Monday, December 13, 2004

Thoughts of a European security expert - 1

[In order to make this posting more readable, it has been broken up into two parts, which do follow each other. The EU Defence and Security White Paper will be discussed separately.]

American commentators who are interested in the relationship between the United States and what they designate as Europe have been asking what “Europe” and the “Europeans” will do in return for Bush displaying a readiness to talk and negotiate. He has gone along with European suggestions on the next step in the Middle Eastern peace negotiations, though clearly his instinct was to wait till the Palestinian elections are over and the new leader (whoever he may be) shows himself in control and interested in negotiating. Those instincts may yet prove to be correct.

President Bush has also announced through Secretary of State Powell that he is coming to Europe in February to discuss the various problems that have cropped up in trans-Atlantic relations. What are the Europeans doing in return? Well, very little is the obvious answer, because what is described as “Europeans”, that is the enarquiste representatives of what is considered to be “European attitude” but is really a crystallization of the supranational thinking that affects these people, are not interested in sorting out differences. They want to see the vulgar Americans who insist on voting the way they see right and defending what they see is right, vanquished and the new, post-democratic, post-religious, ideologically statist politics to triumph.

At the last meeting of the European Parliament Defence and Security Committee, the discussion was about an EU Defence White Paper, presented by an “independent task force”, that is, the European Union Institute for Security Studies, based in Paris. So independent is this body that its existence was brought forth by a Council Joint Action and “has the status of an autonomous agency that comes under the EU’s second ‘pillar’ – the Common Foreign and Security Policy”.

The Institute is very proud of the fact that it defends no particular national interest:
“Its aim is to help create a common European security culture, to enrich the strategic debate, and systematically to promote the interests of the Union.”
Those of us who would like to see a genuine debate on the future security of Europe and the West would say that this “independent” and “scholarly” institute starts with a certain view and looks for academic and political arguments to promote it, all using money from the European Commission.

The Committee that produced the White Paper (more on which in future postings) comprised all sorts of experts on European security, none of which were in doubt on what the future should hold. But, just to prove its independence, the body was chaired by Nicole Gnesotto, Director of the European Union Institute for Security Studies (ISS-EU), who also presented the White Paper to the Committee. Further discussion was led by the Rapporteur, Jean-Yves Haine, who happens to be one of the Senior Research Fellows of the Institute.

According to Gerard Batten UKIP MEP, who sits on the Committee and, unlike many MEPs, seems to take his job seriously enough to listen to what is being said and to take notes, Mme Gnesotto announced that EU member states no longer had any political or ideological opposition to the ideas expressed in the White Paper (though she did not specify who had actually seen or discussed the document), only operational ones. These, she admitted were serious enough, to make putting the ideas in it into practice, rather difficult.

M Haine outlined five scenarios for possible EU military action, all of which seem to go beyond the old ill-defined Petersberg tasks:

1. Large scale peace support operations, the weakness here was the current inadequate troop levels in the EU.

2. High intensity crisis management, this requires rapid political decision making and a rapid deployment capability.

3. Traditional regional wars, e.g. the Gulf. The issues here were about armaments, deployment, locations of HQs and working with other, e.g. the USA.

4. Pre-emptive strikes, e.g. for countering Weapons of Mass Destruction. These operations require Special Forces and there was a problem with numbers.

5. Homeland defence (civil protection rather than military operations).
Interestingly enough, all five are the very actions and proposals that, when voiced by the United States, evoke shrieks of horror. Furthermore, none of them seem to have any direct relation to straightforward defence and security.

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