EU Commission on Weapons Kick

Question: In what line of work, when business is booming, is it really & truly BOOMING?

Answer: In the weapons industry, of course – making things blow up, or at least go *bang*! This double-”boomness” is now in full force over in the US, according to Handelsblatt:

Handelsbltt_Waffen

Check it out, the editors pull no punches here, with a title that translates to “Earn that money ’til things blow!” and a classic pic of Clint Eastwood in full firing-position up top. The article is mainly about how Springfield, MA-based Smith & Wesson just can’t keep up with current demand for its wares – oh, and how this revenue-flood now stands threatened by looming gun-control measures pushed by the Obama administration in the wake of last December’s Newtown massacre. Naturally, with that last part reporter Nils RĂ¼del merely betrays his ignorance of American political realities.

We can assume his employer is rather more on top of the European scene, though. Indeed, that Smith & Wesson piece (oh – sorry, I meant the article!) looks suspiciously like mere lead-in for the Exclusive! that Handelsblatt touts elsewhere today:

Handelsbltt_EUCommsnWpns

“EU Commission wants to reform the armaments market,” with the brief article itself (by Brussels correspondent Thomas Ludwig) entitled “EU States spend a lot for armaments.”

But this is a strange, disjointed report. There has apparently been some McKinsey study, which Handelsblatt has gotten (Exclusive!) hold of, which points out the age-old truth that EU states get much less bang for their buck when buying weapons than does the US, even as they have considerably fewer such bucks at their disposal. For example, European armies boast 14 different types of tank, the US Army only one. The McKinsey experts opine that savings of up to 30% are possible with closer defense procurement cooperation.

So what does the Commission (specifically: Internal Market Commissioner Michel Barnier) propose? Two things: That member-states cooperate more in military R&D (drawing in wherever possible civilian technical research), and that more support be offered to assist sales efforts outside the EU by medium-sized weapons makers – like those who find themselves competing with Smith & Wesson, for example.

The proposed cures don’t quite match up with the diagnosed ailment, do they? And then there comes this: “Operations such as those in Libya and Somalia have shown that Europe is falling behind in its military possibilities.” Well, yes – but the McKinsey folks weren’t talking about that, and, again, mere R&D cooperation and weapons-sales support does even less to address considerations such as that! Besides, isn’t that much more of a political question, even something best addressed by NATO rather than the EU?

If this sort of conceptual mismatch makes your head spin (particularly when you try to read about it in German), it might be best simply to concentrate on those proposals which Barnier is said by this article to intend to bring forward by the end of July. Encourage more weapons-sales from EU makers? Draw in civilian research to the scientific problem of most-efficient killing? This sort of thing would be a guarantee to produce a gaggle of left-leaning peacenik protesters at one’s door, at least in days past! Are we beyond that now? Does the economic crisis bite so hard that, as long as proposals simply aim to make or at least save some precious euros, they must be OK?

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