- Reaction score
Most of this applies equally to Canada too--start of a stinging piece:
LINDLEY-FRENCH'S BLOG BLAST: SPEAKING TRUTH UNTO POWER
A Regular Commentary on Strategic Affairs from a Leading [British] Commentator and Analyst
The Great European Defence Crisis
“All cruelty springs from weakness”.
Alphen, Netherlands. 28 May. The great European defence crisis is upon us. It has been a long time coming and can even be traced back to the very founding of NATO. Most Europeans never got over World War Two and have been happy to do the least possible to defend themselves ever since, albeit commensurate with ensuring the Americans did their defending for them. However, news that Germany, Belgium and in reality a host of other Europeans have absolutely no intention of honouring the NATO Defence Investment Pledge (the appropriately-named DIP). The DIP was the formal commitment made by the nations of the Alliance at the 2014 Wales Summit that by 2024 they would all spend 2% GDP on defence of which 20% each year would be on new equipment.
When the Cold War began spluttering joyfully to an end in 1989 ‘Europe’ re-defined itself as a civil power. Subsequently, European armed forces were cut to the bone and often beyond in the decades that followed. Slashing defence spending became a habit. Now, Europe again faces threats some of which demand a level of force commensurate with establishing a new level of deterrence, credible defence and meaningful engagement. Sadly, ALL Europeans are failing the test implicit in that challenge, whatever the small ‘dead cat bounce’ increases in defence spending that some leaders have championed. What has caused the great European defence crisis and is there a way out?
Lack of money and unreformed militaries: Some leaders have questioned the commitment they made to the Defence Investment Pledge, whilst some have suggested that they spend c. 1% GDP on defence so well it is, in fact, the equivalent of 2%. This is nonsense. 2% GDP on defence spent moderately well would be at least twice as effective as the 1% currently spent very badly. However, before such increases could take place many European forces and their procurement systems would need to undergo thoroughgoing reforms if new money is to be applied to any effect. There is little sign of such reforms taking place.
Financial crisis: The effects of the financial crisis that started in 2008 and the austerity that followed have had a disastrous effect on most European armed forces, even the strongest. Last week the much-respected Paul Johnson of London’s Institute for Fiscal Studies suggested the UK government can no longer take money away from defence to fund the National Health Service. The raiding of hard security to fund social security has been a phenomenon across Europe. The Dutch armed forces are a case in point. Reduced to the verge of incapacity by successive governments they have just received a small cash inject that will do little to resolve the force-resource crisis in which they are mired.
Strategic pretence: In an effort to wiggle out of the DIP EU member-states last year re-invented Permanent Structured Co-operation or PESCO. The idea at the core of PESCO is that by being more efficient and more together EU member-states could generate the same defence outcomes spending 1% GDP on defence as each state separately spending 2% GDP on defence. This is again nonsense. I wrote my doctorate on European defence and I have seen the same political trick used time and again. Indeed, there is an inverse correlation from which European defence suffers: the more acronyms created the more military capabilities lost.
Loss of strategic and political cohesion: Europeans either do not agree on what the main defence effort should be or still do not believe defence is that important or both [emphasis added, sounds just like Canadians]...
Julian Lindley-French is Senior Fellow of the Institute of Statecraft, Director of Europa Analytica & Distinguished Visiting Research Fellow, National Defense University, Washington DC....