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  • What Reset?

    Posted by onparkstreet on April 3rd, 2014 (All posts by )

    I’m in a bit of a hurry so I will post two comments here that I posted at Small Wars Journal. As time permits, I will add various links. The point is to start a discussion and analysis. I no longer consider myself as a member of one or the other party and don’t wish to discuss the partisan angle except in an outsider “analyst” way.

    I often talk about democracy and diasporas in the comments section and Small Wars Journal has more than one article on the subject.
     
    In this case, one interesting domestic factor to consider is the way in which NATO expansion has been presented to domestic constituencies such as Polish Americans from the 90s onwards. Some live in states like Illinois and Ohio and are swing voters in key areas. As Sec. State, Hillary Clinton spoke of the future of NATO as one of expansion and she did it in Chicago which has large Eastern European diasporan communities. The choice of venue and the talks given definitely fall into the nature of what some constituencies–immigrant and otherwise–have long been working toward. Couple this with Robert Kagan as a part her then Foreign Policy Council (I believe it was called this) and you have an example of an intellectual community embedding itself within institutions; in this case, the State Department.
     
    This is what I meant in another comment. Power, ideology, immigrant diasporas, political blocs–these matter because events have a multifactorial basis. Faceless Bureaucrat at Kings of War has a brilliant post on multifactorality. There is a lot of propaganda out there from ALL sides. Fascinating.
     
    And not a little scary given how things got in Kosovo when various militaries came up against each other.

    Is Robert Spalding a Military Fellow at Council on Foreign Relations? There is confusion in this piece, IMO, between offense and defense and in using correct examples.
     
    NATO was about Western Europe. Ukraine is not Germany. And nuclear weapons change things so that the other examples seem a bit odd to me.
     
    But what I really wanted to say is that the Council on Foreign Relations seems to have this long time confusion between NATO as a defensive military alliance and the EU as a long term project to create a zone of peaceful activity and a collective or community.
     
    The Ukraine as part of a US defense security perimeter within NATO confuses the various missions and mixes up defense with offense and democratization and markets with the nature of security perimeters and where the lines are drawn. Too close, and it is permanently unstable.
     
    An example is a 1950’s book from Ben Tillman Moore, I believe, on the future of NATO. He speaks of a creating a community and this mixed-up nature of thought continues to the conversation today. I believe some of the California universities have this book on file in an open source format that can be accessed via internet.

    I think that from the right–or hawk angle– this issue has been “outflanked” by the former Secretary of State should she choose to run in a future Presidential election. I also believe this background to be one factor leading up to the crisis in the Ukraine today. A dangerous business given the presence of nuclear weapons.

     

    6 Responses to “What Reset?”

    1. Robert Schwartz Says:

      In the wake of World War II, and the Soviet conquest of Eastern Europe, it made sense for the world’s only intact industrial power to set up an alliance to counter Soviet power. If we hadn’t the Russians would have taken everything to the English Channel.

      Now, the Soviet Union is gone. Russia will never be a power like the communists were, it has no multi-national ideology and, as David Goldman (Spengler) points out, it is facing a demographic implosion.

      Europe is united in the EU, prosperous, and free. If we dissolved NATO, the countries of Europe would have to look to their own defenses. This would be salutary for them, because it would reawaken their honor and dignity, and reduce their tendency to gripe about US, and, salutary for US, because we would save a lot of money.

      We should not hesitate to favor a German led Europe over the Russians, as we need to cabin Russian power and keep them busy on their western front. But, military alliance is no longer a good thing for either side.

      The US has far more important business in North America, the Caribbean, South America, the Arctic, and on the Pacific rim than it does in Europe. Our resources and attention should be directed to those areas. Oh yes, and the Middle East? Let them kill, cook, and eat each other. It is so clearly what they want to do.

    2. Grurray Says:

      Europe going off on its own way and us retreating into a Fortress America posture will have one consequence-
      Germany will ally with Russia.

      There’s a natural affinity between the leaders
      Merkel is a former communist who grew up in East Germany and is fluent in Russian, and Putin served in East Germany while with the KGB and is fluent is German.
      The recent false reports about Russian withdrawing troops from the Ukraine border have come out of Germany.
      Gazprom employs many German political lobbyists including former Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.
      And all reports suggest most Germans feel like we should just forget about the whole thing because it was probably somehow America’s fault anyway.

      As has been posited here before, Poland would never accept it. Neither would Scandinavia.
      I’m not sure whether England cares enough or not. There’s a lot of Russian money sloshing around in London, so they are probably irresolute.

      The purpose of NATO is evolving. You can make the argument that right now, it’s main job is just keeping Europe together and preventing it from yielding to its natural centrifugal forces. Can it sustain this and, more importantly can America maintain its leadership position in this endeavor? Most would answer no to both questions.

      More important than trying to figure out what NATO is good for anymore is asking,
      why is it so important to have a united Europe?
      Is the reason for Europe’s stretch of peace and (apparent) prosperity really the bureaucratic, less-than-the-sum-of-its-parts monolith European Union?

      I don’t believe so. Without America breathing down its neck with NATO, how much different do you think Europe would have looked over the past 50 or 60 years?

      NATO days may be passed, but is the United Socialist European Union. The safest Europe (and, frankly, the rest of the world) has been in its long history is when it is divided and decentralized.

      The more dispersed the better, and the place to start is Germany. When it’s strong and united it always either has to conquer its neighbors or join forces with them to avoid being overun, which shifts the balance of power towards hostility.
      When it’s divided there is a natural buffer between east and west.

    3. MikeK Says:

      One major problem with US foreign policy under Obama/Kerry/ Clinton is the stunning incompetence. Napoleon said, “If you decide to take Vienna, take Vienna.” A corollary of that statement is, that if you don’t want to take Vienna or if you believe the price is too high and the matter is not an existential one, SHUT UP !

      It invites opportunists like Putin when empty gestures take the place of serious and quiet diplomacy. What we have seen from Obama is bluster and retreat, a tempting scene for a would-be aggressor. I don’t think Crimea is a matter for us to make a federal case of. The antimissile bases in Poland and Czech Republic were more important and would not have been likely to provoke retaliation. Now, any movement to reverse these decisions would be a threat to Putin.

      Franklin Roosevelt provoked Japan in 1941 by cutting off oil exports. I don’t think he expected Pearl Harbor but he expected some Japanese response, probably in the Philippines. Maybe he thought he could cow them and Japan was far over its head in taking us on. Their militarist governemnt was incapable of calculating the balance of forces.

      Putin will probably make noises about Moldova and Estonia. Now, we are in a fix as any response will lack credibility. This is what happened to Chamberlain. He was not believed when he decided he could not allow Poland to go under. No one believed he would go to war with such an impossible situation.

      Plus, China is watching. We seem to think gay marriage is a far more important matter.

    4. Kirk Says:

      The point I don’t see raised here is that there was a commitment made to the Ukrainian people in the Budapest Memorandum that all parties would respect the territorial integrity of the Ukraine. We’ve now blown right past that, and are completely oblivious to the fact that we’re setting ourselves up for further nuclear proliferation, something that even the Russians are going to look back on with regret. Eventually–They’ve been remarkably short-sighted with a lot of their decisions surrounding this aspect of international relations. After all, who’s closer to Iran than anyone else?

      The precedents established in the last few years are not good ones, when it comes to the future prospects for keeping nuclear arms proliferation down. Libya? Gee, there was a really good idea: Khadafi comes clean, gets rid of his nuke programs, and then we more-or-less back a coup against him that results in his death at the hands of some rather nasty people. Think that others out there weren’t taking notes, and learning the lesson that giving up one’s nuclear ambitions does nothing but increase the odds of losing power?

      We just did the same thing to the Ukraine, but on a more impersonal scale. The next time we want someone to give up their nukes, does anyone seriously think that it will happen? It won’t, and the odds go up every day that at some point, the irrational are going to wind up in control of some portion of a nuclear arsenal, followed by some very unpredictable fun times for all of us.

      All brought to you by the greed of one Vladimir Putin, and the fecklessness of the current US administration. The inmates are running the asylum, internationally speaking.

    5. MikeK Says:

      “The point I don’t see raised here is that there was a commitment made to the Ukrainian people in the Budapest Memorandum ”

      In addition to this one, Bill Clinton disarmed military personnel on base. “Guns kill people.” Not much to be proud of from that period, is there.

    6. Grurray Says:

      Here’s another problem

      In 2012, Russia supplied 13 percent of the uranium purchased by owners and operators of the 104 NPPs based in the United States (US Energy Information Administration, August 28, 2013). However, according to the US government’s National Nuclear Security Administration, about half of the fuel now used in domestic NPPs comes from dismantled Soviet warheads purchased under a 1994 contract that set aside $12 billion for the “Megatons to Megawatts” program (National Nuclear Security Administration Press Release, June 24, 2013).

      Just before Obama signed the new START treaty in early 2011, he also fast tracked a new multi-billion dollar deal with Russia’s state nuclear company. They became one of our biggest providers of enrichment services.

      Because uranium is bought and sold through long term contracts, the supply and price is locked in well in advance. Sanctions could cause shortages and price spikes.
      In the Chicago burbs, we get half our power from nuclear.

      That pivot is more and more really looking like it was a bad deal all around.