Defence is crucial for Europe

Italian soldiers in Afghanistan
Italian soldiers, part of NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), attend a change of regional command ceremony in Herat, Afghanistan (source: dpa)

There is widespread conviction in political circles that while local and regional warfare occurs across the globe, large-scale wars will not erupt.

This conviction is based on the assumption that the legitimacy of many current regimes is based solely on improving the living conditions of their populations rather than on democracy, ideology or traditional legitimacy and accountability.

Some regimes, including those of China and Russia, lack the necessary convincing ideological, democratic or traditional legitimacy to survive, unless the population’s standard of living constantly increases.

You could argue that such global powers will not directly launch large and risky foreign policy adventures or wars, as their priority has to be their economy and therefore improving living conditions. But proxy wars and cyber-attacks are ‘acceptable’.

This view sounds logical. However, these global powers are increasing their military capacities significantly and not just to defend their territory. Cyber war, including economic spying, is already happening.

But what happens if regimes which lack legitimacy fail to satisfy the expectations of their populations when ‘reforms’ are unsuccessful?

The ruling powers are questioned and ‘enemy’ countries will be used as a scapegoat and blamed for the misery.

A chain reaction can be triggered in due course if military capabilities are used as a threat

This is a highly likely scenario and has already begun in Venezuela where President Nicolas Maduro blames the United States for his country’s economic ills and also in Russia, where the US is pilloried for causing problems.

A chain reaction can be triggered in due course if military capabilities are used as a threat. This can get out of control and threaten peace.

The ongoing cyber war is certainly not helpful. Proxy wars can also trigger larger chain reactions where the interests of one power appear to be badly damaged.

It is more important than ever that a credible defence of Europe is maintained in order to keep the peace.

There is also a belief in Europe that the global hotspots are far away in the Western Pacific, India and Pakistan and these issues are not Europe’s direct concern. The tensions of the Middle East and North Africa are not far away and there have been cyber-attacks on Nato and EU members in the Baltic States.

Problems spread very quickly in a globalised world.

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