International security and the Common European Security and Defense Policy (CESDP) of the European Union

André Brie, Speech to be delivered at the Beijing Conference on Security Policy in September 2002, 24.07.02

Like the Common Foreign and Security Policy, the Common Security and Defence Policy of the European Union is a tall order but a much smaller reality.
Contrary to economic and monetary policy, the foreign and security policy of the member states of the European Union is clearly dominated by the nation
state element. In this respect, the much used image of „the economic giant who is a political dwarf“ (which was originally invented to describe the Federal
Republic of Germany) is completely wrong. It would be more appropriate to speak of one economic giant and 15 political dwarfs.

The EU foreign policy at an impasse

The EU member states‘ efforts aimed at joint foreign and security policy actions have entered a state of crisis recently in particular after September 11.
Though not discussed but rather denied, this crisis is obvious. The lack of a common strategy and policy of the European Union is apparent in the Middle
East, the pressing issue of Iraq, Iran, in existing or potential hot spots in the Caucasus and Central Asia as well as with regard to China and the EU
relationship with Asian countries. Large contradictions appear especially with regard to the unilaterist approach and policy of dominance by the United
States. In the final analysis, almost all governments (with the notable exception of Sweden in certain cases) tolerate the Bush doctrine with its claim to
preemptive military strikes (including nuclear ones), the United States‘ disregard for the United Nations and the UN Charter, the Kyoto Protocol, the
International Criminal Court of Justice or the US destruction of the bilateral and multilateral arms control system. However, this general tolerance is not
based on a common policy either, nor is it primarily a manifestation of agreement with the US course. It is rather an expression of a fundamental
weakness with regard to the United States.

While there is a lot of concern about the Bush Administration’s conceptual and practical approach to foreign and security policy, the EU member states‘
ability and preparedness to offer criticism and alternatives are small. There is however a way out which would necessarily involve two components: On
the on hand, the European Union should develop and implement a truly common foreign and security policy which must – on the other hand – offer a real
alternative in order to lead to emancipation from US domination:

– strengthening the United Nations instead of weakening them,
– multilateralism and international law instead of unilateralism,
– cooperation in economic, social, development, ecological and cultural matters must take priority over the strive for military supremacy,
– cause-oriented, preventive handling of conflicts instead of military preemptive strategies (to be implemented, if considered necessary, even without
conclusive evidence),
– consistent human rights policies instead of „anti-terror“ alliances with military dictatorships,
– disarmament and arms control instead of a new arms build-up and arms exports,
– system of strategic relations with Russia and China as a supplement to the transatlantic relationship instead of short-term and pragmatic
development of such relations dependent on economic factors.

Embarking on such or a similar course, the EU should be able to achieve greater autonomy from the United States, reducing the historically unparalleled
unilateral domination of the US; provided the EU is capable of a common foreign policy. Today, the EU is far away from such a situation, further away than
before September 11, 2001. In addition to differences regarding individual issues, which often even prevent uniform voting in the UN General Assembly,
this situation is caused by different fundamental orientations with – on the one side – the UK, which sees itself and its international position in foreign and
security policy matters mainly as a very close junior partner of the US, and on the other side France, which sees the Common European Security and
Defence Policy as a means to embark on an autonomous European course. Most of the other EU member states stand somewhere in between these two
extremes, although there are again important nuances. A sceptical approach towards further European integration and a still existing – albeit weakened –
neutrality orientation prevent for example a clear categorisation of Sweden’s position in this group.

Despite these problems, I am of the opinion that the efforts to develop a Common Foreign and Security Policy and a Common Security and Defence Policy
of the EU (the latter will be the focus of the following talk) should be taken seriously. They should not simply be dismissed as illusionary or irrelevant since
they develop a political dynamism of their own, forcing governments to implement at least part of the decisions they themselves have taken. Under certain
circumstances, they could furthermore offer a realistic opportunity for a more independent European foreign and security policy.

Historical background and current state of the CESDP

The heads of state and government of the 15 EU member states decided to transfer responsibility for security matters to the European Union and to start
a process of „gradually developing a common defence policy“ for the first time in Maastricht in 1992. First of all the #West European Union (WEU)
established in 1948 but pushed to the sidelines by NATO for decades was to be developed into a „defence component of the European Union and an
instrument aimed at strengthening the European pillar of the Transatlantic Alliance“ . With this aim in mind, the Council of Ministers defined three areas of
future military operation in the „Petersberg Declaration“ of 19 June 1992:

– humanitarian and rescue missions,
– peace-keeping missions and
– combat missions aimed at crisis management including peace-making measures.

With the inclusion of the „Petersberg tasks“ in the Treaty of Amsterdam (1994) world-wide military interventions have officially become a political option
for the EU. Several member states had followed the German-French initiatives to implement this project with scepticism for a long time. The situation
changed however in late 1998 when the United Kingdom changed direction in its European policy, demanding at an informal Council meeting held in
Pörtschach in October to create the institutional and military preconditions for „Europe to stand on its own feet“, if the US refrained from participating in
European operations.

This started off the ongoing dynamism of the „Common European Security and Defence Policy“ (CESDP): 10 days after the NATO Council approved a
basic combat order to bombard Yugoslavia, an informal meeting of the heads of state and government took place on 23 and 24 October 1998 to sound out
the positions of the member states. Six weeks later, Jacques Chirac and Tony Blair declared: „The EU must be able to fully play its role at the international
stage. To this end, the Union needs to possess autonomous capabilities based on credible military forces which it is capable and willing to use in
response to international crises.“

Under the German presidency, this became a joint EU position at the Cologne Summit. The European Council took a decision regarding leadership
structures and number of troops in December 2000: By 2003 the EU countries should be able to deploy 50,000 to 60,000 troops including combat support
and logistics troops plus corresponding navy and air troops within 60 days in a crisis region and to maintain such an operation for at least one year. The
political and military bodies – the standing Political and Security Committee, the Military Committee and the Military Staff – have been operational since March
2000. An exercise programme agreed in Mai 2001 is being implemented. In November 2000, national contributions to the EU intervention forces were
defined. One year later, these national contributions were specified and expanded. As a result, the EU will have over 100,000 troops, some 400 combat
aircraft and 100 ships at its disposal. In December 2001, the EU heads of state and government made the necessary amendments to the EU Treaty to
establish the legal framework for the operational development of the Common Security and Defence Policy. The Nice Summit declared that „the EU was
now able to carry out its own crisis management operations“, though there were a number of capacity problems which would require eight to ten years
to be solved. The Council approved a „European action programme to close established gaps“. Eleven working groups set-up to overcome the weak
points identified in the action plan started their work in February 2002.

The United States and NATO follow the military ambitions of the European Union with open scepticism and hidden opposition. Firstly, the United States
oppose all measures likely to lead to European emancipation in security matters, an aim pursued with the CESDP especially by France. Secondly, the
United States consider NATO as the only adequate institutional instrument to ensure their own military supremacy over their partners and to implement
their own foreign and security strategy with their partners (though they increasingly seem to prefer bilateral and temporary partnerships. In the war in
Afghanistan, the United States almost completely failed to involve NATO except for invoking Article 5 in a propagandistic fashion). Thirdly, the United
States and the NATO establishment are afraid of double structures, a decline in efficiency and perhaps even competition due to the development of
military structures by the EU. Fourthly, political and military representatives especially in the United States consider the European efforts as a completely
illusionary endeavour given the fact that the United States spend more than double the amount on military forces than all their allies taken together
(allegedly achieving ten times the effect). According to them, the European NATO countries should concentrate on enhancing their contributions to NATO.

While part of the Left in other European countries accept and support the development of autonomous or independent military capabilities, structures and
aims of the European Union as an alternative to the unlimited supremacy of the United States (like for instance – with certain restrictions – the communist
parties of France, Spain, Italy), there is hardly any discussion among the Left in Germany to develop a left-wing position towards the Common European
Security and Defence Policy. SPD and Alliance 90/The Greens approved the CESDP, making major contributions to its development through their work in
the German government. There was however not even an attempt to launch a public debate. The PDS was and is adamant in its rejection of a military
orientation of European integration („Europe should be created without weapons!“). However, this position has not yet been put in concrete terms. The
following theses are submitted for discussion. They differentiate between the development of a Common Foreign and Security Policy (CFSP) of the EU –
which I support – and the military component included mainly in the CESDP. I agree it is a strategic issue, whether and how the European Union can
contribute to establishing a security alternative to the „preventive“ interventionism and unilateralism of the Bush doctrine and the US destruction of the
international and bilateral arms control and disarmament system.

Left-wing alternatives (theses)

1. The Left should support the development of a Common European Foreign and Security Policy. Firstly, the CFSP will be more efficient than different
national foreign policies in representing major interests of the EU and its member states at an international level. In today’s world, European countries will
hardly have a chance to exercise an influence on major international issues by national foreign policies. Secondly, the CFSP can serve as an important
counterweight to the alarming trends of unilateralism and military build-up in US politics. Thirdly, the development of the CFSP can make an important
contribution to the further development of European integration.

2. The EU will however be unable to play such a role, if its Foreign and Security Policy continues to be guided by an official literally „unlimited solidarity
with the United States“. The unilaterialism and preventive militarism of the „Bush doctrine“ announced in the Nuclear Posture Review and formulated in
Bush’s speech to the United States Military Academy in West Point# (1 June 2002) and in Donald Rumsfeld’s speech to NATO defence ministers in
Brussels (6 June 2002) does not only completely ignore the role of the United Nations, thus posing a serious threat to almost any form of international
stability including the prevention of a nuclear war, but also massively endangers independent international interests of other countries which are alleged
or actual allies of the United States. This does not only apply to countries like Russia whose „new relation“ with the West and the United States primarily
consist in a „friendly“ submission to the United States. It also applies to the United States‘ partners in NATO, the EU member states and die European Union
as a whole. If the EU and its member states fail to clearly articulate and represent their foreign, security and other international interests (which are
different from those of the United States), they will be relegated to secondary importance at global level (perhaps with the exception of world trade
interests). Since „European“ interests – as I see them – are (or should be) aimed at international multilateralism, cooperative international political relations,
stability, ecologicalization, integration of the South, active and intensified development policies, a further submission to the course pursued by the Bush
Administration would gravely endanger the European states international role and their ability to stand up for their own vital interests now and particularly
in the long run. The EU must emancipate itself at least partially from the United States in foreign and security matters.

3. But it also means in my opinion that the Foreign and Security Policy of the EU must not be dominated by military orientation. Efforts to establish a
European counterweight to the United States and achieve greater independence/autonomy from the United States by building independent military forces
and an independent military pact are both illusionary and counterproductive. They would only absorb huge financial means which are urgently needed for
social, cultural, ecological and economic developments. They would especially contribute to a further military build-up and thus to international relations
which would allow the United States to display their unbreakable military supremacy and to implement their strategy of military domination and military
solutions. Europe’s opportunities and strengths – also with regard to restricting the political and military unilateralism of the United States – lie in the
opposite direction, i.e. in a preventive, cause-oriented, cooperative and civilian foreign and security policy. Only by strengthening such an approach, the
EU could bring its equivalent economic and financial weight to bear in foreign policy matters.

4. In my opinion, the European Left should put up fundamental and continuous opposition to any tendencies aimed at militarizing the EU, although some
grave political (as well as first military) facts have been established and will be difficult to reverse. EU ambitions will anyhow face a reality marked by
financial, military and political constraints. And let me repeat: the EU military orientation has also an illusionary aspect. I am convinced that there is no
reason for the Left – be it the establishment of a counterweight to the US or something else – to support the development of a European independent
military organisation, a European independent military force and world-wide deployable intervention forces of the EU. They would neither enhance
Europe’s scope towards the United States nor Europe’s leverage to pursue a non-military security policy. On the contrary, they would increase the
dominant position of the United States leading to a further militarization of international relations and security concepts.

5. Despite its fundamentally critical attitude and some obvious illusionary aspects of the CESDP, the Left cannot limit itself to offering criticism and
submitting civilian alternatives. The CESDP has become an – albeit limited – reality. There is no doubt that it will be further developed. The Left mainly
opposes the following elements: deployment of European armed forces without UN mandate; increase of European arms spending; elimination of the
possibility for individual EU member states to pursue a neutral or otherwise alternative security policy; exclusion of Russia from European security

6. In the final analysis, many international conflicts, crises, destabilised situations and wars are the result of prevailing Western policies. Many of them
pose indeed a threat to international security. The use of military means to overcome these threats, in particular by military interventions or wars waged
by the United States and the West or even military and nuclear preemptive strikes, would firstly mean to fight the appearance rather than the root causes.
Secondly, it is these policies which cause or intensify such conflicts and the related global risk. It is simply impossible to prevent the proliferation of
weapons of mass destruction in the long run, unless the West, Russia and China themselves take radical nuclear disarmament measures rather than
basing their own security on nuclear weapons, arms build-up and international interventionism. The latest Nuclear Posture Review is a further offensive
manifestation of this strategy including preventive nuclear strikes. Such a strategy will not stop but rather provoke the proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction. A security policy dominated by military strength, arms exports, interest-specific human rights policies characterized by double standards,
extremely unjust economic relations and exploitation, disregard for the need of a fundamental ecological change, weakening of the United Nations and
international law as well as cultural arrogance towards the South (and East) is a fertile breeding ground for the development of dictatorships,
fundamentalism, distribution struggles, crises and wars outside the „Western world“. Left-wing European security policy should therefore not focus on
other more autonomous, democratic and less offensive versions of NATO or CESDP but concentrate – without being limited to it – on fundamentally
criticizing such policies and on submitting fundamental political alternatives.

7. Such alternatives comprise first and foremost an economic and development policy which enables or promotes an autonomous economic, social and
cultural development of the South, the strengthening of the United Nations (and the revitalization of the OSCE), a cooperative character of international
relations, the defence and rigorous strengthening of the international and bilateral disarmament system, a world-wide social and ecological
transformation, and a concrete cause-oriented and preventive security policy.

8. The Common European Security and Defence Policy should be determined by such a cause-oriented and preventive security policy. There is no
shortage of experience in EU member states – especially with regard to Scandinavian policies and contributions aimed at solving or containing international
conflicts – which confirm the opportunities such an orientation offers to European countries with a view to contributing to sustainable crisis prevention
and solution, demilitarization and civilisation of international relations. In my opinion, its elements may include international police forces. It must however
comprise the following components which are already inherent – albeit in an embryonic form – in the CESDP: an early crisis warning system, conflict
moderation, strengthening the rule of law (support for the development of an independent judicial system and efficient law enforcement authorities), and
the establishment of a civilian peace corps. Contrary to the development of European intervention forces and the corresponding political and military
structures, the civilian aspect of the Helsinki decisions is clearly lagging behind. If the civilian aspect was given political and financial priority, Europe’s not
to be neglected possibilities and positive experiences in the field of non-military security policy could provide a concrete and efficient alternative to today’s
US policy, thus increasing the international weight of the EU and enhancing stability in international relations.