Monday, June 28, 2004

The Unimportance of Europe

In his latest article, Wretchard demolishes the idea that Europe is of any long-term importance. Here are some choice excerpts:

First, NATO is for the most part the American military, other nations contributing very little:
" the basic problem of the alliance ... is cash. While the US contributes 3.3% of its GDP to national defence, 12 of the 19 pre-2004 Nato allies contribute less than 2% of theirs. To look at it another way, the US picks up the tab for 64% of Nato military expenditures ($348.5 million, 2002), while all other allies together contribute only 36% ($196.0 million). For their part, European governments are facing budget shortfalls and budget pressure from ballooning pension costs.

What comes out of this is a capabilities gap. Of 1.4 million soldiers under NATO arms in October 2003, allies other than the US contributed all of 55,000. Nearly all allies lack forces which can be projected away from the European theatre. SACEUR General James Jones testified before Congress in March 2004 that only 3-4% of European forces were deployable for expeditions. ... Allies other than the U.S. have next to no precision strike capabilities, although these are slowly improving."

Second, the thrust of world economic power and energy is moving to Asia:
" Today, China is the most obvious power on the rise. But it is not alone: India and other Asian states now boast growth rates that could outstrip those of major Western countries for decades to come. China's economy is growing at more than nine percent annually, India's at eight percent, and the Southeast Asian "tigers" have recovered from the 1997 financial crisis and resumed their march forward. China's economy is expected to be double the size of Germany's by 2010 and to overtake Japan's, currently the world's second largest, by 2020. If India sustains a six percent growth rate for 50 years, as some financial analysts think possible, it will equal or overtake China in that time."

Third, Eurocentric American leaders who are still romantic about World War II (a romanticism fueled by endless Spielberg movies) are not dealing with the world as it is:
"The crux of the problem, of course, is that the immediate post-World War 2 world and its associated institutions has faded into history. Yet many politicians, perhaps misled by their own youthful memories, continue to act and behave on subconscious assumptions half a century old. The accusation that President Bush was guilty of willful dereliction by not making the United Nations, France and Germany equal partners in the War on Terror is rooted in an inflated conception of their actual importance. Whatever these prestige these hoary old names may conjure, in practical terms their cooperation is probably less vital than that of Pakistan or Israel. The Foreign Affairs article notes how the temples of international diplomacy are infested with discredited gods:

At the international level, Asia's rising powers must be given more representation in key institutions, starting with the UN Security Council. This important body should reflect the emerging configuration of global power, not just the victors of World War II. The same can be said of other key international bodies. A recent Brookings Institution study observed, "There is a fundamental asymmetry between today's global reality and the existing mechanisms of global governance, with the G-7/8 -- an exclusive club of industrialized countries that primarily represents Western culture -- the prime expression of this anachronism."


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