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Summary: European Intervention Options for International Security - ESDP Crisis Reaction Facing Reliability

Lothar Rühl

Intervention for crisis control and conflict termination has been on the agenda of international politics for a decade; after the terrorist attacks of 11th September 2001 "pre-emption” has been added to it as an anticipating prevention of attacks. Since 1993 at the latest the EU member states have been confronted with the problem of intervention/counter-proliferation. Since then the three wars in the Balkans have demanded too much of Europe both in military and political matters and have confirmed that security can neither be preserved nor re-established even along EU-borders without the USA. EU-Europe has neither strategic reach nor military intervention forces for crisis control to cover a radius of action reaching beyond the Balkans, and thus does not have the resources for covering its political ambitions.

Under these circumstances Europe has three options: 1. It can limit its political goals in Europe to military EU external frontiers not beyond the Greek Aegean Sea and Cyprus.

2. It can pursue rearmament within EU and NATO by optimizing defence spending and military structures, combined with a common planning of armament and armed forces within ESDP. This might be realistic as far as planning is concerned, but it would require constant political and financial support.

3. It can focus all its efforts and power on cooperation - as close as possible - of NATO and EU, with priority for NATO-missions, with focus on common military command and forces structures on land, at sea, and in the air, with strong US shares, subject to the North Atlantic Council’s political authority, according to the models. This would save means and strength, relieves the relationships between the EU and NATO and the EU and USA, and would simplify the relations with Turkey, Norway, and - outside the alliance - concerning their participation, also with Ukraine and Russia.

Escalation is the basic law for an intervention. In the case of the Bosnia conflict Europe did not want to face an intervention, if only because of the lack of Europe’s escalation capability. Europe’s ultima ratio way of thinking, which was marked by the conflict between the western and the eastern world - including the nuclear superpower Soviet Union - had been determined by the nuclear deterrence strategy and was correct from that point of view, but it was not transferable to conflicts like those in disintegrating Yugoslavia, and so was actually a logical mistake made out of fear of confrontation. Thus, the European policy contributed considerably to this war, to the mass murders committed in its course, and to the expulsions.

External escalation as a method of intervention requires rapid and long-term intervention. This is the only way how to focus the intervention on relevant and attainable objectives and at the same time to limit it territorially to an acceptable level of military engagement and intensity. Prerequisites are plain political goals, unmistakable military orders containing attainable operative objectives, unity of mission, military responsibility and command, and finally no further political interventions in military events. These must be applied everywhere and at all times when armed forces are put into action, no matter for which political purpose.

Escalation control in EU-operations will only be attainable with the help of NATO in the foreseeable future, especially in the case of conflicts with a deployment of strong task forces, such as several brigade battle groups, and especially if they are deployed far from Europe, or in Europe, and if Turkey participates, in operations at sea, in airborne and air strike operations. Nevertheless, in the long run Europe is in need of relatively autonomous intervention capability in order to control its periphery in the Mediterranean area and in the Near East.

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Eigentümer und Herausgeber: Bundesministerium für Landesverteidigung | Roßauer Lände 1, 1090 Wien
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