With France's reintegration into NATO's military command after a 33 year hiatus to be formalized at this year's Alliance summit in Strasbourg, which will also upgrade the 1999 Strategic Concept with increased emphasis on NATO-EU-US military integration, and with the EU intensifying the creation of a 60,000-troop rapid deployment force and its own and affiliated Nordic battlegroups for use around the world, the mutual relations obtaining among the three major centers of Western economic, political and military power - the EU, NATO and the US - require urgent examination.
To date the conventional wisdom in establishment circles has largely consisted of a set of four false dichotomies:
The progressively more ambitious development of EU military capabilities is in competition with if not a direct challenge to NATO and the strategic trans-Atlantic alliance with Washington.
NATO is a multilateral antidote to US unilateralism.
The EU is a principled practitioner of peaceful diplomacy whereas the US and NATO are often too hasty in relying on the military necessity.
The EU is a or even the main competitor of the US in Europe and increasingly throughout much of the world.
One is free to believe as many of these canards as one chooses, but the words and the actions of the policymakers and officials in charge of enforcing policy in the EU, NATO and the US foreign policy establishment refute them at every turn.
21 of 27 members of the EU are also members of NATO. Of the six that aren't, all except Cyprus (for the time being) - Austria, Finland, Ireland, Malta and Sweden - are members of NATO's Partnership for Peace program. Of the last five, only tiny Malta doesn't have a military contingent serving under NATO in Afghanistan, the Balkans and elsewhere.
Of the 26 NATO member states, only Norway and the US, Canada and Iceland, the latter three not in Europe and so not qualifying, are in the EU.
The three key players may occasionally quibble over secondary questions of tactics, timing and technicalities, but remain united over substantive and strategic concerns.
The EU and NATO have been military partners openly since 1992 when the Berlin Plus agreement on joint sharing of military assets was signed.
Even EU members that aren't yet in NATO are affected by the continent's subordination to the bloc as the Alliance's 1999 Strategic Charter, still in effect, stipulates that the nuclear arsenals of the United States, in particular, but also of the United Kingdom and France, are "essential to preserve peace" and are "an essential political and military link between the European and North American members of the Alliance."
With the events of 1989-1991 bringing about the collapse of the post-World War II order in Europe and the world as a whole - the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (Comecon), the breakup of the Soviet Union and the violent fragmentation of Yugoslavia - the major Western powers immediately resumed plans for global domination interrupted after the two world wars and, having learned their own lessons from the latter, formed a condominium to share the spoils of the entire world, not just the multitude of former colonies, territories, protectorates and mandates, but parts of the globe never before available to them, including the former Soviet Union.
Confirmatory of this is a statement by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer almost four years ago:
"NATO and the EU are making rather good progress in coordinating the development of modern military capabilities. I am optimistic that we can extend our cooperation to additional areas where we have a common security interest, where we can complement each other, and reinforce each other’s efforts. And here I mean functional areas...such as the Caucasus and Central Asia."
(NATO International, March 31, 2005)
Two months later then US Under Secretary of State Nicholas Burns, coming to that post after being US ambassador to NATO, spoke in a similar strain when he "welcomed a call by the NATO secretary general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, for the alliance and the EU to increase cooperation to ensure security beyond NATO's borders in Europe, Africa and Central Asia."
(Associated Press, May 26, 2005)