Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Further Proof our Foreign Policy Lacks Imagination

French President Sarkozy is offering to increase France's military integration in Europe and some people do not seem happy. The heart of the French proposal is to establish what essentially will be a second military headquarters in Europe, one which will be European in nature. This has some British security people unhappy. Others fear this will act as competition for NATO.

The question is, why should the US not support this initiative. It is long past time for Europe to take its own security seriously and stop relying on the US to protect it. NATO was established as a temporary expedient to give Europe time to rebuild itself and defend itself against the Soviets. Europe is no longer a war scared continent and the Soviet Union no longer exists.

The Bush administration has been supportive of the French proposal, but I think it is time to go farther. It is time to turn NATO into a primarily European alliance. The next Supreme Commander in Europe should be a European and at the least, we should decommission the remaining 300 or so US nuclear warheads in Europe. Beyond that, we should look to remove the final 40,000 or so US troops on the continent. And finally, we should remain on the Atlantic Council but leave NATO military command.

Why do this? Primarily, Europe needs to take more responsibility for its own security. So long as we provide an overarching security guarantee for the continent, the Europeans will not take security matters seriously. Secondly, the enemy NATO was formed to defend against no longer exists. NATO is therefore reduced to defending Europe from Serbia. Thirdly, Europe should no longer have the central role it continues to have in US foreign policy. Our central concerns now should be Canada, Mexico and China.

Granted, there is the legacy of "Western Betrayal" -- the belief that at Yalta (and before) the Western Allies betrayed Poland and the rest of Central and Eastern Europe, handing those countries over communism. Part of current US European policy is to placate Eastern Europe. But frankly, the threat no longer really exists. Russia's threat these days is economic, that is, threatening to cut off the gas and oil flow. It is no longer a military threat.

One solution may be as follows. The administration wants to place an ABM radar and interception facility somewhere in Eastern Europe. Despite Russian saber rattling, the real party this is focused against is Iran -- the handful of interceptors proposed would do nothing to stop a Russian missile assault on the West, but would be enough to make Iran think twice before trying nuclear blackmail.

Despite my support of missile defense, I am not so sure this European shield is necessary. But if it is, why not placate Russian fears by giving up our European based nuclear weapons and promising additional deep cuts in our forces there in return for the interceptor base? Everyone gets something, and the US security guarantee to Europe is reduced.

Unfortunately, most of our foreign policy elites seem to be still thinking in Cold War mode.

6 comments:

Rodak said...

the Soviet Union no longer exists.

Yeah. But Russia still exists, has gone about 4/5 of the way to full-blown fascism, and is still armed to the teeth. Russia has allies, like Serbia, too.

William R. Barker said...

Interesting post, Anthony; is it a response to my comments on the issue over at RT? In any case...

Having Europe (the EC) - let alone individual European states, specifically France and Germany - become an "independent" military power is *NOT* in the national interest of the United States. Period. (*SHRUG*) The upside is minimal and the potential downside is disasterous. (*SHRUG*)

NATO is no longer about "protecting" Europe. As you infer, what military threat does Europe need "protection" from? (*SHRUG*)

No, Anthony... NATO is about retaining as much influence and frankly control of European military might (as far as it goes - which ain't far) in the duel sense of "using" the Europeans as allies, but more important, ensuring the European Union (and/or individual European powers) don't go "off the reservation" in terms of unilateral "unapproved" (by us) military action.

Jeez, Anthony... the very fact that (as you point out!) the BUSH administration has been supportive of the French proposal should sound a HUGE alarm bell for you! (*GRIN*) I mean... Bush *is* (by dint of stupidity, not brainwashing) the Manchurian President. (*RUEFUL SMILE, DEEP SIGH*)

Anthony... if you turn NATO into a primarily EUROPEAN alliance, then, by logical extension... Europe and European nations are no long primarily a US alliance.

Now if the alliance continues to fall apart (as it is, as it will), then it falls apart; but think of this: IF and WHEN the alliance falls apart... wouldn't it be better for *us* if those powers who are no longer firm US allies are militarily weak rather than strong...???

Agreed. We should decommission our European nuclear stockpile. It does nothing but alienate the Russians and many Europeans. (*SHRUG*)

Agreed. Western Europe should no longer have the central role in US foreign policy. Our central concerns now should be Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, the Caribbean, England, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, Southeast Asia, Taiwan, Singapore, the Pacific, India... (*SMILE*)

Our goals with regard to Eastern Europe and Russia should be to retain the "loyalty" of Eastern European nations to us primarily as opposed to Western Europe primarily and to halt the return of the Cold War with Russia. We're going to need Russia as an ally - or at least a neutral and not an enemy - as the situation with regard to China continues to worsen and China continues to go from competitor to adversary to enemy. (*SHRUG*)

We need to keep improving ties with India. We need to reaffirm ties and relationships with Turkey. We need to continue normalization and improvements in relations with Vietnam. We need to be ready to see that Cuba has a "soft landing" when the Castro dictatorship is overthrown. (*SHRUG*)

As to the "European Shield," again, we agree.

BILL

Anthony said...

Rodak -- Russia still exists but their armies are over a thousand miles away from their old starting points in East Germany. And the depending on whose numbers you believe, the Russian economy is smaller than Italy, France or Britain. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_GDP_%28PPP%29

In any event, the EU dwarfs Russia.

Bill -- I did not see your comments at RT. I am taking a vacation from there for a while. Let's just say that I do not see Europe as a threat to the US and I simply do not see any continued relevance to NATO. NATO is a big government program that has lost its reason for existance, and now is looking for a new one.

William R. Barker said...

Ahh... then with your gracious permission I'll re-post my RT remarks (which were in answer to a post of yours there) here.

re: Anthony | Homepage | 03.26.08 - 3:57 pm | #

Hmm... a bit of apples and oranges, Anthony. Not a totally wrong analogy, but not a good one either.

Let's take Europe first:

There are two primary reasons to keep U.S. forces in Europe presently and in the future. Both reasons - to one extent or another - were ALWAYS reasons, but during the Cold War they were secondary reasons, not the primary reason, which was of course the defense of Europe (or at least a HUGE trip wire) against any threatened invasion by the Soviets.

First reason: Training. Fewer legal and social impediments for realistic training (especially armored and mechanized divisions) in post-WW-2/Cold War Germany and elsewhere in Europe than faced here in the States - anywhere near urban environments certainly. (Note: I'm NOT saying we can't train or don't train here in the States; I simply pointing out that the military itself saw Europe as a less troublesome training environoment in many ways than here at home.)

Second reason: As long as the US shoulders the burdens of "defense" of Europe the Europeans themselves are less likely to militarize in a meaningful way. Now you might think we'd WANT to Europeans to "take the slack," but it's not that simple. Do we really WANT a remilitarized France... a remilitarized Germany? The Europeans create enough problems when they act as economic and diplomatic adversaries... do we really want to give "the children" matches to play with...???

Japan and Korea? A bit of a different situation and challenge. North Korea has been and remains a serious MILITARY THREAT to South Korea and potentially Japan and other regional allies. And of course China poses a threat (though not as blatant, not as obvious) to Japan as well as the balance of power in the Pacific/South Pacific/Southeast Asia in terms of US interests.

(Still though... as our fellow RT'ers can attest... I've long been in favor of withdrawing our land (armor, artillery, infantry) forces from the Korean peninsula. (sp?))

Bottom line... in terms of "cost/benefit," I'd make the case that our military presense in Europe and Asia falls well within the "plus" column while our creating an imperial military presense in the Mid-East... doesn't.

We can of course disagree and discuss this further, but that's my basic position.

BILL
William R. Barker | 03.26.08 - 4:43 pm | #

Anthony said...

First off Bill -- this is not North Korea, Cuba or Venezuela, people are allowed to disagree!

Just to touch on a few of your points --

1. China. While I am not a fan of the current regime, I suppose I see China as more of an economic partner than a military rival. China actually produces things we want to buy (unlike the USSR). Increased prosperity and a rising middle class will hopefully further liberalize the country.

2. N. Korea. South Korea is a proserous country with 2 or 3 times the population of the starving north. If they need the US to defend them, they are not worth defending. Closer ties between the North and South will do more to defuse the North Korean threat than anything we can do. And all out troops in South Korea do is act as hostage to the North's regime.

3. Europe. I just do not see the purpose behind our Europe policy other than the fact that most of our foreign policy elite made their bones during the Cold War and don't know how to do anything else.

4. The Middle East. Yes this is a rediculous part of the world. Unfortunately, the world economy relies on oil right now so being involved there is necessary. Until we convert to new fuel sources that is.

William R. Barker said...

"First off Bill -- this is not North Korea, Cuba or Venezuela, people are allowed to disagree!"

Huh...? (*SCRATCHING MY HEAD*) Who said they weren't...???

"China. While I am not a fan of the current regime, I suppose I see China as more of an economic partner than a military rival."

Yes. I understand that. You're wrong. (*GRIN*) It's ok, though, Anthony... we sold scrap to Japan and chemical production technology to Germany in the '30's. People are wrong all the time... that's why I'm here - to at least put the right answers before you - and the world!!! (*HUGE FRIGG'N GRIN*)

"N. Korea. South Korea is a proserous country with 2 or 3 times the population of the starving north. If they need the US to defend them, they are not worth defending."

Hmm. Interesting take. So you're in favor of abrogating our defense treaty with S. Korea. O.K. Should we also abrogate our defense treaty with Japan? How'bout Australia and New Zealand?

"Closer ties between the North and South will do more to defuse the North Korean threat than anything we can do."

Doubtful. In any case, what's your moral/ethical basis for wanting "closer ties" between a civilized democracy and U.S. ally and a murderous rule by birthright dictatorship that is clearly a U.S. enemy...??? "Closer ties" only serve to prop up said dictatorship and add to the long term misery of the population of N. Korea.

"And all out troops in South Korea do is act as hostage to the North's regime."

Basically true - in a military sense that is. Politically, our troops are a tripwire supposedly ensuring that the U.S. would have no choice but to protect S. Korea if the $hit hit the fan and in a worse case scenario a political assurance that should thousands or tens of thousands of Americans be killed or threatened with death/capture that we'd retaliate either out of hope of saving them or vengence for losing them.

"Europe. I just do not see the purpose behind our Europe policy..."

Even after I've explained it...?!?! Hmm! And you strike me as such a bright guy... (*HUGE FRIGG'N GRIN*)

Seriously, Anthony... all ball-busting aside... YEAH... I GET that you disagree with me. As you say though... that's o.k. (*WINK*)

"The Middle East. Yes this is a rediculous part of the world. Unfortunately, the world economy relies on oil right now so being involved there is necessary. Until we convert to new fuel sources that is."

Hmm. Perhaps you haven't noticed that since we invaded Iraq and started saber rattling against Iran oil prices have RISEN...

(*SMILE*)

Anthony. For a guy who decrys the Cold War mentality when it comes to Europe or even China, you seem unaware that with the end of that self same Cold War and the elimination of Saddam that our "stick" as well as "carrot" with the Saudis, Kuwait, and the other Middle Eastern oil producers is far less than it used to be.

You may have noticed that the Saudis aren't helping us much with regard to oil prices. Neither are the other oil producers. In other words, Anthony, our "protection" of the Middle Eastern OPEC nations ain't getting us much except higher oil prices and of course maimed and dead Americans and trillions in national treasure squandered. (*SHRUG*)

If by "involvement" in the Middle East you meant spending our financial and human capital in such a way as to BENEFIT American consumers and national interests I'd be all with you. As it is...

(*SHRUG*)

As to your dream of "new fuel sources," if you had gotten a degree in the hard science instead of law I'd put more of my faith in your faith. (*GRIN*) What exactly are these new fuel sources we're to convert to and how long till they're on line in a meaningful way?

(Anyway... we're gone pretty far afield here. Weren't we talking about NATO...??? Partially my fault for expanding the conversation, but still... Middle East policy is a whole different discussion.)

BILL