Europe is going to fight again

Maxim Sokolov

The head of the Eu-ropean Commis-sion, Ursula von der Leyen, announced that the EU intends to have its own army so as not to rely on the United States for defense.

The immediate reason for this decision was the Afghan fiasco of the Americans. According to von der Leyen, it “raises serious questions not only for the NATO bloc , but also for the countries that are members of the EU.”

With which one cannot but agree. The impulsive nature of decisions, including military ones, made by the United States, which do not give a satisfactory account of them to anyone – including the closest allies – strains the Europeans and inclines them to the idea that military development in Europe should be the business of Europe itself.

Still, it’s better not to be so dependent on the United States for its hippopotamus grace. Moreover, it is not only a matter of grace, but also the fact that all American politics – both domestic and foreign – is now experiencing great confusion and vacillation: in Washington, some are in the woods, some are for firewood. And in such sensitive issues as the military, it is better to distance yourself somewhat from the overseas hegemon with its unpredictability and openly dismissive attitude towards the allies.

Not that Europe is keen to fight somewhere, especially on its borders. Such desperate courage is demonstrated only by the Baltic limitrophes. But the realization that the European Union, commensurate with the United States in terms of population and economic power, is at the same time a military dwarf, cannot but oppress the Europeans. Because such a disproportion strikes at their ambitions not only in the military proper – let’s say, Europeans have now become pacifists – but also in the foreign policy sphere. “How many divisions does Brussels have ?” – this is a very barbaric question, but true. Sovereignty and military potential, whatever you say, are difficult to separate from each other.

It is not for nothing that the question of independent armed forces in Europe has constantly arisen since the 1950s. The Paris agreem-ents of 1954 were just ab-out that. So did the violent tensions between Paris and London in the early 1960s. De Gaulle saw London as a US Trojan horse, torpedoing Paris’ efforts to build a European army.

And even if you do not go that far into the past, th-en quite recently – in 2018 – French President Macron said: “The United States is our historical ally and continues to be. But being an ally does not mean being a vassal. We should not depe-nd on them.” … That is, ag-ain, its own armed forces.

However, the inclusion of the head of the European Commission in the game gives the serious military theme a somewhat buffoonish tinge.

The same Frau von der Leyen, who is now ready to become almost the commander-in-chief of the European army, just four years ago, when she was the Minister of Defense of the FRG , declared: “No, there will be no European army.” And she stressed that the European Union w-ill not compete with NATO on the issue of national defense, recalling that “the EU contributes to security even without an army.” In 2017, he contributed, and now, therefore, he has ceased to contribute.

Let us assume that this could also be explained by the rapidly changing world landscape, and hence by changes in the potential theater of military operations. “The whole world is changing, everything rushes forward, but I dare not break a word?”

But there is another nuance here. During the five and a half years (2013-2019) that von der Leyen was the Minister of Defense of the Federal Republic of Germany, she did not greatly succeed in building the German Armed Forces.

One of her predecessors in this post, Minister of War under Chancellor Kohl Rupert Scholz, called the state of the Bundeswehr under Frau Minister “catastrophic.” The lack of ammunition is widespread – from serviceable tanks to a soldier’s underwear. The main unit of small arms, the Heckler & Koch’s G36 assault rifle, had to be removed from service, since it turned out that if the barrel overheated slightly, it was no longer possible to hit the target from it.

Expeditionary Force in Afghanistandid not have body armor, the Germans begged them from other European comrades in arms. And as the crown of all – obscure kickbacks and fees to third-party consulting firms. Everything as we love.

Von der Leyen may be a Brünnhilde or a Valkyrie in spirit, but entrust her with the construction of a European army, where the goal of the ministerial ambition should be the exact fit of ammunition – after such a national fiasco it would be rash.

All this, of course, does not in principle cancel out considerations in favor of the EU having its own little soldiers, brave children under a single supreme command. But at the same time, cadres decide everything, and the current European cadres leave much to be desired. Not Turenne, not Conde and not even Comrade. Trotsky.

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