by Roger Cole (updated May 2006)
"We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownershipof Ireland and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies to be sovereignand indefeasible." - 1916 Proclamation
"Are we all clear that we want to build something that canaspire to be a world power?" - EU Commission President, RomanoProdi, 13/2/01
In 1916 the Irish people were given a choice: support the Irish Volunteers of the Irish Republic or the Regiments of the British Union and Empire, a choice between Irish Independence or Imperialism.In 2006, as the Irish Defence Forces are about to be integrated into the EU Battle Groups, the Regiments of the European Union and Empire, theIrish people are again being offered a choice between Imperialism and Irish Independence.The decision of the Government to have 200 Irish soldiers join the EU Battle Groups is just another step in the process in the destruction of Irish Independence, Irish Democracy and Irish Neutrality. The integration of Ireland into an Imperial, militarized neo-liberal European superstate allied to the US will ensure the full and active participation of all of Ireland in the resource wars of the 21st century. The defeat of the EU/US axis is the only inevitable outcome of these wars.
The Peace & Neutrality Alliance advocates another choice- a United Independent Irish Republic - as part of a democratic Europe,a partnership of Independent, democratic states, legal equals withouta military dimension. We believe a reformed United Nations is the institutionthrough which Ireland should pursue its foreign policy and security concerns.The choice for the Irish people is clear, and it is the same as it hasbeen for generation after generation. The choice is either the Republicor Imperialism.
The Resource Wars of the 21 st Century and the EU Battlegroups
The collapse of the European Empires, British, Belgian, Dutch, French,Germany, Italian, Portuguese, and Spanish made the ruling elite of eachof the states realise that they could not re-establish their Imperialtraditions except by combining and creating a new "European"identity.
They sought to create a "European" elite that was committedto the steady and gradual destruction of the national democracy and
Independence of the states within the EU via a series of treaties (ofwhich the proposed EU Constitution was to be a capstone), and theirtransformation into a centralised, neo-liberal, militarised, ImperialSuperstate, allied to the US. It was their joint intention to engagein Imperial wars of conquest. The US invasion and conquest of Iraq inorder to gain control of Iraqi oil and to consolidate US/ Israeli militarydomination of the Middle East was actively supported by 14 EU states- Belgium, Britain, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Holland, Ireland,Italy,
Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Portugal, Slovenia, and Spain (initially)- most of which also sent troops to participate in its invasion and/oroccupation.
It was only the massive opposition in 2003 by millions of ordinarypeople within the states of Europe to this restoration of the EuropeanImperial tradition that prevented the EU states from more actively supportingthe war. As a consequence of these massive demonstrations and the rejectionof the EU Constitution by the French and Dutch people the whole projectis under threat and the emerging "European" elite is nowmore divided than ever as to how to respond.
The reasons given for the war, for example that Iraq had weapons ofmass destruction, were lies. The real intention was to replace Saddamas ruler with Chalabi, a committed ally of the US and the EU who wouldprivatize the Iraqi oil industry. Unfortunately for the US, the planhas gone badly wrong and Iraq
now has an Islamic Shia dominated Government friendly with the IranianGovernment.
Since the US described Shia dominated Iran as part of the "axisof evil" this has been a bad result that now needs to be rectified.
A substantial element of the EU/US elite is therefore preparing toattack Iran in order to ensure "regime change" and to regainthe momentum lost as a consequence of the Iraq war and the referendumresults. With the election of the pro-war Chancellor Merkel in Germanythe chances of such a war proceeding have
increased dramatically. She would be well aware that Bismarck used warto create the German Empire and that war against "Muslim fundamentalists"could be used to create a European Empire. The EU/US is steadily puttingmore and more pressure on
Iran not to proceed with its development of nuclear power, allegingthat such a development would allow it to develop nuclear weapons. Atthe same time they are putting no pressure on Israel to abolish itsexisting nuclear arsenal or to withdraw
from the occupied territory of Palestine. Instead they have withdrawnaid to the Palestinian Authority because they did not like the resultof a democratic election. If Iran does not accept the current diplomaticefforts to force it to stop its nuclear
developments, then the EU will say it has no alternative but to supporta US military strike on Iran.
As in 2003 there will be massive protests, but since the British,Danish and American people re-elected their Imperialist leaders, andMerkel was elected in Germany, the elite clearly feel it can easilyhandle any opposition. It’s our function as part of the Irishand global anti-war movement to make sure that the mobilisation againstanother Imperial war is so strong that they quickly come to realisethat they got it very wrong again.
We need to take advantage of the fact that the war option does nothave the support of the entire US/EU elite. The massive drop in supportfor Bush among the American people including retired generals, the victoryof the centre left in Italy, the defeat of the French Government’sneo-liberal measures via massive demonstrations, and the recent electoraldefeat of the Imperialist New Labour Party are all indications thatit will not be easy for the EU/US elite to go to war with Iran.
But if the war party wins out it will mean that the EU Battle Groupswill be called into action.
These resource wars of the 21st century, or the "war on terrorism"as our establishment media call it, provide justification for the growthin military expenditure. The EU Battle Groups are just a small but crucialpart of the EU/US military partnership in what the Pentagon DefenceReview described as being a "long war".
This war will transfer financial resources away from health, educationand social housing. The "war on terrorism" also allows theelite to create a climate of fear in which it will be easier to pushthrough a sustained attack on the working and living
standards of the ordinary people of Europe via the services directiveand other neo-liberal driven measures.
The "war on terrorism" is also leading to a sustained attackon civil liberties creating moves towards a super EU police state.
The EU Battle Groups
An EU Defence policy was not an issue for a long time and it was notuntil the Maastricht Treaty in 1992 that common foreign and defencepolicy provisions were made part of EU law. The Amsterdam Treaty in1997 massively expanded the EU’s CFSP. In June 1999 the EU establishedthe Political and Security Committee consisting of the member states’ambassadors to the EU and the European Union, and the Military Committeeconsisting of the member states’ chiefs of defence staff to advisethe PSC on military issues. The EU Military staff also provides militaryadvice.
In December 1999 the EU agreed to set a military capability targetknown as the Helsinki Headline Goal. It included the establishment ofan EU Rapid Reaction Force of 50-60,000 soldiers with a self-sustainingmilitary capacity including intelligence, air, naval and combat supportcapable of deployment within 60 days up to 6,000 km from the bordersof the EU, sustainable for at least a year. The EU states in practicelacked the capability to do so. They did not have enough soldiers trainedfor such an independent EU military activity, as most were allocatedto NATO. The EU RRF also lacked the necessary strategic lift, attackhelicopters, IRS-capabilities, air-to-air refueling tankers, airborneelectronic warfare capacity and anti-missile defence. Nevertheless inDecember 2001 the EU declared itself to be "militarily operational".
However since the RRF was not actually functioning they agreed to startwith a smaller military force. The idea of EU Battle Groups was firstsuggested at the Franco-British Summit in Le Touquet in February 2003and made explicit in the
London meeting in November 2003.
The EU Defence Ministers in their meeting in Brussels in 2004 adoptedthe decision. They will act as the "shock troops", regimentsof the emerging Empire. Thirteen Battle Groups are being created with1,500 combat soldiers each, which means, allowing for rotation, etc,at an average ratio of seven to nine for each combat soldier, a totalforce of approximately 156,000 combat soldiers. It is planned that theycould operate as separate units or in joint expeditions.
The objective was to ensure that the first few would be ready by 2005and between 6-7 by 2007 with the remainder established by 2010. GeneralWolfgang Schneiderhan is Chair of the EU Military Committee with directmilitary responsibility
for the EUBG’s.
Initially each Battle Group would have to be able to go to a theatreof operations up to at least 6,000 km (which includes the Middle East)from the borders of the EU within 5 days of being instructed to do soby the EU Council, and be able to
stay there for at least 120 days, allowing for rotation. More recentlythey have been given the authority to operate in any part of the globe.They have to be able to operate in hostile environments including deserts,mountains and jungles, and
have a high degree of training, equipment, command structures and planningunits.
An EU Battle Group is to be "the minimum military effective,credible, rapidly deployable, coherent force package capable of actingalone, or for the
initial phase of larger operations."
A Battle Group consists of the following:
- Force Headquarters
- Force Commander with staff
- Mechanised Infantry Battalion
- Commander with staff
- 3 x Mechanised Infantry Company
- Logistics Company
- Fire Support Company (Mortars/Light Artillery
- Combat Engineering Platoon
- Air Defence Platoon
- Intelligence Platoon
- Helicopter Support Unit
- Medical Service Platoon
- Military Police Platoon
Each of the three or four mechanized infantry companies is expectedto field 10-12 combat vehicles armed with 30- 90mm cannons, supportedwith 6-9 light howitzers or 120 mm heavy mortar systems, anti-tank missiles,air defence systems, and helicopter gunships.
Airlifting a Battle Group is a major problem as it requires a hugeexpenditure on the military transport aircraft required, such as theC-17 Globemaster which can load 78 metric tonnes and has a 5,000 kmrange, therefore only requiring 30 flights to deploy an EU Battle Group.The lack of strategic airlift has meant several EU states have orderedthe A- 400M. Several EU states which are in NATO have also agreed tobuy AN-124 Condor aircraft from the Ukraine which are massive planescapable of carrying 120-150 tonnes of cargo up to 5,000 km. These arevery expensive planes.
The purpose of the EU Battle Groups is to go into battle, to go towar, as Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Secretary General of NATO has said:
"Battle Groups could be used to go to war. Why did the EU createthe Battle Group?
It is not just to help rebuild a country. The Battle Groups are notfor building schools.
We shouldn’t think the EU is for soft power and NATO for toughpower."
Irish Times 11/3/05
The states of the EU, either individually or in groups, are to providethe necessary combat trained troops and required equipment and theyare:
- UK and possibly Ireland
- France, Germany, Belgium, Luxemburg, and Spain
- France and Belgium
- Germany, the Netherlands and Finland
- Germany, the Czech Republic and Austria
- Italy, Hungary and Slovenia
- Poland, Germany, Slovakia, Latvia, and Lithuania
- Italy, Spain, Greece and Portugal
- Sweden, Finland, Norway, Estonia and Ireland
- UK and the Netherlands
In the case of Battle Groups in which a number of states participated,one state would be regarded as a "lead nation" which wouldtake operational command and provide the Headquarters of the BattleGroup. Membership of the Battle Groups would be open to non-EU NATOcountries such as Turkey that are applying for EU membership or NATOstates.
The Danish Protocol
Denmark is not taking part in the Battlegroups because the movementfor Danish Democracy won a major victory which ensured that a numberof legally binding protocols were added to the Amsterdam Treaty includingone that excluded Denmark from the process of the militarisation ofthe EU.
The Peace and Neutrality Alliance has campaigned for years for a similarprotocol to be added to the various EU Treaties that would also excludeIreland along the following lines:
"With regard to measures adopted by the Council in the fieldsof Article J3 (1) and J7 of the Treaty of the European Union, Irelanddoes not participate in the elaboration and the implementation of decisionsand actions which have defence implications, but will not prevent thedevelopment of closer cooperation between member states in this area.Therefore Ireland shall not participate in their adoption. Ireland shallnot contribute to the financing of the operational expenditure arisingfrom such measures."
The Irish political Elite and the EU Battlegroups
The Irish political elite, however is totally committed to the creationof a European Empire and, like their Redmondite predecessors, has rejectedIrish Democracy, Irish Independence and Irish Neutrality and refusedto accept such a protocol for Ireland. As far as they are concernedthe Irish Army is to play the same role in the European Union as theIrish Regiments of the British Union used do.
The Irish political elite have already made their commitment to theintegration of Ireland into the EU/US military industrial structuresabsolutely clear; by their decision to join Nato’s PfP withouta promised referendum, by voting against a Bill to amend
the Constitution to enshrine neutrality into it in February 2003 and,in particular, by destroying the longstanding policy of Irish neutralityby allowing thousands upon thousands of US troops to use Shannon airport.Between January 2003 and October 2005, 549,457 US troops landed in Shannonairport on their way to or from the war in Iraq.
In the first three months of 2006 the number of troops landing in Shannonairport increased by more than 20,000 compared with the same periodin 2005, a total of 116,450.
Since International law under the Hague Convention of 1907 states thata neutral country cannot allow its territory to be used by belligerentsin a war, the Government has now destroyed Irish neutrality by supportingthe illegal invasion, conquest and occupation of Iraq, and by allowingthousands upon thousands of US troops to use Shannon airport on theirway to Iraq. They also refuse to search US planes that might be carryingprisoners to torture centres.
They therefore are strong supporters of the EU Battle Groups and havemade it absolutely clear they intend to ensure that Irish troops willbe allocated to them.
They have a slight problem. Existing Irish legislation does not allowany armed force to operate on Irish soil except those directly underthe control of Dáil Eireann and as a consequence of their defeatin the first Nice Referendum they were forced to pass
legislation that would prevent Irish troops participating in EU militaryengagements via the Battle Groups unless they are mandated by the UN,the Irish Government and Dáil Eireann. However the FF/PD Governmenthas made it clear that it will
introduce legislation that would remove these legal impediments to theIrish Army being integrated into the EU Battle Groups.
While they claim they intend to keep the so-called "triple lock",the rest of the EU states have no such legislation and an Irish Governmentthat is actively supporting an Imperialist war already will have noproblem supporting another Imperialist war.
There are other problems. The states that have formed groups to jointlyestablish an EU Battle Group are geographically beside each other inorder to facilitate military co-ordination, so Ireland’s obviouspartner is Britain. Even the Irish elite however realise that it wouldbe difficult to sell the idea of Irish Rangers fighting shoulder toshoulder with members of the British Paratroop Regiment. They are, therefore,trying to create an atmosphere to facilitate such a Battle Group. Inthat context, a successful full implementation of the Good Friday Agreementis crucial. Such a full implementation would be promoted by the eliteas final resolution of the longstanding conflict between the advocatesof Irish Independence and British Imperialism which would not only allowthe creation of a British/Irish EU Battle Group but would be promotedas a real and concrete act of peace and reconciliation between the twonations which, acting together, can bring "peace" to otherparts of the world, especially the Middle East.
While the Irish elite supports the Good Friday Agreement as a stepping-stonetowards a European Empire, Irish Democrats and Republicans see it asa stepping-stone towards a United Independent Democratic Irish Republic.The issue of EU Battle Groups, therefore, has as much relevance to Irishpeople living in Northern Ireland as it has to those living in the Republicof Ireland. The GFA is only a small part of a bigger jigsaw.
Unfortunately for the Irish elite, the conquest of Iraq has alreadydivided all the political parties into pro and anti imperialist groupsand PANA is confident that similar divisions will develop in regardto their attitude to the EU Battle Groups.
What is absolutely clear is that what Fianna Fáil and the otherimperialist parties offer is Ireland being dragged deeper and deeperinto Imperialist wars rather than a fight for Irish Independence anddemocracy.
What they offer is inevitable defeat. There is no chance whatsoeverof crushing the Muslim people in the Middle East. The 21st century Crusaderarmies, of which the Battle Groups are to be part, will be defeated,as were the Crusader Armies of the
Middle Ages. It is only their racist arrogance which prevents them fromseeing this reality.
The Irish elite however know that Good Friday Agreement or not participationin the Trafalgar celebrations or not, commemorating the death of anIrishman who won a VC defending the British Empire in India or not,selling the concept of an Irish Rangers/ British Paratrooper EU BattleGroup would be difficult. So they
have tried other alternatives.
They seek to be part of the Nordic Swedish/Finnish/Norwegian/Estonian,EU Battle Group. It will be difficult. Since the Battlegroups have togo to war within five days an extremely high degree of military interoperabilityneeds to be achieved. The distance between Finland and Sweden and Irelandmakes this option very hard to implement in practice.
The FF/PD Government has virtually no opposition from the Irish political/mediaelite.
The Fine Gael Party, Ireland’s major opposition Party, have madeit clear that if they go into Government they will not only ensure thatthe Irish Army is integrated into the EU Battle Groups but that theywill also abolish the "triple lock" legislation. Fine Gaelhas already totally rejected Irish neutrality.
The Irish Labour Party has been a long-standing supporter of the emergingEU Empire, although they originally opposed it. At their recent partyconference their delegates massively supported the EU Constitution althoughLabour Youth voted against. Soon after, the French and Dutch peoplevoted to reject it and the left led the campaign in both countries.More recently the British Congress of Trade Unions voted overwhelminglyto oppose the EU Constitution.
This growing opposition to the EU Empire by the left throughout Europeis bound to weaken the Empire Loyalists within the Irish Labour party,especially its trade union section. It is possible that it might beconvinced to end its support for the Irish Army being integrated intothe Battle Groups. It did after all oppose the Iraq war and, unlikeFG, it is committed to maintaining the "triple lock" legislation.
While the Labour Party is also committed to a pre-election pact withFine Gael, the issues of the EU Batttle Groups and the service directivemight mean that if it has to choose between the Irish Trade Union Movementand Fine Gael, the current leadership, despite what they are sayingat the moment, will be forced to pick the trade union movement.
Therefore while the outcome is not clear, the possibility of the IrishLabour Party and the Irish Trade Union Movement ending their alliancewith the Irish Empire Loyalists remains a real option.
Sinn Fein and the Irish Green Party are opposed to Irish participationin the Battle Groups and support the "triple lock" legislationas do a number of independent Dáil Deputies.
Virtually the entire media in Ireland has supported the war on Iraq,EU Battle Groups and the use of Shannon by the American Empire up tothe hilt until now, although some elements are beginning to change theirminds. However the growth of the
Internet has already facilitated alternative methods of spreading information.The power of corporate media to set the agenda is coming to an end.
The Nordic Battle Group
Since the Nordic Battle Group is the preferred group of the Government,the pamphlet by Jan Joel Andersson of the Swedish Institute for EuropeanPolicy studies, "Armed and Ready?" about the Nordic BattleGroup is worth reading. Published in March 2006 it states that on 22November 2004, Sweden, Finland and Norway declared they would establisha Nordic Battle Group and that Estonia joined shortly afterwards. TheNBG was to be ready by January 2008. It will have two light companiesequipped with splinter-protected light wheeled vehicles, one heavy companyequipped with Hagglunds CV9040 tracked infantry, combat vehicles armedwith 40-mm automatic cannon and a logistics company. Combat SupportUnits drawn from a "menu" of capabilities will complementthe core battalion. These capabilities include fire-support (mortars,armour), engineers, air defence, helicopters, ISTAR, CIS-support, CBRNand force protection. It will also have pre-identified strategic airand sealift resources, tactical air transport and close air support,logistics and Special Forces units.
Sweden has assumed overall responsibility and 1,100 personnel. Finlandwill contribute combat support, such as a heavy mortar platoon, a ChemicalBiological Radiological and nuclear detection detachment, a unit inthe joint Swedish-Finnish intelligence ISTAR Company and military police,making a total of 200 soldiers. Norway will contribute another 200 troopsin medical services, logistics and strategic lift. Estonia will provide40-50 troops for force protection.
There is no mention of Ireland, but the Minister of Defence has said200 Irish troops will join the Nordic Battle Group. While he declareshe does not like the term Battle Group, any objective analysis of themilitary equipment outlined above clearly shows
that the Nordic Battle Group is not about making tea, it is about beingable to go to war, to do battle. That the Irish media parrot the wordsof the Minister for Defence simply reflects the fact that it is openlycomplicit in deceiving the Irish people about the real purpose of theEU Battle Groups.
The Battle Group has to train as a single unit so that while each participatingstate has the right to withdraw its own national contingent it is extremelyunlikely that any state would do so, as the Battle Group would thennot be able to function properly. In the case of the Irish State, sinceit already is a strong supporter of an illegal Imperialist war for oil,it would be the last to pull out of another Imperialist military adventure.
The Headquarters of the Nordic Battle Group will be in Northwood, outsideLondon.
Operational planning will be co-ordinate between Sweden, Finland, Norway,Estonia, Britain and now Ireland and the EU Military staff in Brussels.The EU will appoint operational control, probably a Swedish Commander.
Since the EU Battle Group has to be able to go to war anywhere in theworld within 10 days, airlift capacity is of crucial importance. Itcould use British C-17 Globemaster planes or the AN-124-100 Condor Planesfrom the Ukraine. To be independent it
would have to buy its own planes. The C-17 Globemaster costs $202 millioneach. Ireland would be expected to help pay their share. So much forgiving priority to the A&E services. Given such expenditure theNordic Battle Group is planning to use lighter equipment.
The EU Security Strategy Military Intervention without a UNmandate
The EU Security Strategy, "A Secure Europe in a Better World",was written by the EU High Representative for the Common Foreign andSecurity Policy, Javiar Solana, and endorsed by the EU in December 2003.
The EU strategy totally endorses President Bush’s doctrine ofpreemptive war:
"Our traditional concept of self-defence…. was basedon the threat of invasion. With the new threats, the first line of defencewill often be abroad… we should be ready to act before a crisisoccurs".
The strategy goes on to state that not all these threats can be counteredby military means and a mixture of instruments must be used. This howeverleaves the way open for humanitarian aid being used as a tool in thefight against "terrorism".
Concord, a pan-European federation of over 1200 development NGO’s,has repeatedly cautioned against the EU Security policy misusing humanitarianassistance in such a way.
The fact is the EU does not see itself as being bound by the necessityof securing a UN mandate before it sends the EU Battle Groups to a war.While references are made to observance of the UN Charter (similar referencesare made in the NATO Treaty) nowhere does it state in the EU Treatiesthat the EU Battle Groups need a UN mandate. While International Lawclearly states a UN mandate would be required before a state was invaded,the EU, like the US, is prepared to ignore such law.
Warmaking and Peacemaking
While the democratic forces in France and the Netherlands defeated theEU Constitution, which would have further consolidated the militarisationof the EU, the existing treaties remain in force including:
Article J7.2 that states:
"Questions referred to in this article shall include humanitarianand rescue tasks, peacekeeping tasks, and combat forces in crisis management,including peacemaking."
John Bruton, ex-leader of Fine Gael, and the EU representative in theUS said after the Amsterdam Treaty was passed:
"Peacemaking means imposing, by the use of force, peacefulconditions under the terms laid down by the peacemaker. It is very difficultto distinguish that from
Dáil Eireann 22/10/99
The EU elite does not need a EU Constitution to establish Battle Groupsand we can be sure that Mr. Bruton is reflecting their attitude whenhe says there is no difference between warmaking and peacemaking.
The decision to deploy Battle Groups would be taken by the EU Councilin response to "a crisis" or a "request from the UN".
The deployment of the EU Battle Groups therefore do not need a UN mandate.
The EU Civilian and Military Planning Cell is now well underway inBrussels.
The Cell is directly responsible to the EU High representative JavierSolana. It will have the responsibility of coordinating and generatingthe capacity to plan and run autonomous EU military operations.
Several of the states participating in the EU Battle Groups are alsodeveloping specialist skills. For example, Finland is providing troopstrained in combating chemical and biological weapons, Lithuania is providingexperts in water purification and Greece is providing troops with maritimetransport skills.
Britain is ensuring members of the Paratroop Regiments are being allocatedto the EU Battle Groups and clearly their specialty is shooting unarmedCivil Rights marchers.
The need for a rapid response has major implications for the law inmany of the national states. The Luxembourg Defence Minister stated:
"Some countries will have to change their laws to be ableto take their political decisions quickly and then their military mustfollow immediately" www.iwar.org.uk
This clearly means that if a quick decision has to be made to deploythe Battle Groups the "triple lock " legislation will haveto be abolished, leaving the decision up to the Government, or maybeeven the Taoiseach alone to make the decision to deploy the EU BattleGroups. The Fine Gael Party in the Dáil (9/5/06) has alreadysuggested that such a decision be left solely to the Minister of Defence.
NATO and the EU Battle Groups
The EU is very clear that the Battle Groups are to be developed as amilitary machine in a mutually reinforcing way with NATO initiativessuch as the NATO Response Force. This is especially true given the overlapof EU/NATO/Partnership for Peace military that is well established.There is a very strong requirement for interoperability between theEU military forces and NATO military forces. NATO, like the EU BattleGroups has given itself the right to send in troops anywhere in theworld.
In fact as far as Britain is concerned, to quote Geoff Hoon, UK Ministerfor Defence:
"NATO would always have the first choice to launch a militaryoperation"
The reality of the link between the Battle Groups of the EU and NATOwas underlined by the report published by 2 ex-NATO chiefs in October2005. To quote the report:
"Failure to meaningfully improve Europe’s collectivedefence capabilities in the coming years would have profoundly negativeimpacts on the ability of European
countries to protect their interests, the viability of NATO as an alliance,and the ability of Europe to partner in any meaningful way with theUS."
In February 2005 in a letter written to the House of Commons SelectCommittee on the European Union Hoon describes the EU Battle Groupsas being:
"mutually reinforcing with the larger NATO Response Force…… and having the potential to act as a steppingstone forcountries that want to contribute to the NATO
Response Force, by developing their high readiness forces to the requiredstandard and integrating small countries contribution to multinationalunits.
Wherever possible and applicable, standards, practical methodsand procedures for Battlegroups are analogous to those defined in theNATO RF.
Correctly managed there is considerable potential for synergy betweenthe two initiatives."
So there it is for all to see. The reality is the EU Battle Groupsare not the basis for an alternative European power to the US, but anextension of the power of the US, which dominates NATO. The EU BattleGroups are an extension of the military power of the US/EU Partnership.
Hoon went on to say that the EU states should spend at least 25% oftheir defence budgets on research and new weapons.
The NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, was even more explicitwhen in Rome in December 2004 he said:
"NATO and the EU need a partnership that covers all aspectsof modern security policy; combating terrorism, preventing the spreadof weapons of mass destruction, preventing the emergence of failed states,and dealing with them where and when they occur."
The Finnish Minister for Defence regards NATO as a "Partner"and calls for greater interoperability. He says:
"standards and criteria for EU Battle Groups should be thesame as those required for similar formations assigned to Nato’sRRF in accordance with NATO standards and criteria."
An official Finnish Ministry document states;
"In practice, many EU countries will double-hat various troopsto EU and NATO rapid deployment forces. It is up to those countriesto ensure that their resources and personnel are not in simultaneousreadiness to two different groups.
In practice, the Battle Groups will mostly be trained in NATO exercises."
Since December 2003 as a consequence of NATO/EU consultations the EUhas established a permanent military cell in SHAPE (NATO Headquarters)and NATO has established a permanent liaison arrangement with the EUMilitary Staff.
NATO has had an established NRF since October 2004. This is a 21,000combat troop military force capable of being deployed within 5-30 daysand is well equipped with high tech weapons.
Since most EU states are also in NATO and many states cannot providethe necessary troops and equipment to both the EU Battle Groups as wellas the NRF, arrangements are being made to ensure the EUBG’s andthe NRF are mutually coherent and complementary.
The EU Battle Groups lack the necessary independent strategic airliftplanes, mid air refueling and communication capability and independentintelligence resources.
Thus, to operate independently of NATO, the EU Battle Groups need acommitment by EU States to spend a great deal more money on new militaryequipment, especially in air lift capability.
On the 7th of March 2006 the EU Defence Ministers agreed to establisha Common Defence and Technology Fund. Javier Solana said at the meeting:
"We must spend more, spend more together and spend more efficiently."
The longer-term concept of the EU Battle Groups by the Franco- Germanfaction of the EU elite remains the idea that they could operate asseparate military units directly under the control of the EU Councilif required. The concept is reinforced by the need for the EU to haveits own satellite system, under EU rather than US
control. The EU therefore has spent €3.5 billion on its Galileosystem which would be used to facilitate the operations of the EU BattleGroups. These 30 satellites would mean the EU would not be dependenton the US GPS or the Russian GLONASS systems, which are also being financedfor military purposes. Since, for example, the US GPS system signalcould be blocked or jammed at a moment’s notice, the EU wouldbe completely dependent on the US in its military expeditions unlessit had its own satellite system. Germany held up funds for the developmentof Galileo until an agreement was reached on where the expenditure wasto happen and agreed only after more was allocated to Germany.
The Battle Groups would have to take into consideration the role ofthe Future Rapid Effects System (FRES) centred on a "family"of 900 highly sophisticated combat vehicles costing £6.7 millioneach, with a lifetime cost of £55.5 million over 30 years.
Other equipment includes the new communication equipment Bowman &Falcon, Watchkeeper unarmed aerial equipment, the Soothsayer electronicwarfare capability and the Panther armoured reconnaissance vehicle.
The combined defence budget of the EU states is €175 billion (comparedwith $ 550 billion for the US) and they have a combined military forceof 1.6 million troops, although at the moment only 5-10% (60,000) aredeployable as a rapid reaction force thousands of miles from Europe.The EU elite is seeking to raise that number to at least 200,000.
The US political elite is constantly calling for the EU to spend moreon militarisation even though it would have a long way to go to reachUS expenditure (the US Army has 1.4 million troops, 400,000 of whomcan be deployed globally).
Many others however see the EU militarisation only as an extensionof the NATO military structures.
Jamie O’Shea of NATO has called for a EU Constitution with provisionsthat would be, "compatible with NATO".
Many other EU leaders are open about seeing no difference between theEU, NATO and the US. At a recent NATO Conference in Sweden the LithuanianAmbassador called NATO:
"the greatest military alliance in history – combatingglobal terrorism, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and failedstates threats which are facing the Euro-Atlantic community"
The EU commitment to spend €25 billion through OCCAR for the A400M military transport aircraft is a demonstration of what the emergingEU superstate can achieve. Sixty are for Germany, 50 for France andothers for Spain, the UK, Belgium and Turkey.
There are investment plans for acquiring an aircraft carrier and airwingby 2008.
The European Defence Agency
In July 2004 the EU foreign Ministers (except Denmark) authorised thecreation of The European Defence Agency. This has already been establishedwith a start-up staff of 25 (now 80) and headed up by Nick Whitney.All the EU Defence Ministers
including those of Ireland have control of it and meet at the AgencyHeadquarters at least twice a year. It has taken over the Western EuropeanArmaments Agency and its research cell and has a budget of €2 billion.Its importance is clearly shown by the decision to include it in theEU Constitution, which envisaged it as being central to the developmentof an EU Defence capability.
Its function is to promote coherence in European defence procurement,enhance collaboration on the development of equipment, promoting theEuropean defence sector’s technological and industrial base. Itis also to foster European defence-relevant Research and Technology.It will probably take over previous EU armaments co-operations initativessuch as OCCAR and WEAG.
It also seeks to create an internationally competitive European DefenceEquipment market, in particular by pursuing an EU-wide development andharmonisation of relevant rules and regulations particularly (by anEU-wide applications of relevant rules) of the LoI Framework Agreement.
Such a development would seriously threaten Europe’s currentarms export policy and be a threat to the national democracy of theindividual states, as no further national ratifications would be necessary.
The Ceo’s of Europe’s top EADS, BAE Systems and Thaleswelcomed the establishment of the EDA and called for an increase inmilitary expenditure.
These military corporations are continually seeking to influence theEU elite via direct lobbying groups such as ASD, the New Defence Agendaand the Kangaroo Group. The arms industry by now is very deeply integratedinto the elite and the EU security
research budgets are among the best examples of its success.
The Privatisation of war and the EU Battle Groups
Mercenaries have played a significant role in war. 30,000 German mercenarieswere employed by the British Empire in its efforts to defeat the Nationalstruggle for Independence by the USA. However so strong have the neo-liberalvalues become in the USA today that between 1994-2002 the Pentagon awarded3,000 contracts to the modern mercenaries now know as Private MilitaryCompanies, or PMC’s.
There are now 90 such companies operating in 110 countries and thewar in Iraq has been a great boost for them. They constitute the secondlargest military grouping in Iraq after the US Army.
The revenue of British PMC’s has increased from £32 millionto £160 million since the war in Iraq. One of the larger PMC’s,Blackwater, which is very active in Iraq, has stated it could put togethera Rapid Reaction Force or Battle Group. As the neoliberal
values spread in the EU from the US it is reasonable to assume thatthe use of mercenaries as Battle Groups or as auxiliaries to the BattleGroups will be strongly advocated by the EU elite in the not too distantfuture.
When the Peace & Neutrality Alliance was founded 10 years ago tooppose the process by which the elite sought to destroy Irish Independence,Irish Democracy and Irish Neutrality and integrate this state into aneo-liberal, centralised, militarised superstate, few people believedus. Now with Irish neutrality totally destroyed, with Ireland havingbeen transformed into a US aircraft carrier and the Irish Army aboutto be integrated into the Battle Groups of the EU, there are few whodo not believe us.
In 1996, the same year PANA was established, an MRBI poll showed only32% of people in the Republic of Ireland wanted the state to do allit could to preserve Ireland’s independence from the EU. By 2005that figure, in a similar survey, had increased to 45%. So the evidence backs up the fact that our 10 years’long campaign is having a real impact and more importantly, that weare winning.
The objective of PANA is to help translate the clear evidence of thegrowing opposition to the emerging EU Empire into votes for politicalparties and independents that are affiliated to PANA.
If the Irish political elite, led by the Fianna Fail/PD Governmentare to be defeated in their efforts to restore the Redmondite Imperialisttradition then an alternative political formation has to be created.
The large votes against the EU Treaties and the latest MRBI/TSN poll,which showed the majority of the Irish people would reject the EU Constitutionalso shows a growing opposition to a European Empire.
The massive anti-war demonstrations in 2003 and the enormous marchesin 2005 in support of the Irish Ferry workers show, like the poll resultsquoted, that there is very real and strong opposition to the transformationof the EU into a centralised,
militarised, neo-liberal superstate among a very large number of people.
The parties that have played a key role in these demonstrations havebeen the Green Party, the Labour Party, Sinn Fein and the smaller socialistparties, as well as a number of radical independents. PANA has alwaysacted as a catalyst in the efforts to build these political forces into an alternative alliance and analternative Government, and we will continue to do so.
There is no doubt that, on one hand building such an alliance to theimperialist formation that now dominates our political/media elite isnot easy. On the other hand, since all the Fianna Fáil, PD, FineGael and unionist parties offer is a
sustained attack on the living and working conditions of the peopleand a deepening Irish involvement in an ongoing war in which the defeatof the EU/US military is the only possible option, it might not be asdifficult as all that. We should know from previous major politicalshifts such as 1912-1918, or 1927- 32 that many of the political activistsoperating within the elite change sides, and it will not be any differentthis time around either.
We should therefore accept that the defeat of the neo- Redmonditesis absolutely inevitable; it’s only a question of time. Our realtask, therefore is to ensure that the alternative that develops is rootedin the anti-imperialist philosophy of Tone and Connolly. The creationof an alternative, based on an alliance of the political formationsthat have already shown their leadership in the 2003 and 2005 demonstrationsagainst the war and in support of the workers in Irish Ferries, is and
will remain the central objective of PANA. The linking of the militarisationof the EU with its neo-liberal economic goals in the minds of the peopleis of crucial importance if we are to win.
After all, the living standards of the ordinary trade unionist is goingto be eroded very quickly by the service directive, and since we arebeing dragged deeper and deeper into war, it is more than possible thatfaced with the choice of dying for a
neo-liberal elite led by a George W. Bush or a Hilary Clinton, as advocatedby FF/FG/PD/DUP/UUP parties, or a Red/Green Alliance that is opposedto war, they will choose the Red/Green Alliance.
PANA has never been about protest. PANA has always been about winning.It is about defeating imperialism by gaining the support of the peoplefor a real alternative: a United Independent Democratic Irish Republicwith its own
Independent Foreign Policy pursued through a reformed United Nations,with neutrality enshrined in our Constitution, and an Irish Protocolattached to an EU Treaty which would exclude our involvement with themilitarisation of the EU.
PANA has steadily built up links with other peace movements throughoutEurope and believe that our vision for the future of Europe is partof wider vision shared by growing numbers of people throughout the Europeanstates.
Throughout the whole of South America a wave of antiimperialist politicalforces is winning the support of the people and consolidating the politicalterrain. In the Middle East the total defeat of EU/US Imperialism isonly a few years away. The
willingness of some Shia leaders to ally themselves with US Imperialismwill undermine their ability to provide a coherent alternative, leavingthe option for a democratic alternative, based on the unity of Iraq,to emerge as the only effective
answer to Imperialism.
Not just in Ireland therefore, but also throughout South America, theMiddle East as well as throughout Europe and in the US itself, throughorganizations such as United for Peace & Justice, a global anti-imperialistmovement is being created. PANA is only
one small part of that global movement. Defeating the efforts of theIrish political elite to integrate the Irish Army into the EU BattleGroups is also only a small part of a very much wider struggle. Butwin we will, and win we must. For all the Imperialists offer is war,poverty and defeat; all they offer is a return to the Dark Ages.
Roger Cole, Chair,
Peace & Neutrality Alliance
For further information:
Irish Times/MRBI 2001,
ECR Survey 2001,
Irish Times/MRBI 2002,
Irish Times/TSNmrbi 2003, 2004, 2005