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Samuel Beckett’s European Army

Wait

Courtesy of John Keogh/Flickr. CC BY-NC 2.0

This article was originally published by Carnegie Europe on 16 December 2016.

Explaining EU defense policy is not easy. But poor communication by the Brussels-based institutions plays into the hands of Euroskeptics and can damage public trust in union policies. In particular, there is no more misleading or damaging phrase than “European army.”

Federalist politicians, like European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, often declare their support for this idea. But like Vladimir and Estragon in Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, they will wait for an eternity before an EU army becomes a reality.

There can be no European army without a European state. And a federal superstate is not in the cards. Those who propose a Euro-army may think that they are furthering their federalist fantasies, but it is not a credible solution to today’s security challenges. If anything, it is easily perceived as either an evil plot or a useless distraction—or both.

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Cuba: Russia’s Unsinkable Aircraft Carrier

The Embassy of the Russian Federation in Havana, Cuba. Image: nickdemarcofoto.com/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by the Jamestown Foundation on 30 October, 2015. Republished with permission.

Despite all of the other major foreign policy issues on its agenda, Russia has not forgotten Cuba. Indeed, it appears that Moscow’s strategic interest in this Caribbean island country has grown steadily, despite reported stagnation in their bilateral economic ties (House.gov, October 22). Recently, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin announced plans to establish a signals calibration center in Cuba for Russia’s Global Navigation Satellite System, more commonly known as GLONASS—the Russian equivalent of the United States’ Global Positioning System (GPS). He also announced that Russia may set up an aviation engineering center in Cuba (TASS, October 22). These initiatives are not coincidences or wholly new gambits. Russia has sought to reestablish military bases in Cuba for some time. For instance, in February 2014, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced that Moscow was seeking a network of global naval bases that included Cuba and Nicaragua; and Russia could be discussing similar arrangements with Argentina as well (RIA Novosti, February 26, 2014). Although Moscow’s top diplomat, Sergei Lavrov, denied that Russia was seeking or needs foreign bases, he did admit that his country wants “repair and maintenance stations” for its ocean-going fleet. Yet, at the same time, Shoigu observed that Moscow not only wanted the use of ports for its ships but also installations for the refueling of its long-range bombers (TASS, March 17, 2014). » More

Europe’s Global Power Potential: Locked in the EU28’s Defence Silos

A British sniper on the Otterburn Training Area in Northumberland. Image: Sgt Russ Nolan RLC/Flickr

This article was originally published by Friends of Europe on 16 December, 2014.

The European Space Agency’s recent bull’s eye shot at a comet shows Europe can be at the cutting edge of innovation when it pools its national efforts. If Europe were to do this for defence, it could regain the global power status it enjoyed before World War I.

Today the EU28 spend only half as much as the United States on defence, even though their combined population is larger. Several factors account for this. First, even if the larger European states were to significantly increase their defence spending, they lack the economies of scale to project power meaningfully. The same would be the case if the United States were divided into many entities with their own separate defence establishments. The smaller European states have even less incentive to increase defence spending since they believe that this would have little impact. » More

Friends Forever? The U.S. and the Future of Japanese Military Power

Photo: Flickr

This article was originally published by War on the Rocks on 5 June 2014

Ever since the conclusion of World War II and the drafting of the new Japanese constitution, Article IX has prohibited Japan from becoming a party to any conflict building a traditional military force. This has become the foundation for Japan’s outlook on regional engagement and its role in the international community.

However, ever since U.S. President George H.W. Bush requested Japanese foreign aid during Operation Desert Shield / Storm, the Japanese Self-Defense Force (JDSF) has cautiously expanded its expeditionary capabilities.

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The Enigma of European Defense

Photo: Eurocorps/Wikimedia Commons.

PARIS – While Europe’s citizens largely support the establishment of a common security and defense policy, most European leaders have demonstrated a clear lack of interest in creating one – including at last month’s European Council meeting. What accounts for this paradox?

One possible explanation is that financially strained European governments lack the means to fulfill their citizens’ expectations. But that is unconvincing, given that the issue was framed in almost identical terms three decades ago, when budgetary constraints were not a problem. In fact, it could be argued that such constraints should spur, not impede, the creation of a European defense structure. After all, member countries would then be able to pool their resources, harmonize programs, and rationalize costs, thereby reducing individual governments’ financial burden.

Another, far more credible explanation is that Europeans’ interpretations of “a more active and stronger security policy” differ widely. Indeed, current discussions in Europe concerning the use of force are dominated by three main perspectives, championed by France, the United Kingdom, and Germany. » More

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