • PierrePendre

    As Mead acknowledges, the last French effort to tether Germany, the euro, backfired disastrously. The euro’s unresolved – and unresolvable? – troubles and the structural weakness of the labour-protective French economy have relegated France to an unaccustomed subaltern role in its EU partnership with Germany and this is unlikely to change regardless of the outcome of national elections in both countries next year. French governments are in permanent thrall to the trades unions and none, of either left or right, has ever devised a workable means of escape. Germans meanwhile have been thoroughly vaccinated against the costs of the sloth and neediness of their Club Med partners in the euro experiment.

    Just as the Germans stuck to their insistence on a hard euro, roping them into a European army is also likely to provoke a counter reaction. The days of the French jockey astride the German horse are over. The formation of a European army without Britain looks more like another inward looking initiative reflecting France’s struggle to remain decisive despite having a weak hand.

    Under American leadership, Nato has worked well compared with UN military peacekeeping efforts in which commanders of national forces have tended to take orders from their capitals rather than the nominal commanders-in-chief and the French have been serial offenders in this respect. In Bosnia, for example, the obedience of French forces was dependent on orders from Paris with sometimes unhappy results. As the Germans and everyone else will be aware, the effectiveness of a European army would be dependent on it being commanded by French generals.

    This is not to denigrate the professionalism of the French military but if the main purpose is to reinforce France’s political influence in Brussels, why would anyone else bother, least of all the Germans.

    Where would a European army fit into a world where not only are Russia and China troublesome but Iran is emerging as a nuclear power and developing the capability to hit EU countries with missiles. Iran wants nukes to cement its place as the preponderant Middle East power which Obama, for some bizarre reason, has thought a good thing. Its capacity for blackmailing everyone around it in future should be terrifying its potential targets into greater cooperation rather than national aggrandisement.

    Europeans could end up bitterly regretting their weakening of Nato and possibily cutting America loose in pursuit of another hubristic, integrationist adventure.

  • Frank Natoli

    The goal of a Europe-only defense organization has been a longtime goal of French policy. It is partly about reducing the power of NATO, an alliance France has thought was too US-centric going back to the time of Charles de Gaulle.
    Precisely. You would think the “goal” is a greater ability to project force when necessary. But it’s not. It’s merely to jettison what’s left of Pax Americana.
    One thing Europeans do better than Americans, or at least the “can do” Americans of yore, is to make the best of an existing situation and, God forbid, make no attempt to change it. You don’t need force de frappe when there is nothing conceivable to require force. Remember, when the Bundeswehr decided to act when the former Yugoslavians were busily mass murdering each other, it had to rely upon USAF assets at Rhein Main to get to the Balkans.
    How pathetic.

  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    “From an American point of view, especially as Russia becomes more aggressive, this is a bad thing. Indeed, the consequences of Brexit for European defense policy and the future of NATO were among the most important reasons that many Americans wanted Britain to remain in the EU.”

    From an American point of view, the NATO countries are a bunch of Parasites, which haven’t been carrying their end of the log since Reagan was President. America needs to dissolve or withdraw from NATO.
    1. Turkey is now an Islamic Dictatorship that has refused America the use of its territory in the “War on Terror”.
    2. Most of the member countries don’t even spend the 2.0% of GDP on their militaries required by NATO membership.
    3. The entire Eastern Flank of NATO has turned Belligerent (Russia, Iran, Turkey) as well as the Southern Flank with all the messes in Islamic Culture dominated countries in North Africa and the Middle-East.
    In Europe America would be much better served by having Bilateral Defense Treaties with individual countries on a case by case basis. Europe as drifted far to the Left, and many of the countries there are now failing because of it. America shouldn’t let them drag it down by protecting them with the Taxpayer’s dollar, if they aren’t willing to make the changes needed to become competitive.

  • f1b0nacc1

    To argue that the French have the most potent military in Europe (now that Britain has departed….or that it will depart…) is roughly akin to saying that it is the Best Ballerina in Galveston. True, but hardly much of a distinction…
    Aside from some nukes of questionable value, a few quite capable special forces, and some marginally useful aircraft, the French military is a ramshackle mess, more valuable as a jobs program than anything else. Granted, this is likely better than most of the rest of Europe, but that says far more about Europe than it does about the French.

  • Gbrandstetter

    Its all moot. The Europeans do not have the demography to create an serious military force. Look at your football team. Its mostly Muslim and african players. Look at French recruits to their armed forces. Muslims. and other immigrants. Who is the threat to Europe. Its not Russia, its the Muslim invasion. So all this talk is about creating another supranational administration of do-nothings. And it plays into trumps hands. If Europe has its own military NATO can be dismantled and Americans can come home.

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