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Europeans: should we up military spending?

 
 
nimh
 
Reply Mon 7 Apr, 2003 06:42 pm
Europeans from many countries are still very angry about the way the US has simply passed by the authority of the UN SC, and embarked on a war with only its own authorisation. They find some of their own governments with them in lamenting the new unilateralism of the US, and expressing fear about a hegemonic world system in which their opinion won't be considered or respected.

Counter-strategies are being taken into consideration. President Chirac is argueing for a "multipolar" world. The German government is talking about a "core Europe" that should work closer together. Germany, France and Belgium are meeting up to discuss a "European Defence Union", working out how to boost co-operation and co-ordination in foreign policy. The plea is for a stronger Europe in foreign and even military policy too, all in the name of a more balanced world.

But until at least 9/11, and really even up to last year, the practice in foreign and budget policies was in the opposite direction: lowering or stablising defence spending. And this is how the pacifist-minded electorates wanted it, too. Only Britain has greatly increased its military spending this last decade.

What is your take? Should we Europeans remain true to our more pacifist instincts, and pass by on building up a counterforce, or focus on building one in the diplomatic or economic arenas rather than by joining up in a new arms race? Or is a response in kind to the ever escalating military spending of US and UK the only way we can ever safeguard ourselves against a looming political-cultural-military hegemony?
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kitchenpete
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Apr, 2003 09:54 am
nimh,

Good question, but are you sure that military expenditure has actually increased to any significant extent in the last decade. It is my impression that we have only kept pace with some technological changes and military has been reduced in size.

There is a fundamental difference between the British forces and most other European ones - we have no conscripts/national service scheme. All our service men and women volunteer to do their jobs.

Unless we scrap our social security systems (across Europe, including the UK) we cannot afford to spend on significant military strength as well...there will just not be enough money left to go round.

I look forward to hearing other views.
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Asherman
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Apr, 2003 10:11 am
It seems that European socialism is built upon the foundations of an American military shield. We Americans pay and die so that Frenchmen and Germans can live in Worker's Paradises? Japanese and European economies benefit by being relieved of the need to support a viable national military?

Perhaps you should build and support more effective military forces, so that we might spend less. On the other hand, it is unseemly that some Europeans expect to dictate where and how that American Sword and Shield is utilized for the benefit of all.

Will the European States reduce their social programs to fund improved military forces? How would the pacifists of France, Belgium and Germany react to a shift in national priorities from the dole to (gasp) building a modern, effective and capable military? The German Army I suppose would be the core for such a European force, since they are the best on the continent at the moment. Wait! Will Frenchmen stand-by while German arms are made stronger? My guess is that the American military will continue to provide security for the world. If France doesn't like it, then they can get out from behind the shield and go it on their own.
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Apr, 2003 10:14 am
hi kitchenpete -

i'm awful at remembering numbers, so in my "only britain has surged fw in military spending while other countries have stabilised or lowered their defense budgets" i was merely parroting what i read in a newspaper article last week - i didnt go research the figures (info is welcome, of course). i know that the dutch gvt, for one, has cut its defense budget for years on end now. i tended to think that was a good idea, but i'm doubting now - hence the question.

as for being able to afford it, well, thats all relative. yes, you could fund it by cutting social security systems (which i of course wouldnt agree with). but theres other ways. for one, in holland the last ten years have seen considerable tax cuts. top tax rates is now some 20% lower than it used to be. such tax cuts cost a lot more money than either any amelioration of social security systems or upgrading of defence.

finally, theres the bush option: just borrow the money. after the balanced budgets of the clinton years, bush is running a drastically increased budget deficit again, like reagan did. i dont think the european economies would be able to bear that, though.
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kitchenpete
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Apr, 2003 10:29 am
nimh,

While I don't have time (right now) to look into the figures more closely, the Dubya option - to borrow more money - is directly related to the fall of the US Dollar relative to the Euro. The US economy is very weak at the moment, in comparison with where it has been in the past.

I'm not sure Wim Duisenberg (is he still in charge of the ECB?) would want his economic plans undermined by borrowing accross a few countries, drastically affecting the balance of available free money in Euro-zone states.

KP
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nimh
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Apr, 2003 10:45 am
Asherman wrote:
My guess is that the American military will continue to provide security for the world. If France doesn't like it, then they can get out from behind the shield and go it on their own.


the american military doesnt "provide security for the world". it provides security to selected cases where it sees a strategic interest for itself. it doesnt "provide security" to the citizens of the brutal dictatorships it supports - uzbekistan's, for example. it doesnt even provide much security for the citizens of the countries it went out to liberate, like the afghans - only kabulians are now any safer than they were in that decade of civil war, warlords and anarchy.

anyway, back on-topic: france, for one, actually did "get out from behind the [american] shield" - a long time ago - they made their own nukes.

but, (fellow-europeans), is that where we want to go?
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Asherman
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Apr, 2003 11:09 am
Do you think that the USSR was more deterred from attacking Europe more because Britain and France have a nuclear capability, or because of the NATO was defended by large concentrations of U.S. heavy Divisions backed by the U.S. nuclear arsenal? France hasn't fielded an effective military since WWI, over 80 years ago, but they continue to strut like a barnyard rooster.

Afghanistan has always been torn by intercine warfare, and it is unrealistic to believe that elimination of the Taliban and Al Queda from the area will suddenly transform the country into Shangri-La. The U.S. is continuing to assist their government in trying to establish a stable national government, but there is only so much we can do. On balance, I believe afghanis are better off today than they were prior to our efforts to remove Al Queda and their Taliban sponsors. What the Afghani People do with their freedom is mostly their affair.

Do we support dictatorships around the world? Yes, though it is distasteful. Often we are faced with choosing the lesser of two evils. Pakistan is a case in point. It is headed by a military dictator who has supported u.s. needs, even though the Pakistani People seem to prefer Al Queda and radical Islamic war against India and the West. Would you prefer a Pakistan ruled by the ISI and those elements who favor open warfare against India? Would you like for Al Queda to find another welcome sponsor for it's campaign of international terrorism? The alternative is to back a military dictator for the moment in hopes that conditions in the region will improve using diplomacy. It would be nice if the good guys all wore white hats, and that justice always prevailed everywhere.
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oldandknew
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Apr, 2003 12:13 pm
The British Military units are the best in Europe, in terms of discipline, fighting skills, knowledge and courage. All of which is due to a continuous series of armed operations. If Europe is to have a Pan-Euro military, it should be bossed by Britain, as part of Nato and in union with the States. Do Germany, France and Belguim have any knowledge about modern warfare ? If they want serious protection then they should cough up the money and help pay for it.
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trespassers will
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Apr, 2003 01:11 pm
Quote:
Germany, France and Belgium are meeting up to discuss a "European Defence Union", working out how to boost co-operation and co-ordination in foreign policy. The plea is for a stronger Europe in foreign and even military policy too, all in the name of a more balanced world.

More like "all in the name of garnering more power for Germany, France and Belgium."

And as to the question of whether Europe should up its military spending, I vote, YES, most definitely!

We upped ours...

Up yours! Laughing
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Apr, 2003 02:01 pm
Yes, if Europe does not want to abide the US trampling on other nations' sovereignty when it pleases Europe should increase military spending.

Another good reason is to deflate the overinflated egos of the people who live in the nation with the strongest military and who think this affords them a reason to act haughty.
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frolic
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Apr, 2003 02:35 pm
If it wasn't for the French we already would have an European Defence Union. We spend enough on the military.

Where does the US needs its army for? To protect the country from invaders? No to clear the way for the Corporate looters.

I prefer our social security system over a Missile Defence system that does'nt work and already has costed over 100 billion $

I prefer our social security system over an intelligence agency that kills its own president, couldn't prevent 9/11 and that can't take out Saddam.

All empires in history eventualy collapsed because they gave too much money on the military and neglected things like education, medical treatement for all,.... The 40 million Americans living of Food aid. And the 10% of the Americans that dont know how write or read properly are the first cracks in the empire.
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au1929
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Apr, 2003 02:36 pm
Whether Europe spends more or less on defense is a decision the Europeans must make. The only way that is likely to happen is if the US withdraws their troops forcing the issue. Were it not for the US presence in Europe during the cold war the French, Germans, Dutch and, etc., would presently be vassals of the Soviet Union.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Apr, 2003 02:38 pm
au,

You make hypothetical predictions with inordinate certainty.
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au1929
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Apr, 2003 02:58 pm
Craven
I believe as sure as night follows day the Russians would have taken the rest of Europe into their sphere of influence. Who or what was there to stop them?
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Apr, 2003 03:01 pm
Many believe, "as night follows the day" that harps, clouds,virgins and grapes will follow their death.

And "sphere of influence" is a horse of a different color. The sphere we live on is currently under US influence but we prefer not to call the inhabitants our vassals.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Apr, 2003 03:08 pm
Ok, but let me be fair. I'll play the game.

You assume (perhaps correctly, but my point is about the logical flaw of stating hypothetical predictions without a mere caveat of the inherent uncertainty) that:

A) the Russians has intent (quite likely)

B) the Russians had ability (also likely)

C) the Russians would be successful (likely)

D) That in the absence of US might others would not seek to stiffen their own arm (unlikely)

E) that the above criteria and the inummerable criteria I do not have the time or capability to mention would all point at a solution you have deemed a certainty.

This goes back to one of my pet peeves. With multiple factors of varying probability it is not simple to make accurate predictions. The preceeding sentence is an understatement.

____________________________


I just realized that an earlier post of mine might be misunderstood

Craven de Kere wrote:
Yes, if Europe does not want to abide the US trampling on other nations' sovereignty when it pleases Europe should increase military spending.

Another good reason is to deflate the overinflated egos of the people who live in the nation with the strongest military and who think this affords them a reason to act haughty.


I did not have any forum participants in mind when writing that. I'm speaking of (here's an exagerrated example) the 14 year old who talks down to a Frenchman saying "we saved your ass" without having had any boasting rights and without having been part of the "we".

It's a "shoe fits.." scenario.
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au1929
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Apr, 2003 03:09 pm
Craven
What would you call East Germany? I would call it a vassal state.
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Sofia
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Apr, 2003 03:12 pm
Were it not for the US presence in Europe during the cold war the French, Germans, Dutch and, etc., would presently be vassals of the Soviet Union.
__________________

I agree with au.
You only need to get out a world book or encyclopedia to see that the US effectively, though certainly not alone, has saved Europe from Soviet domination, and pulled them out of the WWII mess, as well. We shouldn't take full credit, but our assistance was what made the difference.

This doesn't need to be a superiority issue. We are just the ones who sacrifice to spend on military programs, and asherman was correct in that: due to our spending and fighting and dying, the socialist countries in Europe have been able to spend on their social programs and haven't had to bother with military spending because they have relied on us to keep them safe.

This is the primary reason most Americans are furious with them. They have benefitted enormously from reliance on our military, and turned around and bit the hand that has been protecting them.

I don't think the question is should they start building their own military and depend on themselves. I think thay had better start building their own military and start depending on themselves. I do believe we have taken them off speed dial, and they may have trouble getting through to the WH from now on.

Tony Blair, after meeting this last time with Bush, is making different noises about the UN having an important role in post-war Iraq, and this is telling. He said (papraphrasing) "We don't need to sit around debating about post-war..."

I don't think the US will ever submit to the UN again. Europe (deVillipin) is talking to the press about the need for the US to return to the UN. Why? Because if we don't, they have no voice in world affairs. We gave them that voice, and we may be taking it away. The only way they will have a voice, is to assemble a military or some sort of power. Currently, they have nothing.

It is akin to going over to your ultra-rich friend's house to play, and then trying to make the Rules. Out of consideration, your friend may let you do this for a while---but there will come a time, if you get ridiculous, that your friend may send you home. You call yell from your front yard, but I doubt anyone will listen.

The French, IMO, have shot themselves in the foot, and may die of gangrene. It was a serious mistake to take us on without the means to back it up. Their disagreement with our policy would have been acceptable. The in-your-face running about the globe to gather more opposition to the US was the fatal mistake., IMO.
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Craven de Kere
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Apr, 2003 03:13 pm
What I would not call them is more relevant. Most notably French and Dutch. In addition, if it weren't for US sanction the East Germans would not have been "vassals".

It was like two big guys picking teammates for the football game. The ones the US picked got better locker rooms and got to play for the winning team.

au1929 wrote:
Were it not for the US presence in Europe during the cold war the French, Germans, Dutch and, etc., would presently be vassals of the Soviet Union.
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trespassers will
 
  1  
Reply Tue 8 Apr, 2003 03:18 pm
Craven de Kere wrote:
Yes, if Europe does not want to abide the US trampling on other nations' sovereignty when it pleases Europe should increase military spending.

Another good reason is to deflate the overinflated egos of the people who live in the nation with the strongest military and who think this affords them a reason to act haughty.

Just having some fun.

Of course, there is an argument (a valid one, I think), that many European countries have chosen to spend on social programs and so have had little left for defense. (Guns VS. Butter) Were they to choose to spend more on defense, they would have to sell a reduction in social programs to their people. I will watch and see on that one.
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