April 26, 2004


While Europe is a eunuch, America is our only shield: We can't walk away from Bush's follies without a credible military alternative (Max Hastings, April 26, 2004, The Guardian)

[E]ven the French and Germans recognise that no responsible nation can simply turn its back on the US. The strange part is that America's critics refuse to take the obvious step further: to recognise that Europe could only afford entirely to distance itself from US policy if it possessed the military means to manage its own security.

Terror within the Ministry of Defence about a breach with Washington reflects our dependence on security and, above all, intelligence cooperation with Washington. European disenchantment with Bush's foreign policy is not reflected in willingness to adopt the obvious remedy: that of creating armed forces capable of acting effectively without the US.

Britain's defence policy today rests on the avowed presumption that we shall never have to engage in conflict without the Americans. This may represent reality, but it is also a huge European abdication of responsibility. If we are really fed up with Bush, if we recognise that no future US president is likely be entirely to our taste, we should surely get on with creating credible European armed forces. As it is, no European nation - with the possible exception of France - shows the smallest interest in spending money or displaying spine for this purpose.

Until we address this, and against the background of a struggle against international terrorism that is likely to grow more alarming rather than less, America remains the indispensable ally and shield. That means George Bush. At the very moment when most of us feel surfeited with the president's vacuous grin and impregnable moral conceit, we cannot walk away from his follies unless or until Europe makes itself something quite different from the eunuch it is today.

Poor Mr. Hastings, doesn't he realize that Europeans will never transfer money from their welfare programs to a develop a significant military and that even if they did spend the money they don't have the young men to staff it nor to build the equipment they'd need? Nor would such a multinational/multilingual/multicultural force ever be even remotely coherent and credible. No transplant is possible for the eunuch.

Here's all you really have to know about Europe's military future: the lingua franca of its young men is Arabic.

Fragmented Europe Invites Terrorism (Sebastian Rotella, April 26, 2004, LA Times)

Despite round-the-clock teamwork by European anti-terrorism agencies in the wake of last month's train bombings here, persistent barriers to cooperation and coordination make Europe vulnerable to attack, senior European and U.S. police officials, prosecutors and other experts say.

Justice systems clash, policing styles diverge, and open borders allow terrorists far more mobility than their pursuers. For years, the Al Qaeda terrorist network has taken full advantage of these factors — and Europe's democratic, tolerant environment — using the continent as a base for recruitment, logistics and plotting attacks elsewhere.

The Madrid attacks, which killed 191 people, showed how Al Qaeda used that infrastructure to carry out its first successful strike in a Western Europe that was caught off guard, investigators say.

"There's a lack of trust among security services and among countries," said Baltasar Garzon, Spain's best-known anti-terrorism magistrate. "There's a lack of solidarity. Self-interest dominates. What we need is a European intelligence community. We are straitjacketed by absurd formalities that distract from what should be essential."

Investigative cooperation depends largely on political dynamics and personal chemistry among Europe's counter-terrorism magistrates, prosecutors, police and spies. Europe wants to build regional justice and policing systems one day, but governments find it hard to relinquish the national security powers that are the core of their sovereignty.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 26, 2004 7:05 AM

Europe has more young men than the USA does, so that can't be right.

It is not so clear to me what sort of force structure Europe does need. Obviously, different from what it's got, but different how? Who and, more especially, where is Europe going to fight?

Europe's problem has generally been lack of will, not lack of munitions or cannon fodder.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at April 27, 2004 1:01 AM

Can't wait to see France and Germany arm their Arabs and Turks.

Posted by: oj at April 27, 2004 8:01 AM