Saturday, July 05, 2003
The Western European Union - 5th July 2003, 14.25

Whilst examining the website for the Western European Union Assembly - an interparliamentary group that monitors the European Defence and Security Policy (one of those fascinating tasks you work yourself up to), I started exploring the British representatives. There are four: Tony Lloyd, Labour MP for Manchester Central is a Vice-President and leader of the UK delegation, John Wilkinson, Conservative, is Chairman of the Defence Committee, Mike Hancock is a representative of the Liberal Group in the Presidential Committee and Jim Marshall fills the same position for the Socialist Grouping. The last thing on their mind turned out to be British national interests. What follows is the Europeanising agenda they signed up to.

At their last meeting in early June, the Assembly voted for certain alarming conclusions. They voted for further naval co-operation, including Franco-British co-operation on aircraft carriers and,

To support multinational European naval cooperation (European amphibious initiative, Euromarfor etc.) in order, in the longer term, to be able to project a substantial marine infantry force into a potential conflict zone;

To give Europe's navies the financial resources required for the aircraft carriers and large amphibious ships needed for the formation of a powerful naval task force;

Since only Britain and France are the two countries that could fulfil these objectives, it is clear that European parliamentarians are quite enthusiastic in voting on policies that involve other people's armies. Moreover, given the French floating kettlemobile that is the Charles de Gaulle, is co-operation with the French on the construction and deployment of aircraft carriers desirable? Of course not. Whose aircraft carriers do they have their eye on?

Their views on enlargement contained a troubling phrase that demonstrated the long-term goal of the ESDP:

Convinced that the European Union cannot become a credible entity capable of acting autonomously in international affairs unless its members are prepared to enter into a constitutional obligation to defend it, or a contractual obligation to defend each other;

They also welcomed co-operation between NATO and the EU, but not at the expense of each other's autonomy. This was evident through their reaction to the Iraqi crisis. The Assembly called for the "artificial" division between Atlanticists and Europeanists to end, but their answer was an independent European capacity that would ensure "balance" within the transatlantic community. To ensure this, further defence integration within the European Union was necessary, including the European Armaments Agency for joint defence procurement (though not named) and to develop an independent capacity for sigint and intelligence gathering facilities in space.

Persuade the EU member states to enhance their strategic capabilities by acquiring intelligence assets (satellites, UAVs, etc.), which should make it possible to meet the requirement of an autonomous capacity to take decisions and to act upon them, as called for by the Helsinki European Council (December 1999).

Their reaction to United States national security strategy was incoherent and contradicted their allegiance to NATO. It was two-thirds condemnation and one-third wishful thinking:

Stressing its attachment to the principles of the United Nations Charter and expressing the conviction that only genuine multilateral cooperation between the United States and its allies, friends and partners can make it possible to meet the security challenges of the 21st century;

Rejecting any unilateral approach to those questions based solely on superior military strength, apart from cases of legitimate self-defence and intervention for urgent humanitarian reasons;

Condemning any threat on the part of the United States to impose political and trade sanctions on allied states that refused to support the coalition's military operations against Iraq without a mandate from the United Nations Security Council;

Concerned about the consequences for global security of applying certain points in the United States national security strategy, in particular the concept of pre-emptive warfare;

Their answer to the preservation of Euro-Atlantic co-operation was further European integration in defence. This decision was taken on the grounds that unification with one voice would force the United States to take notice of her sister continent in the West and act through the auspices of international law, as defined by the United Nations.

The real anti-American agenda and long-term views on the role of Europe in the 21st Century came to the fore in their document on aerospace co-operation within Europe. After the usual preamble about developing an autonomous capacity, two clauses display long-term goals An independent European aerospace capacity is a practical and admirable goal but why co-operate with your Russian rather than your American counterparts?:

Considering that it is essential to develop a coordinated approach to armaments exports within the ESDP based on the commercial and economic opportunities the EU can offer, as a means of counteracting US policy in this sphere;

Considering that European nations should engage in and pursue cooperation with Russia and Ukraine on such matters and facilitate and guarantee cooperation agreements between their respective industries;

This expressed a desire on the part of the European defence community to include Russia within the Galileo and GMES systems that would enhance the intelligence gathering capacity of the European Union. Here, European parliamentarians were calling for European intelligence to ally itself in the long-term with the heirs of the KGB in the authoritarian oligarchy that is Russia.

To conclude, the Western European Assembly, in which Chris Patten participated, demonstrates that the ESDP is shaped by the policy pursued by France and Germany before the Iraq war. The splits within the European Union have not been resolved because the Atlanticists do not hold sway over the majority of Parliamentarians, ministers and policy makers who shape the ESDP. They remain unwilling to compromise on their long-term goal: an independent European Union, antagonistic to the interests of the United States and allied, economically, strategically, and militarily with both Russia and the Ukraine in a 'bloc of demographic decline'. That is why the documentation contradicts itself: on teh one hand indicating that a Euro-Atlantic alliance should be preserved and renewed whilst taking steps to undermine the very ties that provide a flicker of life to NATO.

Moreover, they do this in our name:

Noting that the citizens of Europe want to build a political Europe that is both independent and credible on the world stage and that, to this end, a European security and defence policy worthy of the name needs to be established;

It is unlikely that the British military or security establishment will sign up to this in the near future unless forced to by their political masters. Perhaps the security services do understand the high stakes that are now being played.


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