A European Army

There’s a nascent move afoot to create a European army to which, presumably, all the member nations of the EU would contribute men, equipment, and money.  German Chancellor Angela Merkel suggested to the European Parliament last Tuesday that such a force

would complement NATO.

I’ll leave aside the question of how the EU’s member nations would pay for such an establishment when they’re having so much trouble finding ways—or reasons—to pay for their commitment (of all of 2% of their respective GDPs) to NATO.

There’s another question that badly wants answers.  While the US—and the free individual nations of Europe and of Asia—have benefitted from the existence of their standing armies, our own Founders had misgivings about such an establishment, to the point that for some years after our own birth, we had neither standing army nor standing navy.  Such a thing was, they feared, the stuff of tyranny.  Even though the formal raison d’etre of a standing army was, and is, outward-looking and for defense of the nation against foreign threat, a standing, professional military facility (they feared) ultimately would become a domestic threat: Government would come to use the thing to suppress and then to oppress the people over whom such a well-equipped Government ruled.

So far, those fears have not been realized in those nations where the people remain free enough to choose at more or less regular intervals the persons they will have as members of their governments.  Such free peoples have checked the power of their governments.

But what of the European Union?  That organization does not have a universally freely elected governing body.  The European Parliament, to be sure, is elected by the citizens of the member nations.  However, that body has no governing authority; it can only make recommendations.  The real power of the EU’s Government is shared among the European Council, which consists of the heads of state of the EU’s member nations; the President of that Council; and the President of the European Commission, whose members are European Council appointees.  That’s a lot of power concentrated away from the will and the choices of the citizens of the member nations.

It’s a power that gets freely and broadly exercised, too, as illustrated by the EU’s Government presuming to reach inside a member nation—Italy—and dictate to that nation what its domestic budget must be.  Were [Italy] to remain intransigent, and were the EU to have its own standing army, what might be an outcome of a future dispute between [Italy] and the EU?

The peoples of Europe, the citizens of the individual member nations, need to think very carefully whether they want to arm so well a system of governance over which they have so little say.

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