Bruno Waterfield’s Blog from Brussels confirms what many had suspected, that NATO and the EU’s defence initiatives are converging. The Lisbon Treaty has given rise to a number of new jobs being needed to be filled such as EU President, ‘Foreign Minister’ for example. What Bruno indicates that the job of Secretary General of NATO is also being negotiated at the same time in a Brussels high-level power struggle, protected from the public eye.
He writes –
EU security and defence policy will be beefed up in 2009 as France (if it goes ahead as planned) rejoins the Western Alliance’s military command. It is a clear sign that the EU and Nato are moving closer together that the Alliance job is part of the deal.
The French might bring forward Treaty plans for increased European defence cooperation. Probably involving Germany, France, Britain, Spain, Poland and Italy (possibly with Hungary and Lithuania too), the new structured “European army” will be organised around euro-style convergence criteria such as defence spending.
Germany has ambitions here.
Americans might be surprised to hear that NATO, the organisation that can commit large numbers of its troops into wars, is being sucked into convergence with the EU’s defence organisation. The American view of NATO refers all the way back to the 2nd and even 1st World Wars. See this article from the New York Times, penned in 1989 HERE, which captures the moment in history after the Berlin Wall came down, at which time President George Bush Senior made a statement of America’s commitment to NATO.
Bush spoke in these terms –
In a Thanksgiving address to the nation from Camp David, President Bush tonight hailed the emergence of a ”new Europe” but affirmed that the American commitment to the Atlantic alliance would remain strong and stable ”as long as our friends want and need us.”
That concept of NATO’s purpose, in effect America committing itself to protect Europe from outside aggression, did not visualise circumstances such as the present ones, where it is America that needs a little help from its European allies, in Afghanistan. The French and German willingness to provide troops and put them in harm’s way has been found deficient. This is being pointed out by Canada and Australia, who feel annoyed that they are expected to take casualties while the French and the Germans want to play as safe as possible.
Americans are not generally invited by their leadership to publicly criticise their European allies for lack of commitment to NATO in Afghanistan. But George W Bush found his voice recently when NATO’s European nations refused to back his request to offer a path to NATO membership for the Ukraine and Georgia. The Europeans are unwilling to incur casualties, and want to appease Putin, while Bush wanted to keep him under pressure. Putin has leapt at the chance this is giving him, and is sending in increasing numbers troops into Georgia’s ‘breakaway’ Abkhazia and South Ossetia, claiming that if Kosovo can be broken away from Serbia by the EU, he’s entitled to do similar with these provinces of Georgia.
It seems likely if the Europeans come to dominate NATO, that Putin will increasingly find he can ignore the EU/NATO and re-exert Russian authority over his neighbouring states, possibly undoing the Orange Revolution in The Ukraine, and in time edging the EU out of Serbia.
American overstretch in Iraq and its other Middle eastern concerns, such as protecting Israel, might bring forward a moment when NATO is seen as increasingly useless to American aims, and the US places less and less reliance on NATO, especially as it becomes dominated by the unrealistic Europeans playing their clandestine internal EU power games. It is not impossible that the US will see the need for other partners for its Middle Eastern programmes and campaigns.
There might be little to stop the USA and Russia from discovering that they hold joint interests, and that they preferred to become cooperators, rather than competitors. Russia Today recently claimed that Henry Kissinger was coming round to the opinion that an alliance with Russia might be on the cards – or at least ‘improved relations’. See HERE, although he mentions how important personalities can be, indicating possibly that Putin might be standing in the way of the progress he would like to see.
Helen on EUreferendum wrote recently as follows –
Meanwhile NATO and the EU are very disappointed because Russia is ignoring how nice they were at the last summit in conducting negotiations with the potential break-away regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. This was not supposed to happen. After all, Germany, France and other countries of Old Europe “stood up” to the United States, in order to keep Russia happy.
Instead of being contented “outgoing Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a decree expanding ties between the government and Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The move involves the recognition of organisations and businesses registered in the two republics.”
Which leaves Javier Solana and Nato Secretary-General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer discontented and rather hurt. One wonders how Chancellor Merkel and President Sarkozy feel. Of course, it is entirely possible that President Putin’s reading of the real outcome of that summit was similar to our own and he has reacted to another diplomatic set-back in his usual fashion of foot-stamping and bullying.
The language she uses shows that EU and NATO have merged, while the Americans are seen as a separate diplomatic entity. It’s all a bit odd when you remember that the USA provides most of NATO’s and therefore the EU’s military power.
There is certainly room for new thinking here, as the old concepts that kept the peace of the world for two generations, have run out of relevance, leading to general confusion by all parties. It’s time for the US to re-examine first principles of what it wants to achieve. What better moment than now with potentially a new US President about to reach the White House, who wants to bring about change from the old ways.
PICTURE – Uncle Sam in chains.