Jean-Claude Juncker, the Man Who Would Be Caesar™ (except, by legal chicanery rather than by conquest), is apparently outwaged that the coarse Americans (who are so backward that they have had only one republic in the last couple of centuries) and les sales rosbifs (that’s Brits, for all y’all that don’t parlez Continental), think that the Continent ought to spend a whopping 2% of GDP on defense.
He thinks that money spent on social-welfare handouts to the kleptocracies south of the Med and East of Suez ought to count, too.
Reuters reports that Jean-Claude Drunker, former PM of Luxembourg (defense spending approx 0/year) and current EU Commission President, is upset at Gen Mattis’ pointing out of the paucity of European defense spending:
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Thursday that Europe must not cave in to U.S demands to raise military spending, arguing that development and humanitarian aid could also count as security.
“I don’t like our American friends narrowing down this concept of security to the military,” he said, arguing it would be sensible to look at a “modern stability policy” made up of several components.
“If you look at what Europe is doing in defense, plus development aid, plus humanitarian aid, the comparison with the United States looks rather different. Modern politics cannot just be about raising defense spending,” he said.
Right if you compare spending on apples, oranges and pineapples in the EU with spending on apples in the USA you discover that the EU spends more. Oddly enough it seems unclear how spending on “development aid, plus humanitarian aid” helps deter or stop determined invaders. Indeed a cynic might suggest it just serves as a hint that “there’s rich people to mooch off there” to the hordes of migrants now entering Europe.
That’s actually just an update to an interesting post on the mechanics and disputed terms of EU vs. Brexit called You and whose army? at the blog L’Ombre de l’Olivier, and you ought to Read The Whole Thing™. But we’re not engaging with Olivier’s main point in the post, but rather his belittling of the idea that “development aid and humanitarian aid” are meaningful means of power projection.
He is, in fact, right on.
Non-military aid is only of use in power projection when it is used that way. Now, everyone who thinks that the EU either as an institution, or as individual nation-states (an unclean concept, in Juncker’s post-Christian faith without faith), actually uses it that way, is invited to step this way to see the famous Egress. The idea is, you give the wogs stuff, they like the stuff, they like you, and you are more likely to get what you want from them, and be able to jaw them out of all their primordial hatreds for the tribe next door (or that used to be next door beyond the round-up). Not to mention their primordial hatred for you.
Primordial hatreds, by the way, exist everywhere and between everybody, just waiting for the right demagogue to drum them up. The Serbs had quite forgotten how horrible all the other southern Slavs were until Slobodan Milosevič went on the stump at Kosovo Polje in 1989. Three years later they were ineptly implementing a kind of Children’s Crusade version of the Endlösung.
One problem with use of humanitarian aid for security purposes is this: those that you aid are probably not the ones that threaten you. The Northern Hemisphere in general has spent untold trillions in the sinkhole that is Haiti. Yet Haiti is no threat to anyone; the Haitian government has, since its formation in 1805, harmed no one except the former French colonists, and practically all Haitians. As a government, it’s incapable of organizing a beer run, let alone an invasion. It’s rather amazing that they were able to massacre the French plantation owners, but perhaps every nation has one shining hour when they rise above their native ability and do something decisive, and that was theirs. Haitian émigrés in the USA prove no more capable than they were at home; most wind up as wards of the state, either on welfare or in jail.
There is probably no nation that has a greater reputation for aid and humanitarian generosity than Canada. It may be a case of a very high level of aid and low level of defense spending. Canada, of course, faces relatively few concrete military problems, apart from the ones its alliances get it into. (For which, we note, the Canadian Forces always show up with their game face on). But the big, catastrophic defense cases? That’s why Ottawa has alliances. Getting along with everybody is nice; having the US and UK as big brothers acts as a social lubricant.
But there is a constant temptation to redefine defense, either as Juncker has done to include unrelated activities, or to include the cause du jour and to pack the DOD budget (or its equivalents overseas) with unrelated expenses.
One US-ian example of this has been insistence on the sophomoric idea that global warming, or, climate change, is a military or defense problem. Hey, then all the warmists and “Results First, Experiment Later” Red Queens of science, like the Jerry Sandusky of Climate Science® himself, can tap into that sweet DOD cash… and units on the deployment docket don’t know why their ammo budget evaporated and they’re saying “bang, bang” like kids playing Army, during predeployment training.
Hey, global warming evaporated your ammo. Is there nothing it can’t do?
We see the military used for things it’s good at, and things it’s not. It’s great at disaster response, even though that’s not its job. Why? Well, it’s good at traveling, setting up, and organizing. Every unit has a staff that is a perfect building block set for organizing anything — you have your functional Legos: S-1, -2, -3, -4, are the basics: personnel, information, operations, logistics. (One of the open secrets of Special Forces’ adaptability is that every member of every team is trained on and has experience in being, essentially, a staff action officer for any one of those functions. Give a team a mission and in ten minutes there is a staff established to plan and organize it).
The problems with defining humanitarian stuff as military stuff go deeper than the hollowing-out of budgets, at which the European continental powers excel and for which they need no excuse. The French armed forces today, for example, are about 5% the size in personnel of the force that defeated the Germans in 1940… oh, wait. It’s actually about 2/3 of the size of the small force that resisted (in France’s sole success) Italian invasion along the côte d’azur. And it’s about half the size of the army of twenty years ago. And France’s is by far the most powerful defense establishment of the post-Brexit EU nations. The forces are professional, but they’re expeditionary, and unable to actually defend France, should it ever come to that.
Jean-Claude Juncker doesn’t mind being emperor of an empire armed like that, because he’s still in the grip of the idea that history has ended in Europe, and the continent will nevermore host a battlefield.
He believed that before the collapse of Yugoslavia, too.