The Guardian July 19, 2000

Single European military-industrial complex

by Brian Denny

The drive for a single European military-industrial complex has continued 
at such a rate that Germany felt confident enough this month to demand that 
Spain halts plans to sell its main arms firm to the United States.

Madrid has agreed in principle to sell the state-owned Empresa Nacional 
Santa Barbara to the US firm General Dynamics.

However, Berlin's Defence Minister Rudolf Scharping dashed to Spain to 
convince them of the error of their ways and behave like "good Europeans" 
and sell it to Germany's Kraus-Maffei.

Berlin needs Santa Barbara to strengthen the Franco-German dominated 
European Aeronautics Defence Company (EADS) which will be launched on the 
shares list in Frankfurt on July 10.

Germany may well attempt to use its economic muscle to get what it wants 
from Spain.

However, increasingly Spain has been looking to Latin America for 
superprofits from foreign investments and may not be easily persuaded.

Direct Spanish foreign investment in Latin America and the Caribbean rose 
from L10 billion (A$25 billion) in 1990 to nearly L60 billion in 1998.

Such a situation gives Berlin less leverage to block the US sale. As 
Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Pique declared: "The fact is that the best 
offer today is the US one."

The EADS forms the core of the planned military-industrial complex which 
was built into the 1997 European Union Amsterdam Treaty to arm the future 
European army.

A well-armed military wing of the EU will cut Europe's reliance on US 
military hardware and NATO in order for Brussels to wage its resource wars 
of the future.

As EU foreign policy tsar Javier Solana told the Spanish newspaper El 
Pais in May, such a force was needed "for crisis situations such as are 
being produced in various African countries at the moment".

NATO Secretary-General George Robertson also demanded just this month that 
military spending must increase across the continent in order for Europe to 
"do another Kosovo".

The future of the EADS was boosted when German Defence Secretary Walther 
Stuetzle announced recently that Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands 
had ordered 366 NH90 military transport helicopters for around L6 billion.

Germany and France also agreed in June to cooperate on the Galileo spy 
satellite system that would cut their reliance on US military intelligence.

Following a summit in the German town of Mainz, French and German leaders 
said Berlin would acquire an all-weather radar satellite system while Paris 
would bring its optical satellite system into the joint project.

Plans for an independent European satellite system have been hastened 
following the performance of US satellite systems which pinpointed targets 
for its B-2 bombers in all weathers during last year's illegal war against 

"We recognised in Kosovo that we have to be able to stand on our own two 
feet in the area of European reconnaissance. We can't rely on delivery from 
outside of Europe", one German official source said.

German Chancellor Schroeder's conservative predecessor Helmut Kohl pulled 
out of an ambitious European satellite program with France in 1997, citing 
budget constraints.

France was especially keen to build the Helios II and Horus satellites to 
make Europe independent of Washington's superior "spy in the sky" 
capabilities and made the project a symbol of Europe's drive for its own 
military identity, apart from NATO.

Germany has now changed its mind since the technology is now cheaper and 
because the US refused to share all its satellite intelligence with its EU 
allies during last year's military attacks in the Balkans.

During the Yugoslav conflict Germany used unmanned drones launched from 
bases in Macedonia to gather aerial reconnaissance but some crashed and 
they could not operate in poor weather.

The EU mandarins are determined to increase their own military capability 
in order to outflank their US imperial rival in the race to grab control of 
the world's resources for their own empires.

However, the attempt to weld together different imperialist interests into 
one militarised superpower in Europe has revealed both the splits within 
the EU and the true reasons for its existence beyond the rhetoric of its 
"internationalist" nature.

* * *
Morning Star

Back to index page