Common Security and Defence Policy (Europe)


Most discussions about the CSDP are about the pseudo-"Security" part, that is the intervention union. No EU member is under real threat of air attack, naval blockade or invasion, so military bureaucracies all over Europe have been looking into the intervention business in a tragic attempt to 'justify' their budgets and in order to have some at least semi-plausible pressing reason for gold plate procurement and emergency procurement budgets.
(There are different perspectives and interpretations for this, of course.)

What I'm thinking of when I hear or read about the CSDP is something different; it's the under-publication of the fact that the Lisbon treaty is amongst other things an alliance treaty with a much more binding choice of words than the NATO treaty. In other words; I'd like to see the Lisbon Treaty empowered, for its mere black/white contrast on paper is irrelevant in itself. It's the people's beliefs and expectations which matter.
After all, the North Atlantic Treaty is in its actual text no alliance; it's more a "When one gets attacked the others may think about how to help, oh - and here are some more words which the bigger members will ignore routinely."* kind of treaty. It's the allegiance of people to this treaty which empowers it.

And that's what the Lisbon Treaty's alliance function deserves.

So instead of talking how to organise an intervention union or how to pointlessly fusion military bureaucracies with different languages into one we should at the very least have some concerted effort to get the idea of the EU as an alliance into people's brains. 
This could be a more useful and important defence policy action in the long term than the stillborn intervention union dreams.


P.S.: Yes, I understand this issue isn't being highlighted more because of special sensitivities in previously neutral EU members.

*: See article 5, "such actions as it deems necessary" and compare it with "shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power" from the Lisbon Treaty.


  1. "we should at the very least have some concerted effort to get the idea of the EU as an alliance into people's brains.
    This could be a more useful and important defence policy action in the long term than the stillborn intervention union dreams."

    The only important thing to do. But it seems we are completely incapable of doing it.
    As the economic drama of the EU keeps unfolding we are starting to see real hatred between the republics and the center and then between republics showing its ugly head.
    Any hope there might have been that we can do it is now lost. We can't and we won't become a functional union.
    Unfortunately human nature stands in our way. We Europeans are too tribal. And the center is too corrupt and weak to unify us by force.
    It reminds me of a song:

    1.If tomorrow brings war,
    If the foe should attack,
    If he suddenly strikes to surprise us;
    In defense of our land,
    Our free Soviet land,
    The whole people as one man will rise up. "

    That is what is needed. Not various sorts of bureaucratic papers written in secret whom everyone hates.
    The song tells us about the right mentality not that Estonians felt brotherly love towards Jews and Slavs because it is clear they didn't. But the central government knew what was needed. And in the end some behaved like that. Of course we may not like the level of brutality needed to make at least a serious attempt to create one people out of so many. But it seems that it can not be done differently.
    It is either a soviet future or a return to our well known path. Over 15 centuries of civil war. And we haven't learnt much it seems.


  2. From a different angle I have noticed something I consider also important.
    When you look at the whole bureaucratic structure/ confederation of structures what is shocking is the level of complexity. Kafka would be envious.
    Such structures need a highly complex and sofisticated society to support them. That means a very wealthy society.
    And we see that :
    "Indeed, earlier this month, NPR's Lauren Frayer reported that Spain, which has long had a love affair with cars, is embracing the bicycle: For the first time on record, Lauren noted, bicycles outsold cars in the country.

    But it's becoming a Continent-wide phenomenon. More bikes were sold in Italy than cars — for the first time since World War II."
    "figures across the 27 member states of the European Union for both cars and bicycles. New-car registrations for Cyprus and Malta weren't available, so we took them out of the comparison.

    Here's what we found: Bicycle sales outpaced new-car sales last year in every one of those countries, except Belgium and Luxembourg."

    It happens almost everywhere. We are in an economic and industrial contraction. We are moving towards Thailand.
    We won't be able to support for long such a Byzantine political and administrative system. Because we are not going to be able to afford it.
    Formerly strong industrial states like France or Italy have lost 1/3 -1/2 of their industrial production/base ( discussion here) in less then a decade. Others like Spain have collapsed almost completely.
    EU is getting closer to the formerly called third world from an economic and industrial point of view. With similar standards of living and similar ability to produce surpluses for the bureaucracy and military/security structures. (Thinking about Vietnam and Columbia not Somalia and Congo.)
    And what do we see?
    Other levels of complexity coming down on our heads.
    So more complexity in the administrative part and very little troops to show for it. Very many chiefs and very few indians. Plus the republics sending the indians hate each other and have divergent interests. And they also hate the center , the uber chiefs.
    Of course nobody bothers with something so trivial as to notice that the Bisons are dieing and the kids are starting to go to sleep hungry.


    1. "We" are capable of sustaining a bureaucracy if there's no long-term net disinvestment on the national capital stock and no long-term trade balance deficit.
      Assuming the proportion between bureaucracy and population stays the same, all else is a matter of resource allocation and not made infeasible by lack of resources.

      By the way; the bike sales thing is about electric bicycles. It's about as alarming as the disappearance of phone booths after introduction of mobile phones.
      Europe has enough cars and cars have become quite durable since corrosion issues were largely solved during the 80's. The electric bicycle is a nice fit for the 200+ million urban Europeans, and is thus being added to the traffic mix.

    2. The trend as the article shows is of bicycles replacing cars.
      As European citizens become poorer it is a natural phenomenon. Less money means a decline of living standards.
      Less factories producing less consumer goods. Simple.
      We can observe not only a contraction of the manufacturing base ( to match the declining purchasing power of the people ) but also a transformation. Euro manufacturing is also migrating into low tech/low margin products.
      We as a Union are becoming a less developed society.
      By no means do I say that it is a wrong trend. But it means that our ability to cover the fixed costs - and we have a lot - and still retain the surplus to maintain investments and support a large bureaucracy and military industrial complex is much impaired.
      Some areas have feared much better then others for the time being but it is only a matter of time until they are also affected. Climbing on the mast faster then the ship is sinking is a good strategy in the short term but then the water level corrects this.

      About " Assuming the proportion between bureaucracy and population stays the same, all else is a matter of resource allocation and not made infeasible by lack of resources."
      Precisely. But a less productive population generates less surplus to feed the bureaucracy and cover the fixed costs we are stuck with.
      Example to try to frame better the message :
      A manufacturing sector producing 3.5 mil vehicles with high margins ( low priced inputs - raw materials and energy) can generate a significantly larger surplus to cover various costs of a modern society then one producing 1.8-1.9 mil with low margins ( prices of inputs increased).
      It is just as simple.
      The example given is France's auto industry.

      As we are becoming a " less developed " society our ability to maintain the overhang of a more productive society decreases. It already decreased, we are now resorting to all sorts of financial gimmicks to try to kick the correction/proverbial can down the road.


  3. About the economic aspects. I didn't give any data. So maybe it is better to give at least something not only comments.
    The idea is that I can not see how these:




    can support this:


    PS. You can consider that the contraction of Italian manufacturing is similar to the French one. Do not have such a good summary and it would be too long to detail French manufacturing sector by sector.

    Except Germany and Scandinavia - for now - that is the European story.
    I do believe that our current contraction changes quite a lot of things which are not taken into consideration at the official policy making level. I haven't mentioned the very sharp contraction of another economic asset Europe previously had , that of North Sea oil and gas. From almost 7 mil barrels/day to under 3 and falling.
    Seems to me the bureaucracy Sven mentioned is working in a sort of vacuum, in a magical cloud cuckoo land. Increasingly disconnected from the real world.

    PPS. I am sorry if I might get a little bit off topic wondering into the economic sphere. But I think that many people have a fake image about our current predicament. Many seem to think that we are on a sustainable prosperous base while others like Russia are crumbling. They are not crumbling and we are contracting fast.( When we talk about us, crumbling is the wrong word to use. That is why crumbling shall be used only in a Russian context. In our case "contracting" is the right term. It amuses me a lot. The semantic part. The crumbling/contracting part is not amusing at all because it involves us.)


    1. I wouldn't mind if 'we' (Europeans) couldn't support intervention stuff, but I think 'we' could. Not being able would save us the expense and waste of even only trying, of course.

      Defence on the other hand is to be seen relative to the periphery, for the Chinese will neither attempt a naval blockade nor air attacks nor invasions against us (unless allied with Russia), in this century.

      Our periphery (basically Russia, Belarus, Arabs and potentially Turkey and Iran) is not in a good-enough shape to outpace Europe in an arms race, even if they tried (which they don't).

      So there's no economic feasibility problem IMO.

    2. Well this a very interesting issue.
      China is making huge efforts to penetrate Africa and ME -and Latin America. That is where the energy and raw materials needed for their industrial production and development and for their fast rising standards of living are.
      Of course we might also need that stuff if we want to remain an industrial society with a high standard of living.
      China needs oil, gas, coal, soy beans, cocoa etc. We ain't got any of those. So we are of no interest to them.

      Russia on the other hand has plenty of vital stuff. It needs buffers to protect its wealth. The Arctic is vital for example. EE is important only as a buffer.
      On the other hand the political problems of Europe might suck Russia in like it happened many many times before.
      For the time being out aggressive moves are of a rather unconventional nature. I believe/hope we won't escalate.
      If Russia is to come it will be either as a result of us attacking them because we really need the energy and we can't pay for it - low probability, contraction to match what we can afford is almost certain and already happening, or due to us fighting each other - more probable.

      Turkey needs 200 billion dollars/year to cover its trade deficits and to roll its debt. Whatever it does is strictly dependent on the capital flows from US and KSA. Interesting case study. But not as an independent power center. attacking us.

      Iran is fighting a very high stake battle with the Anglo Empire. The resources from Iran and Irak they are having a heated debate with the Anglos right now represent probably around 20 % of the global oil and gas reserves.
      The amount of money and political influence such a huge energy resource gives to the one who controls it is mind boggling.
      If they manage to remain independent and to return to the market we will be begging them to allow us to sell our products to them and to receive investments from them.
      Of course our current position behind US supporting their destruction according to the well exercised Iraki, Lybian or Syrian pattern might be a big problem. They might prefer to deal with their "all weather friend " - China.
      As we replace cars with bicycles and Chinese do the reverse it seems a logical move also from an economic point of view.
      If Iran manages to survive they will be able to buy us. No need to attack or fight us. We would be more then willing to serve.

      Some of us - France and UK - decided to follow US on the warpath. Others like Germany - the ability to pay with material products instead of treasuries has something to do with it - chose a path towards understanding with Russia.
      But there is no ability to create a unified strategy or to concentrate resources for an arms race.

      We need to produce 500 billion dollars net/year just to cover our energy imports. Other mineral commodities add to the number.
      So after this gigantic transfer of wealth we need to cover the fixed costs - maintain infrastructure, pensions, health care, administration etc.
      And then see if there are any resources left to support an arms race. There might be if we go to the North Korean standard of living but I doubt that a Unified Europe can survive politically. A far lower level of stress seems to create a lot of problems.

      So in conclusion nobody is coming to take anything from us. We already send so much outside that we are suffocating.
      The only question is if we are able to go out. Seems not, except the 2 cases mentioned, France and UK. And even those 2 cases are very far away from an arms race.
      I looked at the French White Paper on Defence. UK is in a similar position.


  4. The US is hitting their budget constrains on a regular level and even cutting military expenditure. Sooner than later, they will become very picky about the next intervention. Without the US might, there aren't many intervention choices left for Europe. End of the story.
    It was not bad political capital to have moved along with them in a number of these cases and to have aided them somehow during all of them.

    1. This "political capital" is ominous.
      The UK was the most extreme example for cooperation with the U.S., even with what was known as "special relationship".
      As far as I know nobody has been able to point at any actual advantage gained by the UK by all this other than some rather specific combat experience and some gaming opportunities for high ranking folks.

      Argentina revived the Malvinas/Falklands sabre rattling a few years ago, the British expected the Americans to honour the 'special relationship' - and instead they behaved as if Argentina had a point.

    2. 5 eyes alliance is the special alliance group of the US with the UK being number 2 with close traditional ties to the other members who are in the Commonwealth.

      The relationship is special for the UK, it is not so special from a US perspective in comparison to other allies.
      Argentina does have claims to the Falklands based on documents, much like Spain has claim to Gibraltar. The UK has the small local population and the habitual status quo on their side.

      Considering the UK effort, they probably overdid it for little extra gain, a more reluctant ally like Germany makes it more evident to value what they actually do.

    3. About the " political capital" and "special relationships " between US and its close " warmongering " allies. France is very active up to the point of becoming the second " warmonger " associate replacing UK.
      We can look at the capital flows needed to support a society which produces less then it consumes in order to maintain its standard of living and its military complex.
      Lack of time forces me to use the WTO data from 2011. Numbers increased in 2012.
      Current account balance Deficit in Billion US-DollarRank Country Deficit
      1. USA -784.775
      2. UK -162.973
      3. India -154.401
      4. France -117.676
      5. Turkey -105.862

      India is another issue. But have you heard about Turkey beating the war drums lately?
      Anywhere US and Ryadh have a problem to solve Turkey is there to do whatever is necessary.
      It is very very simple. Just like in the criminal investigations. Qui prodest is enough to identify who does what and why.
      The " warmongers" really need the money. So it is only natural that they gravitate to where the money are - in the Bundeshwehr identified ellipse. Control of the ellipse gives also an indirect way of receiving much needed financial flows - the importers pay also directly the deficits of the defenders of the kingdom( and sheikdoms).

      The amount of net financial flows to the US and its closest military allies is quite staggering I might say. Any tinkering with that flows by anyone is such a direct and grave threat that it is/will be met with deadly force.
      Those people really have their livelihoods on the line.