Sputnik spoke to Dick Zandee, a senior research fellow at the Clingendael Institute, to find out what other purposes the force may serve.
Sputnik: I know that the plan for a join European force of some kind has been in the pipeline for some time now, but do you think there might be increased enthusiasm for this among European statesmen right now because of questions over President Trump’s commitment to NATO and European security more generally?
Dick Zandee: It certainly plays a role of course, but the issue of Europe taking more responsibility for its own security is not a new item. It is related to the old issue of burden sharing, that Europe has to do more and that not the whole burden is taken up by the US. This was also discussed under president Obama; but of course under Trump the issue has been put way higher on the political agenda. A lot of Trump rhetoric through his Tweeting, his press statements of course, has put a lot more emphasis on the issue. So, the awareness across Europe that something should happen has grown quite considerably over the past few months or years.
Sputnik: This new, so-called crises response force, cites crises near European borders as its main operational purpose, is that ultimately not just a roundabout way of referring to Russia?
Dick Zandee: Well I think everything comes in play; if the Americans are talking about more responsibility to be taken up by the Europeans, they clearly refer to the instability to the Eastern borders of the NATO territory, so European territory. They also clearly refer to the South, where a lot of instability is happening in the Middle East, from Afghanistan through Iraq to Syria but also in the Northern rim of Africa. The whole Sahel zone from the west to the east is very unstable and is a breeding ground for terrorism and migration, which affects Europe as well. I think they are pointing to what is called the ‘arch of instability’ around Europe.
Sputnik: We’ve heard talk about the force looking to also operate beyond Europe’s immediate geopolitical frontiers, in parts of Africa for example. Is this not all a bit reminiscent of the doctrine of so-called armed humanitarian intervention, which so many now perceive as having been a failed enterprise?
Dick Zandee: It is a French president Macron driven initiative. The French of course are the ones who are taking care primarily, who are taking care of instability in the Sahel zone. They were the first to intervene in Mali in 2013, when the country was threatened to be overtaken by terrorists. They were the ones first intervening in the Central African Republican when things fell apart over there. And they have forces all over the Sahel zone. They are looking for European support for what they are doing, which and I think rightly so, they are saying is in the interests, not only of France, but of the whole of Europe, because that is where you have to stop the conflict, that is where you have to stop the breeding grounds for terrorism and organised crime, human trafficking and human smuggling into Europe. So the initiative by Macron dating back to last year is basically aimed at that, at generating support from other European countries who are willing to do so to support the French efforts in Africa.
The views expressed in this article are those of the speaker, and do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.