The EU multi-ethnic European military force will only be effective on paper

Published: September 19, 2016
Email

Acts of terrorism on European soil have diverted the focus of national defence inwards. PHOTO: AFP.

The European Union (EU) seems set for another cul-de-sac of quarrels over the hastily tossed military salad of EU battle groups with rotating battalions and leadership. Accordingly, Hungary and the Czech Republic have openly called for the creation of an EU army, strongly opposed by the United Kingdom. On this issue, the Council of Europe would be well advised to define policy, delegate the business to France, and sit back.

Four issues have made a re-evaluation of the need and role of European direct military intervention an imperative of defence and security which only French expertise can ensure.

Firstly, acts of terrorism on European soil have diverted the focus of national defence inwards. France and Belgium have deployed assault troops in passive roles outside some anticipated targets. The others are guarded by optimism while the professional consequences of assaulters playing watchmen are beyond debate.

Secondly, Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdoğan and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, while playing chess with each other, are also playing doubles opposite NATO and the EU in an inversion of the Crimean War alliances of 1853 – 1856.

Thirdly, on 20 July, 1974, in pursuit of its perceived national interest, Turkey, a twenty-three year old member of NATO, took unilateral military action in Cyprus against Greece, a fellow member of the alliance. NATO membership is no guarantee against a repeat performance.

Fourthly, Brexit and its possible domino effect has cast a shadow of uncertainty on the deployment of Britain’s professional warriors at the behest of EU policy.

That leaves France with its flagship 185-year-old Foreign Legion of Beau Geste fame, a multi-ethnic and multi-cultural military resource envied for its operational performance.

Among the four factors mentioned earlier, terrorism constitutes the most immediate threat to a civil society and rule of law. It is pretty certain that there will be direct action before this causes a permanent schism in western societies. Wiser heads will consider handling the civilian body count in a war of attrition by suspending the zero-casualty expectation and preparing the requisite body-bags.

The certainty of American intervention is hostage to the results of the 2016 presidential election. Donald Trump has already announced his intention of a pay-your-way, rent-a-cop relationship with allies. Hillary Clinton’s social media foreign policy, seeking to avoid a head-on collision, midwifed the Arab Spring that never was, inadvertently fostering the creation of ISIS. Chuck her staunch belief in “American exceptionalism” into the cauldron and you’ve got a lethal brew.

That leaves Europe’s battle groups struggling to define their identity, the Erdoğan-Putin chess doubles, Turkey’s precedent of invading Cyprus, and the possible ripple effect of Brexit. Brussels technocrats need to understand that a cohesive military force is the reflection of a national identity and not the other way round. They don’t need to look far.

In the Foreign Legion, France has honed its experience in recruiting, training and leading foreign born nationals mixed with a single-digit minority of its own citizens. There is no pressure on a Légionnaire to become culturally French, or to become a citizen. Serving legionnaires do not sing the national anthem, La Marseillaise, but Le Boudin — their own hymn of a black sausage with a teasing whiff of sodomy, born in the sands of the Sahara!

Neither do they swear allegiance to France.

The motto Legio Patria Nostra, means The Legion is my Homeland (not France or the legionnaire’s birth-land). Legionnaires are managed and led without a patriotic or ideological footprint. The magic lies in the selection, training and standard of leadership which causes commanders to be adopted by their command. They will fight, kill and die under his name — platoons and companies are identified by the name of the serving commander.

The EU as it is cannot create a multi-ethnic European military force – tossing a few units of member countries is only effective on paper!

Ask the Brussels Bureaucrats drunk on the Lisbon Accords to raise an equivalent multi-ethnic European Intervention Force and their Alpha and Omega will be euro-centric semantics seeking to subsume national identities, thereby threatening the identity of the European recruits. Brussels will gleefully impose revolving commands and infiltrate multi-level politicised decisions to turn it into NATO’s Lambda laughingstock.

Task the Foreign Legion with the mission and they will single-mindedly whip into shape a streamlined, cousin branch as a European Legion. And only the Legion will be able to maintain the professional quality of such a force.

The problem for the EU is in accepting the French lead in matters military to avoid bickering and obtain a credible strike force.

In return, though, the apostate Brits will stop playing hard to get and actually salivate to jump on every available bandwagon at the prodding of their American mentors.

Azam Gill

Azam Gill

The author is a novelist, analyst and retired Lecturer from Toulouse University. He served in the French Foreign Legion, French Navy and the Punjab Regiment. He has authored nine books. He blogs at writegill.com/

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.