Catch21 - Our Charity ArmCatch21 is a charitable production company set up in 2005 which trains young people to make videos and engage with their communities.Catch Creative - Our Video Production ArmCatch Creative offers a complete video production service, from Conception to Distribution.Catch EngagementCatch Engagement is the new video interaction platform from Catch21 which allows you to run a campaign using both user generated films as well as professionally shot ones which are displayed via Video 'Walls'. Catch Engagement is all about using films to build an online community - welcome to the future of video.

We shoot cutting edge videos and provide a forum to give people a voice.
Engagement. Discussion. Empowerment.


All content featured on our charity site is produced by young volunteers with the support and mentoring of our professional production team.

Europe no image

Published on April 26th, 2012 | by Claudia Mancini
Image © [caption id="" align="alignnone" width="567" caption="© Claudio.Ar"][/caption]   In the 21st century, power is rarely defined by the number of soldiers, boats or airplanes a country can deploy. Other indictors, especially economic and financial ones, have come to be considered the most relevant in identifying winners and losers in the international relations game. Nonetheless, as the Iranian regime is making very clear, some military capabilities such as the possession of nuclear weapons, are still regarded as fundamental to becoming a world power. For this reason, trends in defence spending are a useful tool to understand the changing distribution of power at the global level. For anyone with even a superficial knowledge of international relations and international economy, it cannot come as a surprise that the West is progressively cutting the percentage of budget allocated to defence, while emerging economies like Russia and Asian countries are expanding their military expenditure. As a result of these trends, Asian countries, taken as a whole, now spend more than Europe for their defence. Looking at single countries, the UK and France, Europe's biggest spenders, have now been superseded not only by China but also by Russia, who boast a 9% increase in military expenditure last year. Nowadays, only three of the top ten spenders are European. Obviously, the economic and financial crisis is one of the main causes of the progressive reduction in defence spending decided by the US and European governments. Conversely, the impetuous economic growth they are experiencing is among the causes of the massive investments in weapons made by many Asian countries. China, in primis, but also India, Singapore, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam have, in fact, decided to reinvest part of their expanding budgets in the strengthening and modernisation of their defence systems. What does this raw data mean for Europe and its political future? On the one hand, for European citizens the reduction in defence spending can be seen as cause for celebration. Clearly, the only reason why European states can get away with very specialized and professional but progressively smaller armed forces is the fact that, in the span of a few decades, Europe has gone from being the epicentre of international military confrontation (during the Cold War) to a largely secure and pacified region. Europeans cannot but rejoice that, nowadays, a war in the heart of our continent almost seems a science-fiction movie plot. On the other hand, we must admit that progressive decline in relative military capabilities, despite a few successful examples of pooling dwindling resources (see EU's efforts but also UK-France cooperation) will probably mark an analogous decline in international influence for our continent. Missions like the ones in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also in Libya or Lebanon, will be more and more difficult to shoulder for any European country; as a consequence, it will become harder to gain a seat at the international negotiating table and in multilateral fora. Unfortunately, such a bleak outcome is far from unrealistic. However, a sliver of hope for European countries, reluctant to abdicate their position as global powers, may come from the possibility of further regional cooperation. Comparing total defence spending in Asia and Europe, in fact, while somewhat significant, is in a way like comparing the proverbial oranges and apples. Asian countries have to coexist in a region where nationalistic rivalries are very much alive and threats to peace are not just memories of the past. This means that their armies are much more likely to clash, in the future, than to cooperate. In Europe, on the other hand, a military confrontation between EU member states is almost inconceivable. True, full integration at the military level is still far from happening, but stronger and more efficient coordination, maybe in a NATO where the Americans have given up part of their influence, could put European countries back in the superpowers category.

1

Europe and defence spending. Another sign of decline?

© Claudio.Ar

 

In the 21st century, power is rarely defined by the number of soldiers, boats or airplanes a country can deploy. Other indictors, especially economic and financial ones, have come to be considered the most relevant in identifying winners and losers in the international relations game. Nonetheless, as the Iranian regime is making very clear, some military capabilities such as the possession of nuclear weapons, are still regarded as fundamental to becoming a world power. For this reason, trends in defence spending are a useful tool to understand the changing distribution of power at the global level.

For anyone with even a superficial knowledge of international relations and international economy, it cannot come as a surprise that the West is progressively cutting the percentage of budget allocated to defence, while emerging economies like Russia and Asian countries are expanding their military expenditure. As a result of these trends, Asian countries, taken as a whole, now spend more than Europe for their defence. Looking at single countries, the UK and France, Europe’s biggest spenders, have now been superseded not only by China but also by Russia, who boast a 9% increase in military expenditure last year. Nowadays, only three of the top ten spenders are European.

Obviously, the economic and financial crisis is one of the main causes of the progressive reduction in defence spending decided by the US and European governments. Conversely, the impetuous economic growth they are experiencing is among the causes of the massive investments in weapons made by many Asian countries. China, in primis, but also India, Singapore, South Korea, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam have, in fact, decided to reinvest part of their expanding budgets in the strengthening and modernisation of their defence systems.

What does this raw data mean for Europe and its political future? On the one hand, for European citizens the reduction in defence spending can be seen as cause for celebration. Clearly, the only reason why European states can get away with very specialized and professional but progressively smaller armed forces is the fact that, in the span of a few decades, Europe has gone from being the epicentre of international military confrontation (during the Cold War) to a largely secure and pacified region. Europeans cannot but rejoice that, nowadays, a war in the heart of our continent almost seems a science-fiction movie plot.

On the other hand, we must admit that progressive decline in relative military capabilities, despite a few successful examples of pooling dwindling resources (see EU’s efforts but also UK-France cooperation) will probably mark an analogous decline in international influence for our continent. Missions like the ones in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also in Libya or Lebanon, will be more and more difficult to shoulder for any European country; as a consequence, it will become harder to gain a seat at the international negotiating table and in multilateral fora.

Unfortunately, such a bleak outcome is far from unrealistic. However, a sliver of hope for European countries, reluctant to abdicate their position as global powers, may come from the possibility of further regional cooperation. Comparing total defence spending in Asia and Europe, in fact, while somewhat significant, is in a way like comparing the proverbial oranges and apples. Asian countries have to coexist in a region where nationalistic rivalries are very much alive and threats to peace are not just memories of the past. This means that their armies are much more likely to clash, in the future, than to cooperate. In Europe, on the other hand, a military confrontation between EU member states is almost inconceivable. True, full integration at the military level is still far from happening, but stronger and more efficient coordination, maybe in a NATO where the Americans have given up part of their influence, could put European countries back in the superpowers category.

Tags: , , , ,


About the Author



  • kulvirchanna

    sorry, but i reject the idea that decreases in defence spending show the decline. Yes, maybe in the past this has been true, but with the advent of nuclear technology, all a country needs is a nuclear bomb to stay powerful and prevent attack. Of course, cuts in defence mean we are less likely to go into countries, but the cut in defence is due largely (i think) to public opinion. Opinion right after 9/11 and 7/7 was that we need to get those terrorists and kill them! But, since Iraq and a war in Afghanistan lasting more than a decade, the public are just war weary and no one wants to go to war.

Back to Top ↑