April 8, 2003


Weak Muscles: The unbearable lightness of Brussels. (Geoffrey Wawro, April 8, 2003, National Review)
I met with an American official who deplored the "capabilities gap" dividing the U.S. from its European allies: America buys two thirds of the hardware consumed by NATO and invests three quarters of the alliance's military research and development. In the essential functions of modern war, Europe drops farther and farther behind, spending more on tomato subsidies each year than we spend on an entire Stryker brigade of medium-armored vehicles. Pity the poor European troops hung out on the not-so-sharp end of this system. "Americans," a European officer told me glumly, "suppress air defenses this way: they fly into the enemy air space and zap everything — nothing works afterward, no phones, no computers, no radars, no missiles. None of us Europeans have that capability. Instead, we fly into the enemy air space, trigger his SAMs, and then try to evade them." He pondered for a moment: "We need to get closer to the American system." Indeed: Portugal spends 85 percent of its small defense budget on personnel, and 50 percent of that on pensions. Germany, unable to shed tenured employees to make room for procurement, spends just $40 million a year on new vehicles and $1 billion to repair the old ones. [...]

Since the really important things in Europe are arranged behind closed doors by the national governments (not in the 626-seat EU parliament), Europeans are always grousing about their "democracy deficit." Indeed, the exact nature of Europe's parliamentary system befuddles most Europeans, who see no linkage between their votes in EU elections and the 95,000 pages (at last count) of European laws and regulations, all of which seem to issue from unelected Eurocrats in the EU Commission and Council. Despite those vast crowds surging through the streets of Europe to protest Operation Iraqi Freedom, the European parliament has little impact on EU foreign or security policy, which remains the province of foreign and defense ministries in the member states. Revealingly, the EU has no commissioner for military affairs. Environment, fisheries, social affairs, and culture merit commissioners, but not the armed forces. [...]

The EU will probably not fail, but it will not overpower the U.S. anytime soon. It will expand as a kind of nanny state, customs union, and international-relations ombudsman. It speaks now in the name of the U.N. because its most strident member has a Security Council seat and because Brussels has no working military machinery of its own to assist or obstruct the U.S. In Iraq, the EU failed to confront a tyrant and rescue a suffering people, preferring to repeat old patterns of appeasement that have their root in domestic worries and military weakness, the same factors that caused European appeasement in the 1930s. The U.S. must work with the Europeans and hear and respect their views, but it should never weaken strong policy initiatives — like Operation Iraqi Freedom — for the sake of a false or hypocritical consensus.

It's disturbing when even the critics don't get it. The EU will, of course, fail. As a burgeoning nanny state with a declining population in real terms and a declining ratio of natives to Islamic immigrants it is not merely destined for economic and geo-political decline, it is most likely headed towards massive internal disruptions as young are pitted against old, "Europeans" are pitted against "Arabs", and more successful economies (Ireland's) are pitted against disastrous ones (France's). Here is what Europe's future looks like. Posted by Orrin Judd at April 8, 2003 4:40 PM

The article on the future of France is chilling to say the least.

Posted by: Bart Rhodes at April 9, 2003 12:06 PM

But tells you why they're afraid of stirring the hornets' nest.

Posted by: oj at April 9, 2003 8:37 PM