In This Review

Re-energising Europe's Security and Defence Policy
Re-energising Europe's Security and Defence Policy
By Nick Witney
European Council on Foreign Relations, 2008, 66 pp

This slim volume makes the most persuasive case possible for the collective modernization and reform of European defense. Witney, a longtime British diplomat and defense official, points out that Europe, which accounts for 25 percent of the world's military spending, wastes much of that money. Seventy percent of European troops are not capable of operating outside Europe. Their weapons are obsolete, and essential tasks are beyond them. According to Witney, the European Union cannot fix this; its members must do it themselves. Europeans, he proposes, must commit to an arrangement whereby "pioneer groups" of those countries that agree to pool their resources and set sensible priorities take the first step of reform together, leaving the others behind. Yet Witney's prescriptions presume that governments are independent from the military-industrial and parliamentary special interests that impede reform in Europe, as they do elsewhere -- a problem about whose solution this report tells little. Still, for those who hope that Europe can be more than the world's leading civilian superpower, there is no better place to start than with this book.