Is Europe Finally Ready for an Army?
Top leaders in Germany, France and the European Union are calling for a pan-European military. Such a military would be a truly world-shaking development. Yet many dismiss the idea because it has yet to materialize despite a long-term desire to create it.
But now, a European military seems likelier than ever. The attacks in Paris and Nice, as well as those occurring elsewhere in Europe, have left France desperate for European military help. Germany is more willing than ever to take the lead in Europe, and is remilitarizing. And Britain’s vote to leave the European Union removes Europe’s biggest obstacle to building a combined military.
This is why the calls for a united military are louder than ever. Defense reform is “a matter of urgency,” EU officials said, calling for the Union to have its own armed forces, navy and intelligence service. Poland’s former prime minister, Jarosław Kaczyński, believes Europe should have “a European army” and “a strong European president with far-reaching authority,” Spiegel reported. And Germany’s radical new vision for the future of its military includes a strong focus on European cooperation.
The renewed push for a European military began after the November 13 Paris attacks, when French President François Hollande invoked the EU’s self-defense clause rather than nato’s. Trumpet editor in chief Gerald Flurry explained at the time: “By invoking the EU’s collective defense clause rather than turning to nato, [Hollande] was declaring that Europe is more than just a junior partner in America’s defense arrangement. Europe is its own power. It has its own foreign relations, its own interests and its own goals.
“Most people didn’t recognize the significance of France’s decision. But it is a choice that will have a terrible impact on America—as well as Britain and the Jewish state of Israel. It will significantly alter the history of these nations, and of Europe” (February 2016).
Hollande has spent most of this year drumming up support for military integration. Most importantly, he reached out to Germany. “Our two countries must agree to a budgetary effort on defense,” he said in an April 6 interview with Germany’s Bild newspaper. “And to act outside Europe. Let’s not rely on another power, even a friendly one, to do away with terrorism.”
In other words, when there’s blood in the streets, France doesn’t trust America. Other reports have also emphasized the need to do without America. A report by the French and German foreign ministers called on the EU to be “an independent and global actor” (emphasis added throughout). EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini has repeatedly emphasized Europe’s need for “autonomy.”
The fear of terrorists and illegal migrants means Europe is accelerating plans for an armed border and coastguard force. A European Parliament committee approved and expedited plans for this force on May 30. “The legislative process has been fast by EU standards,” EU Observer wrote on May 31. “The Commission presented its proposal in December 2015. EU ministers rubber-stamped it in April.”
Just a year and a half ago, one source told the EU Observer that the EU border agency would open around 2030 to 2035. Suddenly, the target became the end of summer 2016. That may be too ambitious, but it demonstrates Europe’s new sense of urgency.
The border agency would mark a huge change for Europe. Under its authority, the EU could legally send soldiers into an EU country even against that country’s will. One core characteristic of an independent state is a monopoly of force within its borders, meaning the only entity that can deploy an army within its territory is its own government. EU nations are considering surrendering this aspect of sovereignty and giving politicians in Brussels the power to field foreign troops in their countries. It will be a small beginning; the border guard would only be 1,000 strong. But the principle it establishes is huge.
New Plans for an Army
Brexit is another major reason for the renewed push for a military. First, Britain’s choice to leave the EU has European leaders searching for a new vision for Europe. Second, it removes the biggest obstacle to an army—London’s opposition—from the equation.
The day after the Brexit referendum, French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier published a recommendation on how to respond. “We will … move further towards political union in Europe and invite the other Europeans to join us in this endeavor,” they wrote. They outlined three areas the EU should focus on: security, immigration and the economy. The section on military and security was by far the biggest.
The two nations “recommit to a shared vision of Europe as a security union,” the report said. “Germany and France propose a European Security Compact which encompasses all aspects of security and defense dealt with at the European level and thus delivers on the EU’s promise to strengthen security for its citizens.”
The report called for “a permanent civil-military chain of command,” adding that “if needed, EU member states should consider establishing standing maritime forces or acquiring EU-owned capabilities in other key areas.” It also called for the “creation of a European response capability; establishment of a European civil protection corps,” and the “creation of a European platform for intelligence cooperation.” This is a call for an EU military force, an EU navy, and the beginnings of what German-
Foreign-Policy.com calls a European fbi.
On June 28, Mogherini published a much-anticipated paper called “A Global Strategy for the European Union’s Foreign and Security Policy.” This too called for a superstate. Europe needs to be “a true union,” she wrote. “We need a stronger Europe.”
After Brexit, the EU is divided on where to go. But defense cooperation is one of the few things everyone agrees on.
In an article titled “Brexit Aftershocks: An Inside Look at the EU’s Raging Power Struggle,” Spiegel Online described a Europe divided between insiders in Brussels who want “more Europe” and nation-states that want “less Europe.” However, it noted: “Jarosław Kaczyński, head of Poland’s national-conservative Law and Justice party, which currently holds power in the country, doesn’t want ‘less Europe’ in all areas. When it comes to foreign and security policy, he would even like to see the EU play a more robust role. Kaczyński is in favor of the establishment of a European army and would like to see a strong European president with far-reaching authority. It is a demand that many governments in Eastern and Central Europe agree with” (July 1).
It’s hard to imagine anything “more Europe” than a strong president and a European army. These nations are not opposed to “more Europe,” but rather “more Brussels.”
What Germany Wants
On July 13, Germany presented its long-term vision for its military. The latest white paper on defense announced the nation’s willingness to play a leading role in the world, even militarily. “Germany has shown that it is willing to take responsibility in security policy,” wrote Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen in the paper. “We have also shown that we are prepared to take the lead.”
Germany “has a responsibility to actively participate in shaping the global order,” the paper states.
It too calls for a European military. Germany “is striving to achieve the long-term goal of a common European Security and Defense Union,” it states. “[W]e are aiming to establish a permanent civil-military operational headquarters in the medium term.”
When presenting the paper, von der Leyen noted that Britain had “paralyzed” these kinds of efforts in the past. The two key official German and EU papers mentioned earlier were due for publication before the Brexit referendum. Both were delayed until after the vote. Few things could turn Brits against the EU faster than calls for military union, and the timing suggests the papers were deliberately withheld until after the vote to prevent this. Yet Britain rejected Europe anyway.
Berlin’s white paper calls for Germany to allow European citizens to join the German Army. It notes that this “would not only offer potential for wide-ranging integration and regeneration and thus strengthen the personnel base of the Bundeswehr, it would also send out a strong signal for a European approach.”
Germany is also undertaking its own efforts to create a multinational army. Huge portions of the Dutch military are being merged with the German Army in a process that many want to see rolled out across the whole Continent. Two of the Netherlands’ three combat brigades have officially begun the process of joining the Bundeswehr.
The 11th Airmobile Brigade came under German command in 2014. On March 17 this year, the 43rd Mechanized Brigade officially became part of the German 1st Armored Division. The Dutch Army now has under its command only the 13th Mechanized Brigade, plus special forces, support and headquarters staff.
The two nations are extending this partnership to the sea. They will share the Dutch Navy’s most expensive ship, the amphibious-landing and troop-carrying Karel Doorman. It can transport and land troops and heavy equipment and has space for helicopters. The German sea battalion—about 800 soldiers specializing in naval protection, mine-clearance and boarding—will be absorbed into the Dutch Navy. A German air defense unit may also join a Dutch unit.
The German sea battalion is under Dutch command, so this cooperation goes both ways to a certain extent—though it is clear Germany is the senior partner. The Dutch are handing over the heart of their army to Germany, while Germany gives up only one unit. Even so, the German troops commanded by the Netherlands will be unable to deploy without the approval of the German parliament. Germany’s Constitutional Court has ruled that the German military can only be deployed with the permission of the Bundestag. This applies to German units stationed in other forces.
“In all previous collaborations, it was agreed that troop operations continue to be subject to checks by the national institutions and procedures,” wrote Sächsische Zeitung. “The sea battalion of the German Navy could be involved, for example, only after approval of the Bundestag on a foreign deployment of the Dutch Navy” (April 2; Trumpet translation throughout).
These deals help Germany quickly expand its military while the Dutch cut costs. Germany sees this unprecedented cooperation as only the start. It has begun preparations for similar arrangements with Poland. The Czech Republic also wants one of its armored brigades absorbed into the German Army.
Von der Leyen said in February that Germany “will set up a multinational panzer division next year.” Die Welt explained, “This should create a unit with up to 20,000 active soldiers, which should be operational by 2021—which would be the nucleus of a European army” (March 17).
Von der Leyen said the Dutch-German cooperation was a “prime example for the building of a European Defense Union.” The German press sees this too. “Laboratory for an EU Army” was the title for Die Welt’s article on this subject. It had another titled “How von der Leyen Is Driving the European Army.”
Die Welt wrote, “Von der Leyen and [Dutch Defense Minister Jeanine] Hennis-Plasschaert were in Amsterdam playing the role of pioneers on their way to an EU army” (February 4).
Germany has made no secret that a European army is the ultimate goal of this cooperation. This strategy would naturally make Germany the lead nation of a European army.
“The nation that benefits the most from France rejecting America is Germany,” Mr. Flurry wrote after the Paris attacks. “Germany has dominated the EU for years. France’s move will bring the European armies together in a way that the EU founders only dreamed of” (op cit).
Germany is the top nation France has turned to. An EU military will need Germany’s blessing and Germany’s cash. “Collaborating on defense budgets, with each nation contributing based on economic size, would mean that Germany would be both the leading economic and military power in Europe,” wrote George Friedman for Geopolitical Futures. “Within the EU, Germany is first among equals. Creating a substantial military force would cement that” (April 8).
The French have been reluctant to give Germany that much power. But after suffering their third major terrorist attack in 18 months, they are growing desperate.
Exactly as Forecast
Herbert W. Armstrong warned of this military union for decades. In May 1953, he wrote that “10 powerful European nations will combine their forces.” In August 1978, he warned: “The Europeans are far more disturbed about their safety in relying on United States military power to protect them than Americans realize! …
“Europeans want their own united military power! They know that a political union of Europe would produce a third major world power, as strong as either the U.S. or the ussr—possibly stronger!”
But Mr. Armstrong also saw that this unification would not come easily. “The nations of Europe have been striving to become reunited,” he wrote in the January 1979 Plain Truth. “They desire a common currency, a single combined military force, a single united government. They have made a start in the Common Market. They are now working toward a common currency. Yet, on a purely political basis, they have been totally unable to unite.” Mr. Armstrong went on to explain that it would only be through the Vatican, “uniting church and state once again,” as has happened repeatedly in history, that a united Europe will be achieved.
On the military level, there is no sign yet that the really hard questions have been addressed, like who will pay for an EU military headquarters, how it will be structured, and who will be in command.
But Europeans are under great pressure. Major crises are driving this push for a European military. That is why it must be taken seriously, despite all past failed rhetoric. Terrorist attacks, the migrant crisis, Russia’s increasing aggression—none of these are going away. If Europe’s efforts stall, one or more of these forces will push Europe again toward its prophesied destiny: a superstate whose individual nations lose sovereignty but gain the power projection of a 21st-century superpower.
American leaders are happy to help in this project. But distrust of America is at the core of this push for militarization. Europe has not been able to project power outside of the Continent without U.S. help since the Suez Crisis in 1956. If you exclude Britain’s involvement, Europe itself hasn’t projected power since World War ii. The arrival of an independent military force will be one of the most radical developments in decades. At the same time, Germany is emerging as a clear leader in this drive to form an army.
Though many nations support Europe’s efforts to expand its military power, biblical prophecy shows that this trend is one of the most dangerous happening in the world today.