With German Support, A European Army Looks More Likely
It looks like a European army might really happen.
German chancellor Angela Merkel, in a speech to the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday, endorsed the call of French president Emmanuel Macron for an EU fighting force.
She praised the 25 member states — Denmark, Malta and the United Kingdom are not participating — that committed last year to enhance interoperability, pool their defense procurement and improve military logistics under the so-called Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO).
But a proper army, she said, would make war in Europe impossible and “complement” the NATO alliance. Read more
Germany Will Continue to Play Second-Tier Military Role
When President Donald Trump announced his intention to strike Syria in mid-April, Angela Merkel quickly excluded German participation in the attacks even though she publicly proclaimed support for her allies’ action.
Yet after the airstrikes were conducted by the United States, Britain and France, Germany’s defense minister, Ursula Von der Leyen, said the Bundeswehr could have been taken an active role after all.
Her statement seemed designed to stave off questions about Germany’s military readiness and willingness to support its allies.
Von der Leyen claimed the only reason Germany hadn’t joined the airstrikes was that it hadn’t been asked.
Everything You Need to Know About the Airstrikes in Syria
Britain, France and the United States attacked three targets in Syria last night in retaliation for a suspected chemical attack by Bashar al-Assad:
A scientific research center in the Damascus area.
A chemical weapons storage site west of Homs, which Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford said was “the primary location of Syrian sarin … production equipment.”
A chemical weapons equipment storage facility and command post close to the second target.
American defense secretary James Mattis called Friday’s attack a “one-time shot” and emphasized that the strikes weren’t aimed at Assad’s protector, Russia.
President Donald Trump, however, singled out Iran and Russia for their support of Assad.
“What kind of nation wants to be associated with the mass murder of innocent men, women and children?” he asked. “We are prepared to sustain this response until the Syrian regime stops its use of prohibited chemical agents.” Read more
EU Defense Union Worries Americans, Social Democrats Rally the Troops
Americans continue to worry that closer defense cooperation in Europe might compromise NATO.
Echoing Madeleine Albright’s “three Ds” — no duplication, no decoupling, no discrimination against non-EU NATO states — Kay Bailey Hutchison, the United States ambassador to NATO, warned on Wednesday that European efforts shouldn’t be “protectionist, duplicative of NATO work or distracting from their alliance responsibilities.”
“In Texas we say, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,'” the former senator added.
But transatlantic solidarity goes two ways. On the same day Hutchison cautioned European allies against weakening NATO, Defense Secretary James Mattis hectored them for failing to meet their defense spending targets.
Their boss, Donald Trump, has in the past declared NATO “obsolete”. Little wonder Europe is making its own plans.
Many of which complement NATO, from improving mobility by creating a “military Schengen” to developing a European infantry fighting vehicle.
Also read Tobias Buck in the Financial Times, who reports that Germany still has a long way to go before it can lead a European army. Read more