Europe's Military Revolution

BRUSSELS: Creating the euro – a revolutionary innovation in an EU whose nature is to evolve slowly, by fits and starts – provoked debate across the continent and beyond. Plans for a common EU defense policy, however, have thus far attracted less attention. No longer. Americans increasingly ask: “Why bother?” and point to the efficacy of NATO. Europeans often find such questions hard to answer, partly because there is no single answer.

For believers in a more united Europe, closer cooperation on defense is self-evidently desirable. Others emphasize the pragmatic, pointing out that EU members can achieve far more in foreign/defense policy by working together than on their own. These pragmatists stress the growing number of external challenges – in the Balkans, Middle East, Africa or elsewhere – requiring a concerted response.

A third argument, held by some French Gaullists and many EU left-wingers, says that Europe needs a common foreign and defense policy to resist American hegemony. This anti-American view, however, is not widely held. Supporters of a common EU foreign/defense policy see a Europe capable of looking after its own defense as a better partner for the US.

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