Dokumentation - in: Globe and Mail, Thursday, October 21, 2004

EUROPE'S MILITARIZATION: No future in arms

The EU's new constitution, to be signed next week, enshrines an ominous policy of preventive security, says European security analyst ANDREAS ZUMACH

von: Andreas Zumach / Globe and Mail / Dokumentation | Veröffentlicht am: 14. November 2004

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Europeans have focused a lot of attention lately on liberating themselves
from American domination and conducting their own common foreign policy.
One crucial question, however, remains: Should the European Union
concentrate its common foreign policy on political, diplomatic and economic
instruments, or should the EU also become a military power?
So far, the governments of the member countries have decided to take the
military road. Since 1999, the EU has taken major steps toward
militarization. The most significant steps concern the creation of a
60,000-strong global intervention force by the end of this year, the
acquisition of new weapons, the establishment of joint military headquarters
in Brussels and the creation of a spy-satellite system.

In June, the member governments adopted the first joint-security doctrine of
the EU called „Safer Europe in a better world.“ The document describes
hunger, underdevelopment, AIDS, climate change, as well as other global,
socio-economic and environmental threats and challenges that are root causes
of instability, conflict, war and terrorism. But then the EU document goes
on to specify terrorism, the spread of weapons of mass destruction and the
problem of failed states as the „three main threats“ to European security.
And it concentrates on military instruments to combat them.
Here the EU joint-strategy doctrine sounds very similar to the United
States' „New National Security Doctrine“ signed by President George Bush in
September, 2002. It made preventive war the central focus of future U.S.
security policy; the EU document, too, reserves to the EU the option for
preventive war.
The new EU constitution, which will be adopted by the heads of the 25 member
states next Friday (and then is up for ratification in the national
parliaments) also puts a heavy emphasis on a militarized foreign policy.
Instead of committing the EU to arms control and disarmament — the emphasis
of most European countries since the 1970s — the constitution provides for
the establishment of an EU armament agency. The member countries will be
obliged to sustain military forces and constantly „improve their military
capabilities.“
Proponents of these developments claim that a strong joint military capacity
of the EU is a necessary prerequisite for an independent foreign policy and
for Europe's emancipation from the United States. But this may be a
dangerous illusion.

Militarization would set the EU on the extremely costly — and, ultimately,
counterproductive — path of escalating a competition for military power
with the United States. The EU can only lose this competition, given U.S.
global superiority in the fields of military hardware and technology
capacities.
As far as Europe's domestic policies are concerned, such competition would
waste precious resources needed to preserve some of the social programs and
public service infrastructures that distinguish European societies from the
bitter realities in the United States.
And as for Europe's foreign policy, going down the path of militarization
would also reduce the sparse resources the EU members contribute to civilian
means of conflict prevention and resolution.

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Rather than being a prerequisite, militarization will only hamper the EU's
efforts at emancipation from the U.S. and stall the development of an
independent foreign policy. It would also set a bad example for other major
global players such as China (and, some day, maybe India and even Russia)
which also face the decision on whether or not to engage in a military power
competition with the Americans.

As an alternative to militarization, the EU should:

Ensure the on-schedule implementation of its own international commitments
(such as the Kyoto Protocol on climate change);

Make it a priority of the common foreign policy to realize the goals of UN
action plans such as its millennium targets to reduce poverty and
illiteracy;

Concentrate its resources and political energy in strengthening its civilian
instruments for conflict prevention and resolution, and in strengthening the
respective capacities of the UN;

Help establish permanent military and police capacities under UN command to
strengthen the UN's peacekeeping capacities;

Take the lead — or at least a very active role — in securing new
international agreements in areas of environment protection, arms control,
etc., where there is still need for international regulation;

Initiate new approaches to specific regional conflicts such as
Israel/Palestine.

The success of many of these points depends not only on the good will of the
EU but on cultivating an active „coalition of the willing“ within the United
Nations. Such a coalition doesn't require a majority of the 191 member
states but only a critical mass of important regional players. These might
include India, South Africa, Brazil, Mexico and Egypt, as well as Canada,
whose track record as a UN member, its vast experience in peace-keeping
missions, and its initiative for drafting the report on The Responsibility
to Protect make it a natural partner. It may even be up to Canada to take
the lead in building such a coalition, given the current preoccupation of
the EU with internal affairs.

Many European politicians claim that none of this is possible against the
will or without the support of the United States, the only remaining
superpower.

But this is a cheap excuse. The Ottawa Convention to ban anti-personnel
mines (initiated by Canada), the creation of the International Criminal
Court (again with Canada's active participation) and the Kyoto Protocol on
climate change are three examples of major multilateral achievements since
the end of the Cold War without U.S. support (and sometimes over the
objections of other major players such as Russia and China in the case of
the mine ban).
To follow the path of active coalition-building in all areas where there is
urgent need for multilateral action is the best strategy for strengthening
the United Nations and preventing it from collapse. And only such a strategy
— which at times will result in isolating the United States — has any
chance of bringing the Americans back to more multilateral policies.

Andreas Zumach, Geneva-based UN correspondent for the German newspaper Die
Tageszeitung, is European journalist in residence at the University of
British Columbia.

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