Creating a European Security and Defense Identity
NATIONAL DEFENSE UNIV WASHINGTON DC INST FOR NATIONAL STRATEGIC STUDIES
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The notion of a unified European military is nothing new. It was raised after World War II as a means of ridding the Continent of its legacy of internal warfare and nearly succeeded before falling victim to fears of lost sovereignty. Forgotten but not completely abandoned, it was revived in 1987 under more favorable conditions after the awakening of a long-dormant defense institution, the Western European Union WEU. The born again WEU called for greater cooperation on security and defense including arms production noting that, Europes integration will never be complete so long as it does not include security and defense. The effort moved slowly at first but then gained momentum with the end of the Cold War. With the final outcome still uncertain, however, the idea of portraying Europe as a more or less freestanding pillar of NATO assumed the awkward rubric of European security and defense identity ESDI. Now ten years old ESDI seems here to stay. Initial American reactions to ESDI were polite but proscriptive, emphasizing that it should be transparent and complement NATO. Moreover, the United States saw it as an internal European matter unlikely to have major implications for the Alliance. But France, always an advocate of greater independence from the United States, saw ESDI as a means of reducing American influence after the demise of the Soviet Union. Future U.S. force levels in Europe were unpredictable, and France pointed to the possibility of a complete American pullout, raising the fear among Europeans that they might be left to fend for themselves and thus need their own defense capability. Simultaneously, American political interest in Europe appeared to wane. Key U.S. posts at NATO went unfilled for long periods in 1993 and Washington was focused on the Asia-Pacific region and domestic affairs. Political interest in Europe seemed relegated to central and eastern Europe and Russia.
- Military Forces and Organizations