European soldiers, often mocked by American analysts in recent years, are back in fashion. France’s intervention in Mali has inspired commentators on both sides of the Atlantic to wonder whether, in the words of Anne Applebaum of the Washington Post, “the European Union could become the world’s policeman.” French President François Hollande’s willingness to go to war excites those who believe the Obama administration is too cautious in its use of military strength. Philip Stephens of the Financial Times observes that “Europeans have caught the interventionist bug just as the U.S. has shaken it off.”
There are some obvious problems with this sort of commentary. As Stephens points out, European countries simply lack the military means to lead truly large-scale interventions. The U.S. still has 15 times as many troops in Afghanistan as France has in Mali.* And, as Applebaum notes, the political turmoil inside the EU makes it hard for the bloc to act effectively abroad. Germany does not share France and Britain’s interest in campaigns in Africa. Other EU members like Poland are also unenthused. ...
To read the rest, sign up to try World Politics Review
- TWO WEEKS FREE.
- Cancel any time.
- After two weeks, just $18 monthly or $118/year.
Request a free trial for your office or school. Everyone at a given site can get access through our institutional subscriptions.
- Sterile Politics Leaves Algeria’s Problems Unaddressed
- Global Insights: With Eye on Moldova, NATO Must Shore Up Southeastern Front
- Strategic Horizons: In Ukraine, Russia Reveals Its Mastery of Unrestricted Warfare
- Global Insights: Modernization Leaves Russia’s Military Improved but Limited
- Pressure Mounts as Deadline for EU-Africa Trade Talks Looms