Bobby and I are discussing Robert Kagan’s opus in the comments to this post. Figured I’d move it up to the front page. At this point we’re discussing Kagan’s point in the block below, with Bobby taking the position that France deploys troops and therefore Kagan’s point is inaccurate.
Kagan: During the Cold War, Europe’s strategic role had been to defend itself. It was unrealistic to expect a return to international great-power status, unless European peoples were willing to shift significant resources from social programs to military programs.
Clearly they were not. Not only were Europeans unwilling to pay to project force beyond Europe. After the Cold War, they would not pay for sufficient force to conduct even minor military actions on the continent without American help. Nor did it seem to matter whether European publics were being asked to spend money to strengthen nato or an independent European foreign and defense policy. Their answer was the same. Rather than viewing the collapse of the Soviet Union as an opportunity to flex global muscles, Europeans took it as an opportunity to cash in on a sizable peace dividend. Average European defense budgets gradually fell below 2 percent of gdp. Despite talk of establishing Europe as a global superpower, therefore, European military capabilities steadily fell behind those of the United States throughout the 1990s.
I said in support of this that the things the French did were a pittance compared to what it takes to wield power in an external manner, and one significant example is the lack of strategic lift for their own troops.
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(Italics here from the last comment from Bobby on the previous thread. There, you’re all caught up now!)
Okay, but strategic lift isnâ€™t what I thought Kagan was getting atâ€“ his point was that continental Europe had become insular, its interests confined to improving the economic lot of its member-states…
Sure, Kagan wasn’t specifying platforms or anything, but what you buy indicates how you think. If you never buy stuff that gets you from Point A to Point B, then you don’t really intend to do so. Or perhaps you intend to but will never be able to without outside help. I’d also say that they canâ€™t really operate at anything above the Brigade-level is pretty relevant considering that country used to have a huge deployed force!
Perhaps it might help to discuss this through the French official viewpoint. The way I read it (my French is lousy but sometimes useful), they deploy for reasons just like you say–confined to improving the economic lot of itself (or trying to prevent damage to French folks or stuff).
L’emploi des armÃ©es sur le territoire national rÃ©pond Ã trois principes exclusifs ou cumulatifs :
* une menace sur la sÃ©curitÃ© de la population,
* une urgence absolue Ã laquelle seuls des moyens militaires peuvent rÃ©pondre,
* lorsque les moyens civils ne peuvent rÃ©pondre Ã l’urgence et Ã l’ampleur des besoins.
Ce bilan ne prend en compte que des opÃ©rations majeures et non des actions menÃ©es au quotidien (telles que la mise Ã disposition de lits pour les sans-abris, la dÃ©pollution d’un site..), ni des missions de l’Ã©tat en mer.
(Babel version:The use of the armies on the own territory answers three exclusive or cumulative principles:
* a threat on the safety of the population,
* a top priority which only average soldiers can answer,
* when the average civil ones cannot answer the urgency and the extent of the needs.
This assessment takes into account only major operations and not of the actions carried out to the daily newspaper (such as the provision of beds for the homeless people, the depollution of a site.), nor of the missions of the state at sea.)
Here’s a reference, un Babelfished. Something like the ongoing Beryx mission is more like what we’d do–which is an unusual thing for them, but it’s naval (= MUCH easier, which is why it’s exempted from the above statement of French intention), and was done after some delicate negotiation and understanding of French interest afterward. (And a few years more after Kagan wrote his paper.)
One year on, let’s look at change. How much has the world changed, how much has the U.S. changed?
- After the cold war we drifted because we didn’t have to do anything right then. The ’90′s were a giant sigh of relief at being released from the long conflict. Fukuyama’s book about “the end of history” describes some of this feeling that perhaps conflict was over and a community of open democracies would be without major war.
At the same time:
- Globalization (as a fact rather than a policy)
- Porous borders due to capital flows, conscious initiatives (such as Kyoto and ICC), communications and media spread, and environmental issues, tended to crumble the tenets of the Treaty of Westphalia that treated borders as inviolate.
- In 1945 there were 51 members of the UN. Now there are 190(?–may have misheard), and most of those are poor and weak. For them, globalization is a threat and appears synonymous with the US. The first job of a government is to provide security for its people, and most of those countries can’t do it; their governance isn’t strong enough to handle changes like this.
- Political tendency to break into ever-smaller groups.
This could be a response to an urge for purity in a group of some kind, or finding some common ground for stability.
This tendency is also a breeding ground for hate and terrorism.
- Asia: crisis of extreme capital flows.
- China: building higher quality products at low wages. This is a regional stress.
- Europe: Our gradual estrangement increased during the ’90′s. Europe looked inward, especially towards the EU, and placed less stress on involvement in the rest of the world (example: defense budgets plummeted). Our response was one of contempt.
- Russia: We ignored them pretty much unless we wanted something.
- Holdovers still were there: Koreas, Taiwan, Mideast.
Now came 9/11. We changed.
It was a big discontinuity:
- Strategic surprise
- First time Americans felt vulnerable
- Perpetrators were non-state actors
- Suicidal component very difficult to combat.
Change was immediate:
- Last vestiges of “Vietnam Syndrome” disappeared.
- American flag is everywhere–and it’s not burning
- no objection to use of force in Afghanistan
- Hero no longer a Wall Street hotshot but firemen, police.
- Initially the int’l response was heartfelt: even the French said things like “now we are all Americans”, and Article 5 was invoked.
- We had been engaged in military transformation. Our response in Afghanistan was awesome….and this won’t work anymore because nobody will volunteer to be the next Taliban.
- This is a war of intelligence which we can’t do by ourselves. We need to know capital flows, people flows, and so forth, all over the globe.
When terrorists move or spend money, they leave traces. (Shades of Rich Haver’s CT< =>ASW argument here.)
How do you capture the information?
How do you separate it from the millions of innocents also moving and spending money?
How do you respect the privacy of those innocents?
- omeland Security for 200 years, even though other countries have it? We had distance from everyone else, our power projection deterred other actors. This no longer works.
Our problems now:
- Support is waning. Allies see we stiffed them–we said “thanks, we can do it ourselves” and did. Also, the second intifada is interfering with our focus on Al Queda.
- Phase 1 is done. The administration hasn’t explained Phase 2. (The President dropping “global reach” from his comments re terrorism makes the problem too big–all terrorism is bad but it’s also not all alike.)
- 9/11 is fading in memory, especially as you move away from the East Coast.
- Can we win? Yes, in the sense of our win on the war on crime. You can’t have a signing on the Missouri but can break Al Queda’s back.
- The long standing conflicts still have as much potential as ever.
- India-Pakistan: there are some parallels here between Kashmir and Palestine: IN~>IS, PAK~>PA.
- Al-Jazeera’s a big influence–you can’t ignore daily broadcasting of Israeli tank attacks.
- European-American relations have resumed their decline. A new book, somewhat extreme but not impossible, sees a return to great power politics and conflict between Europe and the US.
- China-US relations are improving.
- Russia is a bright spot and shows the power of personal politics. It hasn’t percolated down but has potential.
- Terrorism has to be won on the offensive. Homeland Defense can’t do it.
- Predisposing factors have to be addressed, not just giving aid but pulling people into the 21st century.
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