Friday, April 02, 2004

Tom, I felt I needed more space than the comments section to react to Victor Davis Hanson's article on US/European realtions. First of all, it's an excellent article and nail on the head.

Let me now give my assessment as a European.

1° We indeed need a sea-change in mentality over here to influence our defense policy in an effective way. I don't see that happen soon. The Left is too strong.

There are attempts however to create a common defense policy. Instruments for that, on the strategic level are the Western European Union (WEU), currently hibernating, and on the operative level the Eurocorps. You can also click here for a sketchy introduction to this happy campers outfit.

But admitted, there's no firm hand behind a common defense policy.

2° Gifted writer as he is, he has his flaws. He seems to be unaware of the process of political unification. I think this knowledge is absolutely NECESSARY when judging "Europe". Furthermore, the Poles chilling for the Germans once the US leaves? Come on!!! Hey, I just went to the kitchen to prepare myself a cup of coffee (I ate “Sprits zandkoeken” with it (some kind of cookies) (they tasted) and asked my wife Agata (from the Polish city of Wroclaw) whether Poles would be chilling for the Germans if the US Army left its barracks over there. She found the idea absurd. In short, VDH is very much okay but on European matters he'd do well to do some field research over here.

3° Throughout the article I perceive a willingness to label the departure of US troops from Western Europe as some kind of policy to make the EU stand on its feet rather than coddling it, thus forcing us to act mature on defense matters. Hmmmm, I would say that the reasons making the US to consider downgrading its presence here are purely financial and organizational. There’s less threat here, other fronts further to the east (Middle East, Uzbekistan, Korea) are gaining importance AND your military is strained across the globe.

But the effect may be just the same. It may push Europe to hasten taking care of its own defense business.

4° Throughout VDH’s rant I perceive nevertheless a love of Europe. He recognizes our common cultural and historical roots. And here I’d like to end with a positive note. It is my sincere wish that we manage to level the Inter European borders and sensitivities to such an extent that we become a forceful economical, political and military bloc AS ALLIES of the United States. I would like to see NATO evolve to some kind of an alliance between USA, USE, Canada and some minor member states.

Maybe I’m too optimistic here, but in the same way as redeploying your troops elsewhere because of external reasons may encourage us to fend more for ourselves militarily, the to be expected drastic geopolitical changes in tomorrow’s world will force USA and EU towards each other. In both cases it’s a welcome development brought about by external circumstances.

And for the love of God, why are you Americans picking the Belgian military time and again as your favourite target??? Goddammit, our Air Force secures NATO’s utmost northeastern flank thus ensuring your daily beauty sleep passes uneventful! And don’t you know past autumn our Navy, in the form of the Frigate F912 Wandelaar kept a presence in the Caribbean, occasionally combating drugs trafficking as well as guarding the US’s soft underbelly??? And what’s our reward? Victor Davis Hanson with four deprecating comments! One of these days I’m really gonna be pissed off you know!!!

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