Power Projection Capability.

Every now and again, posts on afoe have given rise to a lively discussion about European power projection capability. Usually, in the wake of the Iraq induced “rift through the West” and in the spirit of Robert Kagan’s quip about “Paradise and Power“, these discussions focused on the relative military strength of European forces.

But once you stop focusing on the military and start looking to Athens, Greece, where the world’s youth is currently attempting to celebrate humanity, (as of earlier this Saturday afternoon) Europe’s power projection capabilitiy does look quite impressive, to say the least….

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About Tobias Schwarz

German, turned 30 a while ago, balding slowly, hopefully with grace. A carnival junkie, who, after studies in business and politics in Mannheim, Paris, and London, is currently living in his hometown of Mainz, Germany, again. Became New Labourite during a research job at the House of Commons, but difficult to place in German party-political terms. Liberal in the true sense of the term.

His political writing is mostly on A Fistful of Euros and on facebook these days. Occasional Twitter user and songwriter. His personal blog is almost a diary. Even more links at about.me.

12 thoughts on “Power Projection Capability.

  1. But Eu can send much more competitors per sport than the other countries so it is a little less impressive.

  2. Fair enough, C. This wasn’t intended to be a serious comparison of, just a side note…

    So to avoid further confusion: in a number of competitions the IOC/National Olympic Comittees decide how many start slots are allotted per NOC. As the EU has a NOC per country (and 25 countries) there are probably more EU starters in these competitions, although not all NOC fill all slots. However, there are international qualification criteria to be met by all athletes in other competitions, notably in athletics and swimming.

  3. Just wait until the winter olympics and try to project the power of the Nordic countries from that! So some are in and some are out of EU, it doesn’t matter: who wouldn’t want the world to be run like a benevolent welfare state?

  4. Re: Nordic power projection. I’d say that however benign, or even benificent Nordic domestic policy has been, I have reservations about how their projection of international power (as evidenced by thier shooting-while-skiing prowess) might manifest itself.

    Maybe it’s just because my Irish ancestors weren’t too fond of their Viking ancestors. I, for one, am not inclinde to welcome our new Swedish overlords. I will, however, welcome their furniture. And drink their Aquavit.

  5. Thanks for tipping us off to the damn Aussies, I thought something was fishy about them, not to mention those darn hotdogging Slovaks.

  6. To get really funny reults you have to take the number of inhabitants into account.
    For the Olympics until 2002 Herman did that.
    #1: Liechtenstein. Easy, with 5 times the number of medals of #3, Norway.
    The first non-european country is Tonga: at #7.
    The Dutch: #19, the USA #45 but that still much better than China #87 or Japan #58.
    All scandinavian countries are among the top 15.

  7. The Russian / American poet Brodsky once said that he admired nations in proportion to how badly they did in the Olympics. France, for example, for all its gourmet cheeses and so-called “culture”, does not do well.

  8. Zizka, France is #6 on the table up there, and #7 now, whether you rank by total medals or by number of golds. How is this not doing well?

  9. It’s a little difficult to compare the results of the countries known that they all have their own difficulties and advantages.
    China has many inhabitants but can’t cope with the far richer USA.
    On the other hand how will the situation be at the Olympic Games of 2008 when China organizes them, poor but highly motivated? Or when looked to the games of 2064 when China might be superior and can give it’s people a good life, will the country overclass the world? While Europe has to many old people.
    What I try to say is that the economical and social structure and the people who benefit are important where ever you live.


    1. Scout and Bring in talented 16 year olds from around the world, concentrate on poorer countries or parents
    2. Have lax immigration standards for athletes
    3. Hire many doctors, coaches, scientists, masseuses, psychologists and nutritionisists.
    4. CHEMISTS are very important!!!!
    5. Offer Full scholarships at upper senior levels in high school (grades 11 and 12) plus tutoring classes for young foreigners starting at grade 9. Have very clever ways to get money to parents of children from poor countries, for nationals, be very clever about it to retain amateur status (interesting but very soft and lucrative part time jobs, FULL sholarships with ways to gain redeemable coupons etc.)
    Spend more money than other countries.
    6. Expect 16 years of work (4 olympics, to challenge for medals) since this would get experience for all the teams and most children in the nation would have been exposed to the system from a very early age. A nation would just get stronger, expecially if it did this for about 40+ years, because it would then have 2 generations of athletes, at the right age to compete in the olympics, and all its adults under 50 would have been in the system since youth.
    7. Concentrate on events where 30 medals are available, as opposed to 3.
    8. Reward successful athletes and honor them throughout life.
    9. Stick by those caught cheating, yet retain a great national pride in elements of your system AND truly believe that your athletes are cleaner than those of other countries.
    10. Bring in highly paid coaches from nations that are good at a sport..even if your country is a world leader.
    11. Promote outdoor and an active lifestyle throughout your nation.
    12. Make sure ALL children have access to quality equipment, no matter their economic status.
    13. Nutrition for ALL children is extremely important/
    14. Industriousness and discipline as a national character is important also.

    Extremely strong national governments have used many of these points with great succes (USSR, EAST GERMANY, ROMANIA etc).

    Seriously, EUROPE has a huge economy (Population times GDP), larger than Canada, USA and Mexico combined. It also has infrastructure. The limits to European power are set by three main factors: 1.Historical distrust of many of its peoples ands parts; related Nationalism such as exists in France and its desire to expand its relative influence 2. Diverse influences, forces and opportunites from the outside that naturally pull at countries such as England, Russia, and Spain. 3. Language, infrastructure, mehtod or custom, law -education-custom that does not evenly mesh from country to country.

    Europe has a great advantage. It benefits from a variety of methods AND the relations its less committed countries (to the central core) have on other power groups such as the USA, the Spanish world, the Arab world, South Asia….

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