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EUNUKE!

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By Tim Felce (Airwolfhound) – Rafale – RIAT 2009, CC BY-SA 2.0

Oh hey EU nukes!

An idea, once unthinkable, is gaining attention in European policy circles: a European Union nuclear weapons program.

Under such a plan, France’s arsenal would be repurposed to protect the rest of Europe and would be put under a common European command, funding plan, defense doctrine, or some combination of the three. It would be enacted only if the Continent could no longer count on American protection.

Fisher runs through all of the complications, which are immense. The strategic aspect is fairly interesting, though. At the moment, the EU (such that it remains) has sufficient latent conventional military power to squash any conceivable opponent, other than the United States. Germany on its own has a GDP more than double that of Russia, and France and Italy aren’t far behind.  This is not 1945, with the gigantic Red Army menacing a prostrate Europe.  Granted that the Russia still poses a serious threat to the Baltics (with the exception of the 1990s, it has always been the case that Russia/USSR could penetrate the outer shell of NATO), even the extant EU capabilities that everyone whines about aren’t that shabby.

If 1) NATO disintegrates and the US commitment to European defense disappears, and 2) the EU survives as a political and economic unit, then we would expect that Berlin, Paris, Rome, Warsaw, etc. would increase investment in conventional capabilities, at least at the margins. It would take a while to fill in all of the gaps that the US has historically provided, but then it’s not as if the Russian military is flawless, either.  In the medium-to-long term there is no way that Russia can compete in conventional military terms with an even mildly acerbic EU.  Russia’s major advantages come from a) political disunity within the EU, and b) nuclear weapons.  French nukes solve part of the second problem, insofar as they provide deterrence against Russia’s strategic nuclear arsenal. But Russia also has a vast arsenal of tactical nukes, and Russian doctrine can incorporate those weapons into conventional warfighting scenarios.  The question would then become whether France, Germany et al would decide to get competitive on the tactical side of the ledger.

Here’s an idea: Let’s not find out.

 

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