Wednesday, March 21, 2007

... and Lind and Lieven

One other point from this afternoon's discussion. At one point Michael Lind, in discussing the concert of power strategy, noted that his lack of interest in a government position gave him the freedom to think openly and voice his criticisms and opinions without having to worry about a confirmation committee taking his TNI article (he was holding the proofs of his forthcoming essay in his hand) or anything else he has written in search of negative evidence.

Then later this afternoon I received a copy of Anatol Lieven's forthcoming essay on Russia in The American Conservative and, in his section about the near-lack of debate about whether or not Ukraine should be considered for NATO membership (in 2005), he notes that a number of experts had reservations in private but weren't willing to publicly state them since it appeared that there was a strong political coalition in favor--even though the possible admission of Ukraine to NATO would have major geopolitical consequences. Basically it was Ukrainian voters returning Viktor Yanukovych to power as prime minister, rather than any sustained policy debate in Washington, that took Ukrainian NATO membership off of the table.

This is a disturbing trend. If entire policy questions are deemed off limits to debate and discussion--or to raise questions and doubts makes someone politically radioactive--how do we get informed policy? It makes it even less likely that Stef Halper's "rational center" will re-emerge anytime soon.

There is snow-ball' chance in hell of Ukraine, in its current form, joining NATO.

A smaller Ukranine - minus Crimea and Eastern Ukraine, could concievably join NATO while the Tran-Ukraine Republic stays within the Russian sphere.

Let the sleeping dogs lie - that "Frontier" counry is just that. 300 years of Russian presence is not going to be negated by 300 elections.

Those who advocate Ukraine joining NATO are mad.
Why shouldn't Ukraine and Russia join NATO together?

Because Poland will never accept it? Frankly the East Europe dividing lines or if you want an ethereal "Berlin Wall" never went away - it simply was moved eastwards. And it will never be gone - not completely. Ukraine is a border-state, or if you like a civilizations' border. It is very silly to continue ignore the fact that Russia is a different civilization (not european) and evensillier to assume that while the divisions between Eastern and Western Roman Empires were not healed in a 1000 years it can be done by merely declaringthe 'end of history'.

Sorry to be unclear. I recall the point about Poland coming up a while ago. I meant to ask not why wouldn't Russia join NATO but why shouldn't Russia join NATO (with Ukraine).

The argument that Russia is a separate civilization does not make sense to me a disqualification for membership because it is not clear in what relevant sense Russia's distinctiveness sets it apart from other states that either belong to NATO or are presently allies of the United States.

America has never fought a war with Russia; Russia did fight Germany twice but so did we, and we also fought Italy. We also fought a war with Japan, with which we now have an alliance. Poland is Catholic and Russia is Orthodox but that difference has not prevented Western alliances with Russia in the past, and Protestants and Catholics have not fought religious civil wars with Orthodox Christians such as they have fought with each other. Polish-Ukrainian relations have been just as estranged as Polish-Russian ones in the twentieth century.

It is not clear that nationalism and isolationism in Russia would cause its people to reject NATO membership in a referendum. Russia's foreign policy has led to friction with the Western powers and that is probably enough to keep the two sides apart for now. But this friction is not on the scale of the Cold War and I don't think it is really proof of a permanent rift.

Perhaps Poland and the Baltic states can stand in the way of Russia joining NATO. But it is not clear that cultural or historic differences in themselves are a barrier, or that the eastern frontier of the West must now permanently stop at the Ukrainian-Russian border, given the history of other NATO members with each other.
David Billington:

NATO has a single head honcho - US.
Every other state is subordinate to her - even France.

Russia will not accept to be subordinate to US. She is a contender for state power, that's why she cannot be in NATO.

"Two beggars can share a blanket, two Kings not a Kingdom!".

As for why Ukraine cannot be part of NATO:

Eastern Ukraine is Russian. Wstern Ukraine is (Catholic) Ukrainian who intensely dislike the (Orthodox) Russians. Crimea in mixed (but mostly Russian) and so is the area around Kiev.

A broken-up Ukraine - minus Crimea and Tran-Ukraine Republic, can join NATO. Although militarily it is worthless - NATO is not going to war to protect Ukraine.

You have to accept - if you are not pursuing some fantasy American project - the existence of a Russian sphere of influence - Belarus, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Moldova, lately Serbia.
Hello all,

An interesting debate going on but misses the point I think Nick was trying to make--you are having this debate online which is great but Nick's point was that policymakers in DC don't have this debate for fear of not getting jobs.
Hello all,

An interesting debate going on but misses the point I think Nick was trying to make--you are having this debate online which is great but Nick's point was that policymakers in DC don't have this debate for fear of not getting jobs.
Not at all Anonyumous 12:09 PM.

A Weblog is an educational medium.

Those who are not willing to publicly debate the issues can at least view what others think and per chance, even participate.

We cannot do much more than that - we are the imperial center.
Anonymous 9:34,

You make a good point (if it is your point) that the existing NATO partners accept an American supreme commander. Any European demand for a non-American in that role would probably be a deal-breaker for the United States. But I don't think NATO members (except Germany) assign all of their forces to alliance command, and as a member Russia would be free to keep the bulk of its forces outside the framework. Furthermore, to the extent that it commits forces, at certain lower levels Russia could be in command of US forces. NATO is not entirely a one-way street.

I'm inclined to agree that in the present state of the world Russia is unlikely to seek alliances in which subordination is not equally shared. But the state of Russia's military today is very grave and its future will depend on qualitative improvements that partially closer military ties to the West could facilitate. Whether military isolation is good for Russia is a question that needs to be debated in both Russia and the NATO countries.
Anonymous 12:09,

Maybe it would be helpful to people with public service ambitions for there to be a study of confirmed and rejected appointees that examines the career risk of making controversial views public. A think tank concerned about future leadership could do this.

The problem that worries me is when huge issues are so baffling or unprecedented that nobody, in private discussions or in public venues, really knows what to do about them.
David Billington:

My point was that in NATO, US calls the shots. Without US, nothing is going to get done - regardless of the citizenship status of the NATO Supreme Commander.

NATO, in fact, has no reason to exist. It was an alliance against a defunct alliance. USSR no longer exits.

US ought to leave Europe and Korea. They are no longer important to US security.

About Russia - yes she is down but not out. And joining NATO is not going to be of value - NATO members want to be protected from Russia (Poland, Hungary, Czeck Republic, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia).

Moreover, an alliance is supposed to protect one group of states against another - a NATO witg Russia is aimed against whom? Iran? China?

Who is the enemy?
Anonymous 7:11,

The US was distinctly unsuccessful at calling the shots in 2003, when Germany and France declined to support the Iraq War, and the French role in NATO has been heavily qualified since DeGaulle. If America really dominated NATO, we would be able to compel our allies to follow our lead and spend as much as we do on defense. The fact is that our allies are comfortable with the present situation, even if there are moments when the US does things that some of the partners disapprove.

Regarding adversaries, the United Nations is also an alliance, dating back to 1942, and it has endured long after the defeat of the Axis Powers. There is no reason why NATO can't continue without the adversary that originally prompted it.

Your fourth paragraph would seem to imply, however, that NATO does serve the needs of the newer member states. The older member states don't want a vacuum in eastern Europe either.

My own view is that a NATO without Russia will eventually create problems on both sides of the alliance boundary. If the NATO partners refuse to admit Russia, then the United States should pursue closer bilateral ties with Moscow that build on current programs in nuclear threat reduction and outer space. There are a spectrum of possible ties, not a polarized choice between subordination of one side to the other.
David Billington:

Your criticism has caused me to refine my statement - that nothing will happen in NATO without US. It is in that sense that US dominates. Another sense, of course, is the US nuclear umberella covering the alliance. Although that is a theoreatical coverage and stops at German border. US will no use nuclear weapons to protect Poland, Romania, Hungary or the Czech Republic.

I agree with you that NATO, in its present form is not very useful and can cause more problems by giving a number of states a sense of invulnerability (via a vis Russia).

I agree with you that the best approch is to dissolve NATO and move onto a direct bilateral relationship between Russia and US. The states in between are no longer germane to US security.

And now Germans are also calling for a Pan-European force. Well, give them the NATO hand-me-downs and leave. Let's see what those wimps would accomplish.
Anonymous 7:06,

I agree with your refined point, that NATO as a group will not act without the United States. But Americans do not regard the nuclear umbrella as merely theoretical. The United States will defend every NATO member by whatever means necessary. NATO is not a two-tiered alliance and the US will defend new members as vigorously as old ones.

I do not agree that NATO should be dissolved; I would argue only that, if the Europeans want to keep NATO, then in addition the US will need a stronger bilateral relationship with Russia.
David Billington:

I think that there is snow-ball's chance in hell of NATO doing anything to defent Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia. Poland is a toss-up. The alliance, in its current form, is a "bridge too far" - in my opinion.

I do not see any utility in NATO if a Pan European force is created.
Anonymous 8:10,

I guess we'll have to agree to disagree about NATO and eastern Europe.

On your last point, the Europeans have acknowledged that a serious EU military force would be inconsistent with NATO, which is why the joint force planning they have begun is on such a small scale. If a larger force comes about, it may not result as much from a deliberate decision as from a policy of relying more on European consortia for defense procurement.
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