Sunday, March 06, 2005
Sometimes he's right: New York Times columnist Tom Friedman occasionally makes sense. These occasions start and end when he agrees with me.
Today's column is one of those examples.
But what really concerns me is Europe. Europe's armies were designed for static defense against the Soviet Union. But the primary security challenges to Europe today come from the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa. If you put all the E.U. armies together, they total around two million soldiers in uniform - almost the same size as the U.S. armed forces. But there is one huge difference - only about 5 percent of the European troops have the training, weaponry, logistical and intelligence support and airlift capability to fight a modern, hot war outside of Europe. (In the U.S. it is 70 percent in crucial units.)
The rest of the European troops - some of whom are unionized! - do not have the training or tools to fight alongside America in a hot war. They might be good for peacekeeping, but not for winning a war against a conventional foe. God save the Europeans if they ever felt the need to confront a nuclear-armed Iran. U.S. defense spending will be over $400 billion in 2005. I wish it could be less, but one reason it can't is that the United States of Europe is spending less than half of what we are. And the U.S. and E.U. really are the pillars of global stability.
I note with some amusement Friedman's alarm at unionized troops. Yes, the very idea of having to deal with complaints from the shop steward over the quality of the field rations is amusing, but liberals seldom express disdain for any union.
Friedman, however, does make a valid point. The Europeans are largely useless when it comes to helping maintain order in the world. They cannot project power within Europe, let alone in the Middle East or the Pacific Rim.
The amoral Europeans are going to sell high-tech weapons to an oppressive, communist country with superpower ambitions. There's a chance that someday American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines will give their lives to contain a belligerent communist China -- killed by European-provided technology.
It would be nice if the Europeans were merely useless, but they're not anymore -- they're worse than an inner-city gun dealer who consciously and purposefully provides firearms to thugs and criminals.