The following is a transcript of a special panel discussion among some of the main contributors to The Orientalist Express. Stephen Howard prompted the discussion on European collective security and Toms Ratfelders and Nicholas Hayen quickly joined in. Julius McMurray is a pseudonym giving to a panelist who wished to remain anonymous. Learn more about the team here, or take a look our other Panel Discussions!
Stephen: What do you all think of the EU promulgating a European defense force and the US feeling threatened by it?
Nick: Not sure why the US should feel threatened. Not like they can attack us and they wouldn't tolerate Russian aggression either.
Stephen: No but they are taking steps to bar US contractors from bidding/supplying equipment in, what I assume to be, an effort to build up their own military industrial complex to give themselves less structural dependence on the US. Also, what's the point of US involvement in NATO if Europe re-arms? I guess it adds more weight, but it seems unnecessary to me at that point, and I'm sure many Americans and Europeans will agree.
Toms: Well...let me remind you that the U.S. itself has advocated burden sharing for a long time within NATO itself.
Stephen: 100% true.
Toms: I think it might be beneficial for you guys, as well. Of course, only if it is complementary part of NATO. Plus on certain issues America is not so keen to be involved as much as the EU.
Libya is good example. Ukraine as well.
Julius McMurray: Oh for sure, America had seemingly checked out from Europe but we've always been that way haven't we? I wonder if Brexit plays a role in any of these collective defense schemes?
Toms: In mainland Europe there are two opinions currently. One current says that it is good, that Brits are leaving, because they were hindering integration anyways. The other is saying that it is terrible, since Brits have great defensive capabilities and it is great link with NATO and the US in general. Thus Europe will be weaker player overall.
Julius: Lol, imagine being British and being told be Europe you're inconvenient and difficult.
Stephen: Sure the American public has always been checked out, but US states-people haven't. Introduce a stronger/independent EU military and the EU can pursue those specific interests the US doesn't want to be involved with. Leads to a much more multipolar world.
Julius: You're basically talking a United States of Europe.
Stephen: If they have a united military command? Basically.
Toms: True...that is why a lot of people in the EU are against closer integration in military. They are afraid that it potentially could be used to go against the US interests. Not only complement them.
Stephen: I think that's what US states-people are afraid of too.
Julius: Well the EU is a balancing act and would a united military undermine the will of individual states?
Toms: And weaken Transatlantic link and create multi polar world. Yes. If you are going into closer relationship, you have to say goodbye to some of your independence. It is always like that, essentially people from Latvia could be pulled to fight in the Iraq region. And people from Spain could be pulled to fight in Ukraine, for example.
Stephen: Sure, but the military would probably take the form of the US pre-WWI (and maybe other countries too, but I don't know about them), where all units were divided out based on where they came from. Like the 1st Texas infantry or whatever. Assignments were also based on it to some point. But I get your point, they could be deployed there in certain circumstances.
Toms: Yes. Especially because you need military presence in certain regions of the EU more than in others. For example, in Eastern Europe three Baltics don't have enough military capabilities to deter Russia. People from other EU countries would need to be deployed. In the U.S. it was easier, since you have always been the single nation.
Stephen: Not if you ask Civil War truthers. But point taken, you're right.
Toms: Haha, good point. Off topic...I really want to see Civil war reenactment one day with my own eyes.
Stephen: I've seen one... But I was super young and don't remember it too well...
Nick: So does a united European military seem possible given all the current nationalist sentiment throughout the continent? If EU trade sovereignty is so controversial, I would think military sovereignty would be even more so.
Stephen: I mean the proposal is in the air so it must at least be possible. I don't know enough about euro politics to say any more than that though
Nick: Wasn't Brexit all about overblown ideas of sovereignty? I feel like that would be an easy argument for hardliners to make.
Our discussion continues in our next podcast episode! Check it out here!