How to lose friends and alienate people- what are the implications of an EU army
With Britain’s imminent departure from the EU coming in just a matter of months it seems that the EU is becoming more militant and not just in its rhetoric.
In what has to be considered one of the worst timed comments possible, French president Emmanuel Macron said, in the lead up to the 100th anniversary of the end of WW1, that the EU must create an army to “to protect us against China, Russia and even the United States of America,”(see his interview in Europe 1 http://www.europe1.fr/politique/macron-pour-une-vraie-armee-europeenne-un-projet-realisable-3794831)
This comment has already attracted the wrath of US president Donald Trump. In one of his infamous tweets, Trump criticised the call from Macron, citing that Europe collectively do not even contribute fairly to NATO. It must be said that he has a fair point as they only contribute 2%, to an organisation that was initially created to halt Soviet expansion into Europe and Asia.
Besides the alienation of the USA, the spectre of an EU army has more pressing threats to the UK. With Britain preparing to leave the EU it is clear that they will not be a part of the army. Yet one member state that has an intrinsic geographical link with the UK will be. The Republic of Ireland(ROI) . Since before I was born, tensions between the UK and ROI have been huge, with the infamous war between Britain and the IRA dominating the late 20th Century in Britain. Clearly the creation of a new militarised power block that will surely involve Ireland has the potential to reignite tensions between ROI and the UK. Throughout the Brexit process the UK has been clear on its commitment to the Good Friday Agreement and their refusal to countenance a hard border between the UK and ROI. Surely the formation of an EU army will severely damage the relations between ROI and the UK as it will put Britain and the ROI into indirect conflict.
There is already a military power block in Europe, namely NATO, and it remains to be seen how it will coexist with an EU army. Yet history would tend to suggest that two major power blocks cannot coexist in Europe. Given that we recently observed the Armistice day memorials I scarcely need to remind readers that the build up to WW1 was characterised by the formation of two huge power blocks. Or more recently, that the cold war saw the opposition of NATO and the Warsaw pact.
The idea of an EU army has already attracted the ire of the most powerful nation on Earth. Its timing, mere months before Brexit, can at best be seen as purely coincidental or the more cynical readers, such as myself, could see it as a clumsy attempt to intimidate the UK. Whatever the reasons for this, it is certainly a misguided venture. Besides alienating the US, it has the potential to alienate other major NATO powers, such as Turkey. Arguably more worryingly for international peace, it has the potential to threaten Russia and China. Far from securing Europe against these powers, the formation of an EU army has the potential to drive a wedge between Europe and Russia and China. Far from attempting to bring Russia and China more into the international community it has the potential to create fear and tension.
The EU army therefore seems to be a spectre on the horizon that has potentially catastrophic implications for the international community. It could potentially weaken Europe’s link to the new world powers. It seems a policy trapped in the past when Europe could stand alone as the centre of global geopolitical power. It represents a Hawkish policy that could potentially serve to make Europe more militaristic and isolated.
In a highly divided world, the spectre of an EU army could serve to divide us all even further than Brexit ever could.
At the time of writing, Charlie Tedora is a second year student at Newcastle University studying Ancient History. The areas of interest to him are the UN and Chinese and US relations.