Theater of Cruelty

Info war and arms purchases

EU and NATO leaders signal that they will strengthen military cooperation. Will it lead to increased militarization of Europe?



The 41 point plan was presented by EU Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini and NATO commander Jens Stoltenberg during the Alliance's Foreign Minister meeting in Brussels 5. – 6. December. They promised closer cooperation on "hybrid war" and "cyber war", maritime in the Mediterranean, drills and subsidization of defense technology.

The statement comes as both organizations are under pressure: Populist, EU-critical parties are on the rise, while Trump's statements in the election campaign have cast doubt on NATO's security guarantee. "The most extraordinary coincidence of disturbing incidents in a long time," as Foreign Minister Mogherini described it.

Foreign Minister Børge Brende and his other 27 colleagues met for the first time after Trump's election victory. Brende did not see the strengthening of European military cooperation as an admission that the security guarantee has been weakened.

"No, I do not recognize myself in that picture. I think it is a very important statement that NATO and the EU have agreed on. It emphasizes that you should not do double work, and where you complement each other, "says Brende to Ny Tid.

Mogherini went on the brink of an EU army this summer because, in her opinion, NATO is unable to defend Europe. However, the statement contained nothing about the controversial proposal, which was a contributing factor to the British vote leave in June.

We journalists play a key role, and have a special responsibility not to let us get rid of the war propaganda.

Weapons boom. Among the statements was a new initiative by the Commission: for the first time to spend EU taxpayers' money on subsidizing the development of military technology. A fund of 90 million euros per year is part of the package, but together with joint tenders and other measures, the EU will spend billions of euros on boosting its own weapons industry.

The plan was announced in advance the day after Trump won the election, when Jens Stoltenberg announced the 9. November was the master of ceremonies for NATO's "weapons fair" in Brussels (formally the "NATO-Industry Forum").

EU Secretary of State Federica Mogherini expressed in words what many people said – that she had to go over the manuscript to her speech once that morning, to see what she should delete and what she should keep. It could be clearly seen from the faces that both Stoltenberg and Mogherini were disappointed that Trump had won. A record gathering of over 80 companies from over 30 countries was the audience when Elzbieta Bienkowska, a member of the Commission responsible for growth, explained how small and medium-sized businesses should be included in Europe's arms boom.

After the start of the Ukraine crisis – which NATO believes began with the annexation of Crimea, while Russia believes it began with the revolution in Kiev – there has been a violent upheaval in some of the countries of Eastern Europe, and a growing war rhetoric – a "new cold" war".

Will we now have an increased militarization of European societies? How will this affect the economy? Does the EU use tension with Russia to justify subsidizing its own industry?

"Breaking down waterproof bulkheads." A recent report from the BICC Institute in Bonn, Germany, shows that several countries in Eastern Europe have prepared considerably over the past year, while the same is not the case in Western Europe. Yet.

Poland moved up from 80. place in 2011 to 61. place in 2015. Lithuania departed from 66. place in 2012 to 44. space in the 2015 – and can be expected to climb further in the next few years, according to Marius Bales at BICC. He refers to a study of 31 European countries that predicts defense spending will increase by 8,3 percent this year on average. The growth is mainly driven by a growth of 19,9 percent in Central and Eastern Europe. Growth in Western Europe is expected to be 2,7 percent this year compared to last year.

Figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) show that the world's total military expenditure increased by 50 per cent from 2001 to 2010. In 2010, EU member states spent 194 billion euros on the military. This figure corresponds to the deficits in the state budgets of Spain, Italy and Greece combined.

The industry in Europe, especially in Germany and France, has trouble living with the sanctions on Russia at length. When the EU now wants to inject public funds into the arms industry, questions may be raised as to whether these are hidden subsidies. Researcher Aude Fleurant at SIPRI thinks this is not the case, as the benefits of such investments are small compared to other economic activity – especially the processing industry.

“Many people tend to overestimate how much weapons production contributes to a gross domestic product for a number of reasons. It has to do with the way of calculating, ”says Fleurant.

But researcher Andrea Frontini at the European Policy Center believes the security and defense sector can be an effective "driver" of technological innovation.

We got a mood where free information exchange and debate has become dangerous, and free expression of democracy has become somewhat risky.

"This is already the case with inventions such as the internet, laser and microwave. Defense research can generate significant contagion effects in the civilian sector, and many technologies can be used for both military and civilian purposes – so-called dual use, »She says to Ny Tid.

Norway's NATO ambassador Knut Hauge believes the EU's new fund of 90 million euros a year is a symbolic sum, but in principle important because it breaks down the waterproof bulkheads that have been between the countries' military suppliers.

“Defense cooperation is one of the most national of national politics. The defense industry has been very sheltered areas under national authorities. What the European Union is now trying to do is try to soften this and reduce the Scots, which has so far been a problem, ”he says.

There is a branch of peace research that examines whether there is any connection between economic growth and the degree of militarization – a controversial topic even among peace scientists. Some peace researchers believe the connection is clear, although they disagree on the direction of causality. A Taiwanese research team has looked at recent data from European countries and found that there is a causal link going from economic growth to increased military spending – which means that when there is more money in a society, that society will also spend more money defending itself against the outside world.

Information War. But what the EU and NATO declaration first mentioned is so-called hybrid warfare and information warfare. Collaboration here is about combating disinformation, which has been blamed for an ever-wider range of unforeseen incidents. While an increasing number of soldiers are deployed to what in 2015 have been called "reassurance measures" and now called "deterrence" along NATO's east flank, the real battles are to be fought in social media and the Internet's dark nooks.

While the sanctions front on Russia is under pressure from democratic elections, including in France, with Fillon and Le Pen as the leading candidates to become new president, fake news and alt-rightthemes are addressed and handled with the same degree of threat assessment as terrorism. We have got a mood where free information exchange and debate has become dangerous, and free expression of democracy has become somewhat risky.

Advertising. To mobilize large groups of people for war, you need a credible enemy understanding and a sense of being need because it is the last opportunity. We journalists play a key role here, and thus have a special responsibility not to let us get rid of the war propaganda. Because while talking about backing up fake news and Russian propaganda – blamed for an increasingly unlikely range of events – Mogherini's perfect storm opens up to shamelessly low-hanging journalist fruit, which NATO and Pentagon correspondents unmasked last week press room. Heard on NATO: A journalist from a major US newspaper said he liked writing the things that scare people by warning that the Russians are coming. And he added: “This escalation along the east is fine, we are shown expensive material, but no door. It's the best form of war. "

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