Monday, June 16, 2008

What Does Europe Fear and Why Does it Lead to Military Sclerosis?

What Does Europe Fear and Why Does it Lead to Military Sclerosis?

By Robert Stein, PhD

June 13, 2008

Only sixty years ago, more than 70 million people died during and after World War II. Even in our wildest imagination, it is difficult for most of us alive today to conceive what life was like for those who suffered through the devastation of a near universal war. The experience of two successive massive bloodlettings in only twenty years, resulting in the death of two generations dramatically altered the mentality of Europe. The bloodiest continent for the previous five centuries, where the efficient science of human slaughter was perfected, has been peaceful since then. Pan-europeans, the offspring of the arrogant militarists who began those wars, are now largely socialist. They take pride in their pacifist traditions and limited military budgets. They scold the inexorably retro patriotism of Americans and their belief in the value of military hard power, while simultaneously ignoring the international stability which has accompanied the emergence of America as superpower.

However, what Europeans really fear, is not America, but themselves. When they criticize the muscular exercise of American power, which ended two world wars, they are really criticizing the racism and chauvinism of their own colonial past. America’s greatest bloodletting, the Civil War, purged the stain of slavery from the nation, rather than advancing national ambition. The First and Second World Wars so undermined European’s belief in themselves, that they are now fearful anytime America exercises its military superiority. Their overly developed sense of fear even extends to situations entailing the removal of malignant tyrants, such as Saddam Hussein, in order to prevent the emergence of a new fascism. Europeans are unable to understand why America, too, is not paralyzed with self-doubt. To protect the world, they advocate parceling out American power to the United Nations where most governments are not democratically chosen. Why an institution where most members are plagued by state sanctioned murder, abject racism, political repression, corruption and a lack of legal due process would act equitably is the height of illogic.

But cultural demons and national psychoses are rarely permanently exorcized. Europe’s insomnia during the 90’s Balkan conflicts brought into consciousness its latent fear that the dogs of war, long repressed, would exploit that opportunity to re-emerge. Despite ample economic capacity to support a high tech military, they so feared themselves that American intervention was required to again resolve another European conflict.

The problem resembles that of a reformed alcoholic. As a prohibitionist without exception bans alcohol, today’s socialist Europe and their new one-world sympathizers, don’t believe America can be a social drinker. Despite attempts to project their cultural impulses elsewhere, it is European fear of themselves and jealousy of America that currently poses the greatest danger to their own safety and economic wellbeing. As aged grandparents no longer able to drive themselves often shout out backseat commands, today’s socialists believe they can sloganeer America into retreating from the responsibility which has inevitably devolved on the world’s leading power.

The conflict in the Middle East and South Asia is a battle to advance the most important values of western civilization. Those who believe in the essential goodness of America, despite its inevitable flaws, will accept that the nation which was founded upon the best of European traditions, cannot sit silently while it is left to almost single-handedly protect those western values on the battlefield. It is time for Europe to emerge from its postwar phobia. There is no good reason why Europe cannot assume greater global military responsibility. Europe is not so infirm that it must sit and tremble inside its own continental home, debating whether the psychopathic criminal wishes it harm, and the American policeman wishes it well. If it chooses to recover from its trauma of sixty years, it might just realize that it doesn’t have to obey madmen with weapons and go quietly into the night.


In many ways, Dr. Stein's article addresses the ongoing problems of 'burden sharing' - i.e., Europe continues to benefit from the U.S. continuing to bear the lion's share of the obligation to maintain 'international peace and stability' through support of an expensive and extensive military infrastructure.

As the following article reflects, Europe has exploited this relationship by diverting its resources to various initiatives (e.g., NEGATIVE SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT LAW & POLICYMAKING) that run COUNTER U.S. NATIONAL INTERESTS.


By Lieutenant Colonel Raymond Millen

Strategic Studies Institute

The latest contretemps in NATO regarding burden sharing in Afghanistan has the distinguishing feature of being altogether pedestrian. European reluctance to contribute more troops and funding to Afghanistan has less to do with disagreements over strategy than it does with a pattern of behavior stemming back to the birth of the Alliance.

Few recall the contentious deliberations at the beginning of the Cold War between the United States and its European allies regarding military contributions to the Alliance. The Truman administration expected the European powers to reconstitute their armies once they had recovered economically. But, having little faith in the American security guarantee, European statesmen refused to raise sufficient forces for defense without a tangible commitment from the United States. With no movement on the matter, the United States relented, deploying several divisions to NATO in 1949. Yet, the European reciprocal pledge did not materialize.

With security assured through collective defense and the U.S. nuclear umbrella, European states progressively invested in social welfare programs that demanded a greater portion of gross domestic products (GDP). And social welfare states are voraciously self-indulgent. During this transformation, an interesting pattern of behavior manifested. Rather than share collective defense equitably, member states attempted to shift security burdens subtly to other members. Other than voicing annoyance, the United States, as a global superpower in a bipolar world, accepted this behavior because the larger goal of peace in Europe remained intact.

Even had the United States objected to this sort of behavior, what could be done? Every state west of the Iron Curtain, whether a member of NATO or not, enjoyed the collective good of security. The United States certainly could not have denied this security to any particular state. Hence, allied compliance with U.S. security policy initiatives alternated between acceptance of America’s leadership role and American use of bargaining (e.g., financial and prestigious incentives). Ultimately, it was easier to ignore the behavior.

The end of the Cold War held different meanings for both sides of the Atlantic. For the Europeans, it meant a peace dividend with the inexorable drop in military expenditures, falling well below 2 percent of GDP. Perhaps this laxness would not have evolved had the United States withdrawn from NATO as most Realists predicted.

However, the United States, ever fearful of a security dilemma emerging again in Europe, sought to keep a united Germany subordinated to NATO, while also using the prospect of NATO membership to moderate the behavior of Central and East European states. With both policy vectors, the United States was eminently successful, but then, reacting to questions of NATO’s continued relevance, the Alliance added collective security missions to its repertoire. Whether the Europeans understood the implications of collective security or simply went along, never believing in its implementation, is anyone’s guess.

With the extension of the U.S. security commitment to Europe affirmed, along with the rise of the European Union (EU) in 1993, there arose among European statesmen a nontraditional view of foreign and security policy. The centerpiece of this new policy would rest on international institutions, regimes, and other normative devices to undergird security and stability. In theory, this approach obviated the need for high military readiness, which declined precipitously, and permitted even greater budgetary allocations toward social welfare programs, much to the satisfaction of everyone—except for the United States.

Much to the chagrin of western European statesmen, Hobbes’ state of nature threw cold water on the soft power approach in Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo, requiring American intervention (under the aegis of NATO) to resolve the conflicts. In response and with great fanfare, European governments pledged to improve military capabilities, first with the Defense Capabilities Initiative (DCI) and the Prague Capabilities Commitment (PCC), and, second, by the creation of the EU Rapid Reaction Force (EURRF) under the EU Headline Goal. Regrettably, European states did not increase military expenditures to meet the DCI/PCC goals, at least not with any type of urgency. Contrary to initial lofty pronouncements, the EURRF has not evolved into a European security pillar. Its offspring, the EU Battle Groups (EUBG), suffer from an inability to handle large crises and also from a lack of political will to deploy contingents into dangerous environments. Hence, the European security pillar is little more than a peacekeeping force with paltry combat capabilities.

The dichotomy between European rhetoric and action regarding Afghanistan is certainly perplexing. In the wake of 9/11, NATO did provide some assets to Operation Enduring Freedom under Article V; the coalition in Afghanistan includes many non-NATO nations; and all participating governments agree with the overarching goals for Afghanistan. Yet, the majority of European governments consistently fail to deliver on their financial and military pledges, many of which date back to 2003. A plausible explanation may be that European statesmen are prisoners of their political systems.

Fundamentally, European affinity for extravagant social welfare programs, the obsession with cutting military spending, and a distinct predilection for peacekeeping operations are manifestations of European political institutions. Because of their pluralistic design, parliamentary governments tend to be unduly influenced by the mercurial passions of the electorate. Moreover, coalition governments, that is, governments which lack a legislative majority and must form a government with other political parties, often experience paralysis over contentious issues and can even fall as a result.

The security challenges in Afghanistan have become divisive among coalition states precisely because they expose the old practice of burden shifting and because the United States uncharacteristically has not backed off its insistence for greater military contributions.

Transatlantic tensions will very likely become intractable. On the one hand, the old European standbys of claiming overtaxed militaries and implying other allies are not fulfilling their obligations have become threadbare with the United States. But on the other hand, populist attitudes that increased military spending to meet new challenges will threaten cherished social welfare programs appear to have boxed in European governments. The pawns of these national policies are the armed forces, which are deployed into theater as a coalition or Alliance balm and not as a force to render decisive results. Small troop contingents combined with a plethora of national caveats tend to undercut the theoretical advantages of multilateralism. In Afghanistan’s case, the sum appears to be smaller than the whole.

The real issue at stake is not whether success or failure in Afghanistan will endanger the Alliance; rather it is whether the United States will continue to see utility in NATO’s integrated military structure. NATO as an institution will remain because the United States sees utility in its continuance. However, in the future, the United States will likely revert to bilateral negotiations to build coalitions because of the niggard behavior of too many NATO members.

Similar to the first Berlin Wall, today’s metaphorical Berlin Wall symbolizes the enslavement of statesmen to the social welfare state and weak political systems. And while future generations will look back and ask why Europe slept when a challenge grew into a threat, this should be the starting point.

The views expressed in this op-ed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Department of the Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government. This colloquium brief is cleared for public release; distribution is unlimited.

Organizations interested in reprinting this or other SSI opinion pieces should contact the Publications Department via e-mail at All organizations granted this right must include the following statement: "Reprinted with permission of the Strategic Studies Institute Newsletter, U.S. Army War College."

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Obama's Collectivist Message of 'Inclusiveness' is Not a Marketing Gimmick - It is Nothing Less than 'Repackaged' European Kumbaya Communalism

One Historic Night, Two Americas

by: Frank Rich

The New York Times

June 8, 2008

When Barack Obama achieved his historic victory on Tuesday night, the battle was joined between two Americas. Not John Edwards's two Americas, divided between rich and poor. Not the Americas split by race, gender, party or ideology. What looms instead is an epic showdown between two wildly different visions of the country, from the ground up.

On one side stands Mr. Obama's resolutely cheerful embrace of the future. His vision is inseparable from his identity, both as a rookie with a slim Washington resume; and as a black American whose triumph was regarded as improbable by voters of all races only months ago. On the other is John McCain's promise of a wise warrior's vigilant conservation of the past. His vision, too, is inseparable from his identity - as a government lifer who has spent his entire career in service, whether in the Navy or Washington.

Given the dividing line separating the two Americas of 2008, a ticket uniting Mr. McCain and Hillary Clinton might actually be a better fit than the Obama-Clinton 'dream ticket,' despite their differences on the issues. Never was this more evident than Tuesday night, when Mrs. Clinton and Mr. McCain both completely misread a one-of-a-kind historical moment as they tried to cling to the prerogatives of the 20th century's old guard.

All presidential candidates, Mr. Obama certainly included, are egomaniacs. But Washington's faith in hierarchical status adds a thick layer of pomposity to politicians who linger there too long. Mrs. Clinton referred to herself by the first-person pronoun 64 times in her speech, and Mr. McCain did so 60 times in his. Mr. Obama settled for 30.

Remarkably, neither Mrs. Clinton nor Mr. McCain had the grace to offer a salute to Mr. Obama's epochal political breakthrough, which reverberated so powerfully across the country and throughout the world. By being so small and ungenerous, they made him look taller. Their inability to pivot even briefly from partisan self-interest could not be a more telling symptom of the dysfunctional Washington culture Mr. Obama aspires to mend.

Yet even as the two establishment candidates huffed and puffed to assert their authority, they seemed terrified by Mr. Obama's insurgency, as if it were the plague in Edgar Allan Poe's 'Masque of the Red Death.' Mrs. Clinton held her nonconcession speech in a Manhattan bunker, banishing cellphone reception and television monitors carrying the news of Mr. Obama's clinching of the nomination. Mr. McCain, laboring under the misapprehension that he was wittily skewering his opponent, compulsively invoked the Obama-patented mantra of 'change' 33 times in his speech.

Mr. McCain only reminded voters that he, like Mrs. Clinton, thinks that change is nothing more than a marketing gimmick. He has no idea what it means. 'No matter who wins this election, the direction of this country is going to change dramatically,' he said on Tuesday. He then grimly regurgitated Goldwater and Reagan government-bashing talking points from the 1960s and '70s even as he presumed to accuse Mr. Obama of looking 'to the 1960s and '70s for answers.'

Mr. Obama is a liberal, but it's not your boomer parents' liberalism that is at the heart of his appeal. He never rattles off a Clinton laundry list of big federal programs; he supports abortion rights and gay civil rights with a sunny bonhomie that makes the right's cultural scolds look like rabid mastodons. He is not refighting either side of the domestic civil war over Vietnam that exploded in his hometown of Chicago 40 years ago this summer, long before he arrived there.
He has never deviated from his much-quoted formulation in 'The Audacity of Hope,' where he described himself as aloof from 'the psychodrama of the baby boom generation' with its 'old grudges and revenge plots hatched on a handful of college campuses long ago.' His vocabulary is so different from that of Mrs. Clinton and Mr. McCain that they often find it as baffling as a foreign language, even as they try to rip it off.

The selling point of Mr. Obama's vision of change is not doctrinaire liberalism or Bush-bashing but an inclusiveness that he believes can start to relieve Washington's gridlock much as it animated his campaign. Some of that inclusiveness is racial, ethnic and generational, in the casual, what's-the-big-deal manner of post-boomer Americans already swimming in our country's rapidly expanding demographic pool. Some of it is post-partisan: he acknowledges that Republicans, Ronald Reagan included, can have ideas.

Opponents who dismiss this as wussy naivete do so at their own risk. They at once call attention to the expiring shelf life of their own Clinton-Bush-vintage panaceas and lull themselves into underestimating Mr. Obama's political killer instincts.

The Obama forces out-organized the most ruthless machine in Democratic politics because the medium of their campaign mirrored its inclusive message. They empowered adherents in every state rather than depending on a Beltway campaign hierarchy whose mercenary chief strategist kept his day job as chief executive for a corporate P.R. giant. Such viral organization and fund-raising is a seamless fit with bottom-up democracy as it is increasingly practiced in the Facebook-YouTube era, not merely by Americans and not merely by the young.

You could learn a ton about the Clinton campaign's cultural tone-deafness from its stodgy generic Web site. A similar torpor afflicts, which last week gave its graphics a face-lift that unabashedly mimics and devoted prime home page real estate to hawking 'McCain Golf Gear.' (No joke.) The blogs, video and social networking are static and sparse, the apt reflection of a candidate who repeatedly invokes 'I' as he boasts of his humility.
Mr. Obama's deep-rooted worldliness - in philosophy as well as itinerant background - is his other crucial departure from the McCain template. As more and more Americans feel the pain of spiraling gas prices and lost jobs, they are also coming to recognize, as Mr. Obama does, that the globally reviled American image forged by an endless war in Iraq and its accompanying torture scandals is inflicting economic as well as foreign-policy havoc.

Six out of 10 Americans do want their president to talk to Iran's president, according to the most-recent Gallup poll. Americans are sick of a national identity defined by arrogant saber-rattling abroad and manipulative fear-mongering at home. Mr. Obama closed his speech on Tuesday by telling Americans they 'don't deserve' another election 'that's governed by fear.' Of the three candidates, he was the only one who did not mention 9/11 that night.

Mr. Obama isn't flawless. But it's hard to see him hitching up with Mrs. Clinton, who would contradict his message, unite the right, and pass along her husband's still unpacked post-presidency baggage. A larger trap for Mr. Obama is his cockiness. His own tendency to preen and to coast could be encouraged by recent events rocking the Straight Talk Express: Mr. McCain is so far proving an exceptionally clumsy candidate prone to accentuating everything that's out-of-touch about his American vision.

Mr. McCain's speech in a New Orleans suburb on Tuesday night spawned a cottage industry of ridicule, even among Republicans. The halting delivery, sickly green backdrop and spastic, inappropriate smiles, presumably mandated by some consultant hoping to mask his anger, left the impression that Mr. McCain isn't yet ready for prime-time radio.

But the substance was even worse than the theatrics. Incredibly, Mr. McCain attacked Mr. Obama for being insufficiently bipartisan while speaking to the most conspicuously partisan audience you can assemble in today's America: a small, nearly all-white crowd that seconded his attack lines with boorish choruses of boos. On TV, the audience came across as a country-club membership riled by a change in the Sunday brunch menu.

Equally curious was Mr. McCain's decision to stage this event in Louisiana, a state that is truly safe for the G.O.P. and that he'd last visited less than six weeks earlier. Perhaps he did so because Louisiana's governor, the 36-year-old Indian-American Bobby Jindal, is the only highly placed nonwhite Republican he could find to lend his campaign an ersatz dash of diversity and youth.

Or perhaps he thought that if he once more returned to the scene of President Bush's Katrina crime to (belatedly) slam that federal failure, it would fool voters into forgetting his cheerleading for Mr. Bush's Iraq obsession and economic policies. This time it proved a levee too far. The day after his speech Mr. McCain was caught on the stump misstating and exaggerating his own do-little record after Katrina. Soon the Internet was alight with documentation of what he actually did on the day the hurricane hit land: a let-us-eat-cake photo op with Mr. Bush celebrating his birthday in Arizona.

Anything can happen in politics, and there are five months to go. But Tuesday night's McCain pratfall - three weeks in the planning by his campaign, according to Fox News - should be a clear indication that Mr. Obama must accept Mr. McCain's invitation to weekly debates at once. Tomorrow if possible, and, yes, bring on the green!

Mr. Obama must also heed Mr. McCain's directive that he visit Iraq - as long as he avoids Baghdad markets and hits other foreign capitals on route. When the world gets a firsthand look at the new America Mr. Obama offers as an alternative to Mr. McCain's truculent stay-the-course, the public pandemonium may make J.F.K.'s 'Ich bin ein Berliner' visit to the Berlin Wall look like a warm-up act.