By Timothy Ogden – In many ways, it sounds like a wonderful idea – one army, one continent, one unified command structure. But like most things which are advertised as all-encompassing solutions to a many-faceted beast, implementing the creation of a European Army would be complicated, expensive, time-consuming, and ultimately pointless.
To begin with, there is the fact that collective defence in Europe already exists, since the majority of countries on the continent are NATO members. Interoperability between the armies of different member states is achieved through frequent joint exercises and cross-training; in recent years these activities have mostly taken place in the Baltic countries and Poland, to the continued ire of Moscow.
Should Russian aggression take on a tangible military form against any of NATO’s eastern members, it is, of course, debatable whether Western European countries would be willing to go to war on their behalf – obligated to defend Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia though they are, if the choice was between quietly letting the Kremlin occupy its former Soviet satellites or risk a potentially nuclear conflict, it is by no means certain that the West would stand firm on its NATO commitments and gamble on Paris, Rome, and Berlin not going the way of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
The creation of a European Army would do nothing to alleviate any possible hesitancy over protecting all European territory against outside aggression. Whether or not a collective defense is (on paper) guaranteed by NATO or a hypothetical European Army, a reluctance to defend territory that only ceased to be controlled by Moscow in 1991 would remain. As long as there are national interests and divergent political objectives, there can be no European Army. In other words, before there can be a European Army, there would have to be a supranational European state.
This, of course, looks to be unlikely – nationalist sentiment has risen in recent years rather than fallen, particularly in the wake of the UK’s Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election in the US. Then there is the fact that Europe’s differing political objectives come with different military commitments and differing levels of willingness to fight. The aforementioned scenario of Western European countries being reluctant to defend former Soviet states is equally applicable to ongoing post-colonial deployments. For instance, it is questionable whether the governments of other European countries would be glad to send their soldiers to help France fight its running conflicts in Africa. more>