Towards a European Army
French president Emmanuel Macron completed his visitation of the battlefield dead, a homage to the poilus of 1914-1918, 11/11/2018. He expressed his exasperation at having to protect his country from Russia, China and now recently, the United States. Macron defends the idea of a sovereign and powerful Europe with a steadfast Army and most importantly proposes a true dialogue with Russia concerning security. There is now a new transatlantic context.
Bonding with the United States is not indispensible. An autonomic strategy for Europe, must be considered because Europe is now alone according to Le Monde. Two weeks earlier the US ambassador to NATO along with the US Defence Secretary and the US Secretary of State stated that France understands US preoccupations. Less diplomatically, the truculent US president, was furious with the French president's desire to protect Europe with an European Army from the United States, 'now pay your NATO contributions!'
France co-operates with the United States on anti-terrorism operations whilst intervening with air strikes in Syria, alongside British and American tanks, deploying with US forces in the Sahel which happens during the current US presidency and at the same time constructing a European defence.
The European Union (EU) recognises the new foreign policy of the ourselves alone US president. The German (CDU) president who deals with foreign affairs in the German Bundestag has stated that France and Germany along with some other countries will deal with defence within the constitutions of this unspecified group. Three weeks after the election of the current US president the Centre for Analysis and Strategy of the European Commission in Bruxelles produced a document on the consequences for Europe if the current US president were elected. The political answer is to unify Europe and not to show weakness. France, in its bilateral security relations with Washington are excellent however since 1966 the year France left NATO and France's permanent position on the UN security council along with their nuclear weapons ensures this trans-Atlantic alliance could progress but the moment has arrived to develop an autonomous strategy of defence. France does not have excessive commerce with the US on which the US president can take revenge.
The audacity of the discourse on Europe at the Sorbonne, September 24, 2018, president Macron said Europe is under pressure between the Rhine and the English Channel. Together Europe must have a collective advantage. Berlin recognises Macron's initiative, yet Germany is not ready to convert national security to a European wide role. In Berlin this malaise is existential with Germany's security linked with the US. Germany's liberal democracy, relations with Russia are increasingly aggressive, the dealings with an unpredictable US president along with Brexit and the rise of populism. Germany prospered under US security and does not want this system changed. The 1989 revolution, reunification in 1991, a system of zero menace where Germany recovered economically and politically. After 1945 Germany their never again and never alone policy leads to the current dependence on the US which now wants to interdict this security alliance. This denial leads to the current impasse.
At the 2014 Munich Security conference, Germany was urged to take on its duties in the world order. Germany will arrive at a destination, fortunately at the right side of history. One month later Russia annexed the Crimea, one year later ISIS attacked Europe and the migration crisis escalated. All the post war certitudes disappeared. Today it is urgent to invest in Europe, political certainty is imminent. Macron's forceful ideas are not supported by a strong French economy nor by the sclerosis of German democracy. The US president could say 'I am leaving'.
Germany is an economy and the European Council on Foreign Relations describes Germany as reluctant to think or take action on defence. Chancellor Merkel stated after the US presidential election that Europe must take care of its own destiny implying a new trans-Atlantic alliance, her response to 'America First' is 'Europe United'. Not all Europeans' reaction to 'America First' is the same, 'Poland First' is Polish president Andrzej Duda's response. At present Poland is the best friend of the US where the US president visited first in July 2017. Poland is governed by a nationalist government who play games with Bruxelles. Warsaw set up the Initiative of the Three Seas (EU countries bordering the Baltic, Adriatic and the Black Sea) in 2017 with the support of the US president. Germany says this will split the EU. US says this initiative is as important as the EU and NATO.
Energy is an important sector for Washington and Warsaw, in particular the gas pipeline, Nord Stream 2, under construction under the Baltic sea in order to supply Germany with gas sold by Gazprom which is administered by the former German Chancellor. The Americas would prefer to supply Europe with liquified gas (LNG) through Poland which is 30% more expensive than Russian gas. Of course the US president highlights German dependence on Russian gas.
American interest in Poland concerns their armaments industry, Poland, part of NATO, buys its military equipment from the US which confirms the US insistence on 2% of GDP to be spent on defence, so thoroughly mercantile. So, why did Belgium buy F35 fighter jets from the US a common European strategy with US war materiel?
President Duda offered the US 2 $billion to construct 'Fort US president' on Polish territory. The west is constrained not to deploy troops on the territory of new NATO members, but Poland needs protection. The Americans have 35,000 US troops in Germany but Poland is more exposed to the Russian menace. Le Monde confirms it will not abandon Europe. The US will consider two Polish demands; more visas for Polish immigrants in the US and sanctions against Germany over Nord Stream 2.
The autonomous strategy of Macron is perceived as anti-American. The Poles believe this is dangerous, almost accepting the Russian violations since 1945. Paris wants to revoke article 42-7 of the Treaty of Lisbon the clause on mutual defence an alternative to clause 5 of the Atlantic charter. This is the subject of discussion among European partners.
France discussed strategy with the UK a country with a world vision. The UK is captivated by Brexit, yet rapprochement with the US, NATO and the UN allows the UK to remain close to France. A military co-operation between 9 European countries remains the premier structure post-Brexit. Fortunately an American hero remains in Washington, General James Mattis, the Secretary for Defense, the White House, purged of moderates, Mattis remains the 'Last of the Mohicans.'
At the NATO summit, Europeans were united in response to the vituperative US president. The president's declaration that Mattis is politically loyal and and a solid intellectual where the team is devoid of competence and ideology and when Mattis is competent and non ideological yet there is no guarantee of his longevity. The pentagon determines defence policy however if Mattis leaves the military industrial US policy must be protected. 'Mad Dog' Mattis has become 'Moderate Dog' Mattis by the US president who publicly declares him a Democrat.
If Europe remains weak in face of the US, China and Russia, so, Europe must become the focus of action in this multi-polar world enfolding before our eyes. Europe could unite with the US to face down China's strategies yet this dialogue has deserted the western world.
European co-operation is quite well advanced. The UK set up the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force with France in 2010; followed by the 2015 Joint Expeditionary Force with the Baltic States, Scandinavia and Holland; Nederlands 43rd Mechanised Brigade is based with Germany's 1st Armoured Division; A German battalion is integrated into a Polish Brigade which is part of a German Division; a Franco-German Brigade is deployed in Mali; the Dutch and Belgian navies are integrated for decades.
The EU launched 'permanent structured co-operation' Pesco in 2017 aimed at integrating defence strategies across the EU. All 28 members except the UK, Denmark and Malta joined up.
Source: La stratégie du cavalier seul. Le Monde, Mardi, Novembre 13, 2018
Source: La Stratégie du cavalier seul, Horizons, Le Monde, Mardi, Novembre 208