You remember this claim, right?
But the characterization of Europe as irrevocably pacifist or weak is more cartoon than reality. In fact, with so many European countries being willing to make meaningful military contributions in the fight against ISIS, we seem to be witnessing a new, more muscular European security leadership.
Let's look at the British military, which is the most capable of the European members of NATO:
Today the Royal Navy operates no aircraft carriers and has just 19 combined destroyers and frigates in its fleet.
The British Army is in the process of losing 40 percent of its Challenger main battle tank fleet, 35 percent of its self-propelled heavy artillery pieces, and seeing its numbers shrink from 102,000 to 82,000 troops (a deployable 30,000 reserve element is intended to compensate for this reduction, but recruiting struggles currently present a hurdle).
The Royal Air Force will receive far fewer F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter jets than originally envisioned, while the Ministry of Defense has opted out of a prior commitment toward a final batch of Eurofighter Typhoons (production Tranche 3B).
The government's "Future Force 2020" structure calls for the Army to have one multirole brigade of about 6,500 soldiers to be the enduring element of its high-readiness capability, meaning a single brigade will be available to operate for an extended period in a theater such as Afghanistan.
This is all ground I've gone over before in these "pages."
But ponder the fact that if two of Britain's frigates collide with each other while leaving port, Britain will at a stroke have lost 10% of their surface fleet. Feel the resurgence.
Britain's new, more muscular leaders protest that this hand-wringing is nonsense!
In their defense plans, future British leaders will spend money from God knows where and at the expense of Lord knows what interest group to build new, more muscular weapons for Britain's troops! So there.
Now tell me that exciting tale of Europe's new, more muscular leadership again!
UPDATE: Huh. Russia doesn't get new amphibious warfare ships. France gets paid. And the EU gets a navy?
France is to supply its Mistral warships to the EU foreign service instead of to Russia in a move designed to forge a “genuine European defence policy”.
Of course, batting .667 for the EU is unheard of. So that's your clue this is an April Fool's Day joke even if you gloss over the disclaimer.
The sad thing is, this kind of decision would be an improvement on the EU's defense policies.