The recent news from Europe that captured the headlines, is the view of European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, for the creation of a ‘European army.’
Now forgive me those of you who are unfamiliar with the Tom Clancy franchise, but in 2008 a game titled EndWar became the latest addition to the series. In the EndWar universe a nuclear terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia propelled Russia to become the sole energy superpower, it subsequently annexed former Soviet republics and began a new arms race. Europe, hit by economic hardship, federalised, becoming the richest state on the planet. Britain refused to join the new European federation and pursues its own policy. Tension builds between the United States and the European Federation and, long story short, the Europeans accidentally mistake a civilian space rocket in America for a missile and their space laser destroys it. America declares war, Russia declares war on Europe in aide of America, but America see this as an attempt to recreate the Eastern bloc and so also declare war on Russia. Woah.
“unfortunately space lasers don’t exist”
So no, Tom Clancy hasn’t really predicted World War 3, (unfortunately space lasers don’t exist – that we know of!), but events in his game are certainly very similar to events unfolding today. The Middle East is a cauldron that’s already blown its lid, and hasn’t yet boiled dry. Now the obvious destabilising factor in the region is IS. It is not a huge leap to imagine them turning on Saudi Arabia if they should manage to conquer Iraq. Then there is the recent controversy over the US’ attempt to improve relations with Iran by forwarding their civilian nuclear agenda. Could Netanyahu be right? Could a nuclear Iran evade inspectors and create a nuclear weapon? Perhaps an Israeli-Saudi coalition attempts to disarm them – perhaps it goes terribly wrong.
Moving on to Russia. There is a fear in the West that Putin is trying to rebuild the Soviet Union. The annexation of the Crimea, the crisis in Eastern Ukraine, the Baltic states’ fears, there’s even an interesting article on Russia potentially gearing up to invade Georgia. Russian defence spending has indeed increased over the past 5 years also. Russia is vocally against the expansion of the EU and believes it to be a direct threat to its security. In the mean time, Saudi Arabia’s oil production rate is brutalising the Russian economy, so oil prices need to stabilise and increase before Russia can confidently and stably assert itself. Nonetheless is it unreasonable then to entertain the thought that war could break out between the EU and Russia in the future?
How about Britain breaking away from the EU? This is quite possibly the likeliest of all the scenarios. One of the most recent YouGov polls puts public opinion for staying apart of the EU at 45% and leaving at 37%. While a recent poll by Opinium puts it at 41% in and 44% out. While UKIP who scored 3.45% of the public vote in the last general election is generously predicted to hit as high as 25% according to a recent poll by Survation. Britain’s relationship with the EU is a hot topic in British politics at the moment, it is completely within the realms of realty to imagine us pulling out. Especially if you consider the Prime Minister’s ardent condemnation of a proposed EU army.
Moving swiftly on to the European Federation. The EU has been criticised by many in Britain for its attempts to gain increased control over internal affairs of its member states. The effects of the economic downturn have been deeply felt in Europe, and the fear of breakaway states undermining Brussels is a very real possibility. Not only that, but Europe is increasingly becoming overshadowed, with nations like China, Brazil, India and Indonesia quite possibly leading the world one day. It does not require a far stretch of the imagination to see Europe turning towards federalism to preserve its influence in the world. And as the German defence minister Ursula von der Leyen believes, ‘our future as Europeans will one day be a European army’. It is not unreasonable to expect an organisation like the EU will one day form a defence force, but what policies might it pursue? Intervention in North Africa? An independent intervention in the Middle East?
And what of the United States? How would it interact with a European Federation? The EU’s combined GDP is greater than that of the United States’, its combined military is also comparable in size and quality to that of the United States. America has recently become critical of the EU, its inability to keep up with NATO defence spending, its inactivity over Russian sanctions and let’s not forget the mistrust sewed between the US and EU after the Snowden leaks. A European Federation may want to follow a completely different policy on China. Could Europe and the US come to blows? If their interests overlap it could be a possibility, stranger things have happened (see the Marco Polo Bridge incident).
“the fragility of current world events”
Of course, this article has been based on a video game. Currently, the foreseeable future does not appear to have a European Federation or a nuclear war in the Middle East on the horizon. But if we can take anything from this comparison, then let it be the fragility of current world events. In the time since this article was typed up the US Congress circumvented the Presidents’ authority and massively undermined the entire US political system. Such a move has put the US in an extremely vulnerable position, with its stability shaken, the coming weeks are truly important to the future of world affairs. We like to shrug off farfetched predictions such as a Third World War, hiding behind our civility and progression, but I would urge anyone who doubts such a conflict could occur to Google, ‘Syria before and after’. Ask yourself whether the Syrian people ten years ago ever expected such destruction, and ask yourself whether 76 years ago the people of Europe ever expected what was to come.
Lest We Forget.