Glyn Morgan at the Chron

by Henry Farrell on July 5, 2005

David Glenn has an “interesting article”: today about Glyn Morgan’s new “book”: on the justifications for EU integration. I’ve just started reading the book (it begins very nicely). Morgan sets out to discomfit both euro-skeptics and most euro-enthusiasts by making a straightforward argument for an European super-state rather than the sort of post-sovereign multilevel fudge preferred by many pro-EU types.

bq. Mr. Morgan invites his reader to imagine that foreign-based terrorists someday launch large-scale attacks in Europe, and that the United States cannot offer much help, because its own military is bogged down in China or Iraq or elsewhere. Without a unitary state and a unified military, he writes, “there would be little that European leaders could — other than fulminate about U.S. isolationism — do about it.” … “Europeans need to confront this brutal choice,” the British-born Mr. Morgan says. “Are they going to remain weak and dependent and maintain their decentralized government units, or are they going to try to become players in the world? And if they’re going to become players in the world, they need to centralize. I think presenting that brutal choice is profoundly annoying to both sides of the debate.”

Morgan will also be doing an “online colloquium”: at the Chronicle on Thursday. I’ll be posting on this more when I finish the book.



bi 07.05.05 at 3:15 pm

I don’t buy this particular argument. Suppose terrorists conduct a “large-scale” attack on European soil — and I assume “large-scale” means something like 9/11. Then where does a unified military come in? Is this unified military supposed to go around bombing random countries and torturing random people like the US is doing now? Or what?

If (touch wood! touch wood!) it’s the _US_ that launches a large-scale invasion on Europe, now that’ll be a good reason to 100% unify…


Sebastian holsclaw 07.05.05 at 3:26 pm

Bi is pretty much right. Europe has decided through its inaction to take a passive stance whereby terrorists are free to train and arm overseas with impunity in the hopes that they can always be stopped at the border. That is why the international commitment to Afghanistan is less than 10,000 troops even though every European country paid lip service to the idea that Afghanistan was the obvious case in the war on terror. This of course won’t work (see for example Spain) but that is the current approach.


jet 07.05.05 at 3:27 pm

It is perfectly conceivable that given a big enough threat, Germany and France could independantly double their military budget without effecting their economies drastactly. That would easily pay for the occupation of several terrorist host nations if the occupation was in desperation.


abb1 07.05.05 at 3:52 pm

It would be nice to have another military superpower, though, otherwise when a bunch of deranged messianic megalomaniacs manage to take over the solo superpower there’s nothing to stop these bastards. Europe would be nice, but it seems that we might soon get something else instead – Sino-Russian axis:

The joint statement says that countries must be allowed to decide autonomously on their internal affairs while international issues should be solved through dialogue and consultations on the basis of multilateralism.

The international community should completely renounce the mentality of confrontation and alliance; there should be no pursuit of monopoly or domination of world affairs; and countries of the world should not be divided into a leading camp and a subordinate camp, said the joint statement.

Every country must be assured of the right to choose its own path of development that fits its national realities, the right toparticipate in international affairs as an equal, and the right todevelopment on an equal footing, it says.

Differences and disputes must be solved through peaceful means rather than through unilateralism or coercion. There should be no use or threatened use of force, says the joint statement.

Only on the basis of universally recognized tenents and norms of international law, and under an impartial and rational world order, can problems facing mankind be solved, says the document.

All countries should strictly observe the principles of mutual respect for each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other’s internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and peaceful coexistence, it says.

Amen, brother Hu.


John Quiggin 07.05.05 at 3:53 pm

The shorter version of this is “if the EU wants to be like the US it must be a federal state” and the Glenn article confirms that this is Morgan’s central thrust. But, except for a small group who see the EU as France writ large, the whole point is that the EU doesn’t want to be like the US.

If you buy Morgan’s general position, the obvious answer is to break up the EU, and look at a tight Franco-German military alliance as the desired counterweight to the US.

Sebastian, IIRC the US Administration made it clear early on that it didn’t want a large European contingent getting in its way in Afghanistan. By the time it (partially) changed its mind, the moment of co-operation had passed.


Brian 07.05.05 at 4:03 pm

Sebastian claims that the small troop deployment from Europe to Afghanistan shows that they don’t take terrorism there seriously. Well maybe. On the other hand, as “a White House official said last October”:

bq. America has 16,000 troops on the ground in Afghanistan and our allies have nearly 12,000 troops there. They are doing an excellent job in difficult terrain. President Bush, his advisors, and the Coalition partners will make decisions on whether there need to be increases or decreases in the number of troops.

It’s not like there’s an order of magnitude difference between American commitment to Afghanistan and European, and it certainly doesn’t sound like Bush is asking for more troops there. (In Iraq on the other hand…)

I bet many European countries have a higher proportion of their population in Afghanistan than America does, and a *much* higher proportion of their military forces. It’s really very hard to use that as an example to show that America takes international terrorism seriously and Europe doesn’t. If America had stayed to secure Afghanistan before moving on to other adventures, I might be inclined to take this argument a little more seriously.


engels 07.05.05 at 4:03 pm

Europe has decided through its inaction to take a passive stance whereby terrorists are free to train and arm overseas with impunity in the hopes that they can always be stopped at the border.

I think you are putting words into their mouths quite liberally here. Noone said that terrorists “can always be stopped at the border”, so citing Madrid as a lesson to them is unfair (and rather crude). I think you will also acknowledge that there are ways of reducing terrorists freedom “to train and arm overseas” other than invading and occupying particular countries. (Or do you think there are no foreign terrorists outside of Afghanistan and Iraq?) So I think the above is an extreme mischaracterisation of the European approach.


Glyn Morgan 07.05.05 at 4:06 pm

Short answers to John Quiggan:

(i) Re: his point: “the EU doesn’t want to be like the US.” That’s certainly true at the moment. But then Europeans must be willing to pay the price of remaining dependent for their security on the US, a situation many Europeans currently find intolerable.

(ii) Re his point: “a tight Franco-German military alliance as the desired counterweight to the US.” That wouldn’t work, because it would result in other European states balancing againt the Franco-Germans. A disaster.


bi 07.05.05 at 4:09 pm

Indeed. And note that the US attacked Afghanistan only _after_ terrorists successfully trained and armed themselves with impunity and blasted the Twin Towers to smithereens. A fat lot of use for a unified military.


bi 07.05.05 at 4:12 pm

Europeans are dependent on the US for their internal security?


bi 07.05.05 at 4:16 pm

Glyn Morgan: since when were Europeans dependent on the US for their internal security?

Sebastian Holsclaw: the US attacked Afghanistan only _after_ the terrorists successfully trained and armed themselves with impunity and did 9/11. A unified military is truly useful indeed…


Barry 07.05.05 at 4:18 pm

“If (touch wood! touch wood!) it’s the US that launches a large-scale invasion on Europe, now that’ll be a good reason to 100% unify…”

Posted by bi

Except what will matter then is nukes, pure and simple. Several hundred missiles, with the ability to absorb a US first strike and deliver an annihilating return blow.

Assuming, of course, that the USA doesn’t deploy a working missile defence system, which seems to be a good be for the next decade.


Kevin Donoghue 07.05.05 at 4:36 pm

I hope the book is better than the article suggests. The notion that states should build up their military might in preparation for the day when a small bunch of crazies fly in from the far side of the world in order to demolish a building is silly. That’s not the purpose of buying tanks and fighter jets.


Glyn Morgan 07.05.05 at 5:09 pm

Kevin Donoghue: You are right. It would be tremendously silly to embark on a project of European political integration merely to ward off, as you put it, “a few crazies” flying in from the far side of the earth. But that’s not my argument. Rather my argument is a more general one about security and dependence. At the moment, Europe remains dependent for much of its external security on the United States. I imagined (in the concluding chapter) how Europe would fare if the US were to become isolationist. I then imagined a variety of scenarios where Europe in either its present intergovernmental set up or in a post-sovereign multi-level set-up–the aspiration of many Euroenthusiasts–would face insuperable problems.


Greg 07.05.05 at 5:12 pm

I’m not convinced we do depend on the US for defensive purposes. Sure, that’s the party line, but there’s no real evidence that we can rely on them nowadays.

I was at a bizarre conference a few years back where Wes Clark has Joe Ralston, then NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, Europe, explain why America needed that silly missile shield thing.

His explanation? It’d be good for Europe. America would be more likely to help Europe in the case of Paris or London being threatened with a nuclear attack if she knew that New York would be safe from retaliation.

Most people in the room realised the implications of that. The mutual defence clause in NATO is meaningless. America’s not a reliable ally, but less a reliable leader of an alliance.

The nuclear umbrella is nothing but a diplomatic fiction.


John Quiggin 07.05.05 at 5:30 pm

Obviously, I’ll have to read the book, or maybe rely on Henry’s judgement when he reads it.

But I’d be interested to see it spelt out what threat the US defends Europe against. Clearly not nuclear attack (no defence feasible and European nuclear powers can retaliate) or conventional attack (most major European countries are individually stronger than Russia or any other potential attacker now).

So I’m inferring that what is really meant is that Europe relies on the US for long-distance force projection as in Afghanistan. There’s something to this but only in a limited range. European powers can do this kind of thing on a small scale, and Iraq shows that the US capacity is bounded at quite a low level. The EU is currently planning a modest expansion of this capacity, which will probably, like most EU things, develop slowly but arrive in the end.

So, like other commentators, I don’t buy the claim that Europe depends on the US for defence. Without this, and assuming zero probability of actual military conflict between Europe and the US I don’t see where the need for a unitary state comes from.

Maybe Glyn Morgan can tell me if I’m on the wrong track here


Jim Harrison 07.05.05 at 6:02 pm

The E.U. will never be a unitary state on the model of the United States for the obvious reason that its citizens speak a half a dozen different languages.


Henry 07.05.05 at 6:14 pm

bq. The E.U. will never be a unitary state on the model of the United States for the obvious reason that its citizens speak a half a dozen different languages.

Ahem. India? Switzerland? China?


Jim Harrison 07.05.05 at 6:19 pm

India, Switzerland, and China are hardly very much like the U.S. The Switzerland example is hopeful, though. I’d love to see the E.U. develop into a confederation of great defensive strength and very little offensive strength.


Neel Krishnaswami 07.05.05 at 6:22 pm

So, I thought that the thing that all the cool kids in the blogosphere were saying that a volunteer military check on imperial misadventure, because not that many people are willing to sign up to die in pointless foreign wars. It seems to me that you get a similar, more powerful, institutional check on the EU’s ability to start wars because you’ve got to coordinate 25 of them (well, 3 of them).

Now, if you believe that American foreign policy is over-inclined to use military force, then why would you want to make the EU more capable of making the same kinds of mistakes the US is? A post-sovereign multilevel fudge that serves as a glorified free trade and immigration zone seems like a better thing than a big state.


Sebastian Holsclaw 07.05.05 at 10:28 pm

“So I’m inferring that what is really meant is that Europe relies on the US for long-distance force projection as in Afghanistan. There’s something to this but only in a limited range. European powers can do this kind of thing on a small scale, and Iraq shows that the US capacity is bounded at quite a low level.”

I think you should investigate the European difficulties in Bosnia and Kosovo a little bit more unless you count right next door as beyond the limited range.


mq 07.06.05 at 12:26 am

The history of the past few decades (and I suspect the history of the next few as well) shows that massive projection of force overseas does more to create terrorism than to stop it. Good police work can stop it, Europe needs to integrate that cross-nationally but I suspect in many ways they already have.

What military threat will Europe face in the forseeable future that some combination of France, Germany, and Britain working together can’t easily handle?

And what percentage of Sebastian’s comments (like the first one in this thread) are clearly silly and open to immediate disproof?


John Quiggin 07.06.05 at 2:42 am

Sebastian, limits of scale have been more important than limits of range, as this story of French troops rescuing American schoolchildren in Cote d’Ivoire makes clear.

The EU’s failure in Bosnia led to attempts to expand capacity to respond to events of this kind, notably the European Rapid Reaction Force. It remains to be seen how effective this will be, but there’s no obvious reason to think it couldn’t handle Bosnia-size emergencies in the future.


Elliott Oti 07.06.05 at 3:21 am

I don’t think Holsclaw’s comment (nr 21) is silly at all. It’s spot on. I agree with Quiggin that scale is more important than range wrt to defensive issues (as opposed to global-scale hegemonic aspirations), but the ERRF is at the moment largely unproven vapourware.

There’s a large gap between US policy re independent EU military policy, which has been to thwart it at every available opportunity, and US rhetoric on the same, especially the red meat thrown at the local conservative audiences, which is the exact opposite. Unless this gap is resolved one way or the other, or else explicitly acknowledged in EU defence policy, the ERRF will essentially be NATO-lite, and remain just as ineffective.


des von bladet 07.06.05 at 4:17 am

India? Switzerland? China?

Belgium, man! Belgium!


Mrs Tilton 07.06.05 at 4:24 am

Belgium, indeed. And need I mention Ireland, whose population is divided among speakers of English, Gaeilge and Cavan?


Tim Worstall 07.06.05 at 5:04 am

A unified and powerful military is precisely why I think a superstate would be a bad idea. Once the boys get their toys they’ll use them. All this talk of Power has uncomfortable overtones of pre-WWI. We’re a Great Power so we need a Navy and Army, then the others start to build against that threat and so on.
US the global hegemon? Fine, let them pay for it.


soru 07.06.05 at 5:42 am

It would be nice to have another military superpower, though, otherwise when a bunch of deranged messianic megalomaniacs manage to take over the solo superpower there’s nothing to stop these bastards.

It only takes one bunch of deranged messianic megalomaniacs in charge of a superpower to make the world an arbitrarily bad place.

Two superpowers, twice the chance of there being one or more DMMs. If the DMM has a 50% chance of beating the other superpower, there’s no net gain in expected number of people not ruled by a DMM, but still increased likelihood of war.

And that’s ignoring the possibility of a WWI-style war between two non-DMM superpowers.



nikolai 07.06.05 at 5:57 am

I haven’t read the book (yet). But – from what I’ve seen – I suspect most the “problems” are hypothetical. You can suppose that the US could be incapable of providing external security because its military is bogged down somewhere, or if it were to become isolationist. But that is supposing an awful lot.

I’d also note that defence spending is decided democratically, and the only two nations in the EU with serious millitaries are the UK and France. If an EU-wide policy was instituted then how could we be sure that their would be an improvement on the current state of affairs? As opposed to the current situation being dilluted down.


jet 07.06.05 at 7:49 am

…and Iraq shows that the US capacity is bounded at quite a low level.

Not to quibble, but Iraq proves quite the contrary. If the US had decided to leave Iraq after the first month of the war, Iraq would not have been a threat to anyone, the Iraqi military would not have been able to put down a US armed Kurdish rebellion, and the US would have required few assets to make sure Iraq stayed in chaos. The only thing tying down the US in Iraq is humanitarian causes, the military’s main job in Iraq was mostly finished in two weeks, proving the contrary to your statement.


abb1 07.06.05 at 8:19 am

Soru, you have a point.

It would be interesting to build a model and analyze what kind of world is more stable and less dangerous – unipolar or bipolar.

Or maybe what we need is Orwell’s world with permanent low-intensity war between Oceania, Eurasia and Eastasia. After all, even back in the “peaceful” 1990s every day there were about 1,000 soldiers killed somewhere on the planet and about 5,000 civilians…


Ray 07.06.05 at 8:29 am

Jet, this gets back to the earlier question – what was the justification for the Iraq invasion? What goal was the US army trying to achieve, such that it could have withdrawn after a month and been successful?

Goal 1: Remove the threat of Saddam using WMDs?
My granny could have done that as well as the US army, and she’s dead.
Goal 2: Remove the possibility of Iraq supplying WMDs to terrorists?
Ok, assume that there were WMDs in Iraq. Unless the one-month occupancy managed to destroy all the WMDs, a civil war makes it more likely, not less, that any WMDs will fall into the hands of terrorists.
Goal 3: Remove an odious regime?
Would a one-month campaign have been successful, given that Saddam wasn’t found for six months? Even if it was, how much of an improvement would the succeeding regime have been?
Goal 4: Create a democratic beacon of light and hope, rescuing the poor Iraqis?
Not noticeably successful after 2 years, let alone 1 month.

The US and UK govts publically stated that their goal was not just to get Saddam out of power, but that’s the only job that the army could have done in one month.


glyn morgan 07.06.05 at 8:43 am

Re: John Quiggin. I will try to address these issues in more detail in David Glenn’s colloquy organized on the book tomorrow. But I think that a lot of people here are deluding themselves on (i) the capacities of European states to project power abroad in the face of either US isolationism or US obstructionism; and (ii) the desirability of European states lacking the capacity to project power abroad. Doubtless, there is more to security than the capacity to project power abroad. But I don’t believe that either Europe or the World benefits from a single Superpower. More generally, I don’t think Europeans ought to depend as much as they do on the United States. Dependence is itself a form of insecurity. Europeans have a responsibility to free themselves from this humiliating form of dependence and to fashion a more humane and decent global order. For that, they have to become a Superpower. Like many Europeans, I was embarrassed by Europe’s ineffectual dithering in the face of the destruction of Bosnia. The Idea of a European Superstate emerged, at least in part, out of that embarrassment.


des von bladet 07.06.05 at 9:04 am

Did I miss the bit where a combined military capability necessarily implies a “Superstate”? Or does this “Superstate” malarkey begin and end as an International Relations pipedream?

(Which is not necessarily sillier than the old pipedream of a Federal European state predicated on the hegemony of French bureaucrats, I suppose. My own plan of reunifying the Holy Roman Empire under my own leadership doesn’t seem so silly anymore, by comparison. Although admittedly I have yet to be invited to do a colloquy at the “Chron”, whatever that is.)


jet 07.06.05 at 1:09 pm

Forget Bosnia, I worry about a unified Europe because of Rwanda. Does no one remember the new Rwandan government claiming it was France who aided and abetted the Hutu militia? And you might say that was international politics, well in the past, but then ask yourself when was the last time Robert Mugabe got a guided tour of France from Chirac.

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