AUKUS Expedites the Coming EU Army & NATO’s Irrelevance
0 comments | by Joaquin Flores
While AUKUS formally exists to counter China, it does so on the basis of shared history and spheres of influence. That means that the logic of containing China within such a framework also contains AUKUS.
The surprise announcement of the new AUKUS alliance has predictably provoked an outcry from the European side of NATO, in particular France whose $90B plans with Australia were nixed without forewarning or mutual agreement. The entire fiasco only pushed the realization of a European continental army further along its path, a path that is all but inevitable and can only be either slowed or hurried by world events and political pressures.
As we wrote towards the end of August in ‘NATO’s Obsolescence’, the NATO alliance is coming undone and what we are seeing internationally is the rise of multipolarity. Distinct from the yearnings of idealists, multipolarity does not necessitate, (nor does it exclude), that the rising global blocs operate in some symphonic harmony towards global peace. But there is a kernel of truth: because it implies a change away from often violent attempts to build a one-world system based on the wildest fantasies of the Western banking establishment (popularly referred to as the ‘New World Order’), it creates an opportunity for harmony, as multipolarity rests upon spheres of influence and mutual recognition of sovereign hegemony.
AUKUS represents the failure of the Trans-Atlantic order rising after WWII (and emboldened by the collapse of the USSR and the Warsaw Pact) to transform into this ‘New World Order’ in the sense of a unipolar American century. But the solidifying of the U.S., UK, and Australia into something like AUKUS is also an entirely coherent development of the Five Eyes (UKUSA/FVEY) into something more.
It further underscores how much Biden’s foreign policy sits in line with Trump’s. AUKUS tends to confirm that for reasons still not entirely known (but which engender fantastical theories), Trump’s foreign policy on EU, China, and Five Eyes carries on into the Biden administration.
Not everyone is on board. The intelligence relationship already existing between A5 countries known as the Five Eyes has been challenged by the push to be decisive on China where previously it was clearer on the USSR – something where regarding China, New Zealand and Canada have decided to take a more nuanced and balanced approach.
In short, we see Obama allies Trudeau and Ardern push-back against the Biden administration’s move to forge AUKUS. Ardern went so far as to say that Australian nuclear subs per the AUKUS alliance, will not be allowed in New Zealand’s waters. Recall that Chinese naval vessels have been allowed to dock in New Zealand’s waters as recently as 2019. As far as Trudeau appears to be positioned, Canada’s Global News reported, “Brett Bruen, a consultant and former U.S. diplomat, told The Canadian Press that Canada may want to keep its distance from the pact to avoid aggravating existing tensions with China.”
The ugly economic details of AUKUS have left France and NATO countries with the realization that the U.S. has sent a much larger signal than that particularly problematic $90B detail would indicate. The U.S. under Trump had been shifting its strategic emphasis away from realistically deflecting a Russian military intervention into Western Europe as NATO existed originally to do. Rhetoric and a few additionally planned exercises aside, this has not changed under the Biden administration. Trump’s efforts to push forward on burden shifting from the U.S. to NATO members in Europe in the form of a 2% of GDP commitment on military spending is not one that Biden will roll back, despite his administration’s formal commitment to rebuild U.S.-EU strategic commitments apparently undermined by the 45th presidential administration. These developments, and more, have left France and Germany certain that an EU Army is a realistic security solution in the face of an unreliable U.S.
The Coming EU Army
When the UK left the EU on January 31st 2020 it removed a major obstacle to the building a continental army for Europe. Revealingly, the political forces campaigning on behalf of Brexit argued that the future of the EU would work against the special relationship that the UK has with the U.S. But why should this be the case, when the EU and U.S. are staunch allies, and since NATO is the child of this alliance?The answer to that question subverts expectations, and this is what makes it so worthy of our attention. The inclusion of the UK in the EU has always been a source and reflection of conflict between the UK and the continent. The persistence of the pound sterling and its precise position to the later development of the Euro, probably made Brexit a rather positive outcome for Europeanists among the long-term EU strategists at the very top, despite the entire Brussels bureaucracy and the EU media structure batting for Atlanticism through public declarations and electoral interference. After all, like any organization of scale, there are competing visions and competing commitments. The best way to change the alignment of these is to change the facts on the ground and the departure of the UK from the EU was a monumental one
So many things then become possible with the UK out of the EU, like an EU Army.
Yet if NATO represents the keystone for security in Europe, then what need is there for an EU Army? The answer to this one is not pretty, because it directly confronts the definition of ‘security’, and more decidedly poses the question: Whose security does NATO actually represent?
Indeed, the Euroscepticism which understandably had become the majority view in Britain by 2016, was not only opposed to the balance of matters effecting the UK the EU as it existed, but also the direction of things to come and the moves to further centralize and empower the Brussels bureaucracy in ways unacceptable.
At the risk of stating the obvious, Eurosceptics oppose the further centralization of the EU as it would give rise to an EU Army, and would either be a ‘final blow’ to the sovereignty of European states or act as a rapid catalyst towards the same.
The debate over the utility and necessity of a European Army is a difficult one to follow, because there is one side – the EU Army side – which really can’t say the quiet part out loud.
And the quiet part is that NATO in Europe functions more like an occupying force that relies on indigenous enforcers, its command structure being effectively a comprador one. Because of that, the EU Army side of this debate has had to make specious claims that it would work in tandem with NATO, would not replace NATO, and would even strengthen NATO. All of these are ridiculous when unpacked, but as necessary to say as Biden’s anachronistic and demonstrably false statements that the U.S. holds NATO Article 5 as a “sacred commitment”. Turkish forces fighting U.S. advisors embedded with the U.S.-backed YPG would be surprised to hear that Article 5 was still relevant. As with the case of the Greece-Turkey strategic stand-off, the question arises again.
When Merkel blasted Obama’s NSA in 2013 for spying on Germany, the quiet part was audible. But it would have been untoward to have publicly teased out the logical deduction any reasonable person would make from this.
And this in itself represents a self-consciousness of the weaker and more difficult to articulate position. Not because the logic can’t be made clearer, but because the truth of it all – that multipolarity means that the EU and U.S. may not have the same strategic interests – threatens the entire post-WWII order of things.
The pretext of course for the need for NATO is the existence of a Russian Federation existing as a single geopolitical entity, and not as an additional dozen states carved out of Russia’s existing oblasts, which is the openly professed fantasy of NATO’s media-intelligence wing, the Atlantic Council. Prizes have been awarded by Atlantic Council-supported ACTR to university students who developed schemes, maps, and socio-economy and political data towards the division of Russia into ten or so more states.
But even as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg bemoaned on June 15 of this year that the NATO-Russia relationship, “is at its lowest point since the Cold War, and Moscow’s aggressive actions are a threat to our security.“, this is pure theatrics. It would be surprising if any leader of a European state believed this was really the case, knowing instead that the present state of EU-RF relations is the consequence of hyperventilating problems into existence.
For many decades, the encroachment of the EU and NATO into Central and Eastern Europe were seen as one and the same. But in reality, NATO represented itself as the military enforcer of Trans-Atlanticism and trilateralism in Europe. This meant that an expanding EU was permissible within the strict rubric of also being advantageous to Trans-Atlantic banking in the form of the IMF, which acts like a tax or tithing upon European capital paid towards the City of London and Wall Street and ensuring that the Eurodollar – one of the parents of today’s EURO – was reliant on the Petrodollar as the reserve currency.
While France cries foul in defense of its own arms industry, certainly the brains behind Macron sees the rise of AUKUS as both a tremendous opportunity and pretext to justify the Franco-German agenda already in play.
Liberal-idealist opposition to the creation of an EU Army seems to stem from some alternate reality where each European state doesn’t already possess an armed force. They argue as if foreign aggression upon the EU will be invited and not, as logic would inform us, be discouraged by the existence of a coherent and singular command structure such as the EU Army presents. There is a failure to understand that a disunited Europe invites any number of great powers to be able to play divide and conquer in and between European states, to the detriment of all European states.
The primary and sacrosanct raison d’etre for the EU in the first place is to avoid the sorts of wars between European states which twice destroyed Europe in the 20th century, which led to the strategic advantage of the U.S. as a global hegemon.
To wit, E.H Carr’s work exposed that for nearly three hundred years (writing from the 1940’s), the foreign policy of England (in its various iterations) was to divide continental European power by pursuing policies which created conflicts between Germany and France. Likewise, we see no small role in the financial schemes of the U.S. and England that led to both European conflicts in the 20th century.
And so in looking at costs, of course always left out is the ‘cost of not’. The focus on costs of such a European Army fails to understand the relationship that the EU is in today with regard to the U.S. dollar. The EU must frame its expenditures in budgetary terms precisely because of the Atlanticist financial scheme, where the U.S. can create money at whim but the EU must operate within the rubric of monetary scarcity.
So in thinking that the U.S. is presently paying for European security, what is ignored is a macroscopic view which accounts for opportunity cost, profit sharing, and liabilities that arise. The U.S. role in European security, as we have said, is to secure U.S. interests in Europe.
Euroscepticism, a genus with numerous species, opposes the rise of an EU Army as mentioned, but not only in the UK. Across the EU, the thinking and rationale is – at face value – the same. But beneath the surface, as E.H Carr would likely agree, is a quite opposite dynamic.
Nationalist Euroscepticism has been the most potent force, with other species whose skepticism is rooted in other matters often tagging along. The critical point here is that the more radical the nationalist Euroscepticism, the more likely it is that skeptic views positively a confederal type arrangement between European states on the basis of identity and shared history. They often paint their own alternate solution wherein European states are in some kind of organization that rings nearly identical to the EU itself, (“a single Europe of a hundred banners”), with some notable exceptions such as the financial structures in the EU in the form of the Troika.
And that is the solution: the rise of an EU Army would also be able to support financial independence of the EU from the U.S.-UK financial grip. A truly sovereign EU would also have sovereign financial institutions, which today it lacks. And it is precisely the contemporary financial arrangement that inspires nationalist-driven Euroscepticism. It is only this that could make the EU into the kind of confederation that nationalist Eurosceptics would find acceptable, even desirable.
AUKUS likewise is based on a common historical relationship to Britain, and while oceans still separate the member states, the alliance represents a turn to doctrines descended from spheres of influence as opposed to the universalist values schema which defined the now failed gambit to realize Trans-Atlanticism into a permanent unipolarity.
Both AUKUS and the rise of an EU Army are manifestations of a growing multipolarity, and could be critical to stability and a decrease in the hostilities presently driven by the global ambitions of Atlanticism. While AUKUS formally exists to counter China, it does so on the basis of shared history and spheres of influence. That means that the logic of containing China within such a framework also contains AUKUS. Civilizational spheres such as an Anglo-sphere, or a Eurosphere, or like China (which by itself is a civilization) all set clear borders of legitimacy. This is entirely at odds with the disastrous attempt to build a single world order on the basis of abstract and universal values, dictated from an imperial center.
Educated in the field of IR and IPE at California State University Los Angeles; previously served as a business agent and organizer for the SEIU labor union; has published internationally on subjects of geopolitics, war, and diplomacy; serves as the director of the Belgrade-based Center for Syncretic Studies, and is Chief Editor at Fort Russ News