Small Wars Journal

A European Army? The Germans and Dutch Take a Small Step

A European Army? The Germans and Dutch Take a Small Step by Katrin Bennhold – New York Times

… though, the idea has taken on new urgency because of the Trump administration’s threat to withdraw the Continent’s security guarantee if it does not spend more on its defense. At a high-level security conference last weekend, the breach between the United States and Europe burst into the open, leaving many European officials feeling increasingly on their own.

“Everyone is talking about a European army,” Lt. Col. Marco Niemeyer, the German commander of the battalion, said. “We are pioneers.”

Yet if some powerful European leaders are talking more loudly about a European military, the political moment is fraught. Populist parties are surging across the Continent, amid a rising nationalism that threatens European cohesion and has made the prospect of surrendering sovereignty on a sensitive issue like national security even harder. Moreover, the practical challenges to more credible European defense cooperation are immense.


For any progress, analysts agree that Germany, Europe’s biggest and richest country, must do more, including overcome its post-World War II reluctance to lead in strategic matters. The German military already has too few soldiers, too little equipment and faces shortages of just about everything, even thermal underwear, which in some cases is being reclassified as “functional” so that it can be reused by others…

Read on.


Bill C.

Fri, 02/22/2019 - 12:06pm

1.  With regard to "hard power," Europeans and the American do seem to see the world differently, as noted in this excerpt from a 2014 "Politico" piece:


"On major strategic and international questions today, Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus; they agree on little and understand one another even less," he adds.

Kagan argues that since the end of the Cold War, Europe and the US have developed fundamentally different views of just what sort of place the world is and should be.

He says the EU regularly defends the idea of a world where the rule of law rather than sheer brute force should decide how things are done. This is why it has supported initiatives such as the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, the international criminal court and a rules-based global trading system, to mention just three examples of where Washington has been accused of arrogantly ploughing its own furrow since George W. Bush became president.

The US, on the other hand, sees the world as an essentially anarchic and violent place where sometimes the only way to deal with international problems is by showing who's boss, with military force if needs be.


(We should note that Kagan is the author of the 2003 book "Of Paradise and Power: America and Europe in the New World Order," wherein, he coined the "Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus"  phrase.)

2.  Now, however, with the U.S. seeming to withdraw from such things as the "democracy promotion" stage, should we say that the Europeans and the Americans also disagree as relates to such things as the strategic use of "soft power?"

3.  Possibly stated another way, do the Europeans agree with the U.S. as relates to the idea of -- as the Trump NSS appears to do --

a.  Abandoning "idealism" and

b.  Embracing "realism" instead?


If Europe wants to secure its fate, it will have to balance European idealism with a renewed realism. Europeans should rediscover their own form of realpolitik and strategic analysis. The long European history provides an important point of departure. Europe can learn a lot from how independent strategic thinking is encouraged in the United States.


(Herein, it is upon such questions that the fate of a "European Army" -- yes or no -- will rest?)