Despite NATO’s warning and Washington’s active attempts to prevent a joint European Military force without the United States, Europe continues to insist on building one. In September, another proposal was voiced in the European Parliament by the EU’s largest political party, the European People’s Party (EPP), which voted to create a European military unit independent from NATO. According to MEPs, Europe should organize its armed forces without relying on NATO.
The EPP’s Twitter page calls for creating a new European military to work more cohesively as part of the EU’s ongoing common defense and security strategy. It is proposed to deploy from 5 to 20 thousand soldiers of the “united army” at the first stage. Still, there is political opposition in the EU that is clearly under the influence of Washington and categorically against this, declaring its support of NATO. However, the number of those in favor is growing, especially after the US and NATO debacle in Afghanistan. Moreover, even EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, said that Europe should become more independent from the US and create its own army. Explaining his position, Borrell pointed out in the New York Times, September 1, “The timing and nature of the withdrawal were set in Washington. We Europeans found ourselves — not only for the evacuations out of the Kabul airport but also more broadly — depending on American decisions.” In this regard, he said, the European Union is working on “European Strategic Compass,” a document that will precisely define Europe’s ambitions for security and defense for the next five to 10 years. The amount of funding has been announced – six billion euros will be spent for this purpose over the next six years. In future, the European Union intends to conduct military operations on its own, and if necessary, without relying on NATO and US forces.
For European countries, NATO has long ago turned into a political and military “black hole” that sucks and nullifies the armies of the joining nations, making them unable to do anything, forcing alliance members to feed the Washington-centric transatlantic military, political bureaucracy, and the sharks of the military-industrial complex. During the years of their membership in NATO, despite enormous military expenditures from France, Germany, and Italy, who are consistently in the top ten of all spending countries, armies of the European countries have reduced themselves in quantity and quality several and even ten times over. They critically lack serviceable and modern military equipment; most of their tanks, armored vehicles, aircraft, and helicopters are out of order. They lack ammunition and the most basic equipment and means of communication. Although NATO accounts for 70 percent of the world’s military expenditures statistically, all of this leads to a decrease in the interest of European countries in supporting NATO.
Indeed, such a position of the European Union is perceived with anxiety in Washington and the North Atlantic Alliance, as the USA, which plays the first fiddle in NATO, does not benefit from European independence. Consequently, the White House will do everything possible to put the EU back to the stable. And so, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg immediately stated that the intention of the European Union to defend itself can only result in a collapse and that a joint European army would allegedly only divide the region. At the same time, it has long been no secret that there is a growing internal crisis within the structures of the North Atlantic Alliance, which in no way helps the EU to feel secure. For example, Turkey disdainfully ignored the US demand to refuse to buy Russian air defense systems, S-400 surface-to-air missile systems. One might also recall the recent maritime conflict between Greece and Turkey, where warships were on standby to use their weapons on each other, all the while Washington and NATO stood aside, as they did in the August events in Afghanistan. Therefore, it is not surprising that more and more countries realize that there is and will be no “collective security” and that national defense issues, in case of aggravation of the international situation, will continue to be resolved by everyone independently.
Moreover, there has recently been growing dissatisfaction with American nuclear weapons in Europe in many EU countries because in this way the United States might pose a threat to the EU. Therefore, in various European media, one can now increasingly come across the opinion that the hour is not far off when NATO will cease to exist, not only because it is useless but also because of its hostility to Europe. And, having defined the external threats, the European Union will be able to make independent decisions on creating management structures, which national armed forces will be assigned to.
Amid fears that a pan-European army would allegedly undermine NATO, French Defence Minister Florence Parly said that “any European capabilities will strengthen” the North Atlantic Alliance. The creation of an EU rapid reaction force is expected to take place as early as 2022. Meanwhile, The Daily Telegraph states that to bolster its demands for an EU army, Paris has attempted to exploit the negative impact on France and Europe of the AUKUS defense pact between the USA, Australia, and Great Britain, which seek to pool resources to develop weapons and new battlefield technologies to the apparent detriment of military ties with the EU.
It is clear that the US and NATO debacle in Kabul is just a pretext – such plans have been hatching in the EU before. This means that NATO is coming to an end since the members of a future EU army will not maintain both the North Atlantic Alliance and themselves simultaneously for a long time. Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, speaking at the European Parliament in Strasbourg in September, said it was necessary to speed up the creation of the EU Army on the way to further developing the European defense alliance because of the lack of confidence in the United States. She noted that the foundation of the EU Army is already in place, and what is now needed is the political will to use military tools in international affairs without the help of the US and NATO. The President of the European Commission, the EU government, has announced that a summit will be held in France next year specifically dedicated to the development of the EU’s military structure. It will make crucial decisions that will give a new quality to the European Army.
The alliance between France and Germany, turning the EU into a real geopolitical competitor of the United States and the Anglo-Saxon countries who joined them, which is impossible without a military component, has caused anger in Washington and a desire to punish its organizers. Therefore, the struggle to create a European army independent of the US will continue, as will Washington’s opposition to this process.
Vladimir Odintsov, political observer, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.