September 1, 2013
At this stage, there are rumours about the new stage of the modern crusade of Western military powers lead by the U.S. Will the upcoming intervention in Syria facilitate somehow the European Foreign policy? Or will it demonstrate the weakness of Europe again? Actually, the chain of the recent arabic wars in this century exactly proved the opposite: there is no EU foreign policy as such, and Europe – again – remains silent and weak. Of course, the two traditional European military (and former global) powers, France and the United Kingdom try to make their voice be heard (with some succes I must say) but they are acting as sovereign states and their achievements may not be considered as part of a common European foreign strategy.
(Photo © Chris Beckett: Syria: Stop the War march, London, 31 August 2013)
Afghanistan 2001 and the re-birth of the NATO
A decade ago, 11 September had shaken the western world: America was under attack for the first time on its own territory and the cruel terrorist attempt gave the moral legitimacy to a war against the taliban in Afghanistan and most importantly, all European countries supported the United States. The whole process gave a new legitimacy to the NATO which lost its ‘raison d’être’ after the collapse of communism. Since then, the NATO serves as the framework for the Western countries led by the U.S. to fight terrorism everywhere in the world in accordance with international law and the principles of the UN Charter.
The problem of the invasion rose right after the military victory in Afghanistan: no one expected a 10 years long, costly occupation which could not either consolidate the country or destroy the Taliban hiding in Pakistan. Although an international coalition had been forged at that time to help this process – which included CEE countries such as the Visegrád Alliance (PL-CZ-SK-HU) – and to re-build the country, the end-balance of that operation remains still controversial.
Iraq 2003 – split between the “old” and “new” Europe
Only 2 years later the international unity had been broken. The traditional Franco-German alliance tried to lead Europe but they failed. The UK definitely supported the U.S. and having signed “the letter of eight” (CZ, DK, HU, IT, PL, PT, ES and the UK) it managed to have 7 European countries as allies against France and Germany. And as we know, the war has happened. Never ever was the lack of a European common military and foreign policy so visible then at that time.
However, the ‘new Europe’ failed to prove the legality of the Iraq war. US and UK officials have argued that existing UN Security Council resolutions related to the first Persian Gulf War and the subsequent ceasefire (660, 678), and to later inspections of Iraqi weapons programs (1441), had already authorized the invasion. However, the mentioned pieces of international law did not have authorisation for a specific war and – most importantly – the use of chemical weapons could not be proved. And as a consequence, British PM Tony Blair had to resign.
Lybia 2011 and the isolation of Germany
The recent bloodshed in Lybia was interesting in a way that the first time, the U.S. did not want to take a leading role in the operation. France and the UK used this opportunity to prove their determination and military capacity but it could not be possible without the technical and infrastructural help of the Americans. Another visible consequence of that situation was the isolation of Germany who only opposed an intervention when even global powers supported the UK and French determination. Developments later on proved that the fall of Kadhafi’s regime was a necessity and it helped Lybian people to start their long road to a democracy.
Syria 2013 will be the next stage of a modern crusade?
The world has not been changed so much since the ’80s: war after war, and rumours of war from the East. Will Syria mean the next stage of a modern crusade against the arabic world?
The existence of chemical weapons and their use is reported however, there are not clear evidences, yet. ‘It Seems Like The Same Thing Again’ The main difference between Iraq and Syria is that in case of Iraq, Western countries wanted to launch a war and searched for legal reason for it. In opposition to it, in the case of Syria – because of the support of Russia – western countries did not want war at all – even the weapon-embargo was fiercly discussed – but the chemical attack and the push of the general public put pressure on them.
The example of Afghanistan tought them to avoid a long term occupation, the fiasko in Iraq made them extremly prudent and the successful operation in Lybia gave additional arguments for a distance-war.
I am afraid that my previous analysis about the Fallen State Syria in March 2013 is still valid: “The regime of Bashar Al-Assad survived even the fall of Kadhafi. It is a shame to take note that the freedom fight has started already in March 2011 and although Syria is in the backdoor of the EU, the EU could not prevent the death of approximately 20,000 people since then. The Syrian state collapsed and open war is a daily reality. We must declare: neither the EU Foriegn Policy nor the EU Defence and Security Policy was able to resolve this problem. The EU shew a blind eye to the s.o.s. messages of Syrian refugees”
The hidden European power behind the scene
“What a world where the best rapper is white, the best golf player is black and Germans do not want to go to war.” – Aforisme from 2003
Another key player in that story is the one who is not part of it. Europe’s most powerful and influential power is still reluctant to take a leading role – the weight of its historical burden is too heavy. 60 years was not enough to forget what happened in WWII and Germany is still not ready to go to war. Even if German ships are fighting in Somalia against pirates, Germany’s humanitarian aid is even more relevant and this military action can be used as an excuse to prevent further German military actions.
Therefore, no common European foreign policy is possible without Germany. With the recently analysed Mali-case, France presented its ambitions to lead Europe in military affairs and the UK can be its ally in that sense, but I am strictly convinced, that without Germany it is not feasible.
Or does this incertitude indirectly means that there is already a decision taken that Europe is not ready for a common foreign policy, yet and it needs to became an economic and political union?
“To thine own self be true.”
I remain at your disposal.
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Related earlier updates:Zoltán Massay-Kosubek