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The proposed European Army with global influence will replace NATO

Rami Rayess

Published: Updated:

NATO is in its death throws with Russia and China looking on happily, but not that this military force was ever a real threat to either country.

When you have Estonia and Lithuania and all the other former Eastern Bloc countries as powerless NATO members it isn’t of great concern to Moscow.

As the US constricts from its former global dominant position, it’s time for Europe to rethink the best way to face existential threats from an increasingly polarized world.

The idea of establishing a unified European Army has been proposed time and again, and the push for one, along with its validity is clear.

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It will happen.

The basis behind NATO was a noble one, and made sense, but there has always been conflicting views about strategies, troop deployment and who contributes to what.

A heavy reliance on the US hasn’t helped, and it’s clear that with the organization’s slow demise running in parallel to Washington’s reserved stance to international relations, new friends and alliances are needed.

At the moment, Europe dances to Washington’s tune. The debacle of the US withdrawal from Afghanistan revived the debate about the necessity for a European Army. It is time for Europe to have strategic autonomy over its decisions.

A European Army can act as the crux on which Europe broadens its reach, and establish military alliances in strategic locations across the globe.

Western defense for Europe can no longer be confined to the North Atlantic, and the inclusion of the US should be as an equal partner, and not based on an overreliance on them.

The number of NATO members that include so many Baltic nations suggests the continuous fear of Russia, accompanied with a willingness to engage in defensive collaborations. Proper execution of strategic defense can only properly happen when it’s in play with other global players.

Including India in an international military defense group would set the cat amongst the pigeons. China would become increasingly nervous.

Foreign troops with NATO-led Resolute Support Mission investigate at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan September 5, 2019. (File photo: Reuters)
Foreign troops with NATO-led Resolute Support Mission investigate at the site of a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan September 5, 2019. (File photo: Reuters)

What about Japan as a member? The Pacific country is concerned with China’s growing presence on the high seas and its territorial claims too. Strategically Japan can prove problematic for Russia too.

Egypt too is well positioned to become involved. The Suez Canal is a vital trade route for the transport of Chinese goods.

All of these countries can contribute troops and military hardware, along with intelligence gathering.

Fostering military partnerships between Europe and specific Asian nations offers the existing European NATO members with the opportunity to have a seat at any table set up to address global dilemmas.

It’s been put forward that a European Army could number 50,000 troops to defend its own borders, but by engaging with India and Egypt strong bases in both the Far East, the Middle East and Africa are accessible.

Egypt will welcome any approach to join. It needs to diversify its alliances with alternatives that run in parallel with its strategy to position itself as a key powerhouse in both Africa and Arabia. An Egypt holding a position of such stature is then of course appealing to Europe.

With so many pluses for the presence of a European military force, there are lots of obstacles yet to be overcome. There is French and Italian enthusiasm, German consent, but other European countries appear indifferent.

French President Emmanuel Macron endorsed the European Army idea in 2018 on the back of policies pursued under Donald Trump’s administration that barely took note of American’s profound partnership with Europe.

The main hindrance to having a European Army in place is NATO itself. Monopolizing security issues in continental Europe throughout the cold war era, NATO fell short in many campaigns, including the Crimea, Libya, and most recently Afghanistan.

It is true that an effective EU foreign policy must always play a role in a Western orchestra. A partnership with Washington is fair, but obedience is something totally different.

A Europe capable of intervening anywhere in the world where its interests are endangered, or indeed any of its global partners’ interests face problems, puts it on the front foot.

No permission needed from Washington. Following the Second World War Europe has been beholden to the US. This situation must change. It will.

The submarine deal led by the US and UK with Australia reflect a policy of indifference towards France and Europe.

The High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini has said that the group’s security policy should handle global pressures and local dynamics. Within this mix lies the super-powers along with “increasingly fractured identities.”

Europe has no choice but to become a player in unfolding global scenarios. Gone are the days of individual empires kidding on they can influence the politics in former colonies. It’s now time for a unified powerful and efficient military arm.

The European Army will fill the void left by a retreating NATO, but although it will play a crucial role, it is the global security and military partnerships it establishes that will position the EU as a global super power in its own right.

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Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.