American & Russian pressures build momentum towards a European army

Every-so-often, discussions emerge regarding the need of establishing a European army. This is an idea as old as post-WWII European integration and the European Defence Community proposed in 1952 that died with the 1954 veto of the European Political Community. Beyond the Common Security and Defence Policy and the Common Foreign and Defence Policy, military integration is a popular notion in France as well as among its traditional European allies, including Spain, Italy and Greece, who are unfortunately afflicted by austerity. The Baltic states and eastern Europe are traditionally much more vocal in support of a European army as a means of final protection against the projection of Russian foreign policy and the historical threat of Invasion. I am under the impression that Germany, however, has been much more reticent, if I am not mistaken, always taking a back stance vis-a-vis the discussion, fearful of the memory of its militaristic history. The UK on the other hand has been one of the leading obstacles to the formation of a EU army.

For my part I have spoken about why I am in favour of this before:

  • It is the only way to have a defence force that can actually defend the EU,
  • It takes advantage economies of scale
  • It takes advantage of military returns to scale
  • It would create a single military purchasor, a monopsonist akin to the US DoD that would be able to channel the necessary funds towards the type of cutting edge R&D that has given us GPS, drones, exoskeletons, computers, missiles, the internet, etc.

Of course, I am not naive. Any step to this effect would create an enormous potential for evil and destruction. While politically it may be an advantage, I tend to be suspicious of any policy that may appeal to rightwing extremists even if only as a means to redirecting their attention. Militarism has a very bad history in Europe and we should be very wary of it.

Nevertheless, this week may be the beginning of a new phase, with what appears to be a coordinated PR move from Brussels and Germany towards further European Integration. This post quickly reviews all the events and some related reports, asks 2 questions:

  • Is this renewed interest in European military integration meaningful or a front?
  • What triggered this announcement? – A Russian invasion of the Ukraine or the interference of US neo-cons?

It then reviews the latest proposal for EU defence integration and upcoming events and concludes that this is indeed likely to bring about some progress in this policy front.

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Military, Civil Administration, Taxes, Politics and Economics of the Roman Republic and Empire

The evolution of the Roman republic and later of the Roman empire is interesting because of the interplay between social, military and poltical dimensions as the drivers of change. To that extent, this post is probably best understood in the context of the other two on the rise and fall of the Roman republic and on the fall of the Roman empire. To that effect, it recaps the political and economic insights described in those two posts and adds some further facts I stumble across while reading about Roman antiquity.
The post is divided in 5 sections that discuss the main issues I was interested in:

  • The military structure of Rome
  • The Civil Administration
  • Taxation
  • Political Stability
  • Economic structure

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Sources for the Roman Empire

While writing the recent posts on the rise and fall of the Roman Empire I made use of a vast array of sources that I believe I should list below for my own sake and for that of others potentially interested in following a similar line of inquiry. The sources are divided in 2 categories: Primary sources and Secondary Sources (articles and books). I have added some general comments on my opinion of each source and some of the uses I made of them.

Primary Sources

Secondary Sources – Articles

Secondary Sources -Books

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Holocaust Memorial Day – Never Forget

On this day 70 years ago, Soviet troops liberated the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camps in present-day Poland. The scale of death and human destruction they found there was not lost to these men, even though they had been fighting on the most violent front of the most violent war in the history of mankind for 3 years.

Today we remember and hope it may never happens again.

Some sources of testimonials from survivors and related articles:

I also personally recommend the following:

Kristallnacht 08-09.11.1938

File:Ebensee concentration camp prisoners 1945.jpg

File:Buchenwald Corpses 07511.jpg

… and yet we know if continued to happen elsewhere, such as Rwanda and Cambodia.

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A New Phase in Euro-Zone Crisis – Zero Coupon Perpetuities for Greece?

I don’t have an enormous amount of time to consider the implications of the Greek election yesterday in a tremendous amount of detail. So the following are my thoughts, disorganised and potentially incoherent.

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Je Suis Charlie

All the cartoons they don’t like. Because freedom of expression, that’s why!

If you think they had it coming you are one of those people who thinks women (or any other minority for that sake) deserve to be raped (or suffer any other form of abuse) because of the way they dress, what they say or of the way they act, which, let’s be honest, is just plain ignorant!

Now let’s wait for the right-wing extremists to capitalise on this for their xenophobic agenda

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Dear Reader,

I wanted to take this opportunity to wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year. I won’t be posting any more this year, as I have some work I need to finish before going on holidays. During the new year, I hope to be able to continue to post at least once a week, hopefully on Fridays, but later otherwise.

I have plenty of posts I’ve started writing that need finishing as well as plenty of ideas for new posts I hope you will find as interesting as I do.

Europe and its integration remain in flux in the depressing economic and political aftermath of the financial crisis. Extremist right-wing parties seem to go from strength to strength casting a shadow not dissimilar to that cast in the 1930s when the liberal central parties seem to have lost the confidence of the electorates across Europe. Things are not quite as bad as then, but the Europe we live in now seems rather different from the one we lived in 10 years ago and our “new normal” is clearly more depressing than our past.

Nevertheless, much remains to be done. Will the deflation and economic inequalities that plague our continent, the fiscal competition of the single market, the continued exposure to asymmetric shocks and Russian triggers of a military threat push us towards more European integration in 2015? Or a British exit from the EU, civil war in Spain, more instability or even a default in Greece, failure in France and reform delay at continental level create continue to accumulate until discontent reaches a critical mass that it will be impossible to not breakup with the past?

I don’t know either. So hang around and let’s find out!

See you next year!

Best

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