Did you see that John Hutton has become the first defence secretary to back a French plan for a European army, branding those who dismiss it as “pathetic”.
“In a wide-ranging interview with The Sunday Times, he said: “I think we’ve got to be pragmatic about those things. Where it can help, we should be part of it.” His support goes beyond the public position of Gordon Brown, the prime minister, and will antagonise those who believe that further European cooperation will undermine Nato by excluding the United States. Nicolas Sarkozy, the French president, has sought to develop Europe’s military structures with new headquarters and rapid reaction forces, each consisting of 1,500 troops from member countries.
So, who will fight and die for the EU? Would you? The prospect of the British Army included amongst the massed ranks of the French and Belgiums may cause Hutton’s heart to flutter – but in truth it is a pathetic idea and the mark of a rabid europhile.
Of course the question of a Euro-army raises a number of interesting questions that Hutton does not answer.
1. Will the citizens of Europe be prepared to PAY the necessary costs for such a major undertaking given existing reluctance to even commit resource to NATO? Higher taxes for a Euro-army strikes me as a unlikely political proposition. The truth is that the US has been underwriting European expenditure on its military for decades and as the US starts to pull back from this, the costs for the Euros will escalate. Given the condition of the European economy, where will the cash come from exactly?
2. Who will the Euro-army fight, exactly? And who will decide? Might it’s remit be more of a function of keeping the citizens of Europe under control – in their own interests, naturally?
3. If there is a Euro-army, why retain a National army? Without a national army, without a national currency, without a national defence of foreign policy, what is a nation?
The truth is that Hutton is whistling in the Euro-breeze but at least it lets us see where the Euro-tyrants would like us to go.