France, Germany, Belgium, and Luxembourg form a defence league to balance the power within NATO
I was drinking beers with four of my friends last night, when this came up. One of these friends is a master-corporal in the militia, another used to be in the militia as well. One is a former botswain in the navy, and the last is an active non-com officer in the army. Their reaction: how do we join this league? (they were joking, sort of...).
The leaders announced after a brief summit here that the four countries would set up a multinational headquarters by the end of next year that could be deployed with forces abroad for joint military operations. They provided few details, but said it would aid missions by both the European Union and NATO.
The four also proposed the separate creation of a military center in Belgium by the summer of 2004 for command and planning of EU military operations in which NATO is not involved. French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, who have been trying to mend fences with the Bush administration, watered down a Belgian proposal to set up a full-fledged European military headquarters separate from NATO.
The agreement drew a caustic rebuke in Washington from Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. He told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that the four countries had created "some sort of a plan to develop some sort of a headquarters."
"What we need is not more headquarters. What we need is more capability and fleshing out the structure and the forces that are there with the equipment that they need," he said. Powell has criticized the summit participants for failing to pledge to increase their defense spending, as U.S. officials have long advocated.
Expect more vitriolic attacks from BushCo and from T.B. in the future, as this progresses.
"We are not questioning the transatlantic alliance (NATO). We want to reinforce it," Chirac said. But, he said, "in order to have a balance, we have to have a strong Europe, as well as a strong U.S."
Translated: there needs to be a balanced power in NATO to keep certain other countries in check.
[ 30 April 2003: Message edited by: Sarcasmobri ]