I will not bother you with my federal dreams, they are not for tomorrow and the new security threats that we start facing in Europe challenge us already today. But let’s be also honest, the current Europe totally failed and showed its total incapacity to deliver any serious solution to any real strategic problem that we could face in the last 15 years. Then better immediately forget the fuzzy brave statements on the need of a European Army. Let us avoid new ridicule. We start to have indigestion of the totally pitiful results coming from all these ‘’European’’ plans of our paralyzed intergovernmental Europe. Defense is not a joke, then better not to put it in the hands of our current European Prince Electors.
Then let us work on our concrete assets:
One of them lies in French unique legal possibility to decide quickly on military intervention, without parliamentary vote. A fantastic asset if you want to quickly extinguish some small fires before they become too big. Let us make sure we preserve this in a more European defence architecture.
France has good soldiers, a population, which accepts the death of its children when this is for the right cause, and this is also clearly an extremely important asset. But France has also some important weaknesses. It dramatically lacks for instance some air transport or intelligence capacities. And her financial capacities are limited too, although it is not useless to remind that France’s GDP is more than twice bigger than the Russian one for instance. But there is no reason France should sustain alone the cost of actions, which represent some real strategic benefits for whole Europe. Mali was a good example of the slow start of some awareness on this topic.
Then let us be very pragmatic, really obsessed by the results and avoid usual European rhetoric. France already made once in her history the dramatic experience of inadequate military preparation, let’s try not to repeat this. Let’s forget the empty words about a European Army and concentrate on the frame of the Permanent Structured Cooperation offered by the Lisbon treaty. This would allow us to build with only few serious and fully dedicated partners this military tool, that could be easily operated, and that we need.
A fair presentation of this realistic possibility is offered by a good paper published by the Netherlands Institute of International Relations, called European defence core groups – The why, what & how of permanent structured cooperation. I differ nevertheless on an important point of this paper: I would not connect such a PESCO to the Common Security & Defense Policy, since in my critical view the CSDP belongs to the Non-Europe and will not articulate anything substantial so long we do not reduce it to a more limited circle governed and controlled by federal rules.
Quite interesting to see that this paper I mentioned is issued by a Dutch institute since I am still very much convinced that if France, supported by Germany and Netherlands would have immediately occupy military the small area where the MH17 wreckage lied, for the sole purpose of an immediate and fair inquiry, this strong signal would have been enough for Russia to understand that Europe was serious about her people and her values. We clearly delivered the opposite message and which opened the way to even more dangerous adventures in Ukraine and Syria. Dramatic reminder on the consequence of absence of reaction to the remilitarisation of the Rhineland in 1936.
Political will and operational readiness are the two legs of an efficient defense of peace and democracy. Let us be quickly consequent on this.