In an intriguing article by Elisabeth Braw in Foreign Policy, she writes that Germany is building an integrated European army of sorts outside the auspices of NATO. The German army, the Bundewehr, is integrating units of smaller European allies into itself. These units supply the men, and the Germans supply materiel such as tanks for the units.
Braw calls Germany’s Framework Nations Concept a “Bundeswehr-led network of European miniarmies.” This makes some sense in a continent filled with a mix of big players like Germany, and smaller micro states like the Netherlands and the Czech Republic. But why does Angela Merkel want to circumvent NATO, which has been purpose built for the protection of Europe?
The idea of a European army has been kicking around since the end of World War I. But as Adriel Kasonta writes in The National Interest, the concept has been receiving new interest of late.
In March 2015, the European Commission chief called for the creation of an “EU joint army” that would “react credibly” to any external threat and defend the bloc’s undefined “values.”
“An army like this would help us to better coordinate our foreign and defense policies, and to collectively take on Europe’s responsibilities in the world,” President Jean-Claude Juncker said in an interview to Germany’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper. “A joint EU army would show the world that there would never again be a war between EU countries,” he added.
Juncker’s plans has been supported by the German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, who toldDeutschlandfunk radio station that a “European army is the future,” and President of the European Council Donald Tusk, who noted that Europeans should consider “a new and more ambitious defense and security policy,” and “not only as part of NATO.”
So it doesn’t come as a surprise that on December 27, during an interview published in the German newspaper Bild am Sonntag, Germany Federal Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said that “we will have to spend a lot more funds for joint European defense initiatives…[as] ultimately our aim must be a joint European army.”
Last year Liam Fox, former defence secretary under British Prime Minister David Cameron, warned against the integration of European armies:
“Those of us who have always warned about Europe’s defence ambitions have always been told not to worry, but step-by-step that ever closer union is becoming a reality. We cannot afford to be conned in this referendum as we were conned in 1975.
“The best way to protect ourselves is to stay close to the US. The US defence budget is bigger than the next 11 countries in the world put together. Europe’s defence intentions are a dangerous fantasy and risk cutting us off from our closest and most powerful ally.
“We’re always told not to worry about the next integration and then it happens. We’ve been too often conned before and we must not be conned again.”
It appears that pro-Europe forces are on a relentless drive to build their own integrated military. Despite the scary implications for European national identities, this might turn out well for those Americans who seek to disengage from world conflict. President Trump has called on NATO allies to spend more on their own defense, but the ultimate goal should be that the Europeans defend themselves completely. Why should America continue to subsidize the wealthiest collection of nations on earth with its military spending?