The EU Army

Why is it a bad idea?

Jonathon Davies, Going Postal

“Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” – Matthew 26:52

The ever wise and credible Remoaners (see below) often ask me on Twitter, “Why is the EU army a bad idea?” Well, pull up a chair kids. It’s time for class and Mr. Davies is about to begin. Back in June, 1914, the Great War kicked off when Gavrilo Princip shot the Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the Austro-Hungarian throne, in Sarajevo. Why was this such a big deal that could lead to war? After all, people are shot in London every day, yet it doesn’t lead to a pan-European conflict. We need to examine the situation at the time in the Balkans. In 1908 Austria-Hungary had annexed Bosnia. This upset Slavic nationalists, in particular Serbia and its old ally Russia (yes, Russia, of which more will appear later).

The Ottoman Empire had been a major player with territory in the Balkans, and it was in the process of being kicked out by force by a number of countries, forming the Balkan league and defeating the Ottomans in May 1913. There was yet another war in June, between the Balkan states, that resulted in Serbia being the most powerful military state in the area. France had provided numerous loans to this end. This resulted in a hotchpotch of nationalities and ethnicities in each state, often ruled over by those they had been fighting against previously, with large grudges to nurse over time. As we know from modern experience, this is never a good idea. The Balkans was rightly described as a powder keg waiting to go off, and go off it did.

Added to this was the wider political situation in Europe at the time. As we know, Russia was allied with Serbia on ethnic and political grounds. France had lost a war (surprise, surprise) to the Prussian led German states in 1871, shortly after which the German states coalesced in to the German Empire. There was a deep sense of bitterness and a desire for revenge in France, as well as a greater worry about German imperial designs for the continent and overseas. Germany feared French reprisals and felt vulnerable, correctly so, to a war on two fronts. This led to the signing of the 1882 Triple Alliance defence pact with Italy and Austria-Hungary, that each country would support each other if attacked.

Austria-Hungary felt threatened by French-financed Serbia and the phantom menace of the Ottomans returning. Russia felt isolated and vulnerable to the newly powerful Germans, while France still had many an axe to grind and an overseas empire to protect. They signed the Franco-Russian alliance in 1892. Britain and France had buried the hatchet in the Entente Cordiale of 1904. Further to this they entered in to the Triple Entente of 1907, an understanding of defence against the Triple Alliance. Britain was increasingly worried about German expansionism in Europe and as a threat to its extensive overseas empire. Germany also backed the Ottoman Empire (some things never change).

If you wanted to create a situation to destroy Europe, this was pretty much it. All the major powers of Europe were now in a faceoff with each other, committed to going to war if one of them was attacked. Instead of just two countries fighting, all would be drawn in. I always envision it as a giant game of Jenga. Pull out one piece and the lot comes down. How could this possibly be made any worse? Why, how about some military build-up and an arms race? Britain and Germany competed with each other to launch new battleships in order to gain naval superiority.

Across Europe military spending rose 50% as countries prepared for a European war. Germany, France, Austria, Italy and Russia, and some smaller countries, set up conscription systems whereby young men would serve from 1 to three years in the army, then spend the next 20 years or so in the reserves with annual summer training. Men from higher social statuses became officers. Each country devised a mobilisation system whereby the reserves could be called up quickly and sent to key points by rail. Every year the plans were updated and expanded in terms of complexity. Each country stockpiled arms and supplies for an army that ran into the millions.

When Princip’s shot rang out on June 28th, 1914, these strands of imperialist expansion, ethnic tensions in the Balkans, an arms race and large alliance systems all came together to star the Great War. Austria-Hungary declared war on Serbia and vice-versa. Russia announce it would mobilise in support of Serbia. Germany mobilised in support of Austria-Hungary and to try and strike a decisive blow against the French. Britain mobilised when Belgium, who it also had a treaty with, was invaded by Germany on their way through to France. Thanks to conscription they had an army of around 2 million men.

So, what does all this have to do with the EU army? Remember that the EU is allegedly a “peace project.” Examine Europe today just over 100 years from the end of the Great War. After another Balkan war in the 1990s the situation there remains febrile at best. Many a grudge is still being nursed. A UN peace keeping force remains in Kosovo. Recently there has been talk of a land swap deal between Kosovo and Serbia to try and broker a lasting peace, which is controversial to say the least. Yes, Serbia again. And who is Serbia’s oldest ally? Russia. Again. Added to this mix is that Kosovo is likely to vote to build itself an army. This does not bode well. Serbia has recently threatened to invade Kosovo. In a wider context, the EU wants to add Bosnia and Serbia as members. Yes, another empire wants to annex Bosnia. If Serbia joins this will antagonise Russia, who are already worried about NATO and EU countries bordering it and building up their military or having foreign troops based there. Russia is once again feeling isolated.

So far, we once again have imperial expansion and ethnic tensions in the Balkans, as we did in 1914, along with an antagonised Russia. Remember France giving Serbia loans to build its military? This was aimed at drawing Serbia towards the Triple Entente forces, which it did. In the modern day we have the situation in Ukraine. In 2012 the EU and Ukraine began to initiate an Association Agreement, to draw Ukraine closer to the EU and away from its traditional Russian sphere of influence. This was quite likely to be a prelude to membership. Even before this, economic negotiations had been taking place and the EU had made funds available under the TACIS programme and the ENPI programme. Taxpayers money funnelled to Ukraine.

Russia responded with economic sanction which began to cripple Ukraine’s exports and GDP. Political upheaval ensued, mass protests hit the streets, governments rose and fell, in a complex sequence of events (more detail here) known as Euromaidan. Ukraine was split between those wanting EU membership and those wanting to move closer to Russia. Russia took the opportunity to annex Crimea where it has its Sevastopol naval base, as civil war brewed. Tensions continue to this day as the Sea of Azov incident has shown. Ukraine is currently split along ethnic lines, similar to the Balkans. Now all we need is large scale military build-up and large alliances facing off against each other. No one would be that stupid, would they?

Both Macron and Merkel have called for an EU army. This would mean a greater military expansion and would almost certainly have its own budget, meaning more funds. How could this be? Article 42.7 of the Lisbon treaty (which I’m sure all Remain voters have read carefully) strengthens the solidarity between EU countries in dealing with external threats by introducing a mutual defence clause. This clause provides that if an EU country is the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other EU countries have an obligation to aid and assist it by all the means in their power. Wonderful. This is very much like the wording of the Triple Entente and Triple Alliance agreements. One in, all in.

How does this differ from NATO? NATO is governed by its rules of engagement, has a definite command structure and relies a lot on the USA. What are the EU army rules of engagement? We don’t know. Nor do we know its command structure. Add to this the EU Common Security and Defence Policy. This allows for deployment of EU troops overseas. The EU currently has civilian and military operations in Ukraine, Georgia, Iraq, Somalia, Palestinian territories, Niger, Mali, Central African Republic, Libya, Bosnia, Kosovo and the Mediterranean Sea. But it’s just a trading bloc, right? The genius that is Emmanuel Macron (or Micron) has recently said the EU army is needed to face off against Russia, China and maybe even the USA. The German army is to be increased in numbers and a new tank battalion formed. Macron has reintroduced national service in to France. So, we have military build-up and large alliances and countries facing off against each other, as tensions start to run high.

Just as worrying are the recent scenes from France. Protest against Macron’s government by the Yellow Jacket movement has turned violent on both sides and is now being ruthlessly suppressed. Most disconcerting were the pictures of French Gendarme armoured vehicles, bearing the EU flag, being deployed against civilians on the streets of Paris. Every excuse in the book was dug up as to why they were fake or not part of an EU force. The Russians photoshopped it, it wasn’t really in France, etc. It turns out they were part of a joint EU paramilitary force from Kosovo. This fact was then used by Remoaners to “prove” there was no EU army. Because units from different nations serving together in a non-EU territory is definitely not an EU military force, apparently.

The whole EU project seems to be heading in to a collective insanity, with cries of “more Europe!” as the answer to everything. This is pushing more countries in to rebellion, such as Hungary, Poland, Italy, etc. There is also more internal dissent, such as in France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands. An age-old tactic, from the Romans right up to Gaddafi, is to use foreign troops to suppress rebellion because they have no attachment to the people they are fighting. Given the authoritarian and undemocratic nature of the EU this is now a very real possibility.

You only have to look at the inflammatory language of the EU’s pet attack dog Verhofstadt (the real one, not the parody. The parody is far more sensible) to see the hard-line nature reminiscent of the USSR. He and others at the EU have vowed to crush nationalism, describing it as a “cancer,” as well as blaming everything on the phantom far-right. Are these the people you want in charge of a large military force? Is this the force you want policing the EU borders? There is also the question of recruitment. Wherever will they get thousands of military age men, with European birth rates falling? I wonder. It is fitting to remember that Alaric sacked Rome.

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”
– Isaiah 5:20

(Featured Image from Wikipedia under Creative Commons license CC BY-SA 2.5)

© Jonathon Davies 2018

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