Europe is suffering for 66 years from an acute case of Normandy syndrome, that has worsened with time and is now a chronic illness never treated with no wanted treatment, because it has some pleasant symptoms for most of the sufferers who only had to lie in bed and wait to see if the danger passes. But is urgent to find a cure, because the world is changing and there will be a disaster to have so many countries passively living comfortably as if this last six last decades didn’t happen
And what is that Normandy syndrome? I hope you’ll be so kind to forgive me because I figure out the name thinking about what’s happening with NATO and also with the UN in this time of constant changes, not only in the so-called Muslim Spring, but in the “other side” of Europe and Asia, and Africa, and the whole World.
What Happened in the Normandy Beaches at the end of WWII has marked all this time. The US forces, with the British, Canadian and free French in lower numbers, take the ground in a brave and bloody battle leaving there so many lives to liberate Europe from Hitler. From that memorable fight, it was clear that the US military were powerful and didn’t have doubts to put their forces in the front line on the ground if necessary at any costs. (And if is not also, don’t forget for example the Bush’s Iraqi adventure and it’s consequences)
There were more international conflicts and under the NATO missions, or UN missions, or “coalition” missions, they there are the US forces leading the fight if there is need to put people on the ground, usually followed by the British, but in a very lower numbers. The others enter when the ground is secured and there is no so dangerous. But the problem never has been so pristine claire like in this last turmoil on the North Africa and the Middle East.
When the trouble began in Tunisia, and then Egypt and then Libya, well, everybody over here, in Europe, understood that something have to be done. But then Washington was silent, waiting to see what will happen (I think wisely). That was a change unexpected here, where the diplomats are used to talk securely after the fast reacting Americans said something and not take the lead. But then, Libya was an urgent problem (Too close to Italy, Greece, France, in the middle of the Mediterranean). Besides, all this countries had been until the day the protests commenced friends with Gaddafi. They had to react, they were members of NATO, they recurred to it, but suddenly they showed their big problem. Without the lead of the US, they can’t get together. Doubts, divisions, no way to reach an agreement (we knew that with the experience of the way the EU “works”). Meanwhile, thousands of refugees where pouring in boats to Italy and, just in case, the EU decided to close their internal borders to let the Italians deal to the problem without any help. That’s the “Union” in Europe.
I live in Spain. Here, the doctrine that the government is selling to the people about the military forces is that they are a “humanitarian” corps. As if there’s such a thing as a “humanitarian war”. A war never is humanitarian, it’s an evil in itself, only justified if it’s in self-defense, and with proportion to the attack suffered. I can’t justify a strategical, economical, racist, or simply show of power war and less of all that monstrous thing called preventive war ( I suspect you are going to hit me so I kill you before. And what if I was wrong? bad look, guy! I’m sorry, your fault to look so suspicious).
Let’s go back to the situation in western Europe. The politicians sell to the people who their soldiers don’t go to very dangerous areas in dangerous countries. They go to keep peace, build schools, roads, protect civilians. Not to engage in battle with enemies forces. And when somebody die or get wounded there is a big surprise for the people and big protests, because this was not what they were talking about. (Of course the military know what are doing).
More European countries do the same. They expect another Normandy every time NATO comes to the table. The US forces in the front line, maybe with the British, and when the place is more or less secured, enter with whatever they can to keep peace. That’s politically secure: no risk of denounces to the International Court, not “collateral damages”, not war crimes, only “accidents” easy to explain.
But this can’t go on for ever, just because the world is changing too fast. There is no room for European disunion. It’s time to pass the page of the WWI and WWII. Cold War is gone, the problems of the colonialism in Africa and Asia (caused precisely for the “old mighty” Europe) are surging and searching for solutions, the status quo of the last six decades is falling down.
The US, Europe, NATO and UN had to adjust to that. I think the Obama Administration had understood this, but I’m not so sure western Europe has. The Normandy Syndrome has to be cured now. the US is not anymore the medicine. If Europe doesn’t understand this, it will never see the need to decide by itself the problems that are changing the world now a very fast pace and will lost the flight.