Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A Tale of Two NATO Reports

As we draw closer to the NATO summit in Bucharest this spring, concerns are mounting about the future of the alliance--and whether it still can retain any effectiveness as a security organization.

First, we have the Grand Strategy report, authored by General Klaus Naumann, (former Chief of the Defence Staff of Germany and former Chairman of the NATO Military Committee), General John Shalikashvili, former SACEUR and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Field Marshal Peter Anthony Inge, former Chief of the Defence Staff of the United Kingdom, Admiral Jacques Lanxade, former Chief of the Defense Staff in France, and General Henk van den Breemen, Former Chief of the Defense Staff of the Netherlands.

They wrote, "NATO must seek clarity on its geographical dimension. ... When considering NATO enlargement to full membership, the geostrategic sphere must be taken fully into account, as must the capabilities of the current members to defend new members collectively; but so also must the capabilities of new members to defend everyone else collectively. Article 5 is an important two-way street, and we cannot extend membership in a manner that would dilute its meaning and value."

Meanwhile, Stanley Kober has presented his Cracks in the Foundation: NATO's New Troubles. It pulls no punches from the opening: "The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is beginning to fracture. Its members, sharing the triumphalism that underpinned U.S. foreign policy after the Cold War, took on burdens that have proved more difficult than expected. Increasingly, they are failing to meet the challenges confronting them."

Hopefully, these new reports will jumpstart a long-needed debate on the future of the alliance, especially since there are growing divergences on both sides of the Atlantic about its scope, purpose and future.

An alliance where new members are expected to contribute to the overall pool of security. Gee, what a breathtaking concept. If NATO needs to reemphasize a basic point like this, it is not in good shape.
I think the problem is whether Article 5 should include out-of-area commitments. The alliance really needs to sort out its basic purposes.
I have a mixed feeling regarding Stanley Kober's article. I understand that for an american expert to write something like this is already a proof of some valor, at least intellectual, and, for this reason, respect this gentleman. Having said this, the article suffers a shortage typical for all Russia-related debate in America. It totally fails to name the claims that Russians have against the US's policies in Eastern Europe. This failure leads to a wrong impression of inevitability of the collision. In reality, the collision is not because "it is Russia", as the article seems to assume. The collision is because America supports arrangements that are totally unacceptable to Russia and would not be acceptable for America if America were sincere about what she calls its values. Countries like Estonia (as well as Latvia and, in a mild manner, Ukraine), are racist states that keep big parts of their populations (as you know, these are Russian parts) away from representation in the government and even from voting. The situation of this part of the population of Estonia and certainly not the statue was the real cause of the crisis in Russia's relations with Estonia. So, the U.S.'s support of Estonia is a less honorable effort than Mr. Kober states. At the same time, the fact that issues that Russia has with her neighbours are real and not imaginary means that things may be calmed down if all sides were interested in a settlement. Frankly, I have some doubts about American government's interest in that. Perhaps, having a permanent conflict with Russia keeps these countries firmly tied to America. I do not want to discuss what consequences this may have for them. What upsets me is that because American media are basically misinforming their public, this public has to believe that it is about to be involved in an existential struggle with a totally crazy and irrational enemy, which is Russia. The most important fact about the possible conflict with Russia is not that it is dangerous. It is that, on the part of America, it is totally a matter of choice.

Wait until Russia decides to partition Ukraine and Kazakhstan and absorb the Russian parts of these states.

It will get ugly.
Anonimous: you mean you are waiting with impatience or are afraid?

Partitioning a 50 million industrialized nation is impossible until it starts falling apart due to its own follies, on which it is working with persistence, and with a lot of support from the U.S.

Ukraine, as well as Kazakhstan, in their present ethnic, linguistic, and religious composition cannt be durable states.

Eastern Orthodoxy, and Russian language predominate in the East. The West and North is Catholic, Ukranian and anti-Russian. The separation is much easier than you think. Only Catholic Ukranians are willing to die for the idea of Ukraine.

Ditto for Kazakhstan - Northern is primarily Russian and Ukranian and Christian. South is Kazakh and Muslim. The population is evenly divided between the Slavs and the Turks. It is also straightforward to separate.

Russia only has to model this after the pattern set by the West in Kosovo.

Do you really think that Kazakhstan and Ukraine will be in their current borders indefinitely?

I am neither afraid nor am impatient. I suggest that the current arrangement is fundamentaly unworkable since theire in nothing in common to bring these diverse people together within a unitary state [in both instances].

History has not stopped marching forward!
anonymous at 12.51pm.

Would separation in the Ukraine really be as easy as all that?

My sister-in-law comes from the Western Ukraine -- but, having a Russian mother, is completely bilingual.

When we were in Kiev with her a few years ago, she time and again addressed people in Ukraine. In every single instance, they replied in Russian.

Does this mean that all the inhabitants of Kiev are eager to unite with Russia -- in the way that those of the Crimea, for instance, probably are?

I suspect splitting up might be messier than you suggest.

But this is also why the policy of NATO expansion has been so irresponsible. If the Ukraine is to survive, it is far more likely to do so in the context of good relations between Russia and the West than in the context of bad ones.

Moreover, any guarantees that would be given to the Ukraine would be likely to be worthless.

Suppose, for instance,that local authorities in the Crimea denounce Khrushchev's 1954 ukaz transferring the area from Russia to Ukraine as an example of totalitarian arbitrariness at its worst, and announce they want reunion with Russia.

Suppose at the same time stories begin appearing in the Russian press about technical hitches in gas supplies to Europe -- and maybe maps showing the radius of Russian INF missiles --

What would NATO do then?
Anonymous: Highly simplified view. The people in those countries are less different than you think. They are all Soviet citizens, after all. Village idiots like Mr. Yuschenko, who believe that they know what is Ukrainian and what is not, should never be encouraged.

By the way, be carefull telling Western Ukrainians that they are Catholics, they are mostly not.
Language isn't the only variable in Ukraine. I know plenty of Russophones who nonetheless want a sovereign Ukraine--they don't want to take orders from Moscow. This is especially true of the east Ukrainian business tycoons--they'd rather dominate an independent Ukraine rather than be regional businessmen in an expanded Russia.
What Tsars and and the Red Tsars had built over 300 years is not going to be lost forever due to a 2-decade long period of weakness.

In my opinion, the Prince of Moscowy will re-exert control over Ukraine - one way or another. Even during the time of Peter the Great there was a Gospodin in Ukraine but she was, nevertheless, subordinate to Russia.

The silence of the respondants to my assertions regarding Kazakhstan must be a sign of agreement, no?

D.H.: Your points only serve to reinforce mine - Ukraine is more Russian than Ukranian and can be destablized and broken-up on many fronts -Crimea, Kiev, and other places [ I should think].

ddf: Western Ukranians that hate Russia can join Poland, were they belong.

I understand the point that you raise but to have a viable state that state has to embody a set of ideas [ethnic, linguistic, religious]. In Ukraine, as well as in Kazakhstan, there is no common idea.

Can you envisage a war in which ethnic Russians will kill and die for the idea of Ukraine? Ditto for Kazakhstan?

These are only states on paper that will not have historical longevity in their current forms - in my opinion.

Will Russians and Ukranians stay in a United Turkic Republic of the future that consists of the present-day Kazakhstan, Turkeminstan, Uzbekistan, and Ghrigizstan?

History has not stopped.
There's less here than meets the eye.
We've been letting militarily substandard nations into NATO because it allows us to compel their political and ideological support to some extent. That will continue to happen whenever a non-member nation feels insecure enough to be interested. The question of adequate capabilities is a sideshow - an annoying one, probably, but not one likely to be fixed.

Until sometime after we see an armed insurgency and ethnic cleansing, Ukranian separatism looks pretty unrealistic.
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