I've just got around reading Thomas Friedman's column from a few weeks back on the EU military policy. The man is a massive embarassment to the Times:
...what really concerns me is Europe. Europe’s armies were designed for static defence against the Soviet Union. But the primary security challenges to Europe today come from the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa. If you put all the EU armies together, they total around 2 million soldiers in uniform—almost the same size as the US armed forces. But there is one huge difference—only about 5 per cent of the European troops have the training, weaponry, logistical and intelligence support and airlift capability to fight a modern, hot war outside of Europe.(In the United States it is 70 per cent in crucial units.)Those damn Europeans. Imagine that: they have not bothered to equip their army for invading the middle east. Think it might have to do something with, you know, not wanting to invade the middle east?
The rest of the European troops—some of whom are unionised!—do not have the training or tools to fight alongside America in a hot war. They might be good for peacekeeping, but not for winning a war against a conventional foe. God save the Europeans if they ever felt the need to confront a nuclear-armed Iran.
Friedman writes "the primary security challenges to Europe today come from the Middle East, Central Asia and Africa." This sort of doublespeak is at the heart of the problems with American foreign policy today. "Security challenges?" What the hell does this beaurocratic-speak mean? Can you name a country in the middle east, central asia, or africa that plausibly wants to invade Europe? Obviously not. Is he talking about terrorism? Europeans are largely concerned with homegrown Muslim extremists who exist in tightly segregated Muslim communities on the continent - foreign terrorists are considerably rarer. So "security challenge" seems to mean something along the lines of "country I don't like."
Finally, did Friedman get the memo on what nuclear weapons are? Friedman writes, "God save the Europeans if they ever felt the need to confront a nuclear-armed Iran." Friedman seems unable to understand the implications of war between two states that have nuclear weapons.
In 1945, Bernard Brodie, a brilliant war strategist then on the faculty at Yale University, picked up a paper at the local grocery store and read about the Hiroshima blast. Brodie, a naval war strategist and historian, is said to have read the first two paragraphs and remarked "Everything I've written is now obsolete." This insight, made by Brodie 50 years ago, seems to elude Friedman. Namely, in a war between two nuclearly powered states, the balance of conventional forces is irrelevant. When both countries have the capability to destroy each other at the push of a button, it matters little whether each one of two or three million troops.
Similarly, fighting a protracted conventional war with an Iran that possessed a nuclear arsenal, and was willing to use it, would be impossible. For one thing, no country in the region would let the U.S use its bases for operation - a threat by Iran to annihilate most of that country's population would outweigh any possible benefits from cooperation with the U.S. Note that deferential way in which the U.S. has treated North Korea which possesses a small number of nuclear weapons - supplying aid despite repeated provocations - and contrast that to the treatment of Saddam's Iraq.