Overblog Suivre ce blog
Editer l'article Administration Créer mon blog
10 décembre 2014 3 10 /12 /décembre /2014 12:50
photo Composante Air

photo Composante Air

 

9th December 2014  – by Sven Biscop * - europeangeostrategy.org



Belgium believes in European defence. This belief is shared by political, diplomatic and military decision-makers and public opinion alike. That is a strength, for in the habitual absence of elaborate strategic documents it provides its defence policy with at least some sense of purpose. For Belgium, maintaining a strong transatlantic alliance passes through the building of a strong Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) in the European Union (EU), which de facto is the European pillar of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) but can act autonomously as well. This strong belief is also a weakness however, for a belief is seldom questioned or justified through sound argumentation: one believes and that’s that. As a result ritualistic professions of allegiance continue, but the original purpose of the doctrine tends to be forgotten. Belgium has always been a leading theologian of European defence, playing a key role in developing concepts such as ‘pooling and sharing’, but the discourse is becoming sterile and losing the power to convert the heretic.

Belgium has always been a leading theologian of European defence

Instead an unwarranted trust that miracles will happen has taken shape. Whenever budget cuts are announced, as is the case today, politicians of all colours revert to the same mantra: salvation through European defence. If only we unite our forces with those of our European brethren, we will see the miracle of the multiplication of the capabilities. Alas, this stance overlooks the fact that for them to be multiplied, there have to be some capabilities in the first place. Military marriages tend to be traditional: no dowry, no wedding. Military cooperation takes place where a win-win situation is created and all parties benefit from coordinating or even integrating their capabilities with each other. The more capabilities Belgium scraps from its arsenal, the less attractive it will be for potential partners. For lack of investment Belgium even runs the risk that existing partnerships will unravel; our partners are already eying us suspiciously. The integration of the Dutch and Belgian navies is one of the best examples of far-reaching yet maximally flexible defence cooperation in Europe – but if Belgium cannot replace its two frigates alongside the Netherlands it will be imperilled.

What are needed now are acts of devotion. Before it can expect any miracles, Belgium must be seen to be practising its belief. That cannot be done on alms alone. At the very least, Belgium should maintain its defence budget at the same level, and envisage a long-term investment plan in function of the strategic vision that the defence minister has been tasked to produce. The minimum objective ought to be obvious: to maintain at least one significant capability that can operate across the spectrum, including combat operations, in army, navy and air force. That will give any future Belgian government maximal flexibility. If Belgium abandons this range of capabilities and opts for an entirely non-combatant air force for example, governments when requested to participate in operations may find that they are no longer able even when they are willing. Or worse, for lack of fighter aircraft they may come under pressure to deploy land forces in a risky situation in which they would rather not, if participation in the operation is imperative.

Belgium must be seen to be practising its belief in European defence

Abandoning yet more capabilities will eliminate options for defence cooperation. Vice versa, cooperation is the only way of maintaining a broader range of capabilities. Any future fighter capacity for example can be integrated with a partner or partners to the same extent as the Belgian navy is with that of the Netherlands. Then Belgium will see that miracles can be engineered – if the fee is paid. And the more we are seen to be practising, the more our sermons in favour of European defence will be heard by other, hitherto less convinced members of the congregation. To that end Belgium should also invest in some of the crucial EU-level projects (such as air-to-air refuelling and drones) of the European Defence Agency, an institution that it is keen to promote.

Capabilities must be acquired for a purpose, of course. It is not always clear how to understand the trinity of Belgium’s belief in European defence, and in the Charter of the United Nations (which implies that action must be taken when it is violated), and its strategic culture that is strongly pacifist (which goes for all political parties as well as the public). Yet of late Belgium has participated prominently in the air campaigns over Libya and Iraq, in the naval campaign against piracy, and in the training mission in Mali (though it was conspicuously absent in the Central African Republic). If Belgium can maintain a consistent contribution whenever Europe decides that responsibility must be assumed (including for significant land operations) it appears therefore that even this mystery can be resolved.


This article is part of the “National Perspectives and CSDP” special focus series being published by European Geostrategy. It is the first contribution from a Belgian perspective. Read more about the series

 

* Prof. Sven Biscop is a Senior Editor of European Geostrategy. He is also Director of the ‘Europe in the World Programme’ at Egmont – Royal Institute for International Relations in Brussels. He writes here in a personal capacity.

Partager cet article

Repost 0

commentaires

Présentation

  • : RP Defense
  • RP Defense
  • : Web review defence industry - Revue du web industrie de défense - company information - news in France, Europe and elsewhere ...
  • Contact

Recherche

Articles Récents

  • News review for Industry - European Defence Agency
    source European Defence Agency If you want to subscribe to the News Review, or if you want to stop receiving the News review: News4Ind@eda.europa.eu News of the News EDA Study on the Impact of REACH & CLP European Chemical Regulations on the Defence Sector:...
  • Chronique culturelle - 13 Février 2017
    13 février 1960 explosion de la première bombe atomique française 13.02.2017 source JFP 13 février 1692 : massacre du clan Mac Donald dans la Glencoe (Ecosse).Le protestant Guillaume d’Orange ayant mis en fuite le catholique Jacques II, les chefs de clans...
  • Le PGHM et le GAM s’entraînent ensemble au secours en montagne
    Equipement de passage en neige - photo GAM Armée de Terre 07.02.2016 source 27e BIM Le lundi 13 février 2017 se déroulera un entraînement conjoint entre le peloton de gendarmerie de haute montagne (PGHM) et le groupement d’aguerrissement montagne (GAM)...
  • ITW SDBR : général Vincent Desportes, Professeur des Universités associé à Sciences Po Paris, Ancien directeur de l’Ecole de Guerre
    23.01.2017 par Alain Establier - SECURITY DEFENSE Business Review N°164 SDBR : Quel regard portez-vous sur la Défense de la France ? Vincent Desportes* : A l'issue de cette mandature, nous voyons un empilement d'actions réactives, à vocations plus politiciennes...
  • Chronique culturelle 9 Janvier
    Hussards du régiment de Bercheny en 1776 09.01.2017 source JFP 9 janvier 1778 : mort du créateur des régiments de Hussards (Luzancy – près de Meaux). Emigré hongrois et excellent capitaine au service de la France, Ladislas Ignace de Bercheny , obtient...
  • Chronique culturelle 04 Jan.
    Insigne général des Troupes de Forteresse de la Ligne Maginot 04.01.2016 source JFP 4 janvier 1894 : signature de l’alliance franco-russe. Préparée par de nombreuses activités bilatérales dans les années précédentes, une convention militaire secrète est...
  • Chronique culturelle 03 Jan.
    Napoléon en Egypte par Jean-Léon Gérome 03.01.2017 source JFP 3 janvier : Sainte Geneviève, patronne de la gendarmerie. Issue de la noblesse gallo-romaine du IVe siècle, elle convainc les habitants de Lutèce de ne pas livrer leur ville à Attila, roi des...
  • Au Levant, contre Daech avec les Forces Spéciales
    photo Thomas Goisque www.thomasgoisque-photo.com Depuis plus de deux ans, les hommes du C.O.S (Commandement des Opérations Spéciales) sont déployés au Levant et mènent, en toute discrétion, des opérations contre l’Etat islamisque.Au nord de l’Irak, ils...
  • Les blessés en Opérations extérieures ne prennent pas de vacances !
    Source CTSA Pendant la période des fêtes de fin d'années, le nombre de donneurs diminue dangereusement. Le site de Clamart du Centre de transfusion sanguine des armées (CTSA) invite fortement les donneurs des communes proches à profiter des vacances de...
  • Interview SDBR de Gaël-Georges Moullec, Historien
    photo SDBR 20.12.2016 par Alain Establier - « SECURITY DEFENSE Business Review » n°162 SDBR: Comment va la Russie aujourd’hui? Gaël-Georges Moullec * : Il n’y a plus d’ascenseur social dans la Russie d’aujourd’hui, ce qui est un problème moins connu,...

Categories