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[*] posted on 23-5-2018 at 01:16 PM

Former US diplomat accuses Trump of causing ‘significant damage’ to EU relations

By: Martin Banks   8 hours ago

U.S. President Trump has questioned the EU’s global significance and called NATO “obsolete.” Here, American soldiers await the beginning of a welcoming ceremony of NATO troops in Poland. (Wojtek Radwanski/AFP via Getty Images)

BRUSSELS ― The U.S. president has been accused by America’s former top diplomat in Europe of causing “significant damage” to the country’s security relationship with the European Union.

In a speech in the European Parliament in Brussels, Anthony Gardner, formerly the U.S. ambassador to the EU, gave a withering assessment of President Donald Trump, saying he wanted to dispel the “myths” of Trump’s foreign policy.
Gardner’s fierce criticism comes in the wake of Trump’s questioning of the EU’s global significance and past dismissal of NATO as “obsolete.”

In his speech to members of the European Parliament, Gardner likened Trump to Italian dictator Benito Mussolini and claimed that his foreign policy had put the U.S.-EU security relationship “at risk.”

“My grandfather Bruno Luzzatto fled Italian fascism and a man, Benito Mussolini, who wanted to ‘Make Italy Great Again,’ but wound up destroying his country. My grandfather witnessed what happens when the institutions of a democracy, including a free media and judiciary, are undermined. He decided to emigrate and speak out when some members of his family stayed to collaborate and advance their careers,” Gardner said.

EU security and defense capabilities are currently being beefed up with a network of new defense programs. These include the Permanent Structured Cooperation defense agreement, which EU commissioners have described as a “precursor to an EU military.” PESCO countries would combine resources to develop new weapons and undertake joint missions.

Some fear an extensive EU defense union, another relatively new initiative, outside NATO structures could trigger Trump to pull support for the Western alliance.

The potential creation of an EU army also remains a highly contentious issue.

“This administration incorrectly assumes that the EU’s military missions and plans to acquire greater responsibilities in the security field are a threat to NATO. This is false: These missions and plans are complementary, not competitive, to those of NATO,” Gardner told a public hearing on U.S.-EU relations, organized by the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee.

“I spent a great deal of time during my mandate in Brussels to promote agreements that facilitated the sale of military goods and services, and the provision of confidential military intelligence and geospatial imagery, from the U.S. to the EU.” Gardner added.

“These agreements enhanced our joint security. The four-star generals in command of our forces in Africa have agreed that the EU’s role there is very positive.”

Surviving Trump

Some fear American interest in European security via NATO is waning, as many European countries fail to meet the defense spending target of 2 percent of gross domestic product ― something upon which Trump has publicly insisted.

In his set-piece address on whether U.S.-EU relations “can survive four years of Trump,” Gardner said that the relationship has for decades been based on the areas of security collaboration and military cooperation.

“The Trump administration is causing significant damage in this area. The decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement is the most dramatic example; it was taken without contradicting the evidence that Iran has respected its commitments and in the face of strong EU opposition,” Gardner said.
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[*] posted on 15-6-2018 at 07:17 PM

Trans-Atlantic rift fuels cry to make European weapons great again

By: Sebastian Sprenger   21 hours ago

A German Leopard 2A6 tank, right, and a Ukrainian T-64BM tank fire at their targets during the Strong Europe Tank Challenge at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, on Sept. 3, 2017. (Spc. Nathanael Mercado/U.S. Army)

PARIS ― Amid the alienation between the United States and Europe over trade, some industry leaders at the Eurosatory defense fest sense an opening to strengthen their position on the domestic arms market.

That type of talk comes amid a stated desire by European Union members to band together around the idea of a common defense, though it remains to be seen what will ultimately come of it. But there was a hope here, at least, among many at the ground warfare exhibition ― the first since the formal start of the EU Permanent Structured Cooperation initiative on defense and security ― that the continent’s newfound voice on defense matters would somehow reflect on the market.

“Europe should buy weapon systems in Europe, developed and manufactured in Europe, to make sure that if something happens they are capable in having the right answers for the threat,” Frank Haun, chief of the German combat vehicles specialist Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, told Defense News in an interview.

The company, under the banner of KNDS, a joint venture with France’s Nexter, has its eyes on the tank market beyond the Leopard 2, which Haun said currently accounts for roughly 40 percent of the combined European tank fleet.

“Secondly, we are talking about taxpayers’ money,” he added. “It should stay within Europe.”

Such protectionist talk is partly a reaction to the sense that Europeans have been getting the short shrift when it comes to dealing with the United States in weapons programs. Europe for a long time has been a customer of American weaponry, buying advanced systems birthed by U.S. defense spending many times more vast than military budgets in Europe.

According to Haun, the European appetite for U.S. arms translates into roughly $70 billion in Washington’s exports to Europe. But the flow of trade in the other direction is infinitely lower, estimated at less than a half billion dollars, he said.

Jorge Domecq, head of the European Defence Agency, this week called the disproportion “unhealthy” and detrimental to Europe’s defense ambitions. In addition to the export imbalance, U.S. weapons in the hands of countries unable to maintain them on their own create a one-sided dependency that keeps the continent weak, he argued.

“If you have capabilities for which you don’t have the industrial capacity to sustain them, and you have to ask the neighbor to give you the hose each time you want to water the plants, you don’t have a garden; you have a dry piece of land,” Domecq said.

Nexter Chairman and CEO Stephan Mayer said the EU, known for its bureaucratic propensity, so far is showing promise in its effort. “I see a lot of interesting initiatives ... with the EDA putting in place initiatives for joint programs, a budget, to support joint products,” he said. “It took a long time, so we are now spinning up, and I see a lot of opportunity.”

It will take more time before a judgment is possible of the EU defense vision and its effect on the domestic weapons market.

For one, there are intra-European political squabbles to overcome; and the desire for “strategic autonomy,” as Domecq calls it, is not universally shared. And that’s not even factoring in the wild card of Brexit.

Said Haun: “I’m a European believer. I’m happy Europe shoots for more Europe. And this is one of thousands of steps they have to take. And I appreciate that. But we should not expect that something is changed by tomorrow. Defense is long-time.”

Pierre Tran in Paris contributed to this story.
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[*] posted on 16-6-2018 at 09:11 AM

One slight problem guys. European weapon systems are often years late, overpriced and underperform.

A classic example is Aegis, the US had that system in place during the Cold War, mostly to counter Russian missile swarm attacks.

When did Europe introduce the same capability as Aegis?

You could argue that they still don't have the same capability in a single system, they have elements of that capability in service, but not the whole capability.

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[*] posted on 16-6-2018 at 01:52 PM

It's the EU mate, reality is far removed.

All these tossers care about is the huge salary they pick up for going to Brussels and sticking their collective noses in EVERY area it's NOT wanted.

A more indescribable morass of predominantly left-wing leaning waste-of-oxygen is almost impossible to describe.
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