The EU Army

Staying on the theme of a military’s true purpose, the EU is rushing forward with plans to create an army now they’re free of Britain’s long-standing objections:

An EU army moved a major step closer today as 23 member states signed up to an historic pledge to join forces despite warnings it could undermine Nato.

Poland demanded the new organisation not be ‘competitive’ with Nato before signing up to the plan. The agreement is set to be finalised at next month’s meeting of EU leaders.

To be honest, I think there is absolutely no chance any EU army would be competitive with Nato: the latter is basically the term used for an American army fighting off invading Russians (or, more recently, meddling on Russia’s borders) and there is no way in hell any soldier marching under an EU flag is going to fight Russians. They may put on a nice parade as Russia occupies a Baltic State or two in a hastily-agreed ceremony marking “joint sovereignty”, but that’s about it. They pretty much admit as much here:

The EU can also bring its political and financial weight to bear on security challenges, such as the use of development aid in Africa, where Nato has no real foothold.

By which they mean they can document tribal massacres as they occur.

EU officials insist this is not just bureaucratic co-operation, but real investment that will help develop Europe’s defence industry and spur research and development in military capabilities that the bloc needs most.

Under Pesco, EU countries will commit to increase military spending, but not to specifically adhere to Nato’s bottom line of moving towards 2 per cent of gross domestic product for defence budgets by 2020.

Even assuming this money materialises – a big assumption – note what they want to spend it on. Not main battle tanks, attack helicopters, artillery, or heavy-lift aircraft but R&D. I doubt they’ll even manage this: whatever dribble of money actually gets allocated will be swallowed up by sprawling, squabbling bureaucracies with the rest going to French and Belgian defence companies to protect jobs.

To explain this, one needs to understand what this army is really for. The first deployment of an EU army in an action involving a weapon larger than a rifle will be within the EU’s borders and the enemy will be people the EU considers citizens. This is an EU army after all, and its first role is to protect the interests of the EU – and by that I mean the political body that sits in Brussels, rather than citizens of the member states. If they need to go and shoot some uppity civilians to maintain their grip on power that’s what they’ll do, and indeed I suspect that’s what this army is really for.

My only surprise is that Hungary and the Czech Republic signed up to it. You’d have thought they’d see the dangers of this a mile off, but apparently not. Time will tell if they come to regret it.

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31 thoughts on “The EU Army

  1. I think there is absolutely no chance any EU army would be competitive with Nato

    On the contrary, an EU force would ineluctably crowd out NATO in the European theatre unless one assumes that Germany, say, separates its NATO arm from its EU arm or that the EU itself becomes a member of NATO which would infringe the neutrality of some member states were it even possible, which I doubt.

    Poland is whistling in the wind if it believes its security is uncompromised and if, as you say, the EU army “puts on a nice parade as Russia occupies a Baltic State or two” (or three), you concede that NATO’s involvement in defending the integrity of NATO member countries has been suspended.

  2. The EU’s problem is a lack of clear objectives, which is a result of a lack of a clear sense of self.

    I could think of no better way of achieving European solidarity than by defending Europe from the tides of immigration crossing the Med.

    I can think of no better way of reducing European solidarity than by forcing member states to compromise their internal security and their culture by taking in more immigrants.

  3. It’s high time NATO was disbanded. Next time France gets itself into military trouble we can at least turn round and say, sorry chums you are on your own this time.

  4. It’s high time NATO was disbanded.

    I think it’s high time the Americans said asked Europe – particularly Germany – to state clearly whether it still considers an invasion by Russia to be a credible threat. If the answer is yes, Nato members have a set period to commit to the agreed levels of spending. If no, Nato winds down and the Americans go home.

    Of course, first we need to revert to Nato being a defence pact against a Russian invasion of western Europe and not some silly political project. Macedonia, FFS!

  5. No EU contry can met it’s NATO commitments and also commit units to an EU army. This will essentially finish gutting the Euorpean element of NATO. I would expect NATO to disappear, or change into some set of committees with nothing behind it.

  6. I mean, what trade block *doesn’t* have its own army?

    Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?

    Oh, wait, no, this is another consequence of Ever Closer Union leading to a United States of Europe.

  7. A new Reich is emerging on the continent. We are well off out of it. The EUSSR makes me deeply uncomfortable in every way – it won’t end well.

  8. I would imagine that the first actions of any European defence force would be concentrated in the Med, and also in Africa. This would involve making the seas completely safe for ill-prepared economic migrants, and air-lifting into Europe millions of Sub-Saharan Africans who are too poor to make it up to what used to be Libya. It’s a colossally ambitious project, but given the political will and vast sums of money, it is possible.

  9. Sam you overlooked surpressing Catalan independence activists and religious Polish catholics.

  10. @ Patrick

    True enough, but that will be round two. I don’t think they will be allowed stuff like guns and radios until everyone speaks German.

  11. A vanity project, and a vanity project with geo-political consequences – not a happy combination.

    The Euro was also a vanity project but the consequences were (are) “only” economic – to the grand panjandrums in Brussels, a swathe of youth unemployment from Porto to Thessaloniki is a price worth paying to tick the “own currency” box on their gantt chart to a united states of Europe.

    I would suggest that the consequences of a Euro Army risk being even more baleful.

    It would be mildly surprising about Poland Hungary and Czecho signing up if it wasn’t for the fact we know all about the EU’s methods of persuasion for recalcitrant governments. It is also likely that their populations who have rather bigger balls than their governments will kick up a hell of a stink. I hope so.

  12. One of the earliest uses of an army by the US was putting down the Whiskey Rebellion: (WKPD) “The federalized militia force of 12,950 men was a large army by American standards of the time, comparable to Washington’s armies during the Revolution.”

    And yet the rebels were only advocating the same cause as “the Revolution” had, namely the American’s natural right to evade taxes.

    When a US army was eventually called on to fight a foreign army on its own soil i.e. to defend Washington DC from the British Army in the War of 1812, it just scuttled away.

    I think we can take it that those two episodes will be the very model for the EU army.

  13. I think we can take it that those two episodes will be the very model for the EU army.

    Heh, absolutely!

  14. And countries such as Austria and Ireland, which are formally neutral, how will that work? I seem to remember that has been a sticking point in the past.

    I think that in the long scheme of things when they come to write the history of the Common market/EC/EU this will come to be seen along with Brexit and Merkel’s 2015 Rape-a-gheddon as a critical inflexion point.

  15. You can almost see Putin wondering what would happen were he to move troops to the Estonian border…

  16. @Tim

    “more recently, meddling on Russia’s borders”

    Erm, where would that be? Have I missed some such events in the Bering Strait.

  17. I would imagine the EU army would be heavy on moral objections and light on ammunition. A sort of well-dressed, multi-lingual ‘peace force’ handing out leaflets, though who the hell is going to tidy up the crumpled bits of paper is anyone’s guess.

    I am vaguely reminded of PJ O’Rourke’s comment in one of his books about a UN ‘peace-keeping’ force in what we ancients called Yugolsavia. He reported on how the soldiers — Dutch, if memory serves — observed atrocities but never interfered (Star Trek’s Prime Directive, anyone?) and in the log of all this observing, numerous details were recorded except the column marked ‘action taken’ was always blank.

    For me the EU army, unless it is bravely putting down unarmed EU citizens to protect our New Friends (who are probably armed) will have the same outlook of being blank in the action department.

  18. “When a US army was eventually called on to fight a foreign army on its own soil i.e. to defend Washington DC from the British Army in the War of 1812, it just scuttled away.”
    The leathernecks are extremely proud of having stayed and, frankly, fought off a couple of British attacks.

    I once had to sit through three hours of a Dutch Colonel explaining that the most important military objective in any conflict was increasing female emancipation. The question “What about just killing the enemy and effing off home?” was not raised by anybody. Bravery is situational.

  19. The whole point of this EU Army is the suppression of any local uprising. They won’t be needing tanks/jets for that. Just lots of men without conscience with guns.

  20. “Dutch, if memory serves”

    Weak as piss they were, they are worse now due to the larger amount of sissies, women and young male recruits with no role models to look up to within their ranks. There is nothing worse than peacetime soldiers who for one tiny stage of their entire proud and lengthy service are called on to do what they “have been trained and paid to do” and they absolutely fucking bottle it, lay down their arms and watch on as their opponents march of with the folk they were supposed to protect. No doubt they are now all on special pensions, maybe even some kind of active service recognition and other handouts during their veteran years. Their only airborne regiment reports to German command these days, not a patch on the Dutch or Benelux Waffen SS predecessors would be my reckoning.

    “American’s natural right to evade taxes”

    The Europeans and the Brits would never question their duty to pay tax, it is seen as a solution in those parts of the world.

  21. “There is nothing worse than peacetime soldiers who for one tiny stage of their entire proud and lengthy service are called on to do what they “have been trained and paid to do” and they absolutely fucking bottle it, lay down their arms and watch on as their opponents march of with the folk they were supposed to protect. ”

    This is a great mistake to make. Peacetime soldiers are not trained to fight wars, they are trained to be peacetime soldiers. It’s only with rare exception that they can make the leap to fighting wars, often only with the aid of a lot of spilled blood before the training is complete.

  22. Erm, where would that be? Have I missed some such events in the Bering Strait.

    Fair point. Should have read “meddling in Eastern Europe”. The Macedonia thing is a joke.

  23. Just lots of men without conscience with guns.

    Yup, and it’s a lot easier to shoot civilians in the street if you can ship in foreigners to do it.

  24. And countries such as Austria and Ireland, which are formally neutral, how will that work?

    Both threw their lot in with Germany last time: what do you think will be different this time around? 😉

  25. I once had to sit through three hours of a Dutch Colonel explaining that the most important military objective in any conflict was increasing female emancipation.

    Bloody hell. I take it someone made sure all firearms were in the armoury before they were sent in to listen to this?

  26. Peacetime soldiers are not trained to fight wars, they are trained to be peacetime soldiers. It’s only with rare exception that they can make the leap to fighting wars, often only with the aid of a lot of spilled blood before the training is complete.

    This is true, and also this (from the other thread):

    A military is just as vulnerable to this as any other bureaucracy. Even though the US is fighting wars, advancement is not the result of battlefield success, it’s the result of the promotion of same stupid ideas that applies everywhere else in a modern, western government.

    Have a read of this post from the Oilfield Expat about how the oil industry going into a slump was like a peacetime army finding itself at war:

    It is well known among those familiar with military history that those who excel in a peacetime army are often useless during wartime. The reason for this is the personalities and skills required to succeed in the intensely political and bureaucratic environment of an army at peace are completely different from those required to ensure the same army prevails when the bullets start to fly. As such, when an army embarks on the first campaign of the war it often gets its arse kicked or fails to achieve what it set out to do, and much soul-searching occurs back at HQ. Eventually the army or political leadership figure out what is going wrong and start replacing the general staff with those who have demonstrated a grasp of combat operations.

    A similar thing occurs in the oil business, and I am sure across many other industries as well. The type of manager which occupies the upper echelons of oil companies, engineering companies, and service providers during boom times of $100 dollar per barrel oil is generally not the type of manager you want trying to turn things around when the price crashes to below $50 per barrel.

  27. “This is a great mistake to make”

    Fucking absolutely pitiful state of affairs and nothing has changed. We would be better of giving the opponents the equivalent amount of money to go away and maybe at least try and save the poor cunts.

  28. And the thought “Follow the money” suddenly occurs. A European army will naturally require common equipment, whether its y-fronts (or more likely unisex panties under present circumstances) or main battle tanks. If you were a military contractor, how much would you bribe someone in Brussels to make sure your bid was the winning one? And do you think the people in Brussels weren’t fully aware of this when they launched the whole proposition?

  29. And the thought “Follow the money” suddenly occurs.

    There won’t be any money, but the dribble that there is will find its way to the French military suppliers I mentioned in the post. As you imply, this is the one of the main points of the whole exercise.

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