“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."

Monday, March 19, 2007

Nato is a relic of the post-WWII. Should it be sustained?

German FM: U.S. anti-missile defense plan could split Europe
2007-03-18 13:3

BERLIN, March 17 (Xinhua) -- Germany on Saturday cautioned the European countries against the danger of a split by Washington's plan to locate parts of an anti-missile defense system in Poland and the Czech Republic, which has sparked debates in Europe.

Europe should not allow divisions during the debates about the U.S. missile defense system, Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in an article to be published in the Sunday edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung.

Security in Europe is the common concern of all European countries, and the Europeans should rely more on their own strength for European security on condition that the transatlantic military alliance not be compromised, he said.

"Our top priority remains disarmament and not rearmament. We don't want a new arms race in Europe," Steinmeier was quoted by local media as saying.

The minister said the issue should be discussed within the framework of NATO.

The United States and Russia should avoid the "old reflexes" of the Cold War, he said, adding that Washington should not trigger mistrust and a new insecurity in Europe, even though it says the planned deployment of the anti-missile shield in Europe is to counter a threat from Iran.

"A missile defense system should be neither a cause or a pretext for a new arms race," Steinmeier said.

On Jan. 20, Washington proposed to start negotiations on the deployment of a radar center of its National Missile Defense (NMD) system in the Czech Republic and interceptor rockets in Poland, and the two countries agreed to the talks.

Washington said the missile defense system is not targeted at Russia. However, the plan has drawn sharp criticism from Moscow.

Over half of the populations in both Poland and the Czech Republic are opposed to the plan.

My initial reaction to this is not positive. The obvious problem is that the United States has interests and concerns that may not be shared by the EU as an entirety. However, the pledge in Nato, is that an attack against one is an attack against all. There are three nuclear powers in Nato, the US, France and the UK. Any military conflict that involves any of those members could go nuclear.

In order for the US to fulfill its obligations it may have to intervene in the support of any of the Nato members which include Turkey and countries through and including the center and northern Europe.

Any military conflict may involve exposing the US to possible nuclear missile attack. Not likely, but possible. The Germans have to understand that.

Steinmeier said,"Our top priority remains disarmament and not rearmament. We don't want a new arms race in Europe." The top priority should be the common defense of Europe, not adding to or reducing arms. If Germany wishes to equate the US and Russian defense posture, then Germany needs to consider its participation in Nato. It may very well require the US to do likewise.

It may very well be time for the US to consider all our military committments, some of which are non-sensible. Certainly the treaty with Taiwan is up there, but in this day and age, the Nato alliance and others should be reviewed.


  1. I wonder how soon the Armies of NATO will become the Armies of al NATO, as Europe progresses towards shari' a?

  2. Victor Davis Hanson:
    In any case, it is clearly not in the interest of the United Nations nor the European Union nor the Arab League that Iran goes nuclear. It is even more evident that no one apparently can stop it — despite all the remonstrations of the three EU nations talking to Iran, a Peace Prize to Mr. El-Baradei, and grandstanding slurs against a supposedly trigger-happy United States from Germany and France.

    In response, perhaps the United States should declare something like the following:

    Iran's nuclear ambitions are both an internal and regional matter that properly fall under the auspices of the U.N., EU, and Arab League. Our own strategies — missile defense and massive nuclear response to any attack — are designed to protect the United States and its allies; but we certainly would not wish to prejudice alternative avenues of national or global approaches undertaken by others, and most definitely do not wish to interfere in the internal affairs of Iran.

    All these examples — and far more could be adduced — reveal a radical disconnect between rhetoric and reality. South Americans want unfettered access into America's markets, assume thousands will illegally cross into the United States, and welcome in return billions in cash remittances. Similarly, Spain assumes perpetual NATO protection. In reality that means that the U.S. nuclear deterrent and its vast conventional forces will keep the Mediterranean and Western Europe free from outside threats at little cost to Spain, with a relatively low American profile, and in consultation with Spanish officials. The bad cop United States is not unwelcome to anyone dealing with Iran, because all accept that the scary scenario — America is the only power with the capability and will to stop Iran's nuclear roguery — is not as bad as the worse alternative of the theocracy becoming a major nuclear power.

    Why then all the dissimilation? The most obvious answer is pride, envy, jealousy, and all the other primordial emotions that the weak and the vulnerable harbor against the strong and autonomous.

    Second, for all our pride, we are not like the once-powerful — and scary — Soviet Union, so Latin Americans and Europeans know that there is rarely any price to be paid for attacking the United States. Slandering us is a win-win situation — cowardly and expedient to be sure, but hardly like indicting bin Laden or embargoing Iranian oil. No Argentinean is furious over Chinese unfair trade; no Spaniard protests Russian oilmen for spoiling the arctic. And worse still, we know why.

    Third, so far anti-Americanism is tactically smart. The heated rhetoric of the extremists makes others seem moderate. So Latin American leaders can grudgingly "take political risks" to "permit" America to accept their cheap products into the United States. The leftwing Spanish government can pose as responsible in opposing its own court's theatrics. The Europeans and U.N. can apologize to Iran that it is forced into such unpleasant dialogue by the alternative specter of American preemption and unilateralism.

    Fourth, the world since the Cold War has become a much wealthier and safer place with the demise of nuclear and intercontinental Communism, and the onset of globalization. Latin Americans are furious not that they are starving in 1950s fashion, but that their glimpse of parity with the affluent United States is slipping away. Spaniards are safe and secure, but in typical human fashion of ever rising expectations, even more apprehensive that things are not as heaven on earth. And Europeans and internationalists are frustrated with Iran. It has oil and money and has been left alone, so why would it wish to ruin a good thing and call the bluff of their new enlightened order?

    Are there any dangers to this game of rhetoric masking reality? Plenty. It is now old, tiring, and predictable. The American people are on to the fraud, and probably don't much care for another free trade agreement with ingrates who slander what benefits them. They are tired of NATO and want it to nobly die on the vine and allow utopians to get a taste of the real world they so disdain. And wisely or not, they are not too fond of the Middle East and pretty much want those whom Iran immediately threatens to deal with it on their own and count us out. Our critics forget that American foreign policy is ultimately simply a representation of collective will. Nations are simply people, and thus subject to emotional urges that often trump reason.

    So by castigating the U.S., critics forget that their long-term welfare is not the same as the short-term interests of America. Open markets, military alliances between liberal democracies, and sober joint actions now to prevent worse threats later on are to everyone's advantage. But for right now, the United States might benefit by not welcoming any additional free and unfair trade with South America, or spending billions on European defense, or taking on any more burdens in the Middle East.

    In contrast, an India, Japan, and Australia are proud and confident nations. They don't indict our citizens and often appreciate an American global role, whether outsourcing jobs or patrolling regional waters. Unlike the U.N., the EU, and South America, they spare us the sanctimonious lectures and look forward rather than nurse wounds of the past.

    The world is changing as we speak. The great untold story of our age is that others need to get a life and the United States needs to move on.

  3. Tiger said: I wonder how soon the Armies of NATO will become the Armies of al NATO, as Europe progresses towards shari' a?

    It's a race to see which is the next Muslim country to get the Bomb, Iran or France.

  4. Let's see, France already has them, so does Pakistan. That makes at least 2 so far!

  5. It is hard to argue with the logic of VDH. Nato provides minimal benefit to the US. Individual countries are superb allies. Germany and France do not provide any meaningful support in most instances. That is neither a good thing or a bad thing, it is reality. Nato is like most governmental welfare systems, no better or worse.

  6. Here's one view -

    ...The first thing to understand is that the alliance system of the latter half of the twentieth century is dead. Warfare by committee, as practiced by NATO, has simply become too cumbersome.

    The organization's end effectively came with the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, in the aftermath of which, despite talk of a broad-based coalition, European militaries have usually done little more than patrol (with a few exceptions - UK for example).
    NATO today is a medium for the expansion of bilateral training missions between the United States and formerly communist countries and republics: the Marines in Bulgaria and Romania, the Navy in Albania, the Army in Poland and the Czech Republic, Special Operations Forces in Georgia—the list goes on and on. Much of NATO has become a farm system for the major-league U.S. military.

    ...The second thing to understand is that the functional substitute for a NATO of the Pacific already exists, and is indeed up and running. It is the U.S. Pacific Command, known as PACOM. Unencumbered by a diplomatic bureaucracy, PACOM is a large but nimble construct, and its leaders understand what many in the media and the policy community do not: that the center of gravity of American strategic concern is already the Pacific, not the Middle East.

    ...The third thing to understand is that, ironically, the vitality of NATO itself, the Atlantic alliance, could be revived by the Cold War in the Pacific—and indeed the re-emergence of NATO as an indispensable war-fighting instrument should be America's unswerving aim. In its posture toward China the United States will look to Europe and NATO, whose help it will need as a strategic counterweight and, by the way, as a force to patrol seas more distant than the Mediterranean and the North Atlantic. That is why NATO's current commander, Marine General James L. Jones, emphasizes that NATO's future lies in amphibious, expeditionary warfare.

  7. As Sher, my driver, slowed The Associated Press car — he was taking me to do some shopping on my day off — the two black and one silver SUVs passed. A small truck got in between us and the convoy as we merged into busy traffic.

    Flames engulfed the bomber‘s wrecked Toyota Corolla, flung next to a line of pine trees and tall aerials on the right side of the road. Other charred debris was strewn across the road and in nearby fields.

    One of the doors of the badly damaged SUV opened. An armed man got out, dazed and limping as he slumped next to the rear right tire.

    Bomb Attack

  8. Trish,
    JFK2 doesn't seem to think the Cambodian Genocide was either a good thing or a bad thing.
    If he wrote about it, would that qualify?
    (actually he has, in preparation for his various testimonies)

  9. Asymmetric warfare and jihadists, masters or puppets?

    Al-Ray Al-Aam, Kuwait

    Muslim Sacrifices at Bush's Temple Alter - By Dr. J. Al Rasheid

    The sectarian conspiracy that the evil American Administration is planning to spread to the entire Arabic and Islamic region shows a disregard for the human spirit that is beyond contempt. If the war between the [Sunni and Shiite] communities spreads or rather - if it expands to completion - it will lead to one - and only one - inevitable result: It will claim lives amongst both parties.

    ...It is this all-consuming game of sectarian war that the American Administration of evil wants us to suffer from and confront through years of disaster - and for millions to die so that no sect or faction can overcome, and so that no side can succeed over the other, so as to keep prostrate the entire whole.

    We kill ourselves by our own hands only to discover that after long years of unprecedented destruction and the loss of millions of innocent souls - that the only definite and all-consuming victor is none other than the Evil Administration in the Black House [White House]. So will this game from the last century play out again, only this time in even more ugly and bitter fashion leading to a new security crisis in every country of the region? Why is it always "necessary" for us Muslims to be obedient instruments of villains seeking to use us to harm ourselves, and to destroy our own countries and our own homes? Are we destined to be sacrificial lambs at Bush's Temple alter forever?

    See Also:
    New Middle East' Borders to Be Drawn in Arab Blood - Thawra Al-Wada, Syria, August 6, 2006

  10. Elijah: ...The first thing to understand is that the alliance system of the latter half of the twentieth century is dead. Warfare by committee, as practiced by NATO, has simply become too cumbersome.

    In reality, the USA provides nearly all the military power, and the various alliances and coalitions provide "cover" so it doesn't look like America is unilateralist. And even if America lines up dozens of nations for cover, if "Old Europe" is not consulted or included, the left pierces the deception, calls the spade a spade, and dubs America unilateralist, which is what she is.

  11. Solana, a former secretary-general of NATO, said at Monday's press conference that he believed that discussions would eventually ease Russian and European fears about missile defense.

    "It is true that Russia has hypersensitivity about infrastructure being moved to the east," he said. "I think when we talk and when we finalize the discussion that it will be understood by everyone."

    Though Rice did not qualify how the U.S. has suggested Russia cooperate with the plans, national security adviser Stephen Hadley has said in the past that he has approached Russia about building their own missile defense systems and contributing to the wider defense of Europe.

    Minimizing Differences

  12. Hi T - glad to read you here again

    "In reality, the USA provides nearly all the military power, and the various alliances and coalitions provide "cover" so it doesn't look like America is unilateralist...which is what she is."

    Unilateralist could simply mean looking out for one's (being a contry) self interests. The U.S., India, Japan, Australia, Taiwan, South Korea, Thailand, and Singapore seem to have some common interests.

    From a geographic hub of comparative isolation — the Hawaiian Islands - the above countries would form secondary hubs to help us manage the Melanesian, Micronesian, and Polynesian archipelagoes, among other places, and also the Indian Ocean.

    "the USA provides nearly all the military power"

    There are other important capabilities.

    For example, as Kaplan notes...

    Consider Singapore. Its mixture of democracy and authoritarianism has made it unpopular with idealists in Washington, but as far as PACOM is concerned, the country is, despite its small size, one of the most popular and helpful in the Pacific. Its ethnically blind military meritocracy, its nurturing concern for the welfare of officers and enlisted men alike, and its jungle-warfare school in Brunei are second to none. With the exception of Japan, far to the north, Singapore offers the only non-American base in the Pacific where our nuclear carriers can be serviced. Its help in hunting down Islamic terrorists in the Indonesian archipelago has been equal or superior to the help offered elsewhere by our most dependable Western allies. One Washington-based military futurist told me, "The Sings, well—they're just awesome in every way."

    PACOM's objective, in the words of a Pacific-based Marine general, must be "military multilateralism on steroids." This is not just a question of our future training with the "Sings" in Brunei, of flying test sorties with the Indian air force, of conducting major annual exercises in Thailand, or of utilizing a soon-to-open training facility in northern Australia with the approval of our alliance partners. It's also a matter of forging interoperability with friendly Asian militaries at the platoon level, by constantly moving U.S. troops from one training deployment to another.

    This would be an improvement over NATO, whose fighting fitness has been hampered by the addition of substandard former-Eastern-bloc militaries. Politics, too, favors a tilt toward the Pacific: tensions between the United States and Europe currently impede military integration, whereas our Pacific allies, notably Japan and Australia, want more military engagement with the United States, to counter the rise of the Chinese navy. This would work to our benefit. The Japanese military, although small, possesses elite niche capabilities, in special-forces and diesel-submarine warfare. And the aggressive frontier style of the Australians makes them cognitively closer to Americans than even the British.

  13. Swedish security experts are warning the Swedish soldiers' presence in Afghanistan is making the likelihood of an attack greater, Radio Sweden reported on Monday.

    They said the chances of an terrorist atrocity are low compared to other countries, but if a controversial Ministry of Defense proposal to expand the role of Swedish troops and use the country's Gripen fighter aircraft goes ahead, the danger would increase rapidly.

    Just over 200 Swedish peacekeepers have been in the relatively peaceful north of Afghanistan since 2001 as part of the Nato-run International Security Assistance Force.

    Terror Risk

  14. Yes, it's nice to have the Aussies as our friends. But let's not run away with the importance of them, in other than geographic and logistical support.

    given Australia's population and military size and that Obama's response failed to address the "substance of the issue". Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said 20,000 troops would be "half of our army".

    The US Surge into Baghdad, half the entire Austrailian Army.

    There are only 20,000,000 (CIA) Austrailians, but only 40,000 troops, proportionatly their Army is a third the size of ours. To carry their fair share of the security load, they shoud have 120,000 men in uniform.

    So much like our friends from NATO, there is no depth there. We've held the umbrella so long, they all quit buying raincoats.

  15. "Um, that is one of the dumbest things I've ever read."

    A fool shows his annoyance at once, but a prudent man overlooks an insult.
    -Proverbs 12:16

  16. The Taliban's military commander, Mullah Dadullah, told Reuters by satellite phone from an undisclosed location the reporter had been freed after Afghan authorities released five senior Taliban officials, including his own brother.

    In Italy, Prime Minister Romano Prodi said Mastrogiacomo had been taken to hospital in Afghanistan run by Emergency.

    "He is in the Emergency hospital and is in good health. I hope that in a few days we will be able to embrace him," Prodi told reporters.

    Released in Afghanistan

  17. "Um, that is one of the dumbest things I've ever read. "

  18. I meant would Kerry's thoughts qualify as
    " one of the dumbest thingsyou've ever read. "

  19. Could've applied to releasing the Talibans also, Doug.

  20. Mr de Hoop Scheffer added: "Nato is fully qualified and in the game.

    ''At the same time the US, our ally, has opened talks with the Poles and Czechs. I think Nato as an alliance should not interfere.

    "I do not see Nato in a definitive role of arbiter, to tell certain allies, 'thou should not do this' ."

    Missile Plan

  21. It is not an insult, not meant to be anyway, just a statement of fact. I was a bit off, Austrailia is 6.7% the size of US.

    The US has 138,000 up to 150,000 men in Iraq. Let's use 140,000. 6.7% of 140,000 is 9,333.

    If Australia was carrying it's proportional weight in Iraq, that is the number of troops they'd have deployed. 9,333. Equal to almost 25% of their entire Army.

    The US subsidizes Australian defense, they should be stepping up the size of their combined forces, just as we already propose to do with ours.

    Or they're not really serious about the threat of the Mohammedan Wars. Obviously they'd not be in as existential a war as the US is.

    That's not insulting, unless the truth is.

  22. Fair enough. Just grateful for the forum provided by our hosts, it must take a good deal of effort.

    With regards to Australia, similar to Japan, although small, it affords a special niche utility.

    The following is a very good example:

    Feb 22, 2007
    SYDNEY - A new US military communications base planned for Western Australia will draw Asia more deeply into the clandestine signals war being waged by security agencies across the globe.

    The facility, to be built at Geraldton, 400 kilometers north of Perth, will relay intelligence data from a new generation of satellites to ground forces in Asia and the Middle East, with the US-led alliance fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan likely to be the chief recipient. It will be located alongside an existing US-Australian base that intercepts mobile telephone signals and other communications in an area stretching from the South Pacific to Northern Europe, including all Asian countries.

    Security analysts say the new complex, which is expected to pass on intelligence collected from Geraldton and elsewhere, will control the two most important of five geostationary satellites that are being launched by the US armed forces. Both will be positioned directly above the Indian Ocean to allow maximum coverage of the Middle East and the autonomous area between Pakistan and Afghanistan where al-Qaeda leaders are believed to be directing their terrorist networks.

    ...Australian Defense Minister Brendan Nelson has said the new Geraldton base will be part of a Mobile User Objective System that the US is developing that will use satellites to supply ground troops in Asia and the Middle East with instant intelligence, graphics and maps. Nelson said negotiations with the US began in 2003.

    There is speculation that it may also support Pine Gap's other function of providing early warning of missile launches as part of the so-called "Son of Star Wars" defense system. This role was formerly performed by the US-Australian facility at Nurrungar, South Australia. Until its closure in 1999, Nurrungar was the only ground station capable of monitoring first-strike missile launches by the Soviet Union.

    good night

  23. Brigade commander, Col. Meczyslaw Pawlisiak, said his soldiers have been preparing for the mission in mountainous parts of Poland, the German Alps and three other military ranges.

    "I am convinced that they are well prepared and will perform all tasks set before them," the PAP quoted Pawlisiak as saying.

    Poland is to send to Afghanistan some 1,200 soldiers to join the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in the first half of 2007, said the report.

    Leaving for Afghanistan

  24. The big question concerning Iran is just how close they are to having a nuclear weapon. Some officials assure us that it will require 5-10 years before they produce a bomb. Making such a confident assertion is strange for at least three reasons.

    1. Our intelligence people admit that they lack human intelligence from inside Iran which is essential for an accurate assessment - so how can they make such a confident estimate? Is politics driving this assertion?

    2. Our intelligence has been critically wrong before. We did not even know how close the former Soviet Union was to economic collapse before they imploded.

    3. Hasn't anyone noticed that it is taking Iran an inordinately long time to produce their first bomb? They began seeking the bomb about 1980.

    More Questions

  25. Doug, Thanks for the westhawk lead. I posted this response. I may use it for the next post:

    If and when China decides to take Taiwan, they will certainly do it in a fashion that will include economic, military and political intimidation in such concentration and timing that it will present the world a fait accompli.

    The Chinese believe that any and all rational players, including the Taiwanese, hopefully the US, will look at what happened to Hong Kong and come to the conclusion that the fate of Taiwan is with China.

    Australia, Japan and the US are far too engaged with China on economic integration to let matters of a relic from the Cold War interfere with business and commerce. That decision was cast as far back as the Nixon Administration.

    The US "encircling" China is nothing more than a preparation to maintain current access to existing commercial and military lanes. It is obvious to everyone that they will be shared with the Chinese.

    If the US was seriously concerned about Chinese intentions, there has been ample opportunity to show that concern at the southern flank of the United States where China has been establishing increasing commercial penetration and dealing with Latin America. China has been making energy deals in both North and South America.

    China has decided to be far smarter in the use of her real economic power and has recently announced a trillion dollar fund to purchase assets and equities on a global scale. The increasing economic inter-dependence and one-sided trade with the US created that fund. That part of the Chinese strategy has gone unnoticed by the ideologues in the Bush Administration who believe that free trade, even if one-sided and unbalanced is paramount in foreign affairs.

    The last time I checked there are Chinese industrial parks on both ends of the Panama Canal. I am not sure if they are Chinese or Taiwanese. I am sure that it in the long run it makes no difference.