“We Can’t Go It Alone on Defense”

As global threats gather, Europe sees the need to unify. The signing of a new code of conduct for arms contracting provides a peek at this significant trend.
From the September 2006 Trumpet Print Edition

Everyone sees that European unity has been obstructed by several divisive issues. What many do not see, however, is that despite these problems, the European Union continues to take steps, albeit small, toward becoming a unified and streamlined federation of nations.

In early July, the EU took another step toward this goal when 22 out of the 25 member nations signed a new code of conduct that will thrust the Continent toward a common arms market.

This one move could do much to enhance the EU’s military capability.

Under the code, which will apply to all member states except Denmark, Spain and Hungary, national defense ministries are required to place new arms and defense tenders on a European Defense Agency notice board where European arms companies may compete for the contracts. Such a code of conduct is revolutionary in Europe, where there has traditionally been little cross-border competition for defense and arms contracts.

The new code, according to Nick Whitney, head of the European Defense Agency, will “create new opportunities for companies across Europe, strengthen our defense, technological and industrial base and offer better value for money to the armed forces and to taxpayers” (Washington Times, July 2). European arms companies, facing competition for contracts from other arms companies, will be driven to invest more time and money into developing new technologies, and to become more efficient and affordable.

As competition increases, we could also see more mergers and buy-outs among European arms companies. In time, this new code of conduct could facilitate the formation of some giant arms conglomerates in Europe.

Time will prove that this new code of conduct is a small but significant step toward a unified European defense system.

Regarding the overwhelming acceptance of the new code, EU foreign affairs and security chief Javier Solana said that it shows “there is a common realization that none of us can any longer afford to go it alone in the business of defense” (EUobserver.com, July 3; emphasis mine).

Why do European nations feel they can no longer “afford to go it alone” with defense? Solana’s comment provides a window into Europe’s anxiety over the rapidly changing reality of today’s geopolitics. Russia is growing bold to the east; Islamic fervor is mounting to the south; the U.S. is rapidly losing interest in Europe—and European leaders are concerned. In order to manage developing threats, they perceive a need to pool their resources and act as one.

Watch, then, for the EU to pursue more ardently the formation of a Continent-wide, streamlined defense system in coming months and years.

Fear Motivates

The Trumpet is not ignorant of the large hurdles this European Union project must jump if it is to amount to anything. We simply believe that as European nations increasingly face huge internal and external pressures, they will become more motivated to jump the hurdles preventing their unification.

Fear is an energizing emotion. Ask a man to hurdle a 7-foot fence, and he would probably refuse. Release an enraged, frothing-at-the-mouth attack dog, and the man would suddenly summon the energy to clear the fence in order to escape the angry canine. In Europe, fears are going to motivate nations to scale the hurdles currently preventing their unification into a singular power.

The fact that 22 out of the 25 EU member states are prepared to set aside a history of awarding defense contracts to companies within their own borders and sign this new code of conduct proves this point—and provides an inkling of a growing trend in Europe.

As Solana said, among European states “there is a common realization that none of us can any longer afford to go it alone in the business of defense.” Over time, they will realize they can no longer “afford to go it alone” in any area—be it economy, communications, trade, and the list goes on. The more these nations set aside their differences and embrace the European project, the more they will realize the benefits that come from having a focused and unified government.

History provides the blueprint of how this will occur. Time and again, European greatness has hinged predominantly on two factors: Germany and the Vatican. Watch, then, for both to play a more central role in European affairs in the time ahead. As the Catholic Church seeks to restore Europe to its spiritual and “Christian” heritage, Germany will work to unite the Continent politically and secure all the elements required for a global superpower—including a highly organized and advanced, strictly European military.

Viewed from this perspective, it is not unlikely the American-designed North Atlantic Treaty Organization (nato) could be facing its demise. As Europe’s various militaries gradually streamline into a singular military under singular leadership, these national militaries may steadily shun their commitment to nato in order to throw their weight behind their own European military.

It is important, in the coming months, to sift through the stories bemoaning the failure of European unification—and to see plainly the frightening force that is steadily coalescing out of this chaotic environment. The formation of this European superpower is one of the most important developments you could be watching.