I'm not thinking military support, but political support or influence has been an area were we, as a union of states, have mostly been a sad joke. Sly pretty much said it when he mentioned the difficulty we have to come along with a common position on about any matter.
We don't need to go to far to see it. Just think of EU attempts at mediating the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. EU has very little political influence and risks loosing even more of it as the emerging economies start establishing themselves in the political arena. I'm thinking countries like India or Brazil who have all the conditions to become influential countries.
EU institutions are complex, slow and too permeable to veto mechanisms. The recent Lisbon Treaty will help some of this (by removing some of the voting power from smaller states), but really there's no solution to it. Unless... one day we become a federation.
And yet, more could be done on this particular issue of the Afghan war. There's more to our lack of commitment in this war in human and material resources than simply a lack of internal agreement. It's a fact the Iraqi war burned all European politicians that decided to participate. None is in power anymore and all have been heavily criticized during the whole process. Some even faced humiliating defeats on the elections that followed. It's also a fact that the Europe population is traditionally less open to conflict resolution through military action. But there is not today, and there never was in the past, an active anti-Afghan war movement in Europe. The populations have generally accepted this war effort.
Instead, it's my view that European politicians are weakened and European politics became shallow and devoid of the true power (on this case, the ability to take action and sustain the consequences). We have been electing our leaders on small margins, forcing them to on most cases form coalition governments with other parties. Even on those cases where a de facto majority has emerged from some election, our typical political organizations and institutions do not favor new strong and influential measures. We have a much wider political specter and in most countries parties run up for elections against 10 or more other parties which, while not in position to ever take the seat, still have the power to spread votes. It's very common in Europe for parties who became in 3rd or 4th place to still take 10% or more of the total votes. A majority government can easily fall the next elections, if it risks too much. Majority != Ruling power. Not anymore.
Meanwhile, Europe has also been lacking... heroes and highly charismatic leaders for many, many years now. As we slowly sink into a political stagnancy and boredom with pretty much the same faces all the time, same politics and the same institutional mechanisms that dissociate the general population from politics, we more and more reduce the possibilities of those heroes to emerge. Governments that can make really hard decisions and still convince their population of their necessity are becoming extinct around here.
And the EU complex institutional model only worsened it. Do you know how to contact your representative in the European parliament? Of course you don't. Because in fact, you can't.
And subsequently by the Red Tide. Europe only exists because the Allies saved it from the Nazi's and the Soviet's. Unfortunately Europe has had it easy for so many years, not having to provide entirely for their own defense, that their ability to engage in strong political discussions is weakened through atrophy. Speak softly, but carry a big stick. Europe's stick is just a twig.
All political agreements are merely financial arrangements to reduce the cost of going to war. If a country cannot, through unwillingness or inability, go to war, it has no political power.
Europe quite literally exists by our leave.
Yes, but the big stick is not having an effect in Afghanistan, neither it has helped solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or is helping the against Iran ultimate goal or stopping once and for good North Korea Hide&Seek strategy.
Through cooperation it just may be that this war is not going to be lost, which is what it seems it will indeed happen. Instead of asking your own administration to send some tenths of thousands more troops, you should probably be demanding a clarification from the European union, especially from countries like France or Germany who seem to be shoving their responsibilities under the carpet (responsibilities which include arms dealing with many of these groups).
I'm not one to brush off any responsibility just because it happens to be my continent. I don't give a rat's arse. I was blessed to be born without an ounce of patriotic fervor. And I see my continent behaving like a Coward (capital letter intended). Instead I'm worried that loosing the Afghan war may have very serious consequences on the region and will be the definite empowerment of all extremist religious groups in the world.
And currently I'm ........ed at Obama's administration for not turning its eye on to Europe and demanding "Either you are with us, or against us". (I thought I would never say this. But bloody hell! It may have been the wrong war back then, but they were the right words)
Added - As far as multinational troops, it sounds nic from a political perspective, but really its more of a pain than its worth. Unless the other partners are sending significant numbers the logistics in coordinating multiple chains of command are just too cumbersome to be operationally effective.
I, too, am a little miffed at Europe's tendency to sit and judge the actions of the U.S. when it comes down to matters of war. They could change the precedent here by actually helping out instead of playing Monday morning quarterback and telling us everywhere we screw up.
The way I see it the US, UK, and Australia (usually) are thermostats and most of Europe is a thermometer. Thermostats change the temperature while thermometers report the temperature. It is far easier to sit back and not get involved yet judge those who do than commit your own forces to the cause and on the off-chance do something that might anger another country. But in reality, as has been mentioned, the more multi-national troops you have the harder it becomes to wage war. Too many cooks in the kitchen.
Europe can judge us but by now Europe surely understands that the US will step up and commit her troops to stabilize a region. We may not always do it in the right way and we are not perfect but at least we put forth one hell of an effort. If you fellas in Europe really feel this way about getting involved then let your leaders know. I don't know how things are run in each of your respective countries but surely the voice of the people means something?
I'm actually taken aback by some of the posts here b/c I thought through and through Europe hated the US. In my mind we are not all that different from one another. I do not feel that ultimatums will convince a country to become involved in a conflict and what right do we have to issue them? I feel that if we set the example and back our words with troops then perhaps some European countries will follow suit.
This is what the US does best...when we do it. We suck at occupying and we are not built or trained for it. Our armed forces are trained to go in for a few weeks, decimate the battlefield, and come home and celebrate with lots of beer, family, and friends.Quote:
Well, without going into the possible roots of the war, I do think that there needs to be a greater sense of urgency among the leadership. My advice would simply be to quickly reorganize and then move in swiftly for a decisive battle.
Are you suggesting that the Soviet Union saved Europe from itself? Even considering that the Soviet Union collapsed, I don't think it was something that was engineered on purpose no matter how many USSR citizens were ........ed off by Communism.
I guess he means that the former states of the Warsaw Pact would not consider themselves "saved by the Allies" as the had to endure half a century of communist dictatorship.
With "a history" you probably mean the last 10-60 years, a timespan that the average european wouldn't even consider "history" yet. As a German, though it isn't exactly something to be proud of, I think we did a lot of this "heavy lifting" in the last century. Sitting back judging instead would have saved the world a lot of trouble and death. The lesson from this is that Europeans and especially Germans are afraid of armed conflicts, because of both the opionion of their own population as well as the opinion of other governments. From my perspective, that's the wrong lesson we learned. We should have learned, that with power comes responsibility, the responsibility to actually use that power if neccessary. Appeasement did not work back then, we should know best, and therefore we should try to not repeat those mistakes.Quote:
Europe has a history of sitting back and judging while others do the heavy lifting.
What I think is hypocrite about German engagement in Afghanistan is the force that we deployed. If it gets critical, that force needs protection from the US. We have no heavy combat vehicles, we have no air support, neither close nor otherwise, no means of extraction on our own etc. Who tries to wage a war with a force that needs protection itself? I have the feeling, we sent a battalion of cooks and their guard units.
Another point is the public opinion at home. A single death (tragic as it may be for the family members and friends) is reason enough to question the whole operation. We decided to go to war. What were people thinking when they voted for war? That nobody would die? 10.000 dead due to flu each year, 5000 people get killed in traffic each year and then 2 dead per year is too much for a war? Somehow Germans and I probably have different meanings for the word "war".
I'm not arguing the allies saved the Europe from Nazis, I'm just saying they didn't save it from the Soviets.
Moreso because for the most part they saved themselves and have not been in fact helped by the western block in any way imaginable. Quite on the contrary.
USA educational policies considering the last half of the 20th century really need to be revised. It's only natural a country tries to elevate their achievements when teaching young impressionable kids at school. But these kids become grownup men and these grownup men end up revealing an almost impossible state of ignorance their schools fostered and their patriotic fervor further elevated.
The idea that USA saved Europe is a sad example. In fact, USA helped save Europe. And as a matter of fact Europe helped save itself too. D-Day would have never happened hadn't the French Resistance provided the allies with all the field work during the preceding months. And the French Resistance couldn't have done none of this work, hadn't the English supplied them with training and equipment since the first few months after France was occupied. Similarly D-Day would have failed miserably hadn't the Soviet Union force a second war front on the eastern side, neither it would have had any chance of success had the American troops fought it alone without the presence of of its allies.
Similar to Eurotrash, there is the Americantrash. Uneducated, patriotic rednecks who, while at school never read past the part that said "and USA entered the war", and while they grew up never again picked an history book.
They surrendered before the last man fell in a war against an enemy whose policy was to exterminate inferior races. In no way does this garner my respect. Had they continued to fight it could have significantly shortened the war and reduced total losses on all sides. Instead they chose the path of dishonor and slavery, and now they expect to not have to live with that stigma.