Thursday, March 03, 2005

Three questions for the superpower-to-be 

"Amid a trans-Atlantic row over its determination to resume arms sales to China, the European Union has outlined plans to become a military superpower and close the defense technology gap on the US."
A military superpower. How nice, I thought. I guess only time will tell:

1) whether the European Union has enough willpower and spare cash to go through with this project. And as you can imagine, becoming a military superpower is in practice somewhat more difficult than it sounds, particularly when saddled with an underperforming economy and a dwindling pool of young recruits (unless the gentle superpower intends to draft its armies of the unemployed).

2) since the EU is not a unitary state but (so far, and not for the lack of trying by Brussels) a collection of sovereign states, how the use of military force will actually work out in practice, considering the disparate worldviews and policies from Madrid to Warsaw and London to Athens. Granted, a common defense policy is just one step up from a common foreign policy, but a common foreign policy is proving difficult enough a construct to achieve, and increasingly so with the influx of the New Europeans into the EU ranks (as I
pointed out not that long ago). Besides, talk is cheaper than blood.

3) what exactly does the EU intends to do as a military superpower. We might finally find out whether the EU's tendency, when faced with conflict, to prevaricate (the Balkans) or obstruct (Iraq) is now a deeply ingrained part of "Europeanness" or whether it is merely a function of the EU's current military weakness (the sort of twisted, if-I-can't-neither-can-you philosophy) - in other words, will the armed European be an aggressive European?


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