I'd like to start off if anyone actually reads this I'm not advocating war. I'm not trying to push an imperialist agenda. I am a UK citizen and this is as much food for thought as it is a simple question.
It's a response to the recent NATO meeting in Wales I believe it was basically saying (*coughs* western) Europe basically needs to increase spending due to the likes of Isis, recent events in the Ukraine and Russia's involvement.
I'd like to make a point here I'm not going to argue over Russias involvement. To the resident internet Russians, I've nothing against Russia. I don't see you as a 'threat' currently. Without the US Europe wouldn't win a war against you etc etc. I'm not going to have that argument now. Having seen videos of the weponary and specifically just how well the rebel fighters are supplied in the Ukraine are, to me it says Russia is giving the rebels weapons, supplies etc at the least. That's fine you guys are perfectly entitled to. As a westerner I can't criticize for funding rebel groups whether it was right or wrong anyway. Russia can have it's own foreign policy and can do what it wants but if those goals are looking a little distasteful to me or my country you can understand why I'd at least like a big enough stick to make you think before trying anything against me or my interests especially when I'm not completely sure what you're going to do.
This ultimately goes back to the topic of defence spending. Western Europe specifically where defence spending has fallen so much has enjoyed a good period of peace. Sure we've been involved in the whole middle east etc but since the fall of the Berlin wall the biggest thing in Europe I would say was the Bosnian incident (this is upon hearing how it's refrenced to I really no nothing at all about it, I am but a young grasshopper and it is before my time). For all our media like to portray Isis is not a large threat to us. (I'll have no comments of the 'unstoppable tide of Islam' please, immigration is an issue but a different one we can discuss it elsewhere). Last I heard they were a bunch of unorganized, untrained but surprisingly equipped and numbering at a few ten thousand. As soon as you put that against a well equipped but more specifically well trained force, training is key, they don't particularly stand up well against it when it comes to the fighting. The middle east isn't really a threat to Europe , terrorism is all well and nasty but it isn't a threat to the sovereignty and mass population if you get caught by them it's as much bad luck and timing as anything else. (the nuclear dirty bomb issue is something else I know I'm excluding it in this case it's a different kind of threat).
However, one of the largest militaries in the world is potentially a threat to Europe. Again no offense intended to Russians but you recent activity or lack of as you're telling us has either way caused quite a stir in the baltics if you hadn't noticed and many nations such as Poland, Finland etc are deciding to spend quite a bit more all of a sudden. They're obviously scared no one starts spending a few hundred million more on defence for the fun of it (unless you're American ;) ).
I am all for cooperation I'd much rather we all get along. But a military is their for security. And we can't have our way of life or any stable way of life without security. We need a military and it needs to be big enough that it is a credible defence on standby. A recent report from the German defence..... Ministry I can't remember what its called declared only 8 of their 100 odd typhoon fighter jets ready to be deployed. It's a similar story with other things. It's not that Germany lacks equipment. It has plenty. It lacks the personnel and supplies to keep that force effective and the impression is the other biggest European nations France and the UK are not that different. That's not a sustainable plan for security.... Ever. A US review estimated Europe's capabilities to be a quarter of that of the U.S. the US being able to maintain a force overseas of around 400,000 and Europe only 100,000 yet European defence spending is around half of the US budget. We're hiding the truth as more things than we realize are either in storage/ not maintained. If that wasn't an issue are military's aren't at a bad size but since defence spending is offensively expensive we need to spend more it's not something we can stop doing pretending we don't need something credible.
So, here's an idea. A European military. The biggest advantage being an increase in efficiency. You loose certain administration costs, infrastructure costs etc etc whatever... the end result is an overall stronger military force in Europe for less money. It doesn't have to be huge just enough to ensure security. Individual European nations can no longer stay at the forefront on their own modern technology's are so expensive it just can't be done we're not big enough population wise. We need to start doing things together and some of us are abysmal unproductive we need to change that and become as efficient as ze Germans or possibly even Swiss if we can manage that.
As I said, I don't currently fear an invasion from Russia, but if you look at the state's of our militaries is western Europe none are in any state to respond to a dedicated invasion of say a baltic's state for example, certainly without the US at the minute there's nothing we could do. We don't need a massive military, we don't necessarily need American levels, not at all. Just enough to be a detternt for the next 10, 20, 50 years. Europe needs to decide how it will do that whatever the threat may be then. To Me ar least working together works in everyone's favour.
Again, food for thought, if anyone does read this don't take it too seriously in the opinions please.