After the Afghanistan debacle, Berlin and Brussels pursue independent European war policy

Johannes Stern@JSternWSWS 3 September 2021

Germany and the European Union are stepping up their offensive for an independent European war policy after the debacle in Afghanistan. At an informal meeting in Kranj, Slovenia, the EU defence ministers discussed on Thursday the establishment of a rapid reaction force that could also act independently of the US military.

EU defence ministers pose for a group photo in front of the Brdo Congress Centre in Kranj, Slovenia, 2 September 2021 (AP Photo/Darko Bandic)

The US withdrawal from Afghanistan will prompt the EU to establish its own permanent force, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borell said after the meeting.

“It’s clear that the need for more European defence has never been as much evident as today after the events in Afghanistan,” Borrell said. “There are events that catalyse history. Sometimes something happens that pushes history, it creates a breakthrough, and I think the Afghanistan events of this summer are one of these cases.”

The European powers had initially reacted with a mixture of disillusionment and outrage to the withdrawal of US troops and the rapid collapse of the pro-Western puppet regime in Kabul. Now they seek to position themselves so that in the future they will be able to carry out military operations like the one in Afghanistan without Washington’s support.

European defence policy will “only be credible if we are also able to launch complex military operations outside our borders,” the acting EU Commissioner for Internal Market and Industrial Policy Thierry Breton told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. This would require an EU intervention force that could be mobilised quickly, “with all that that implies in terms of logistics, preparations and command structures—and with a view to the risks for those men and women who would be deployed for Europe.”

Even before the meeting in Kranj, Borell had published a guest column in the New York Times. Under the headline “Europe, Afghanistan is Your Wake-up Call,” he pleaded for the establishment of a European military force and a further increase in European defence spending.

“Alongside increasing pivotal military capabilities—airlift and refueling, command and control, strategic reconnaissance and space-based assets—we need forces that are more capable, more deployable and more interoperable,” he wrote, adding, “But we must go further and faster. The European Defence Fund, established to boost the bloc’s defense capabilities, will receive close to 8 billion euros, or $9.4 billion, over the next six years. That should be used to significantly support collaborative research and the development of much-needed defense technologies.”

Borell left no doubt that the EU is not concerned with “human rights” or “democracy,” the propaganda used to justify US-led military interventions in Afghanistan, Libya and Iraq, but with the enforcement of imperialist interests through war.