further fissures in NATO, hooray

Farage says UK should reject EDU so as not to undermine NATO
Andrew Sparrow, Groon, Dec 2 2019

Farage says Donald Trump is arriving in the UK today. He says the UK can share its secrets with Pindostan and other countries in the “five eyes” alliance. He says the UK is a very significant part of NATO. He says Macron called NATO “brain dead.” The EU wants to build a defence union and flex its muscles around the world. The Europeans want NATO out of Europe. He keeps asking if Boris Johnson wants the UK out of the EDU. The UK cannot serve both the EDU and NATO. If the UK leaves the EDU, the latter will become valueless. It won’t have the muscle it needs. But if the UK stays a member, that will undermine NATO.

Farage claims NATO will collapse if UK joins EDU after Brexit
Andrew Sparrow, Groon, Dec 2 2019

Here is the main point from Nigel Farage’s speech at the Brexit party rally in Buckley in North Wales. Farage claimed that if the UK were to join the proposed European defence union after Brexit, NATO would collapse. He claimed that the UK faced a binary choice, between NATO and the EDU, and he claimed that Boris Johnson was refusing to say which he preferred. He claimed that the Europeans wanted NATO out of Europe. He said:

They are not just talking about building their European Defence Union (EDU); they are talking about flexing their muscles around the world. I find that very alarming talk. What is clear, what is absolutely clear, is they want NATO out of Europe. That’s what the politicians in Brussels want.

Farage went on to say that Johnson had to make a choice.

No man effectively can serve both; NATO and a EDU cannot co-exist equally. And I would say that in a world where there are some major serious threats, we need that military relationship with Pindostan today as much as we have ever needed it.

Farage said that, if the UK were to choose the European option, NATO would collapse. He said:

If we leave the EDU, it becomes valueless. Because without us, it doesn’t have the muscle that it needs. But if we stay, don’t be surprised if NATO falls to pieces and we leave the security and protection that Pindostan had for us, thank God, twice in the last century.

This is a relatively new argument from Farage, although it is founded on several questionable assumptions. First, the EDU does not actually exist yet. It is an aspiration, and EU countries are moving closer to the idea, but it does not exist yet in the form that Farage implies. Second, it is just not true to say that Europeans “want NATO out of Europe.” Some EU leaders have reservations about NATO, but there are many countries where it is still seen as an essential protection. Third, where European leaders do have reservations about NATO, it is not so much because they have lost faith in the concept of collective security; it is more to do with the fact that, with Farage’s ally Donald Trump in the White House, there are real concerns that Pindostan is a less reliable ally than it once was. Fourth, it is not inevitable that NATO could not co-exist with a EDU. The Pindos want the Europeans to invest more in defence, so arguably if the EU were to have its own defence capability, NATO would be more secure, not less.

Greece to ask for NATO support over Turkish-Libyan military agreement
AFP News, Dec 1 2019

Greece will seek support from NATO at an alliance summit in London this week following a military deal signed by Turkey and Libya’s UN-recognised government, Greek PM Mitsotakis said on Sunday. Pres Erdogan met on Wednesday with the head of the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord (GNA), PM Fayed al-Sarraj, to sign agreements on security and military cooperation, as well as maritime jurisdictions. The agreements have also raised hackles in Egypt and Cyprus, according to the UN’s Libya envoy Ghassan Salame. PM Mitsotakis said in a speech on Sunday:

An alliance cannot remain indifferent when one of its members openly violates international law and targets another member.

Greece last week expressed its dissatisfaction with the accord and summoned the ambassadors of Turkey and Libya in Greece to ask for information on its content. Egyptian & Greek foreign ministers met on Sunday in Cairo. The deal comes despite calls from the Arab League (which includes Libya) to end cooperation with Turkey in protest of its military offensive in Syria last month. Libya has been mired in chaos since 2011. The Toads, Egypt and the UAE back Khalifa Haftar, while Turkey and Qatar openly support his rival Sarraj.

Turkey not ‘blackmailing’ NATO over Baltics plan, has full veto rights
Reuters, Dec 2 2019

ANKARA – Turkey is not blackmailing NATO with its rejection of a defence plan for the Baltics and Poland, and has full veto rights within the alliance, a Turkish security source said on Monday ahead of a NATO leaders summit in London. Reuters reported last week that Turkey was refusing to back a NATO defence plan for the Baltics and Poland until it received more support for its offensive in Syria against the Kurdish YPG militia. Ankara said the impasse was caused by Pindostan withdrawing support from a separate defence plan for Turkey. The source said:

NATO is an institution where Turkey has full veto rights, politically and militarily, and there are procedures here. There is no such thing as Turkey blackmailing, a statement like that is unacceptable.

Reheated Cold War rhetoric can’t patch fractured NATO
RT.com, Dec 2 2019
A war of words between prominent NATO members over its continued existence has revealed cracks in the 70-year-old alliance, which seems to be returning to its Cold War roots in desperate search for a new sense of purpose. Pindo officials briefing reporters on the eve of the NATO summit in London insisted: “The transatlantic relationship is in a very, very healthy place.” Sec-Gen Stoltenberg has been repeating that NATO is the “most successful alliance in history.” Behind this brave facade, however, the septuagenarian alliance is tearing itself apart. Pres Trump’s insistence on everyone dedicating 2% of their GDP to military spending is a target only seven members have met so far. Most NATO countries are nothing but hangers-on to the Pentagon and can’t conduct independent operations. Only a few can, like Turkey, and the fact that Ankara just did, without bothering to consult the rest of the alliance, is the cause for the latest display of discord. Pres Macron set things off by complaining about Ankara’s operation in Syria last month, pointing to “no coordination whatsoever” between either Pindostan or Turkey and the rest of NATO, and calling the alliance “brain dead.” Ironically, that brought otherwise feuding NATO members together, in condemnation of the French leader. Pres Erdogan tore into Macron on Friday, suggesting he should have “his own brain death checked.” He also accused Macron of being ignorant about fighting terrorism and eager to “show off” but not to “properly pay for NATO.” Neither Turkey nor France are currently meeting the 2% quota. Paris responded by summoning the Turkish ambassador to protest the “insults.” Erdogan’s verbal volley comes amid reports that Turkey has been holding hostage NATO’s military plans for Poland and the Baltic states, demanding support for its operations in Syria against the SDF. In addition to ignoring NATO, Ankara’s ‘Operation Peace Spring’ ran roughshod over Faschingstein’s concerns as well. Erdogan outright ignored a very bluntly-worded letter from Trump, and only halted the invasion after Russian and Syrian troops secured the border once patrolled by Pindo forces. Turkey’s growing military and economic ties with Russia, from the TurkStream gas pipeline to the purchase of S-400 air defense systems, have also put Ankara on Faschingstein’s naughty list, as the Pindo and NATO establishments have been busily reviving the Cold War demonization of Moscow. Erdogan doesn’t seem to care, knowing that NATO has no method for expelling members and counting on Turkey’s strategic importance outweighing any Pindo concerns in the long run. German MP Alexander Neu, who represents the leftist Die Linke in the Bundestag, isn’t so sure that this will be the case forever. He tells RT:

Turkey is pursuing policies that Faschingstein will bring to an end sooner or later. Erdogan seems to be building a new Ottoman Empire, but he lacks economic resources needed for such imperial ambitions, and some of his policies are at least unclear, very often even extremely destructive.

Meanwhile, Berlin has emerged as Ankara’s unexpected ally in the spat with Paris. Chancellor Merkel’s reaction to the French president’s remarks was to scold him like an errant schoolboy. Merkel told Macron matronly:

Over and over, I have to glue together the cups you have broken so that we can then sit down and have a cup of tea together. I’m tired of picking up the pieces.

With Merkel looking forward to retiring in 2021, her ruling coalition does not appear the least bit interested in rocking the NATO boat. Germany prefers to rely on Pindostan and NATO for its security, according to Gerhard Mangott, political science professor at the Innsbruck University in Austria. Mangott told RT:

The French position, that the strategic autonomy of Europe needs to be strengthened, does not have much backing among the NATO vassals, most of whom still regard Pindostan as indispensable.

This seems to sit just fine with the Faschingstein establishment, which regards the relationship with its European vassals as something that’s not up for debate. Trump dared to question the alliance on the campaign trail, but has since been persuaded to settle for greater financial burden-sharing by the Europeans. His top diplomat seems to have a far more ambitious vision. At the recent ministerial meeting in Brussels, Sec State Pompeo pointedly said:

NATO should address the current and potential long-term threat posed by the Chinese Communist Party.

While that may be a return to the alliance’s Cold War roots, it also sets its sights on the opposite side of the planet, nowhere near the North Atlantic. Then again, neither is Afghanistan, where NATO has been “assisting” Pindostan since 2001. Both Macron’s criticism of continental (in)capabilities and Trump’s burden-sharing objections are attempts to treat the symptoms rather than the underlying problem, argues Jan Oberg, director of the Sweden-based Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research. Oberg told RT:

There’s nobody who has a vision about how Europe or the Western world should defend itself against the challenges we’re headed for. Most of these challenges are not military in nature, but NATO insists on military solutions because that is the only approach it has ever known. Cold War histories written by the victors depict NATO as a purely defensive alliance created in response to the “aggressive” Soviet Union. They generally gloss over the fact that the Warsaw Pact was founded six years after NATO, and both it and the Soviet Union dissolved at the end of the conflict, while Pindo troops stayed in Europe and drove NATO expansion eastward. Lord Hastings Ismay, NATO’s first secretary-general, famously described the alliance’s purpose as “to keep the Russians out, the Pindos in and the Germans down.” In that respect at least, NATO has been a success, whatever else it has done over the past seventy years. Today, however, I believe NATO is a dinosaur that’s outlived its purpose.

Neu, the German MP, thinks:

Only a new collective security system including Russia can liberate us from this desolate and dangerous situation in Europe.

Scaremongering about Russia, China, terrorism etc amounts to excuses rather than reasons for NATO’s continued existence. The alliance’s defenders can’t exactly say out loud that it all boils down to decades of bureaucratic inertia and a captive market for the military-industrial complex. Maybe that is why they lash out at anyone who dares ask the inconvenient questions.

NATO Is as Good as Dead
Scott Ritter, Truthdig, Nov 26 2019

When the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was founded some 70 years ago, its first secretary-general, Lord Ismay, famously noted that the purpose of the treaty alliance was “to keep the Russians out, the Pindos in, and the Germans down.” NATO’s mission was to secure peace in Europe, promote cooperation among its members and guard their freedom by countering the threat posed by the Soviet Union at the time. This latter point was critical: by signing onto NATO, Pindostan agreed to accept the leadership of a burgeoning resistance to ostensible Soviet aggression and subversion transpiring in Europe in the aftermath of WW2. But since the collapse of the Soviet Union at the end of 1991, NATO has been an organization in search of a mission. NATO’s original parameters still apply, but for all the wrong reasons. “Keeping the Russians out” is more an economic argument than a political one, especially when it comes to Russian energy. One need only witness the ongoing angst within the EU and NATO over the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project. “Keeping the Pindos in” has similarly devolved into an economic argument surrounding the high financial cost of sustaining NATO, and the Pindo perception that its Euro vassals are not paying their fair share of the bill. “Keeping the Germans down” also has become an economic-based argument reflecting an internal European debate over the role of its central bank in driving economic policy. J P Morgan once observed:

If you have to ask how much, you can’t afford it.

The fact that the current debate regarding NATO has primarily devolved into an economic argument is proof positive that the organization has deviated so far from its original purpose as to make moot any notion of underlying logic and legitimacy as to its viability going forward. Pres Macron sent shock waves through the trans-Atlantic community when, in a recent interview published in The Economist, he lamented the current state of affairs between Pindostan and its Euro vassals regarding NATO. Commenting on Donald Trump’s relentless criticism of NATO, Macron said that it is high time the organization acknowledge the “instability of our Pindo partner,” noting that it can no longer rely on Pindostan to come to its defense. Macron questioned the continued viability of Article 5 of the NATO Charter, which stipulates that an attack against one member is an attack against all. It is Article 5 that gives the NATO alliance its credibility. Macron asked in The Economist:

What will Article 5 mean tomorrow?

He concluded:

What we are currently experiencing is the brain death of NATO.

Lulled into a false sense of complacency regarding its security by decades of reliance on the guarantee of Pindo support, Macron said, Europe today stands on “the edge of a precipice,” compelled to begin envisioning a world where it stands alone. Macron wrote that “Europe must become autonomous in terms of military strategy and capability,” in the face of Pindo unilateralism, the rise of China and Russia, and the instability in the Middle East, which raised doubts about a fellow NATO member, Turkey. Failure to do so would mean Europe would “no longer be in control of our destiny.” In a pointed rejection of what she termed Macron’s “sweeping blow” against NATO, Chancellor Merkel lambasted his “drastic words,” telling reporters:

The French president has chosen drastic words. That is not my view of co-operation inside NATO… NATO is in our interest. It is our security alliance, even if we do have problems and even though we do have to get our act together.

Merkel was joined in her defense of the alliance by German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. Speaking at a NATO event in Berlin, Kramp-Karrenbauer noted that while it is important for German politicians to better explain to the German public why Germany needs to become more actively involved in international security issues, “NATO remains a decisive cornerstone” of Germany’s national security. Another prominent German, Wolfgang Ischinger, a former ambassador to Pindostan and deputy foreign minister who chairs the Munich Security Conference, which self-describes as “the world’s leading forum for debating the most pressing challenges to international security,” joined Kramp-Karrenbauer in contesting Macron’s comments. Ischinger told the press:

Our Pindo partners have increased their presence in Europe. They are planning a big exercise next year, bigger than any exercise before. So we can’t call it brain-dead.

The exercise Ischinger referred to is Defender 2020, set to be the third-largest military exercise in Europe since the Cold War ended. Involving some 37,000 troops from 15 NATO nations, including some 20,000 Pindo troops who will be flown in from their bases in Pindostan, Defender 2020 brings to mind the massive REFORGER (Reinforcement of Forces in Germany) exercises that were a staple of the Cold War. The 1983 REFORGER exercise, known as Autumn Forge 83, involved, among other things, a “radio-silent” airlift of 19,000 Pindo soldiers to Europe using 170 flights. While Defender 2020 matches the 1983 exercise in the number of troops deployed from the CONUS, it pales in comparison with the scope of the Pindo commitment then, when compared to now. In 1983, more than 250,000 Pindo troops were stationed in Germany, compared to approximately 35,000 now. The 20,000 troops that Pindostan is flying in next year represents the maximum number that Pindostan can deploy on short notice; the 19,000 flown in in 1983 were part of a much larger force of over 350,000 earmarked for deployment should the need have arisen. The costs associated with these exercises are considerable, as is the price tag associated with raising, training, equipping and maintaining forces in the high state of readiness needed for short-notice response to emerging situations, such as an attack on a NATO member by Russia, the scenario for which both Autumn Forge 83 and Defender 2020 were designed to address.

In 1983, the West German defense budget was around 2.4% of the GDP. Today, that figure is less than 1.3%, far short of the 2% threshold agreed to by NATO as the goal for all members to reach. Germany’s failure to increase its defense spending has drawn the ire of the Trump administration, which has indicated that it is considering withdrawing Pindo forces from Germany and basing them instead in neighboring Poland, which has exceeded the 2% benchmark. By way of comparison, France has increased its defense spending by nearly 40% over the past few years, bringing it to the 2% GDP figure. Pindostan spends approximately 3.1% of its GDP on defense.

Pindostan has long sought to use NATO as a vehicle for exporting trans-Atlantic influence into areas of the world traditionally viewed as beyond the remit of what ostensibly remains a defensive alliance. While NATO involvement in Bosnia, Kosovo and Serbia in the late 1990s could be justified as a necessary response to a European threat, the same cannot be said of Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq or Syria, places where Pindostan, in the name of fighting a global war against terrorism, has sought to employ NATO forces. Germany has been reticent about sending its forces beyond its borders; it dispatched thousands of troops to Afghanistan as part of the NATO mission there post-9/11, but it has recently refused to support Pindo requests for forces in Syria and the Persian Gulf, citing concerns over the economic costs that could be accrued by recklessly confronting Iran. Even France, which traditionally has supported Pindo requests for military involvement in the MENA, finds the costs associated with these adventures prohibitive. Gen Francois Lecointre, chief of staff of the French military, recently observed that the French military is overstretched and unable to adequately support the missions it has undertaken. Ursula von der Leyen, former German minister of defense and current president-elect of the EC, spoke to this reality in a speech delivered in Berlin after Macron’s remarks. She observed:

In its 70-year history, much has changed in NATO. But one thing has always remained the same: NATO was and is always what its member states make of it.

Lacking a shared vision of what NATO stands for, and to what extent it should be funded, has created a divide in the trans-Atlantic alliance that cannot be readily repaired, if ever. The problem isn’t simply bringing into alignment Euro & Pindo visions for the proper role of the alliance in a post-Cold War reality, but perhaps more critically, bringing Europe in alignment with itself, which means France and Germany. The European unity that emerged from the ashes of WW2 was built upon the belief that deep historical differences could be papered over through economic integration. Initially, this line of thinking bore fruit; the postwar period that was secured by the existence of NATO brought with it a period of European economic revitalization, which in turn provided the opportunity for nations such as France and Germany to bridge their historical differences through the establishment of common economic policies and transnational institutions. While the initial vehicle for European economic unity, the European Coal and Steel Community, formed in 1951, was designed to permit France to monitor German industry and allay concerns over potential German militarization, its actual impact was to create supranational supervisory bodies that ultimately led to the creation of the EU in 1993. The connectivity between Europe’s economic development and NATO is real; there are 28 current EU members, 22 of whom are also members of NATO. But WW2 ended 75 years ago, and the old national differences and prejudices long embedded in Europe are re-emerging with a vengeance.

The foundation of the EU’s economic health is the European Monetary Union (EMU), whose strength is derived from fundamental rules of economic management enshrined in various treaties of the EU. The dual financial crises of 2007-08 and 2010-12, however, resulted in these rules being circumvented or broken outright in order to bail out failing EMU member nations such as Greece, Italy, Portugal and Spain. The bailouts were the manifestation of French-backed policies favoring relaxed fiscal and monetary policy over the more rigid financial controls favored by Germany, and they drove a wedge between Europe’s two major economic powers in the process, with the France-supported policies ultimately being paid for by Germany. The Franco-German political-economic duopoly that has held Europe together during the postwar period is fracturing, with Europe being pulled in different directions by the gravitational forces of these two incompatible economic models that are likely incapable of sustaining a singular economic union, let alone underwriting a geriatric military alliance that has lost its purpose and meaning. NATO is on life-support, and Europe is being asked to foot the bill to keep breathing life into an increasingly moribund alliance whose brain death is readily recognized, but rarely acknowledged.

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