Four Euro nations pledge allegience to militarism
This march to militarism among Euro elite should be condemned in the strongest possible terms. It will lead only to genocide.
European Leaders Form Pact To Boost Defense Cooperation
Foes of Iraq War Seek to Operate Independently of U.S.
By Robert J. McCartney
Washington Post Foreign Service
Wednesday, April 30, 2003; Page A17
BRUSSELS, April 29 -- Leaders of France, Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg, four countries that opposed the Iraq war, agreed today to increase defense cooperation within Europe to reduce dependence on the United States.
The leaders announced after a brief summit here that the four countries would set up a multinational headquarters by the end of next year that could be deployed with forces abroad for joint military operations. They provided few details, but said it would aid missions by both the European Union and NATO.
The four also proposed the separate creation of a military center in Belgium by the summer of 2004 for command and planning of EU military operations in which NATO is not involved. French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who have been trying to mend fences with the Bush administration, watered down a Belgian proposal to set up a full-fledged European military headquarters separate from NATO.
The agreement drew a caustic rebuke in Washington from Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. He told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the four countries had created "some sort of a plan to develop some sort of a headquarters."
"What we need is not more headquarters. What we need is more capability and fleshing out the structure and the forces that are there with the equipment that they need," he said. Powell has criticized the summit participants for failing to pledge to increase their defense spending, as U.S. officials have long advocated.
The summit underscored divisions over the war in Iraq that persist between the Bush administration and antiwar European governments and within the European Union, as well as a desire among some countries to loosen defense ties with the United States. It was organized by Belgium's prime minister, Guy Verhofstadt, whose strong antiwar stance has boosted his popularity in advance of national elections next month.
The summit had drawn criticism from Britain, Italy and Spain, which supported the war and expressed concern that plans taken up at the Brussels conference threatened to duplicate NATO missions and undermine relations with the United States.
The four leaders sought today to answer these criticisms. In a four-page declaration and in statements at a news conference, they emphasized that they wanted to strengthen NATO. But they also said that would be achieved by giving a bigger defense role to the 15-nation European Union.
"We are not questioning the transatlantic alliance. We want to reinforce it," Chirac said. But, he said, "in order to have a balance, we have to have a strong Europe, as well as a strong U.S."
Schroeder said, "obviously this is not directed against NATO." But he also said that "within NATO, we have very little of Europe."
Many of the steps proposed at the summit to increase European defense cooperation were already in the works as part of the crafting of a new convention, or constitution, for the EU. These included calls for a European agency for military development and acquisition, and for a European security and defense college.
The most important new initiatives were the decision to create the vaguely defined multinational force headquarters and the proposal for the EU military center. Those risk creating European rivals to existing NATO structures, U.S. and British officials say.
The proposed center, to be based at Tervuren, near Brussels, will be responsible "for operational planning and command of EU-led operations without recourse to NATO assets and capabilities," the summit declaration said. The four participants invited other EU countries to participate, although it was not clear whether they would.
The center could handle tasks such as the 350-person peacekeeping operation in Macedonia, which is the first such mission under EU control. Next year, the EU is expected to take over the larger peacekeeping mission in Bosnia from NATO.
A NATO spokesman welcomed the summit's pledge to strengthen the European pillar of the 19-nation alliance, but expressed wariness about other decisions.
"We are concerned about how extra capabilities will be delivered without extra resources, and we are also concerned about the risk of unnecessary duplication," the NATO spokesman, Yves Brodeur, said.
Staff writer Glenn Kessler in Washington contributed to this report.
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