Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Europe - Why?


Europe …
  • Europe is around 3.9 million sq. miles which is a bit larger than the US size of 3.5 million sq. miles.
  • Europe has a population of around 740 million which is over twice the US population of 326 million.
  • European GDP = $22 trillion
  • US GDP = $19 trillion
  • European GDP per capita = $29,000
  • US GDP per capita = $59,000
So, raw statistics tell us that Europe is somewhat larger than the US, has more than twice the population, and has a larger GDP (though smaller per capita).  Does this sound like an area that the US needs to be defending?  

Let’s turn it around - a great way to test the logic of any situation!   What if the US decided to drastically reduce its defense forces and called on Europe to station significant and permanent protective forces in the US?  What would Europe’s response be?  It would be outrage, of course!  Europe would rightly point out that the US, while being tiny in comparison (area, population, and GDP), is certainly large enough and prosperous enough to defend itself without having to rely on its bigger brother, Europe.

The reality, however, is that the larger, more populous, and wealthier (total GDP) Europe is demanding US military protection.  Does that seem logical?  If anything, the US should be asking for a small European defense presence protecting US interests.

So, why is the US still in Europe?

The main military threat to Europe is Russia.  Is Russia so big a threat that it requires the combined might of both the US and Europe to counter it?  Let’s take a cursory look at the Russian and European military might.


                      Russia(1)      Europe(2)

Personnel            800,000      1,500,000
Navy, ships              175(a)         268(c)
Airforce, aircraft      1380(b)        2043
Army, tanks             2500           7700
Army, IFVs              3200         19,000
Army, artillery         5800         10,000


(a)   Note:  Figure includes 111 surface combatants and 64 submarines;  the actual number of operational ships is likely significantly less
(b)   Note:  Combat aircraft only;  includes 180 naval aircraft;  Russia has hundreds of additional patrol, surveillance, and transport aircraft
(c)   Note:  Figure includes 208 surface combatants and 60 submarines


This comparison is cursory, simplistic, and makes no attempt to compare quality, training, maintenance, etc.   Further, the numbers are highly variable depending on exactly what type of equipment one wishes to include or exclude.  Regardless, the figures clearly indicate that Europe overmatches Russia in every category of military might.

Europe is clearly capable of defending itself from Russia.  In fact, the situation is further skewed in favor of Europe given the fact that many European countries are spending less than the “standard” of 2% of GDP on defense.  If every European country would spend at least that amount, the situation would be even more lopsided in Europe’s favor.

So, why is the US still in Europe?  I have no good answer but here are a few thoughts that may be relevant.

Tradition/Inertia – The US has been in Europe since WWII and any attempt to reduce the US presence is upsetting to Europe.  This is idiotic on the face of it.  Europe needs to grow up and accept responsibility for its own defense.

Irresponsible Priorities – Too many European countries are taking advantage of US military presence to redirect spending into social programs.  Europe needs to make its own decisions and live with the consequences.  If social programs are more important than defense then Europe has no one to blame but itself if it suffers military defeats.  Europe needs to establish its priorities without the US presence.

Middle East Terrorism – The US sees Middle East-fed terrorism as an existential threat and does not trust Europe to deal with it as witnessed by the many European open borders, massive redistribution of European demographics, unwillingness to stand up to radical Islam, and the creeping, passive acceptance of radical Islamic influence and control of many countries which is undermining the national identities of European countries.

Unity – European countries are, unsurprisingly, multi-directional when it comes to their geopolitical objectives.  Thus, there is no unity of military purpose.  From the US perspective, it can’t count on unified action and support from Europe therefore it maintains a presence for its own benefit.  Even so, many countries refuse to cooperate with the US and deny overflights, staging, etc. depending on whether they agree or disagree with the US in the moment.

Just as Europe needs to grow up and accept responsibility, so too the US needs to allow Europe to go its own way – the baby bird needs to be shoved out of the nest to fend for itself.  Ballistic missile defense in Spain, ASW in Scandinavia, control of the Black Sea, protection of the Mediterranean, reining in of Russian expansionism, and defeat of terrorism are all issues that the US needs to walk away from and Europe needs to take control of.

The US is eventually going to have to defend the entire world by facing China in a massive war and we can’t afford to be distracted by Europe when Europe is more than capable of defending itself.

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Here are some related topics for comment consideration: 
  • Should NATO reform itself by dropping the US and making membership a strictly European requirement?
  • Is the European Union a military failure?  Can it succeed?
  • Who/how should European military might be controlled to ensure a common purpose and goal?
  • Is there any role for the US in Europe?
  • Is there any benefit for the US in maintaining a presence in Europe?
  • If Europe wants a continued US military presence should the US demand that Europe pay the entire cost of such presence?
  • If the US pulls out of Europe, what military capabilities does Europe then lack?
  • Which country is the next Russian target after Ukraine falls?
 _________________________________


(1)Data assembled from various sources;  individual sources vary widely 

81 comments:

  1. Europe is like the Middle East, they've been killing each other over strange ideas for a couple thousand years.
    No reason for the US to be there.

    NATOs unifying principle, the Soviet Union is gone,
    time for NATO to be gone.

    The EU can't even build a central bank, can't imagine
    them figuring out a joint military.

    The US perception of Europe is a place overrun by godless
    socialist jihadis, can't imagine the US sending a vast
    army to support that.

    Candide

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    1. I agree with you. I liken Europe to a child that needs to learn to live and stand on its own. Our continued support and Europe's dependency isn't helping Europe. We're actually hindering their development.

      Yes, if left to fend for themselves they may make mistakes but that's how you learn and grow.

      Delete
  2. "Should NATO reform itself by dropping the US and making membership a strictly European requirement?"

    Somewhere I think Charles de Gaulle is smiling at that statement.

    The problem is of course the EU is not a federal state so they cannot really form a federal military. In its current form it can't really manage a federal currency effectively.

    Broadly I think the criticism of European military spending and failing to defend themselves misses the mark. The US designed NATO more or less to make European forces an appendage of the US. It really did not want Western Germany for example to have a truly independent scope of military action. Let's recall IKE was not amused with the Suez adventure by France and the UK. Are smaller states free riding to some extent yes but the US gains. As you note the EU is a large economy - theoretically a rival. But it can't act to any significant extent w/o the US , where as the US can act alone if need be.

    The singular exception (although less than in the past) is France and that is constrained mostly to its old colonial empire. This is of course why de Gaulle backed out of full NATO membership because he realized the US policy goal. In passing I am pretty sure he would not be amused at the current French spending levels on defense.

    If Europe's only goal is self defense than I suppose a NATO for the EU only could work. NATO (led by the US) is however sort of the modern version of Delian league and the Hegemonic power I think is always pushed down the path of Athens. Its just better if to do the job yourself and not have to bother with allies who don't want to go so you start working out systems to benefit you from them (the allies). In the Athenian case it took the extreme form of allies happy to not bother with a military and pay a tax (and one that was very small compared to actually having a navy of any use).
    For the US , NATO gets integration on its choice of standards, bases (which are subsidized to varying extents), and for a fight in Europe theoretically things say the USN does not to buy - Mine warfare, ASW, coastal subs...

    Europe would have to pick a replacement Hegemonic power to make a no US work. Theoretical that is one or the other of France or Germany or both who make a commitment maintaining a robust military together that is both be high spenders (say add Poland maybe maybe Sweden and Finland?). The other low spending states in a EU-NATO would have to accommodate as either specializing or perhaps paying a tax – more or less admitting they are not independent military powers. Its the same same situation as Euro I'm just not sure Europe could do it considering that could not even get all members to buy into the single currency.

    Putting what Europe has (as military equipment) looks good but its designed to function with the US. Even France with its African bases, and goal of independent ability had to as I recall rely on some US logistical support in Mali (to act quickly).

    I am fairly satisfied with the NATO arrangement. On balance a surprising amount of Europe showed up for the mis adventure in Iraq. Pushing hard will just I think lead to yet another potential rival actor in the new multi-polar world.

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    1. Very nice job of summarizing the problems and challenges but you didn't really offer any solution - or, maybe you did with your statement that you're fairly satisfied with NATO and you're suggesting maintaining the status quo? The problem with the status quo is that the US doesn't want it. The US is coming around to believing that Europe does not need the US and the US has better things to direct its military towards (like China!). So, Europe had better come up with an alternative or they'll find themselves with no US and no alternative plan. Russia could gobble up individual states one by one if Europe doesn't work out some kind of plan.

      With that said, what's your recommendation?

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    2. https://twitter.com/ClaireBerlinski/status/1015872007521603585

      "European free-riding isn’t a bug, as many Americans now seem to feel—it is the central feature of our postwar security strategy."

      "How is it, then, that suddenly, we’re consumed with rage that Europe is “taking advantage” of us? How have we forgotten that this is the point of the system? We designed it this way, and did so for overwhelmingly obvious historic reasons, learnt at incalculable cost."

      Tweak what we have. Don't blow it up.

      Delete
    3. "it is the central feature of our postwar security strategy."

      I'm not completely sure what this is referring to. Feel free to enlighten me. I assume it's referring to our post-WWII anti-Soviet strategy. If so, the Soviet Union threat is long gone and Europe, as indicated in the post, can easily deal with the Russian remnants of the old empire.

      'Blowing it up' will result, ultimately, in a stronger Europe which allows the US to focus on China and makes for a stronger international security situation, overall.

      Fear of change can be paralyzing!

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    4. ""How is it, then, that suddenly, we’re consumed with rage that Europe is “taking advantage” of us?"

      Because as we struggle with our own economy, they barely pay lip service to the treaty requirement of 2% of GDP?

      Germany is happy to enforce economic rules on others in the EU, but gets exceedingly touchy when we point out their airforce is almost completely grounded, their submarines are off line, and many of their tanks aren't available due to back logged maintenance.

      That's at least why I'm touchy. They've let their militaries atrophy due to lack of wanting to spend money even on basic maintenance, when they are required by treaty to spend enough to do so.

      Delete
  3. It's true that Europe should at least position itself as a militarily self-sufficient pillar of NATO on the east of the Atlantic just as the US are a self-sufficient military power on the west. The US can conduct various military operations all over the world without foreign support and Europe should have at least have the possibility to conduct military ops without having to rely on foreign capabilities. Although Europe is not politically unified there are without question numerous common political goals or geostrategic interests in Europe that would benefit from a more unified and self-sufficient European military. It would free up American military ressources that most of the time basically work as European defense units. But there seems to be no political intent on either side of the Atlantic to change this situation. European initiatives to build a European military structure (like the recent PESCO "permanent structured cooperation on defense agreement"are always met with a critical response from both NATO and the US. examples:
    - “It will be not a wise decision by all those nations who are members of both NATO and the European Union to start to have two sets of command structures, or duplicate what NATO is doing,”
    - “We don’t want to see E.U. efforts pulling requirements or forces away from NATO and into the E.U.”
    -“It’s important for Europeans to state again and again that this is not competition for NATO or an alternative to NATO,” he added. “Some doubts remain.”
    -"It wouldn't make any sense for "NATO and the EU to start to compete," adding that there was "no way" the agreement, known as PESCO, could replace the transatlantic alliance in guaranteeing Europe's safety."
    The American ambassador to NATO, Kay Bailey Hutchison, warned that Washington did not want Pesco or a new European Defense Fund “to be a protectionist vehicle for E.U.” “We’re going to watch carefully, because if that becomes the case, then it could splinter the strong security alliance that we have,” she added, referring to NATO.

    So, NATO and the US just want Europe to spend more on defense but also want them to remain dependent on US and NATO.

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    1. You seem to be arguing for the status quo. The problem is that the US is, more and more, coming around to withdrawal from Europe. I think it's only a matter of time until the US leaves Europe to its own defense. As the US focuses more on China, it will have no choice but to pull forces from Europe.

      Frankly, the US is beginning to resent having to defend a continent that is more than capable of defending itself.

      A US-China war is inevitable. The only question is when. When that happens, Russia will look to take advantage of the US "distraction" and advance its position into Europe. Europe needs a unified front to deter that possibility.

      So, what is your recommendation?

      Delete
    2. In a war against China the US will not operate solely in the Pacific theatre. Oil supply from the middle east and shipping lanes have to be secured, so the middle east will get its fair share of action. Europe is a safe staging ground for operations into the middle east and has the suitable industrial installations for ship and aircraft repair or replenished of materiel. Having Europe as a bridgehead on Eurasia to conduct operations over the "other side" is better than an unstable Europe that is a hindrance to operations into the middle east or even a danger to supply lines. Or worse a neutralized Europe that might give way to strikes over the Atlantic.

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    3. "Having Europe as a bridgehead on Eurasia to conduct operations over the "other side" is better than an unstable Europe"

      Why would withdrawing our constant military presence from Europe automatically result in an unstable Europe? Is Europe inherently that weak that they can't manage without the US?

      Further, withdrawing our CONSTANT military presence doesn't mean that the US can't maintain good relations, including military, and maintain basing rights and leases for use AS NEEDED rather than continuously.

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    4. @Anon
      The problem with PESCO and the like is there is no "new money" behind it.
      Europe creates a Corps Command Structure, and abolishes an armoured battalion, or a fighter squadron or whatever, to pay for it. And then expects the US to provide the missing ground troops

      If PESCO had its way Europe would be defended by a European Supreme Commander and staff, 4 European Theatre Commands and Staff, 16 European Corps Commanders and staff, and 64 American Divisions.

      The "competition", is a budgetary one.

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    5. @CNO
      I was just talking about the hypothetical case of the US troops leaving Europe and letting them fend for themselves if Russia attacks. Also, the current *constant* military presence is already to support of operations in the middle-east (logistic centers/airbases) or even Africa(?). AFRICOM sits in Stuttgart/Germany. As Europe seems to be a quieter staging ground than anything in ME or Africa.

      @Domo
      That's a pity.

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    6. " AFRICOM sits in Stuttgart/Germany"

      What a great example! Why does the US African command need to be in Europe, nowhere near the area of responsibility? If we're not going to do the logical thing and establish the African HQ somewhere in Africa, then let's just bring the HQ back to America. No need for it to be in Germany!

      Great example!

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    7. No need for AFRICOM either!

      GAB

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    8. I would suggest we have a need for an African focus. Whether that requires a dedicated Combatant Commander structure or not, I don't know.

      The Chinese are beginning to make major incursions into Africa and that alone suggests a need for an African focus and, likely, presence. A Chinese controlled Africa would not be good for the world. To be fair, a Chinese controlled China is not good for the world!

      Beyond that, Africa is a rich source of Ebola and other diseases, potential disaffected populations (terrorist breeding grounds), raw materials, minerals and rare earths, etc. All of these factors suggest a need for a military focus.

      Delete
  4. “Which country is the next Russian target after Ukraine falls? “

    I'm not sure the Ukraine will fall in total. With Oil at 55-65 dollars a barrel the Czar is constrained more so than at 100+. Putin may not have had to cut his military spending much, but he did have to do painful domestic cuts and uses rainy day money. I'm not sure Russia can swing the big handouts it manged for the Crimea if it were to actually absorb the parts of Ukraine in revolt. Snatching it all in one will make Russia the occupier in the West – I don't think Putin whats a restless Western Ukraine.

    Everyone points to the Baltic states. The problem is unlike the Ukraine they are all well run states and so its hard to see what the Czar can offer to the Russian minorities. The Ukraine is a basket case. It just sort kept running on leaving most of Soviet style government systems in place. The Baltic states by contrast rebuilt their governments from the ground up. The Ukrainian economy was just about the size of Poland back in 1991. Now Poland’s is almost 6 times larger (with fewer people) - but Poland bit hard on reforms and accepted the cost. That fact that the Ukraine likely should have had a referendum and split up always let open an aggressive Russia probably had a the ability to inflict a partition. The simple fact is that in the Crimea and the East,Russia looks better particularity with high oil prices.

    Russia will advance were it can offer a better deal to poorly run ex USSR states. I honestly don't think that is the Baltics even if they are militarily weak.

    Assuming Putin does engineer a plebiscite in the East of Ukraine and takes it directly. If the Western part reverts to a puppet, Moldavia and Transnistria would seem like easy marks given how poor they are. Otherwise probably bringing Central Asia closer makes more sense

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    1. Putins Goal isnt primarily one of conquest.
      His goal is to force neighbors to constantly as themselves, will this annoy Putin, will it annoy Putin enough to punish me, and finally, is it worth the cost.

      From its peak of $183bn in 2013, Ukraines Economy has fallen as low as $91bn, but recovered somewhat to $112bn, I wonder if that in includes the wealthy rebellious eastern regions?

      The next target will be Romania.
      Constanta handles up to 100million tons of cargo per year, not as easy as Kech to shut down, but sabotage, sinking a block ship in the neck, or violence, could all ruin Romanias day.

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  5. The overriding fear of the US since it's successful rebellion was that a European power would show up in force and undo it.
    Even as late as the first world war the US was a fairly week power, the "Great white fleet" was decidedly unimpressive when compared with The Grand Fleet or The High Seas Fleet.

    The carnage of the first world war more or less ended that threat, even the British Empire was forced to deal with the US as an equal. But, although the US was safe from any of individual power, a combination of powers represented an impossible threat.

    Undoing the European unification of 1939-1945 ended Germany as a threat, but USSR remained a constant threat, if it conquered Western Europe, the US would in mortal danger.

    But, three generations of managed decline have enfeebled Europe, to the point where a unified Eurasian empire, from the Russian east the Portuguese west would be little threat to America.

    Hence the continued drawdown of on place forces, and the abandonment of things like ReForGer.

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    1. Okay … a nice summary but what recommendation would you offer? What should Europe do? What should the US do?

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  6. "The reality, however, is that the larger, more populous, and wealthier (total GDP) Europe is demanding US military protection."

    How does this work exactly? Are we not in the business of defending Europe for our own set of interests? All we, the U.S., have to do is ask ourselves whether the geopolitical risks subsequent to our withdrawal from Europe would be offset the resources made available by withdrawing from Europe.

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    1. " Are we not in the business of defending Europe for our own set of interests?"

      What are our interests in Europe THAT REQUIRE A CONSTANT MILITARY PRESENCE? Yes, we have many business interests but those don't require a military presence.

      What interest do we have in Europe that requires a constant military presence?

      Delete
  7. Another point for consideration, how does withdrawal from Europe affect future military sales to that region?

    According to Bloomberg News, "In fiscal 2018 Congress was notified of about $37.4 billion in sales to European countries." Europe was took the top spot for FY 2018. With NATO, military sales to Europe is a certainty and without NATO, I'm not so sure. This might create an opportunity for China to enter that market.

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    1. Interesting issue. I don't know that withdrawing our constant military presence would have any impact on equipment sales. In fact, it would likely require Europe to spend MORE on military equipment and the US might well GAIN sales.

      Even if withdrawing opened military sales up to other countries, the increased competition might force US companies to up their game and increase their extremely questionable quality standards - another "win" for withdrawal!

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    2. If we withdrew from Europe, I think there wide resentment towards the US resulting in significant political pressure not to buy from the US. European companies would likely see the biggest gains in arm sales. There would be some US sales for ammunition and maintenance.

      At the same time, I don't see an upside to withdrawal from Europe. Doing so would limit our ability to confront Russia and our ability to combat terrorism in the Middle East.

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    3. "wide resentment towards the US"

      Why? Because we're asking Europe to stand up for themselves?

      "I don't see an upside to withdrawal from Europe."

      Really?! You can't see an upside? Here's just a few:

      -European countries become more self-dependent and increase their military spending

      -The US military is hugely overextended, overworked, and undermaintained. Withdrawal would allow the US to reset, retrain, and re-equip.

      -Withdrawal would allow the US to focus on China, the real threat.

      -US military savings would be immense.

      I could go on all night with examples but these will do as starters.

      In fact, the reverse is true. I can't see a downside to withdrawal.

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    4. "Withdrawal would allow the US to focus on China, the real threat."

      Withdrawal from Europe would also encourage more Russian aggression against eastern Europe. Ukraine is bad as it is and we cannot allow Russia to take similar actions against eastern Europe.

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    5. "we cannot allow Russia to take similar actions against eastern Europe."

      You missed the point of the post. The point was that Europe has more then enough money and military might to handle Russia without the US.

      Delete
  8. @SO, you were right. I deleted your comment - not because it voiced disagreement but because it did so in the form of a personal attack. I will not allow personal attacks on anyone, myself included.

    If you lay out a logical, reasoned, factual case that leaves out personal attacks - in other words, if you argue the facts, not the person - it will stand. As stated in the Comment Page, I never delete a comment just because it disagrees with me.

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  9. @CNO You bring up an interesting question. And while admittedly you used straight numbers without bringing training, etc into the equation, my question to you is, do you feel that Europe could actually defend itself without us?? Because if they can, then by all means we should pack up and go home.But if they cant, and another large scale resupply ala WWII would be necessary, then maybe the status quo IS necessary.I dont know the answer to that. I dont think we have the sealift capability, or the ability to build the ships we need quickly to do it, and therefore our forward deployed presence is required.
    Having said that, I still feel that a general drawdown is warranted, to help shift more focus on the Pacific. European nations certainly need to increase their spending towards their own defense, and/or start compensating us for our expenditures that are for their benefit. NATO is a continued worthwhile alliance, and a good existing framework for communication and cooperation in times of crisis, but the US needs to become a "junior partner" as our interests and defense priorities refocus on Asia...

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    1. Based on the kinds of numbers I presented, yes, Europe is certainly capable of defending themselves, IF THEY ACT TOTGETHER. This would also encourage them to get their individual military spending up to the standard 2-4% GDP. Right now, most European countries are not spending at that level because they know the US is there. If we leave, they'll be forced to spend appropriately or risk their very existence. Time for Europe to grow up and stand on their own.

      As I said in the post, what if the situation were reversed? What if the US was asking Europe for massive military presence in the US to guarantee our security? What would Europe's response be? They'd tell us to take a hike and fend for ourselves - and they'd be right!

      The US needs to drop out of NATO because our continued presence, even on a somewhat reduced or "junior" basis, would still cause Europe to reduce their military spending and turn to the US in times of crisis.

      Do you recall the recent European intervention in Libya where they ran out of munitions in just a couple of weeks and had to be resupplied by the US? That's ridiculous! And that was Libya, not Russia. That illustrates the magnitude of the problem.

      I have no desire to defend people who refuse to defend themselves. Once upon a time Europe needed our assistance but that time has long since passed. What we have now is the US acting as a military welfare state for Europe and welfare states never ultimately succeed.

      This must end.

      Delete
    2. The idea of a 'standard 2% of GDP for Defence' needs examination. Look at the UK which does have the 2%, but they run an expensive nuclear deterrent within that budget limit (Even then they rely on US missiles). France is 1.8% , they have a nuclear deterrent as well. Germany isnt going to go up to that level, nor is Italy or Spain. Nor the richer but smaller countries like Sweden or Netherlands. One of two places like Greece are well over, as they historically have been much higher and have long running disputes with Turkey.
      US is supposed to be around the 3.3% level currently, but they have worldwide coverage, not just a region like Europe but Asia/pacific and Middle East and now Africa. Then there is the 3 independent nuclear deterrents, very expensive to run and not getting cheaper.
      My view is that most richer European countries wont go beyond 1.5% number , with maybe UK and France nudging the 2% because of expensive forces like carriers and SLBM submarines.

      Just as a reminder of how Europeans see the threats, something that stood out was a UK Field Marshall , who started his army career from the beaches of Normandy to Chief of the UK Defence staff. When he commanded a division in Germany at the height of the Cold War ( 1970s), he thought it unlikely the Soviets would be coming across the border , while he said an american counterpart thought it 'could happen next week'. The outcome, was of course nothing both couldnt have expected so soon.

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    3. I think I had a stronger feeling towards keeping the status quo than I alluded to in my post. But considering that we arent facing the USSR anymore, and that I doubt the intention of spreading an ideology and govt and rolling tanks through Berlin or Paris exists anymore (possibly reclaiming a lot of the previously Iron Curtain states, but...), I think your argument is strong enough to change my mind!!

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    4. "The idea of a 'standard 2% of GDP for Defence' needs examination."

      You're right but it's the lack of 2% that needs examination. Why are those countries unwilling to spend on their own defense? At some point, if a country is unwilling to defend itself then it deserves whatever happens to it.

      Nuclear deterrence also needs re-examination. Who is France, for example, deterring with their few nukes? I doubt they're deterring anyone.

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    5. "Nuclear deterrence also needs re-examination. Who is France, for example, deterring with their few nukes? I doubt they're deterring anyone."

      France has a two prong nuclear defence
      Any hostiles crossing the Rhine, or looking to, will be met with nuclear weapons. In practice this probably means don't advance much further than Stuttgart, Frankfurt or Bonn.

      The Second prong is that any use of nuclear weapons against France will be countered with a massive response.

      40 strategic nuclear weapons isnt much compared with the massive stockpiles held the US and Russia, but that's still a lot of damage inflicted on 40 cities, more than enough to turn the lights off, turn the water off and stop the food trucks.

      It wouldn't reduce Russia to ash, just a mad maxian ruin.

      2% is drama
      A decade ago, 3% was the minimum floor, when it wasn't reached, they lowered it, no reason to dignify it in that sort of context.

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    6. "Any hostiles crossing the Rhine, or looking to, will be met with nuclear weapons."

      Does anyone really believe that? Deterrence only works if the "deterred" really believe you'll nuke them. I don't believe that France would initiate first use of nuclear weapons even to defend their own soil.

      Setting aside believability, there's delivery. Does France have a 100% reliable delivery system that will survive the war leading up to crossing the Rhine? I have no idea but their recent inept attempt to participate in the Syrian strike does not lend a lot of credibility to their systems. Would their systems survive the preceding war? I suspect not.

      Any enemy that believed France's warning but still wanted to act would target their 40 nukes at the outset of hostilities. Are those 40 nukes (wherever they are) survivable?

      I just don't see France's nuclear arm as a credible deterrence and the main point is, still, who is it aimed at? Presumably Russia? Russia utterly lacks the ability to fight its way through Europe to France to be in position to cross the Rhine.

      So, is the nuclear arm worth the cost? I don't see it.

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    7. "Does anyone really believe that?"
      West Germany certainly did, it was a bone of contention between them.

      "Deterrence only works if the "deterred" really believe you'll nuke them. I don't believe that France would initiate first use of nuclear weapons even to defend their own soil."
      Remember this would be France nuking Russians in Germany, not Russia, its the opinion of France that Russia wouldnt escalate in to a strategic nuclear war.

      "Setting aside believability, there's delivery. Does France have a 100% reliable delivery system that will survive the war leading up to crossing the Rhine?"
      80 Air launched cruise missiles and then 4 SSBNs each carrying 16SLBM and up to 160 nuclear warheads, I assumed they carried 40 warheads like the UKs, the rest being decoys.

      "I just don't see France's nuclear arm as a credible deterrence and the main point is, still, who is it aimed at? Presumably Russia? Russia utterly lacks the ability to fight its way through Europe to France to be in position to cross the Rhine."
      At the moment, true, but, things can change rather rapidly,

      Delete
  10. Not a polular analogy due to the human rights baggage, but;

    the European Unions' government format reminds me of the Confederate States of America. The EU will either fall apart due to bickering and disunity like the CSA did, or will coalesce under a stronger central government like the USA.

    Considering the social and cultural differences between the different Euro nations, I find the former much more likely than the latter.

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  11. UK is the strongest European military power and they are leaving the E.U. The U.S. should leave continental Europe to the E.U. We should only provide them with moral support. Instead focus on beefing up the 5 eyes partners (U.S. U.K. N.Z. Aussies and Canada.) Then a strong Pacific partner ship with Japan and India focused on China.

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    1. EU is basically just a trade pact with some things like common borders and currency which UK isnt part of anyway. UK has been more of a global economic and military outlook anyway, from its Empire period. It only only got involved in Europe to save the French from the Germans. Those concerns only apply financially now, not military. Any way Nato is the existing military alliance which is trans atlantic but doesnt cover all EU members.

      Delete
    2. " focus on beefing up the 5 eyes partners (U.S. U.K. N.Z. Aussies and Canada.) Then a strong Pacific partner ship with Japan and India focused on China."

      Quite reasonable!

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    3. @RobTzu 1

      I would given the state of the RN and the German readiness issues, France is clearly the strongest military power in Europe.

      Delete
    4. France put on a pretty pathetic performance in the Syrian attacks not long ago.

      Delete
    5. They walked in an out of Mali fairly effectively. On Syria France seemed to shoot as many missiles as the UK.

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    6. I know nothing about the Mali operation beyond the fact that it occurred so I can't comment on that.

      In the Syrian attack, the French failed significantly. Apparently neither of the two French frigates scheduled to launch missiles were able to do so. A third, reserve vessel finally managed to launch a few missiles. Additional reports indicate that air launched SCALP missiles also failed (10 of 10 failed). To be fair, reports are fragmentary and I have not seen a final, authoritative report.

      See, French Syrian Strike

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    7. They walked in an out of Mali fairly effectively. On Syria France seemed to shoot as many missiles as the UK."
      Mali required significant US airlift support and the French were frequently outgunned by the Malian rebels, 12.7mm HMGs and 40mm GMGs against 23mm cannon

      https://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/23/world/africa/us-begins-airlift-of-french-unit-to-fight-militants-in-mali.html

      Cant find a direct link in support of the outgunned comment, but if you remember its shortly after that that the 225-30mm cannons started being offered for JLTV vehicle type platforms.

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  12. The EU wants an european army. They should have it. NATO served its purpose. But, now it is obselete. My post was prescreptive not descriptive.

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  13. To understand the relationship between Europe and the US, you simply need to understand history.
    US isolationism helped contribute to both World Wars. The US presumed that it could leave Europe to the Europeans. It could not. It cannot.
    She learned this the hard way. Twice.
    To forget these lessons again would be gross folly.
    But people are fickle, short sighted and countries tend to lack institutional memory.
    To regress to a pre-WW2, pre-Cold War isolationist America would be to forget the lessons of two world wars and to allow the deaths of millions to go to waste.
    Nature abhors a vacuum - to leave Europe to her own devices would be to invite someone to fill that vacuum. If you're lucky perhaps it will be filled by a liberal democratic power. But it might be filled by something far more dangerous.

    The lessons of history are there. It's all to easy to ignore them.

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    1. Who, other than yourself, is advocating a US retreat to isolationism? Certainly not me! I've stated repeatedly that withdrawing from Europe would allow the US to engage more fully with China - that's kind of the opposite of isolationism!

      Hopefully, you consider Europe capable of learning the lessons of history, also? Europe should have learned that it needs to have a strong military to guarantee its security and independence.

      Nature does, indeed, abhor a vacuum and hopefully it would be filled by a stronger and wiser Europe. If Europe is too stupid to learn the lessons of two world wars then they deserve the consequences.

      I'm astounded that you have such a low opinion of Europe that you believe they are incapable of learning lessons and filling the vacuum. You clearly see them as helpless children. Disappointing.

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    2. Europe is not a united political entity.
      In the last century Europe has been the focal point of the two most destructive, murderous conflicts in human history and the centerpoint of the Cold War.
      The US shouldered the burden of providing political leadership in Western Europe because she learned that not doing so was
      disasterous, for her.
      Choosing to leave Europe to her own devices is as much a mistake today as it was in 1914 or 1939.

      Delete
  14. Despite the EU and NATO, there really are still two Europes when it comes to dealing with military issues-Western and Eastern Europe. Western Europe has sat happily in their comfort zone since the fall of the Iron Curtain has given them a few hundred miles more of breathing space between them and Russia.
    Eastern Europe has been under Russia's thumb and have no interest in going back. It's similar to the difference during the Cold War between living on the eastern border of West Germany as opposed to the French Riviera. In Poland's case, the way Putin acts reminds them not merely of Stalin and the Communists but the hundreds of years of previous Russian invasion and occupation. I remember taking a course in Russian history in college and it seemed like every third class had the instructor saying "and then they fought a border war with Poland" or "suppressed a Polish uprising." I'm only half-joking when I say that there are more probably more statues of Ronald Reagan in Poland than the US. And despite being at the low end of the economic spectrum for Europe, Poland has contributed to supporting the US in Iraq and Afghanistan and along with the Baltic states will meet their 2% GDP requirement this year (although admittedly they failed to do so before).
    The EU meanwhile seem more worried about Brexit than doing anything that might cut off Russian natural gas.
    IF the US still wants to be involved in Europe, then it needs to move from Western to Eastern Europe not only in focus but physically with bases if possible on the western side of Poland and assist the Baltic states with air defense. IF the US is serious about helping defending Europe from Russia that is.
    The present Russian Military is NOT strong enough to conquer Western Europe even without the US, but could pose a threat to Baltic/Polish territory, especially if they do a ploy similar to what they did with the Ukraine and destabilize border territories.
    Even more than the direct threat to Europe is the China-Russian alliance. Should the US come to blows with China--however limited-- Russia can support them by minor military actions in Europe. NATO obligations will then force us to use resources needed in Asian containment to prop up Europe.

    My big IF's have to do with the fact that anti-Russian sentiment in the US is rather fickle with the political class. Right now it stems less from Russian invasion of the Ukraine--an actual military action--to the domestic obsession with Trump. Old Farts such as myself have found our distrust of Russia justified in Crimea, but the actual situation in Washington is too inwardly focused. Even the current administration's aggressive attitude toward Chinese trade hasn't really translated into any serious actions towards dealing with the South China Sea, "disputed" (only by China) Japanese islands, or any other of the Chinese threats.

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    1. " pose a threat to Baltic/Polish territory, especially if they do a ploy similar to what they did with the Ukraine and destabilize border territories."

      Which, despite out presence in Europe, did not deter the Russians so why would anyone think we'll do anything if the Russians attempt to destabilize another country? And, if we won't do anything then our presence in Europe is pointless.

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    2. "NATO obligations will then force us to use resources needed in Asian containment to prop up Europe."

      This is the entire point of the post!!!!! Europe no longer needs propping up from the US. They are more than capable of dealing with Russia on their own IF THEY'RE FORCED TO STAND ON THEIR OWN, group together, and increase military spending - in other words, become independent of the US. That can only benefit everyone.

      Delete
  15. This is a great post.

    I'd like to add that the other day I read that we are soon (2028) going to be spending 900 billion (!) on interest on the debt. Also, comparatively, the Russian economy is a midget compared to Europe.

    We cannot afford to be in Europe at this time. They can afford to defend themselves.

    Macron put forward the idea of a European defense force, one that did not include the United States. I'm actually okay with that on the face of it. We can pull back and see to our own defense.

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  16. The French want an EU army to counter the USA, not the Russians! The French have always resented NATO as they hate being a junior partner - an EU army will destroy NATO but maybe that's OK.

    I agree that a new 'Forces of Good' alliance that adds US allies such as Japan, Australia (and India if we can get it) makes sense as we need a NATO-type force that operates world-wide - after all, China is building bases outside the Pacific area and we will want to counter them wherever they are.

    The US does not really need significant forces in Europe - keep some bases in the UK for quick reinforcement and some training teams in Eastern Europe - but it does need more bases in Africa to counter Chinese influence there. Equally, the surrounding of Russia worked well in the Cold War, so why not build up more in India, Afghanistan etc? There's been loads of comments about the vulnerability of Guam etc so having more bases available around the Chinese perimeter makes sense. The extra manpower from the Indian army especially would help with the low end/large numbers issue the US has and would be very complimentary.

    US observers seem obsessed with the South China Sea - China has 3 other borders where they can be vulnerable!

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    1. I quite agree about working with India to counter China. I don't understand why we aren't aggressively working to forge a better relationship with India.

      Also, you make a very good point about the worldwide nature of China's expansion and the need to counter it on a worldwide basis.

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  17. My two cents.
    US is staying in Europe for two reasons.
    First reason, influence, with the troops stationed in Europe all countries are listening more to the US and is more likely to agree to suggestions and/or pressure on various topics. With no troops present it will decrease the power of american diplomacy and creates the risk that Europe would "grow up" and start to challenge US in the long run.

    The other reason i think is military industrial.
    Currently when any country in Europe is buying weapons the most important ally in any conflict will be the US. So american arms get preferential treatment. If the US withdraws the most important ally would be another European country and the arms trade would shift accordingly.
    The big question I think is that, is the political power and arms trade provided by having troops in Europe equalizing the cost and manpower demand that is required?

    So i think the US should stay (I'm European) but still force/convince all countries to increase the spending.

    Side note, I don't think you can compare numbers to numbers because Europe would never be able to agree on anything regarding military action and cause of war, for this the NATO (US) is required. While the nuclear umbrella provided via NATO kept/keeps other countries from developing in house.
    /Wragel

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    1. "First reason, influence,"

      There may be some slight validity to this, however, the withdrawal of the US physical presence would not diminish the fact of US trade influence, economic influence, technical influence, world leadership, moral influence, etc. In other words, there would still be more than ample US influence. Frankly, the US would like to see Europe 'challenge' the US since it would mean that Europe is more capable of standing on its own. Despite the role of world policeman that has been forced on it, the US is, at heart, isolationist leaning and would prefer to see Europe stand tall.

      "other reason i think is military industrial."

      This would not change. America still leads the world in developing military technology. Withdrawal of forces would not mean withdrawal of friendship and support. If Europe were attacked by Russia, the US would still rise in support. Thus, it would still be in Europe's best interest to maintain commonality with the US military. That doesn't mean that buying US equipment is mandatory, only that commonality, where appropriate, is still beneficial. Personally, I believe US military industries have grown complacent and I would like to see increased competition from foreign (European) companies force the US companies to improve.

      " Europe would never be able to agree on anything regarding military action and cause of war"

      The US has a saying, "stand together or hang separately". Europe must grown, evolve, and learn to establish a common goal or slowly fall individually. It's past time for Europe to be forced to stand on its own.

      Delete
  18. There is a real discussion to be had about how (and if) European states should organise collective defence, and how (and if) the U.S. (and Canada) should be involved in that.

    However I am afraid your post doesn't provide a useful base from which to do that if for no other reason than your numbers are WAY off. Since you aren't actually talking about Europe beyond (to use older language) Capitalist free Europe, for which you can use the EU as a proxy, that means that your population number alone is out by more than 200 million.

    Your source for comparative forces between Europe (which at the beginning of your post includes Russia) and Russia suggests Italy has a force of just shy of 1,200 MBTs. Of course (per wiki) the only MBT in service with the Italian Army only had a production run of 200 so....

    For what it is worth I think it is worth the U.S. making a political commitment to the European NATO states, a commitment which is reciprocal. You frame this very much in terms of how the U.S. re-orientates to face China (which I think you are right to do) now Europe may not be able to offer much in the way of support in that effort just now, but then to ask Europe to do so makes no more sense than to ask Africa to do so. Both the UK and France have (and are developing) forces that would be of use either directly in a confrontation with China, or to secure the flanks from anyone that attempted to take advantage of U.S. preoccupation. If American was to abandon the Atlantic Alliance (which you are coming close to advocating) then what incentive is there for Europe to support broader American interests.

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    1. " I am afraid your post doesn't provide a useful base from which to do that"

      Of course it does! I provided a broad sense of the relative economic, population, and military comparisons. That's a very relevant base of comparison!

      " suggests Italy has a force of just shy of 1,200 MBTs. "

      If you have an issue with the numbers, take it up with Wiki. Also, plus or minus hundreds of tanks makes no difference to the overall assessment.

      Delete
    2. "For what it is worth I think it is worth the U.S. making a political commitment to the European NATO states"

      Why? You made the statement but offered no rationale.

      Delete
    3. "If American was to abandon the Atlantic Alliance"

      Who's advocating that? As best I can tell, only you! I'm simply advocating withdrawing the physical presence from Europe in order to encourage/force Europe to learn to stand on their own. The US would still maintain all the diplomatic, economic, and trade relations we currently have. We would just not have a physical military presence on the continent.

      "what incentive is there for Europe to support broader American interests."

      Oh, I don't know … Maybe incentives like global free trade, international security, international safeguarding of shipping, promotion of human rights, disaster relief, international travel, international scientific advancement, promotion of medical research and services, and stuff like that.

      Why on Earth would you think that simply not having US military personnel standing on European soil would eliminate all forms of contact, interaction, cooperation, and support? Did you read that somewhere in my post or is that just something you made up on your own?

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    4. "Of course it does! I provided a broad sense of the relative economic, population, and military comparisons. That's a very relevant base of comparison! "

      I'm sorry but no it doesn't. The US has treaty commitments to NATO (and possibly non-NATO states but if it does I don't know what they are so lets park that for a second.

      So when you say 'Europe' and say there is a population north of 700 million, you are including Russia (which is the potential aggressor) the Ukraine (thats anotehr 50 odd million) Sweden, Finland, Ireland, Serbia, Switzerland and parts of Kazakhstan. Some of those nations are not aligned with NATO/US some may side with Russia in any conflict and some maintain a policy of neutrality.

      You aren't far off in economic terms tbf, but mostly as Russia and it's friends have crappy economies. Granted Russia being a prime supplier of natural gas to much of Western Europe could in a conflict cause quite a bit of economic damage without firing a shot but again let's part that.

      "If you have an issue with the numbers, take it up with Wiki. Also, plus or minus hundreds of tanks makes no difference to the overall assessment."

      With respect, if you are trying to make the case you are the onus is on you to provide relevant and accurate information. You do in fairness provide sources so obviously I was able to look at the numbers in a little more detail, I gave the example of Italy but had a quick check of another couple too. Poland and Greece sit at around 2/3 of the number the source gives. Romania at about 75%...mind you 2/3 of their tanks at T-55s. The actual number for the UK, France and Germany on MBTs are about half what your source claims. I am not suggesting plus or minus hundreds of tanks, I'm suggesting minus a couple of thousand. (As an aside if you use Wiki as a source you have low balled the Russian MBT count.

      "Why? You made the statement but offered no rationale."

      I did.

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    5. You said: ""If American was to abandon the Atlantic Alliance"

      Who's advocating that? As best I can tell, only you! I'm simply advocating withdrawing the physical presence from Europe in order to encourage/force Europe to learn to stand on their own. The US would still maintain all the diplomatic, economic, and trade relations we currently have. We would just not have a physical military presence on the continent."

      I actually said: " If American was to abandon the Atlantic Alliance (which you are coming close to advocating) "

      I would respectfully suggest that this is a debate that is happening from both sides in Europe as well as in the U.S. We should be mindful of how our positions are read by our allies. I am letting you know that from my perspective (UK/European) that looks to be the direction you are headed in with your argument.

      As for the second part of your third comment....You said it yourself that America tends towards isolationism. You yourself don't seem to think American should act as world policeman. Those are fair positions. I would suggest however that the current US administration does not seem to be all that keen on free trade. Nor (to be fair) is the EU (if we are being honest). Both sides can more in a protectionist direction if they want to, and I suspect the politics of that would mean it wouldn't take much to provoke that.

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    6. This is an example of the absolute worst, least productive kind of comment. Debating exact numbers of tanks is about as trivial an item as you can get in this post. For example, your contention of only 200 tanks for Italy fails to include Centauro tank destroyers (550 or so) which my cited reference clearly stated were included in the tank numbers along with other self-propelled, heavy firepower vehicles.

      I stand by the cited reference for broad comparative purposes. If you choose not to believe them that's up to you but I'm not going to waste time debating each individual country and each piece of equipment.

      The central post premise stands that Europe has the wealth to provide for their own defense and that is grounds for the US to withdraw troops from the continent.

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    7. "that looks to be the direction you are headed in with your argument."

      Please don't read anything into my statements other than what's actually written. You'll inevitably be wrong, as you are now. My only position is that the US should withdraw its forces from Europe. I am NOT advocating abandonment of relationships, trade, diplomacy, or any other aspect of international relations. You are making that part up. If I didn't write it, it's not my position. You appear to be attempting to force an argument where no basis for one exists.

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    8. "For example, your contention of only 200 tanks for Italy fails to include Centauro tank destroyers (550 or so) which my cited reference clearly stated were included in the tank numbers along with other self-propelled, heavy firepower vehicles."


      and yet....
      "Army, tanks 2500 7700"

      I haven't suggest Europe can't or shouldn't increase defence spending. Not sure I accept that it would have to to 'defend itself' mind.

      But your numbers are at best iffy, and you refuse to own it.

      You want to put out blatantly false and confused information then you go ahead, but you don't get to then claim you aren't the problem. I expect you will delete this comment, but fine whatever, pretty sure this is the first time I've commented on your blog and at this point I don't really think it was worth the effort.

      Delete
    9. This discussion has definitely not been worth the effort for me. I wish you well as you move on.

      Delete
  19. Of course this assumes that the US actually wishes to be associated with some of the regimes in Europe. France appears to have lost it completely now : https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-6469939/Child-rioters-young-12-153-arrested-SINGLE-French-high-school.html

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  20. "Should NATO reform itself by dropping the US and making membership a strictly European requirement?"

    There are a fair few options for reforming NATO
    I'd junk it, let the EU maintain its current common defence treaty, and enforce it or not.
    I'd beef up 5 eyes, possibly include Japan and India as a "league of Democracies" as McCain touted once.

    "Is the European Union a military failure? Can it succeed?"
    Yes, probably not.
    Europe has many many problems, but in this case, they don't really like each other and they don't really grasp reality.
    France says "Cooperation", but means "everyone should buy their aircraft from Dassault.
    Germany says cooperstion but means don't interrupt Russian gas.
    Poland means defend me from Russia and Spain is genuinely unsure of where Poland even is.

    "Who/how should European military might be controlled to ensure a common purpose and goal?"
    And that's the rub, there is no common goal. What does Portugal lose if Romania is conquered?

    "If the US pulls out of Europe, what military capabilities does Europe then lack?"
    Almost everything.
    Even if Europe was vaguely unified, it has shockingly few front line troops and almost no logistical back up.
    No real intelligence capabilities or, anything.

    Which country is the next Russian target after Ukraine falls?
    Romania
    Given Turkey is onside, or least nuetral, that gives Russia ownership of the Black Sea and a measure of control over the nation's that need it.
    A mix of Turkish shipping controls in Constantinople, Russian military harrasment in the Sea, and if necessary, little green pirates.
    If you get out of line, those harrasments are stepped up, doesn't sound like much, but JIT doesn't work if you parts are on a cargo ship that gets "randomly selected" for a safety check in Turkey, and then randomly checked for drugs by Russian military police, each taking weeks

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    1. I take it that when you say 'European' you are excluding the UK? At the very least, UK Intelligence is a very valuable asset for the USA. Let the EU do what it wants but there is a strong case for the UK and USA staying closely allied.

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    2. Romania? Hmm … Interesting. I'll have to give that some serious thought.

      Delete
  21. @CNO,

    I am glad you posted this; for me there are deeper issues:

    1) Mexico and Latin America are far, far more important to the USA than Europe in every way (trade, migration, culture, crime, etc.) yet Mexico, Venezuela, and many CENTAM countries have become failed states with murder rates, displaced populations, and political instability far, far, far exceeding the worst humanitarian disasters than occurred at the height of the Iraq and Syrian wars. Why is it that we have comparatively huge military investment in Europe, while almost all violent crime in the USA is driven by the organized crime tied directly to the LATAM drug trade, which is run by sophisticated military/paramilitary organizations like the FARC, Mexican Cartels, et al, and then our migration woes related to peoples fleeing the corruption and economic implosion of many LATAM countries?

    2) A military alliance should be a two-way street, the USA and Canada cannot rely on European support in the face of a Chinese attack.

    3) The EU is a primary competitor to the USA in many areas, notably defense, for example, Germany is the #3 arms exporter in the world, the EU is loves trading with Iran and Syria, and EU companies love assessing punitive US tech companies.

    4) Forget the Russians and Chinese, Several EU member states (e.g. France and Germany) have long standing intelligence and corporate espionage programs counter to our interests.

    5) Russia is for better or worse is our neighbor (look at a map of the arctic ocean); we may never be friends, but we should be at least be tolerable neighbors, particularly given the plethora of petroleum, fish (yes fishing is big business), and minerals that are present in the Arctic.

    GAB

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    1. Pertinent and succinct, as always. I quite agree.

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  22. #3 above should be:
    3) The EU is a primary competitor to the USA in many areas, notably defense, for example, Germany is the #3 arms exporter in the world, the EU is loves trading with Iran and Syria, and EU *countries* love assessing punitive *taxes and fines* on US tech companies.

    GAB

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  23. Your contention that a permanent American military presence is not worth it may be correct. But we should define the problem space: getting the European nations to be able to intensively coordinate military action such that they would win an armed conflict with Russia rather than getting picked apart one by one due to lack of coordination, interoperability, and will.

    The European nations' disunity is something we Americans often have difficulty comprehending. They have millenia of history squabbling and fighting amongst themselves and only a scant 70 years working together, not even towards any kind of common goal. Even that has taken U.S.-led NATO military leadership to help realize. You say that Europe should "grow up" and learn to work together or else "hang separately". I 100% agree, they should. But will they? And more importantly, is the USA prepared to accept the consequences if they don't. Because there's also the saying about what you need to do when your neighbor's house is on fire: sure, maybe your neighbor was irresponsible and needs to learn to face the consequences of his actions... but if you don't help put out the fire, you may have to live with those consequences yourself when your own house catches fire!

    Seems like pushing for more non-American NATO leadership would be a necessary precursor, as would the creation of a transnational "European Army" with each nation being held to a mandatory level of manpower, equipment, and R&D contribution. Basically a European U.N., but with actual military and political teeth. Then they would need to define very specifically their threshold for marching off to war (e.g. is a hack worth conquering Kaliningrad?), and actually follow through when probed by the Russians.

    If we want to get out of the business of subsidizing the Europeans' defense, helping them first create something like the above seems like would leave much less to chance.

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    1. "If we want to get out of the business of subsidizing the Europeans' defense, helping them first create something like the above seems like would leave much less to chance."

      In theory, yes. In practice, no. It's like putting off doing your homework until the day it's due. As you clearly described, Europe has demonstrated that they will not come together without a powerful motivating event. That event can only be the sudden (or a relative basis) and total withdrawal of American forces.

      If we attempt to set up some interim organization and work to define goals and thresholds, it will never happen. For proof, consider that NATO currently REQUIRES a minimum of 2% spending on military and, yet, most countries don't do it. For more proof, consider the disaster that is the EU.

      You're right about a European U.N. except that the U.N. is a worthless organization that does nothing but talk, welcomes murderous dictatorships to its human rights councils, etc. There is no reason to believe a European U.N. would be any different.

      Europe needs a strong motivating event - like withdrawal!

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    2. You may be right. All I'm saying is that we should acknowledge that without us, there's a very real chance that they might fail and make situation far worse than it currently is, and we'll get dragged back to bail them out because we don't want a Europe run by regimes that are hostile to us.

      Consider that this is essentially what happened in both World Wars and it's what we worked so hard to prevent from happening during the Cold War.

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    3. I have two questions for you.

      1. Since you don't like my idea, what's yours?

      2. What strategic interest does the US have on the European continent that we would lose if Russia conquered the entire continent? We take it as an article of faith that we must have a free Europe (and that's certainly desirable!) but what absolutely vital strategic interest do we have?

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    4. 1. Well I gave my idea: Help Europe create a unified military force with more European and less American leadership. Help them discover and strengthen their wings before we push them out of the nest, so to speak.

      2. I think it's in our interest for one of the most economically and (potentially) militarily powerful regions on Earth to be populated and ruled by allies rather than at best competitors and at worst enemies, don't you? Right now we have the luxury of worrying about Dollar-Euro exchange rates rather than planning amphibious invasions in Europe, which as you've noted we've lost the capability to execute! It would be nice to keep it that way I think. :)

      Anyway, thank you for the opportunity to comment here. This high level of strategic and military discussion here is quite astounding.

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    5. "Help Europe create a unified military force with more European and less American leadership."

      Well, yes, sure. But that's like saying we should promote world peace. It's a nebulous, unobtainable goal.

      How would you specifically envision that happening, given all the demonstrated failings of European cooperation?

      " populated and ruled by allies"

      Again, sure. However, I'm reminded of the old adage, "with friends like these, who needs enemies?".

      Half the countries in Europe despise America currently. Many are engaged in unfair trade wars with the US - to be fair, those unfair practices occur on both sides though, from what I can tell, moreso on the European side but I'm not an international economics expert. We're footing most of the bill for the defense of Europe with relatively little to show for it. Our 'allies' seem to consistently deny base usage or overflights when we attempt to conduct combat operations. And so on. With friends like these …

      I stated in my question that having a friendly Europe was desirable but that wasn't my question. The question was, what truly national strategic interest do we have their? I'm not saying we don't have one but I'm hard-pressed to state it!

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