Europe's defence industry: A transatlantic future

Europe's defence industry

Europe's defence industry: A transatlantic future

Written by Charles Grant, Gordon Adams, Alex Ashbourne, Luc Boureau, Bruce Clark, Chris Crane, Keith Hayward, Theresa Hitchens, Robbin Laird, Denis Verret and Stephan von Henneberg, 02 July 1999

The impact of the euro on transatlantic relations

The impact of the euro on transatlantic relations

The impact of the euro on transatlantic relations

Written by Steven Everts, 07 January 2000

The EU, the US and Taiwan

The EU, the US and Taiwan

The EU, the US and Taiwan

Written by Charles Grant, 16 April 2007

The EU, the US and Taiwan

by Charles Grant

Taiwanese domestic politics is nasty and messy. The two main political forces – the KMT, which believes in ‘one China’, and the DPP, which leans towards an independent Taiwan – hate each other with venom that is unmatched in most other functioning democracies. But the country is pluralistic, with a free press and fair elections. Since Taiwan’s politics are so much more ‘western’ than those of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), it ought to have many friends in the western democratic world.

But it has few close friends. Both the Americans and the Europeans know that they must be on good terms with China. It is simply too important, economically and strategically, to have as an enemy. Therefore ministers in most western governments are careful not to meet their Taiwanese counterparts on an official basis, lest China get annoyed. And they tolerate the fact that China excludes Taiwan from many international bodies, such as the World Health Organisation. Of course, there are some policy-makers in the West who think that democracies should stand by other democracies. The much-maligned neo-cons, for example, give moral support to Taiwan, as do some idealists of a more liberal persuasion.

American policy on Taiwan is both realist and idealist. The US supports the status quo, meaning that it opposes Taiwanese independence. But the US also promises to defend Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack. That promise is deliberately couched in ambiguous terms, to discourage the Taiwanese from provoking China, and to dissuade China from taking military action.

Having made no commitment to defend Taiwan, EU policy is much simpler. The EU does not see China as a strategic competitor, since – unlike the US – it is not an Asian power. So it has a clear policy of engagement with China, of supporting the status quo across the Taiwan Straits, and of being friendly towards Taiwan – but not so friendly that China would become annoyed.

The EU and the US agree on the goals of stability and the non-use of force across the Taiwan Straits. But Americans care much more about Taiwan, for the understandable reason that American blood and treasure could be shed in its defence Such emotions explain why the US over-reacted over the EU’s tentative moves towards lifting its arms embargo on China two years ago (there were good reasons why the EU should not have lifted the embargo at that time, but it was hard to have a rational discussion with some Americans over the matter, such was the strength of their feelings; they talked of the Chinese firing French missiles at American troops fighting on the beaches of Taiwan).

European views have shifted somewhat over the past two years, to be slightly more sympathetic to Taiwan. The fact that China passed the Taiwan secession law, which promises the use of force if Taiwan moves towards independence, was good PR for the Taiwanese. And the replacement of Gerhard Schröder by Angela Merkel has made a difference. She is a little more critical than her predecessor of large countries that abuse human rights, and opposes lifting the arms embargo. The departure of Jacques Chirac is also likely to affect EU’s China policy: he has been the leading proponent of lifting the embargo.

In some ways, the status quo is not so bad for Taiwan. The country is rich, successful and free, and many of its people enjoy a good quality of life. The problems for Taiwan are, firstly, its status – it is not allowed to do many of the things that normal countries do; and, secondly, its insecurity – almost a thousand Chinese missiles are pointing at it.

So the US and the EU are right to tell the Taiwanese not to rock the boat. This, along with a sensible US China policy balancing engagement with a promise of a military response to an attack on Taiwan helps safeguard the status quo, probably the best option available to Taiwan at the moment. In time, burgeoning economic ties between Taiwan and the mainland should make each side very wary of taking provocative actions that could threaten the prosperity of both – whatever the nature of the political relationship between the two. Ties between businessmen and politicians in Taiwan and the PRC are growing all the time. China is also democratising, slowly but surely, which increases the odds of peaceful reunification. Perhaps in the long run Taiwan can offer China an example of how prosperity, order and stability can co-exist with liberal democracy.


Charles Grant is director of the Centre for European Reform.

Comments

Added on 17 Apr 2007 at 20:22 by James

As Director Grant said that “ministers in most western governments are careful not to meet their Taiwanese counterparts on an official basis… And they tolerate the fact that China excludes Taiwan from many international bodies, such as the World Health Organization.” It means that Taiwan has been unfairly treated by many countries for too long.

Taiwan has been excluded from the United Nations and its related organizations since 1971, such as mentioned World Health Organization (WHO). According to a recent local poll to Taiwanese, up to 94.9% of the Taiwan public supports the nation's entry as a member of the WHO and that Taiwan should enter the organization under the name "Taiwan." Therefore, President Chen Shui-bian is sending a letter to WHO Director-General Margaret Chan Fung Fu-chun to express Taiwan's hope to apply to become a member of the organization under the name "Taiwan."

Many endorsements to Taiwan’s bid to WHO arise from global community.

Peter Kramer, the International Secretary-General of the Association of European Journalists, has regularly spoken on behalf of Taiwan in recent years noting how unfair it has been that Taiwan has not been able to enter the WHO. In an article of a recent edition of European Business magazine, he expressed his hope that European nations will assist Taiwan in participating in the WHO.

World Medical Association President Kgos Letlape recently pledged to do his best to facilitate dialogue between the Taiwan Medical Association and its Chinese counterpart to seek ways of resolving the differences between the two sides. "One of the biggest reasons why China has been so opposed to Taiwan's participation in the WHO is the name issue," he noted. "By holding an open dialogue, the two parties would have an opportunity to express their opinions and try to reach a middle ground on the issue."

Furthermore, Malawi Minister of Health Marjorie Ngaunje argued that Taiwan has every reason to be part of the international health watchdog because "all people have the right to health and life….The WHO is an organization designed to create more international collaboration on health issues. Although Taiwan is not part of the organization, it is already doing its part by holding such forum," she said.

A global petition “Say Yes to Taiwan's Bid to WHO” is appearing in GoPetition.com website. I would recommend everyone to login and click “Yes.” The address is as follow.

www.gopetition.com/petitions/say-yes-to-taiwan-s-bid-to-who.html

In defence of missile defences?

In defence of missile defences?

In defence of missile defences?

Written by Tomas Valasek, 14 March 2007

In defence of missile defences?
by Tomas Valasek

For those spoiling for another good transatlantic fight, the headlines from last week’s EU summit must have come as manna from heaven. “Chirac hits at US missile plans,” read the headline in the Financial Times after the soon-to-be-departing French leader addressed reporters in Brussels. “Cold War over missile defences,” wrote Le Monde, referring to US plans to place missile defence sites in Europe. Add to that the apparently critical words by Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, from earlier in the week and a new storm would appear to be brewing over the Atlantic.

Unfortunately for the hawks on either coast, closer reading of the actual statement shows a different, much calmer picture. Jacques Chirac did warn against needlessly ruffling Russia’s feathers, as did Angela Merkel. But little in the way of outright opposition to American plans is in evidence among European leaders.

There are two good reasons for that. As with the Iraq war, missile defences are likely to divide Europe itself. Warsaw, Prague and London have all expressed interest in hosting parts of the US system and would naturally oppose any attempt to build a common European position on the basis of opposition to missile defences. Most of the cost of a bruising argument would thus be borne internally, within Europe.

But just as importantly, many EU member-states are hedging their bets, not wanting to rule out the possibility of building a missile shield for Europe as well. The majority of EU member states – the 19 that are NATO members – already approved a 2006 study showing that such a programme is technologically feasible. That does not by itself mean that an allied missile shield will or even should be built: there are differences within NATO as to the gravity and urgency of the missile threat. But the fact that NATO countries commissioned the study at all shows their shared concern over Iranian and North Korean missile plans.

So while a tactical, politically-driven stance against US plans may seem tempting it would be difficult for any European capital to be simultaneously for and against missile defences, which is exactly the position in which those EU member-states that are also in NATO would find themselves. For that reason, chiefly, robust opposition to US missile defence plans is likely to be limited to a handful of European countries.

That is not to say that a debate on the system should not take place amongst European countries, quite the contrary. The discussions so far have already raised interesting questions about two key choices for the Europeans: How should they relate to Washington? And just how much solidarity can and will they show towards Moscow?

On the first point, German chancellor Merkel was absolutely right to say that Washington needs to use NATO more assertively in selling its plans for a missile shield. In saying so, Merkel is in effect echoing Gerhard Schröder, her predecessor, who - in one of his last speeches as chancellor in 2004 - urged allied leaders to involve NATO more in broader policy debates and to start using it to fashion common strategies and threat assumptions, not just military plans. This, Schröder and others argued, would be the most effective way to revitalize an alliance reeling from the aftershocks of Iraq. It could also give Europe a better foreknowledge of, and a bigger say in, US defence plans and strategy, thus reducing the chance of fratricidal arguments like those that shook NATO in 2003. The alliance is already moving toward broader policy debates. It plans to draft a new version of its key guiding document, the ‘Strategic Concept’, by 2009 and in fact, it has already debated US missile defence once, in February. Washington should continue to offer its future military plans up for a robust discussion at NATO, and it should do so early, to allow for a fruitful talks rather than a simple briefing. It may be rewarded with a greater sense of usefulness and solidarity among allies.

It is the European Union that comes out the worse for wear from this debate so far. When Moscow threatened Warsaw and Prague with military reprisals if they allow US missile defences on their territory, Paris and Berlin responded by, in effect, siding with Moscow against their fellow EU member states. While the French and German positions were nuanced – arguing for more consultations with Russia and not directly addressing Russian threats – the Czechs and Poles will no doubt feel that their EU brethren showed far too little solidarity given the gravity of Russian statements. This will do little to convince them to show more faith in the EU's security and defence policy, or to back Merkel's plans to revive talks on the EU's constitutional treaty and the creation of a European foreign minister.


Tomas Valasek in director of foreign policy and defence at the Centre for European reform.

Launch of German Marshall Fund's Transatlantic Trends Survey 2008

Launch of German Marshall Fund's Transatlantic Trends Survey 2008

Launch of German Marshall Fund's Transatlantic Trends Survey 2008

11 September 2008

With Ron Asmus, GMF.

Location info

London

Don't undermine free markets

Don't undermine free markets

Don't undermine free markets

Written by Philip Whyte, Simon Tilford, 08 October 2008
From International Herald Tribune

Obama's missile defense change shows different targets

Obama's missile defense change shows different targets

Obama's missile defense change shows different targets

with Tomas Valasek, 21 September 2009
From Yale Global Online

Obama’s European Scorecard

Obama’s European Scorecard

Obama’s European Scorecard

with Josef Joffe, Tomas Valasek, Patrick Weil, 07 April 2009
From The New York Times

Stopping the transatlantic rift

Stopping the transatlantic rift

Stopping the transatlantic rift

with Tomas Valasek, 26 January 2011
From International Herald Tribune

Warsaw warms to Moscow

Warsaw warms to Moscow

Warsaw warms to Moscow

with Tomas Valasek, 18 September 2009
From The Guardian

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