Balkinization  

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Further notes on constutional dysfunctionality: Who should be deciding about the expansion of NATO?

Sandy Levinson

I note that a story just posted in the New York Times from Reuters says that the US will insist on adding Georgia to NATO. "'I think what Russia has done now is the strongest catalyst it could have created to get Georgia in NATO,' U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Matthew Bryza, American envoy to the Caucasus, told Russia's Ekho Moskvy radio. 'This is what is going to happen now. Georgia is going to accelerate its march toward NATO and, I hope, to an action plan in December.'"

Putting to one side that no sane person could really believe that the United States should or would risk war with Russia in order to protect the adventurist regime in Georgia (even if we agree that the Russians behaved very badly indeed in doing what they did to Georgia), it is yet another sign of our defective Constitution that Mr. Bryza is suggesting that a lame-duck President who, I hope, will have been soundly repudiated in November by the victory of Obama-Biden, would view himself as having the legitimate authority to bind the United States to the defense of Georgia's territorial integrity (at least if one takes Article V of NATO seriously). No such decision should be made by George W. Bush. (I assume that any decision to expand NATO would in fact require consent by 2/3 of the Senate, and one might hope that cooler heads would prevail at that point, but, frankly, we never should have to reach that point in the first place.)

I note with some distress that Obama has seemingly been pressured by McCain's demagoguery on Georgia to say nothing about the unwisdom of adding Georgia to NATO, nor, I suspect, will he risk angering the mercurial Bill Clinton by pointing out what is becoming clearer and clearer, as Tom Friedman noted this past week in the Times, that Clinton's almost casual decision to expand NATO was reckless and presumed that Russia would remain permanently weak. Bush may be awful beyond belief, but we should recognize that there may be some important linkages between him and Clinton. One linkage, incidentally, might be found in Clinton's haste to ratify the GATT agreements in the lame-duck 1994 Congress rather than wait until the new Congress came to town. I lament what happened in the 1994 elections, but there was really no excuse for rushing through the process, unless for some reason it simply had to occur by January 1, 1995. I'm sure I can rely on the dedicated readers of Balkinization to supply such information if that was indeed the case.

One might raise some of the same concerns, incidentally, regarding the Bush Administration's successful pressuring of Poland to let us place missiles in that country. For all of the truculent language last week, I cannot understand why Poland would fear being attacked by Russia, since any attack would first require an invasion of Ukraine or the Baltic states in order to get troops to Poland. I see no realisitic possibility of that happening. Even if one believes that Putin is evil, he is surely not delusional (unlike his US counterpart); his rise to power is based on petrodollars and heavy investment in Russia, which would not survive a breakout of "real war" (unlike the sham variety in Georgia, which is only a bit more warlike than our invasion of Granada). But I can certainly understand why he fears a latter-day equivalent of "encirclement" and would be disinclined to cooperate with countries that clearly wish that Russia would return to its mid-1990s state of weakness.

One might hope that amidst all the talk of how many homes John McCain and his wife own and the capacity of Barack Obama's wine cellar there might be a truly serious debate about America's (and NATO's) role in the contemporary world. I take hope in Joe Biden's selection, since, for all of his unfortunate garrulousness, he is undoubtedly remarkably knowledgeable about foreign policy and, I think, far less unhinged than John McCain. If he wants to spend $1 billion taxpayer dollars on reconstructing Georgia, fine, since one can argue that America's reckless support for Georgia helped to encourage the adventurist policy vis-a-vis South Ossetia. But that's far, far different from trying to persuade the American people that we should be willing to go to war (or to break off relations with Russia) should Russia be deemed to violate the vaunted "territorial sovereignty" of a state that for years and years has been faced with serious secessionist movements.







Comments:

Wouldn't it be militarily possible for Russia to go through Belarus on its way to Poland (or is it too marshy in the border areas)? And isn't Russia's relationship with Belarus quite close?

None of this is to suggest that Sandy is wrong about NATO expansion (either in the 1990s or now). It is only to suggest that Poland's fears may be reasonable.
 

Obama hasn't "seemingly been pressured ... to say nothing about the unwisdom of adding Georgia to Nato." Obama has publicly endorsed adding Georgia to Nato; he announced that publicly immediately after the invasion began.
 

The first thing the Bush Administration ought to know very well is that invitations to accede to the NATO alliance are not in the sole gift of the United States of America.

Article 10 of the NATO Treaty (The Treaty of Washington) is in these words:-

"The Parties may, by unanimous agreement, invite any other European State in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area to accede to this Treaty. Any State so invited may become a Party to the Treaty by depositing its instrument of accession with the Government of the United States of America. The Government of the United States of America will inform each of the Parties of the deposit of each such instrument of accession.

So if the USA is thinking of writing an invitation card for Georgia, it must convince all of the governments of Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Roumania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Turkey and the United Kingdom to sign the card as well.

George Bush Jr, is said to be fan of Tom Clancy's novels, and in one of them (The Bear and the Dragon) President Ryan convinces the NATO allies to invite Russia to join the Alliance at a single meeting of the NATO heads of state and government. That's the power of a US President in the world of "fiction written to be turned into a Hollywood film script, but this is the real word.

NATO status of Georgia
Georgia is a NATO "EAPC partner" country. There are various categories of such countries - those who cannot join because their constitutions commit them to neutrality but which are prepared to come in on UN peacekeeping activities, those who hope to join NATO one day, those who want NATO help in developing their defence capabilities and those who just want a friendly dialogue EAPC List Russia is also on the list.

The NATO website has a page on NATO’s relations with Georgia which makes clear the present status of Georgia as of 22nd August 2008 in these words:

NATO and Georgia actively cooperate on democratic, institutional, and defence reforms, and have developed practical cooperation in many other areas. Georgia and NATO carry out an Intensified Dialogue on the country’s membership aspirations. The practical tool for NATO-Georgia cooperation is the Individual Partnership Action Plan (IPAP), which lays out the detailed programme of cooperation between Georgia and NATO.

In August 2008, the Allies proposed the establishment of a NATO-Georgia Commission to oversee the further development of relations as well as to follow up on decisions taken at the 2008 BucharestSummit concerning Georgia’s membership aspirations.

NATO offered Georgia an Intensified Dialogue on Georgia’s membership aspirations in September 2006. The Intensified Dialogue gives Georgia access to a more intense political exchange with NATO on the standards necessary to achieve membership and the way in which Georgia’s reforms can be tailored to achieve those standards. At their Summit in Bucharest in April 2008, NATO leaders agreed that Georgia would become a member of the Alliance, and launched a period of intensive engagement with Georgia to address questions still outstanding pertaining to Georgia’s Membership Action Plan (MAP) application. Future decisions on when Georgia will move to the MAP stage and eventually to membership will be based on Georgia’s performance in implementing key reforms laid out in the IPAP. As agreed at the Bucharest Summit, the application to join MAP will be reviewed by Allied foreign ministers in December 2008.

Current priorities for Georgia include transforming its public and private sectors in order to promote democracy, good governance, the rule of law and sustainable social and economic development, as well as reforming the security sector, in particular implementation of Strategic Defence Review.


The bolded words may be taken as diplospeak for the following:

1. NATO membership will not be offered until the territorial disputes and secession claims of Abkhazia and South Ossetia have been resolved; and

2. Georgia's institutions suck and membership cannot be offered until they are sorted out.

Basically, no-one in Europe is paying too much attention to what the Bush administration is saying on this.

Heads of state and government, foreign and defence ministers are probably spending much more time praying that the Chimp doesn't start any more confrontations before January and that Europe and the World are delivered from more of the [Mc]Same.

As for what Thomas says:-

Everyone is in favour of Georgia's eventual admission in a few years' time - when the country is ready. My guess is that this will not happen until after the next elections - in Georgia - at the very earliest. 2020 might be a better bet.
 

Treaties are effectively aspirational under our Constitution and do not legally compel us to go to war.

Under the Constitution, no treaty is even notionally binding as US law until the Senate ratifies.

Even then, the treaty is only binding on private citizens to the extent it is self executing or Congress enacts statutes enforcing it.

Treaties are not enforceable against either elected branch because both Congress and the US can unilaterally withdraw from them.

Moreover, treaties may not amend the constitutional requirement that Congress declare war.

In any case, as a practical matter, there is no way Old Europe outside of the UK will send their troops to an actual shooting war which is not on their borders, so NATO is pretty much a joke east of Germany and Russia knows it.

The US is arguing for Georgian admission into NATO to reassure our other allies bordering Russia that we will not abandon them, even though we also know that Old Europe will now block this rather than angering the supplier of much of their natural gas

Our other allies bordering Russia know that their only chance of not being added to the Russian bear's menu in the future ala Georgia does not lie with NATO, but with security agreements directly with the US, to which they were only too glad to agree after the Russian dismemberment of Georgia.

THESE agreements with the Eastern European countries who do not again want to be part of a future Russian empire and to which it is logistically possible to send US troop are the ones with which isolationists should be concerned.
 

Various blogs, including Glenn Greenwald and Daily Kos, have discussed the problems with our ever (slanted) expansionist policies, and sadly Obama (and Biden) are tainted by such things.

It is helpful when dealing with such things to have people who are on balance smart and competent, and somewhat evenhanded. On balance, I think it's an easy call in November on that level.

Putting aside small "c," this on the whole reasonable post is not furthered by reference to "constutional dysfunctionality" on this subject. The discussion cited underlined that it was in no way a unilateral effort by the executive that led us here.

It is a problem of approach and philosophy, not constitutional structure, that is the primary difficulty. And as Mourad notes, SL's fears are a bit overblown on the power of the presidency on this issue as well.
 

Mourad, Obama didn't suggest that Georgia should get its action plan in 20 years; he wants Georgia to get an action plan now. (The action plan, contrary to Sandy's suggestion, isn't the last step to admission, but it is the necessary next step.) Here's what Obama said: "I have consistently called for deepening relations between Georgia and transatlantic institutions, including a Membership Action Plan for NATO, and we must continue to press for that deeper relationship."

Unfortunately, no one in Europe is listening to Obama on this.

The chimp stuff is a little tired, don't you think?
 

I think it is pertinent to point out that there are elements of constitutional disfunctionality in some respects.

The principal NATO treaty obligations are set out in the following two articles:-

Article 4
The Parties will consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the Parties is threatened.

Article 5
The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.


It will be seen that, as drafted, the Treaty is entirely compatible with the terms of the UN Charter since it is entirely defensive in nature.

Under Article 4 there is no particular problem: an obligation to consult only involves dispatching a diplomat to Brussels for a NATO Council meeting.

It is often thought that membership of NATO gives each member state a guarantee that all the other states will pitch in and help in the case of an armed attack. It doesn't. There is a get-out. A treaty state is only obliged to take "such action as it deems necessary..." and could well deem that no action is necessary.

So, in effect, what a state gets is not a "guarantee" but what bankers refer to as "a letter of comfort". A commitment binding in honour only. And the honour of nation states is reposed in those who hold the executive power.

Neville Chamberlain found that out shortly after Munich. Germany's honour in the hands of Hitler, meant that the Munich Agreeement was a worthless scrap of paper.

In the USA the executive powers of a head of state are divided between the president and the congress. Congress may not agree with what the President wants to do.

The situation can and has in the past arisen where the executive is in the hands of one party and the congress in the hands of another, and for that reason even a solemn treaty commitment may be of questionable value. Clinton came up against Congress when he sought War Powers Act resolutions for Kosovo. If I recall correctly (and I havn't had time to look it up, but it rather sticks in my mind) he was refused authority to deploy US troops and limited to the use of air power - which meant that there were a great many more Serbian civilian casualties than might otherwise have been necessary.

Government to government assurances are of even less value. When Aramco found oil in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the 1940s there were very extensive agreements negotiated between the USA and the Kingdom. These included among many other things a commitment from Saudi Arabia that it would trade its oil only in US dollars. Over the years that has been a very important currency advantage for the USA. In return FDR promised that the USA would not support the creation of an Israeli state in Palestine. Unfortunately, when the matter came to the UN, FDR was no longer President and Truman felt that he was not bound by FDR's commitment.

On the FDR/Truman precedent, if there is ever some memorandum signed by the US Government with Iraq over a troop timeline, it will have all the value of a mere piece of paper since the next president need not be bound by it. From Iraq's point of view that could be a very good or a very bad thing, depending on the outcome of the election.

Finally, on Georgia - I heard what the Senator said. There is a recognised process for accession. There are issues remaining on Georgia's application for a Membership Accession Plan. Those are matters for Georgia to resolve. As soon as Georgia does, the accession process can start. But the process can and should take time, as does the accession process to the EU.

It may well be legitimate policy for the USA to desire negotiations to proceed at a greater or lesser speed, and legitimate policy for the other states to desire a different timescale. Frankly, since any conflict arising is likely to be fought on European territory rather than the continental USA, I am very pleased the decisions have to be taken unanimously.

Perhaps because the USA was late in joining in the 1914-18 war and late in joining the 1939-45 war, it seems to me that the Bush Administration almost seems to have been keen to be first out of the starting gate for World War III and McSame seems to regard war as about as desirable as marrying for money.

And BTW, Thomas, I agree the expression "Chimp" is rather tired, but not nearly as tired as the vast majority of Europeans are of Bush!
 

I sure am glad all of you Moonbats have this place to congregate. Sure makes the streets and courts safer with you in here, banging your heads against the walls.

Hope it hurts!
 

Recently there have been some McCain gaffes suggesting a rather hazy knowledge of geography.

But, thinking about it, the ignorance of Americans about political geography is hardly surprising, given the vastness of the North American continent and the late development of nations in the 'new world'.

Anyone from the 'old world' cannot but be amazed by the straight lines on the map for borders and political subdivisions. Take the US border with Canada. Much of it simply runs along the 49th parallel, with the US-Can border with Alaska largely following the 141W meridian. Then all those straight-line boundaries of the US states west of the Rockies and the central and western Canadian provinces. Of course, these were lines drawn on maps to carve up territory which was basically uninhabited (at least by any people taken into consideration by those doing the drawing - I do not suppose the aboriginal inhabitants were given much say).

Enclaves
Borders in the 'old world' are not like that. The lines are generally all crinkly. As nation states began to form and warred to establish the extent of the boundaries large and small parcels of land moved from one state to the other and back again, and enclaves and exclaves were created. Geograpical Europe is littered with them.

The sovereign states of the Vatican City and the Republic of San Marino are completely surrounded by Italian territory. Gibraltar is British territory at the tip of Spain (claimed by Spain), Ceuta and Melilla are Spanish setttlements in Morocco (and claimed by Morocco), Campione d'Italia is an Italian town entirely surrounded by Switzerland. There is a single Italian telephone number for the town hall. Telephone service for
everyone else (including the Italian police who drive cars registered in Switzerland) is provided by Swiss Telecom. The town of Baarle is located in the Netherlands but parts of the town are Belgian territory [forming the municipality of Baarle-Hertog] and parts are Dutch [forming the municipality of Baarle-Nassau]. Baarle-Hertog comprises 22 [twenty-two] different enclaves [two of which, the so-called central enclave and an enclave near Reth, have a single-point connection to each other] that are all surrounded by Dutch territory. Barry Smith's
Baarle Site.
Some cafés and restaurants are actually partly in one country and partly in another - when the permitted drinking hours were different, patrons simply got up and crossed the border with their glass at the appropriate time!

I could go on since there are more than a hundred national enclaves and/or exclaves to consider. Many were submerged under the weight of the USSR and have only re-emerged since the end of the former Soviet empire.

A good example is Kaliningrad - the Hanseatic League German city of Koenigsberg handed over to Russia at the Potsdam Conference in 1945, and now an exclave of Russia surrounded by the EU member states of Lithuania and Poland. BBC Report

There are also enclave-exclave issues in Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan. As with all the others, the problems in Georgia about the status of Abkhazia and South Ossetia were not so visible when Stalin and his successors were running Georgia.

EU Neighbourhood Countries and the USA
Since the Soviet Empire began to collapse, the EU has absorbed into the Union a large number of states which were formerly Soviet satellites: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Polan, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Romania and Bulgaria. The fiscal cost of doing that to the taxpayers of the other EU states has been and continues to be very substantial indeed.

In May 1998, the House of Commons Research Department did a bit of research into the anticipated costs of funding the programme for the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Poland and Slovenia. It reported that the budget cost for 2000-2006 was expected to be 79.9 billion Euro. The area and population would increase by 17% while the the economy would grow by only 6% and GDP per capita fall to 81% of the EU6 GDP per capita. In 2005, the 10 countries which joined the EU in 2004 received about 4bn euros more from the EU than they paid into the budget. This comes to about 4% of the EU budget, which is itself about 1% of the EU's gross national income. In 2006, Bulgaria and Romania got about 1.5bn Euros in pre-accession aid. For 2000-2006, the EU provided for more billions of aid for the states on its new borders.

The 2007-13 package allocates 827.6 million Euros to multi-country aid programmes and 4,116.5 million Euros for country programmes: Algeria 220m, Armenia 98.4m, Azerbaijan 92m, Belarus 20m, Egypt 558m, Georgia 120.4m, Israel 8m, Jordan 265m, Lebanon 187m, Libya 8m, Moldova 209.7m, Morocco 654m, Palestinian Authority 632m, Syria 130m, Tunisia 300m, Ukraine 494m, Russian Federation 120m.

This is in addition to bilateral aid from EU member states.

While the USA of course provides the most foreign aid in US Dollar terms, as a percentage of GNI, the USA comes last in the top 22 donor countries: see the OECD bar chart on p 25 of 2004 Foreign Aid Review -CRS. Much aid (about 85%) is either tied military assistance or food aid in kind.

What the USA does provide is just 0.9% of the Federal Budget. The figures are further fudged by including monies for reconstruction in Iraq as foreign aid instead of war damage reparations.

In 2006, Israel and Egypt were the two largest recipients of US aid. Israel received $2,520 millions, of which $2,280 military aid and Egypt $1,795 millions of which $1,300 military. Israel and Egypt together got one third of all US aid. Pakistan got $698 millions (nearly all military) to go after
terrorists. The programme for assistance to former soviet states was just US$ 482 millions, most of it for military purposes.

The Bush Administration has been very keen to provide military assistance to the countries coming out from under the USSR yoke, not really of course to enable them to defend themselves against the Soviet Union, rather to enable them to provide a new source of "cannon fodder" for the US military adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the Administration has been much less ready to provide any significant development assistance, expecting Europe once again to bear the heavy burden of of turning these fragile new democracies into viable, performing European states.

Georgian Games
The OSCE headed by the Finns - who know better than anyone else how best to operate in close proximity to the Russian bear without getting hugged or clawed - was working on the Georgian secessionist issues then, suddenly, conflict out of the blue.

There is a fairly bitter piece by Ian Bell in this morning's Glagow Sunday Herald Georgia was tricked, but by Russia or US?

"Vladimir Putin is not a nice man. The KGB, with whom the young Vlad earned his reputation as a people person, was not Russia's answer to the Rotary Club. As a direct consequence, Russian traditions of democracy remain wafer thin, a cracked veneer that fails utterly to conceal thuggery, rigged votes, oligarchic mafias, corruption, and the corpses of journalists. Are we clear?

Russia's current identity is composed, meanwhile, of a volatile mixture of intense nationalism and paranoia. Its rulers, whatever their labels, take it as read that their country exists under permanent threat of encirclement by its enemies. Now, here's the tricky part: there is nothing currently to suggest that they are mistaken. Intense nationalists of a different stripe, feed the paranoia of the intense nationalists in Moscow.

This is not, of course, the story we have been hearing. When the United States − having shredded the anti-ballistic missile treaty that gave nuclear deterrence its single justification − bribes Poland into housing rockets pointed at the Russians, we hear only of a "shield". When Georgia launches smaller rockets at a South Ossetian town, in defiance of all the humanitarian rules, we hear only that a freedom-loving but "provoked" Georgian leader has stepped into a cunning Russian trap.

It may be, of course, that Georgia's President Saakashvili committed just such an act of astonishing, inexplicable folly. North Ossetia, ethnic and cultural twin to its disputed neighbour in the south, is part of the Russian Federation. Putin and those who support him - a clear majority, as no-one disputes, of Russians and Ossetians - meanwhile have difficulty understanding the concept of Georgian independence.

But when Saakashvili offered the gift of a direct military challenge by shelling Ossetian Tskhinvali, hospitals, parliament and all, how was Russia supposed to react? By asking politely for clarification of Georgian intentions? Imagine the French have just shelled the Channel Islands. What's our next move?

A daft analogy? Not as daft, I suspect, as the claim that the US, with military advisers on site in Georgia busily equipping and training its army, tried and failed to dissuade Saakashvili from launching a war. Does America have so little influence over a tiny client state that depends entirely on American goodwill?

Or did Saakashvili somehow get the wrong idea from someone somewhere about the nature and scale of likely US support and US responses? Nothing else makes any sense....


One of the interesting facts in all of this is that Shaakashvili may be doing so well in the media war because he has a US spin doctor at his side paid out of the USAid budget - Daniel Kunin interview: Georgia's Alistair Campbell As the article reveals, Daniel L. Kunin's mother, Madeline May Kunin, is a former 3 term Governor of Vermont, also a former member of the Clinton Adminisration (Dep Sec Education) and a former US Ambassador to Switzerland, her country of origin.

In other words young Mr Kunin is just the sort of person whose presence as Saakashvili's spin doctor makes it extremely improbable that there really were any crossed wires between Washington and Tiblisi.

Was this bear-baiting for election purposes? A 21st Century version of "bread and circuses"? I think there are those in the EU Commission and Parliament who are going to asking just where Georgia got the money to pay for its US lobbyists.

On Monday the Russian parliament is due to discuss recognition of the independence of both Abkhazia and Ossetia.
 

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Mourad:

1) It is hardly the responsibility of the US to develop the EU's current and future states.

2) We in the US (or a majority) prefer private charity over government welfare states for ourselves and those in need overseas. This is where my money goes.

3) Your apologist op-ed misses the part reported by HRW that the Georgians were just a little exercised about Russian inspired and armed Ossetian militias burning down Georgian towns in Ossetia to ethnically cleanse the region. Imagine your reaction if Russia was doing the same to your co-religionists and relatives in Turkey.

4) Your allegation that the US inspired the Russian invasion to gain McCain the White House is simply beneath contempt. The fact that history is not over and Mr. Obama proved himself again to be inept at foreign policy (requiring the nomination of Mr. Biden) is not a conspiracy by the United States outside the fever swamps of the paranoid fringe.
 

1) It is hardly the responsibility of the US to develop the EU's current and future states.

I rather suspect this this was a flippant remark made before the writer (who is not noted for originality or perspicacity) shifted his brain into drive.

Look again at the list of Neighbour Aid recipients: Algeria , Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Egypt, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Libya, Moldova, Morocco, Palestinian Authority, Syria, Tunisia, Ukraine, Russian Federation.

I personally would be very happy to see the totality of those nations eventually being welcomed into the EU family. It would mean the EU External Border running from the Atlantic wall in the west up to the Artic Ocean and North Polar region along down along the Pacific to turn back inwards around South Asia, include the Fertile Crescent, round into North Africa along the borders with the Subsaharan States and back to the Atlantic at Morocco. That would be some hefty single market with just about all the needed natural resources requirements for the forseeable future.

It's not an unattractive long term objective, mind you. But what would it leave to the USA as a home market and sphere of economic influence? Not a great deal. Still, it would dispense with the need for NATO.

2) We in the US (or a majority) prefer private charity over government welfare states for ourselves and those on need overseas. This is where my money goes.

Also a flippant remark made by a writer who on his own admission is in the 10% most to the right in the US political spectrum (meaning "the lunatic fringe").

I do not believe for a moment that a majority of US citizens would like to see Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid abolished. I would like to see proof of that.

Obviously, there are those, such as the McCains, the Mitt Romneys, the Harold Simmons, the Coors, the Scaifes, the Olins, the Lambes, the Kochs and the Bradleys of this world, who have no need of such programmes, perhaps even the De Palma dynasty, but I suspect a majority of the electorate wish to see such programmes strengthened and extended and funded in part from taxation. We shall see how that plays in November.

3) Your apologist op-ed misses the part reported by HRW that the Georgians were just a little exercised about Russian inspired and armed Ossetian militias burning down Georgian towns in Ossetai to ethnically cleanse the region. Imagine your reaction if Russia was doing the same to your co-religionists and relatives in Turkey.

I have always said that this is a "both to blame" crisis. Try this for size: Mike Eckel of the AP War frays a patchwork of Georgians, Ossetians

4) Your allegation that the US inspired the Russian invasion to gain McCain the White House is simply beneath contempt. The fact that history is not over and Mr. Obama proved himself again to be inept at foreign policy (requiring the nomination of Mr. Biden) is not a conspiracy on behalf of the United States outside the fever swamps of the lunatic fringe.

What I questioned was the improbability of the US State Department not knowing what was going on with all the in-country resources it had at all levels of the military and civil powers- right up to the Georgian President's spin doctor being on a US payroll. The US failure to act on a timely basis is much more likely to be ascribable to "eye off the ball" incompetence. The Bush Administration has been pretty good at that.

What I do object to is the USA taking sides in a "both to blame" dispute and being so naive as to think this should be a reason for speeding up admission to NATO when in fact it is a very good reason for putting it back until the Georgian government gets its act together.

For that particular gaffe, I blame McCain and the lobbyists - and I ask a perfectly legitimate question about whence came the funds to pay the lobbyists. I hope it was not with EU aid monies, beause it it was, the EU should be asking for it back. And if it was from the kind of right wing billionaires who are funding McSame, that would be a relevant consideration too for both this election and for future European-US relations.
 

Sandy, I suspect the Poles are aware that the Russians have these things called "missles", especially since the Russian government has threatened to use them. I suspect they also have long memories about suffering under the Russian boot heel, and no desire to be there again.
 

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More evidence from the ground:-

This from the Financial Times: Tbilisi admits it miscalculated Russian reaction:-

"Georgia did not believe Russia would respond to its offensive in South Ossetia and was completely unprepared for the counter-attack, the deputy defence minister has admitted. Batu Kutelia told the Financial Times that Georgia had made the decision to seize the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali despite the fact that its forces did not have enough anti-tank and air defences to protect themselves against the possibility of serious resistance.

"Unfortunately, we attached a low priority to this," he said, sitting at a desk with the flags of Georgia and Nato (to which Georgia does not belong) crossed behind him. "We did not prepare for this kind of eventuality."

The Georgian military felt there was only a low probability of a massive Russian counter-attack, despite the bloody way in which Russia destroyed Chechnya, on the other side of the Caucasus mountains, in two wars during the 1990s and the fact that separatists in South Ossetia and Abkhazia had Russian backing. Georgian forces were unprepared when the Russian counter-strike came, Mr Kutelia said. "I didn't think it likely that a member of the UN Security Council and the OSCE would react like this," Mr Kutelia said....

Georgia's 20,000-man army, built up at a cost of $2bn with the help of US trainers and cast-off Warsaw Pact equipment, was organised to deal with "brushfire" wars with separatist enclaves on its borders and to contribute to missions such as Iraq as a way of shoring up Georgia's ties with the west, not
to do battle with Russia.


More About Mr Kulmin:-

In 2006, Mr Kulim was at a very exclusive conference at the Ditchley Foundation which "convenes private and highly focussed conferences, gathering senior international experts together to address issues of transatlantic and indeed global interest."

Ditchley Foundation Conference: Prospects for the Caucasus Region

Chairman : Sir Brian Fall GCVP KCMG - British government Special Representative for the South Caucasus (2002-). Formerly: Principal, Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford (1995-2002); HM Diplomatic Service (1962-1995); Ambassador to the Russian Federation and to the Republics of Armenia, Georgia, Moldova and Turkmenistan (1992-95); Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan (1992 93); High Commissioner to Canada (1989-92).

The US Delegation was headed by Deputy Assistant Secretary Matthew Bryza, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs the same diplomat mentioned in Prof Levinson's original post.

Look through the list of the "great and the good" attending. There, among the Ministers, Special Advisers and Ambassadors is this entry:-

"GEORGIA/UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Mr Daniel Kunin - Senior Adviser to the Government of Georgia, Tbilisi (2003-).
Formerly: Director, National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, Moscow (2002-03)."


This guy is no gofer - he has been operating at very high level. He was paid by the USA - he had known all the right US people certainly since 2006. He was the Georgian President's spin doctor.

As I see it, that makes it very unlikely indeed that official Washington did not know in advance that Georgia was going to attempt to retake South Ossetia in breach of the OSCE agreements.
 

2) We in the US (or a majority) prefer private charity over government welfare states for ourselves and those in need overseas.

"Bart" knows he's with the "majority" ... because he's not capable of dealing with the fact that his views might not be the generally accepted or even the most popular ones (he ignores, for instance, that social security is one of the most popular government programs). Strangely enough, this applies even to his view of Constitutional law, where his views are also correct despite the fact that a majority of the Supreme Court actually has said different.

Cheers,
 

I don't know where Mourad is from--this is the internet after all. I do know that he's the sort of ass that routinely diminishes the hard work of the US career foreign service. That's a consistent theme here at Balkinization, which makes me wonder what sort of government all these Obama supporters think he would run.

Mourad can't deal with even simple facts. He blames McCain for, as far as I can tell, taking the same position that Obama takes on Georgia's admission to Nato. I suppose Mourad is paying McCain the compliment of actually mattering, but I suspect that Mourad means something else, like "I don't like him, so I'm entitled to live in a fantasy world." I suppose it hasn't hurt Sandy, but not everyone has the luxury of an academic appointment.

Arne--So glad to see you finally endorsing Bush v. Gore. The Constitution means what the Supreme Court says it means, after all.
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

Readers may care to note that Professor Kenneth Anderson has a new post over at Opinio Juris on the situation in Georgia: Georgia, South Ossetia, and Abkhazia

This is not Professor Anderson's first post on the situation in Georgia, for anyone with a serious interest, it might be worth also looking at an earlier post:
Frozen Conflicts Unfreezing

[for the benefit of Thomas, who likes to know where people are from, Professor Anderson is a Professor of Law over at American University in Washington, also a Reseach Fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford and an expert in international human rights law; the law of war and armed conflict; terrorism and state terrorism.] He also has the advantage of most of us, in that he has been a Human Rights Watch monitor both in former Yugoslavia, and in Georgia in the 1990's when the conflict was first "frozen" and parked in the hands of the OSCE to work towards a resolution.

This from Professor Anderson's earlier post:-

"I’ve been watching, unsure what exactly to say about policy. I’m still unsure. I mean, it’s easy to agree with both the Obama and McCain campaign reactions (I paraphrase) … ‘Russian invasions are bad’ (Obama) and ‘Put the tanks in reverse, Putin’ (McCain) - but that’s not policy, it’s a very small step toward actual policy."

Note these passages in his latest well-argued post:

Who should actually govern South Ossetia and Abkhazia? Third, however - and this is where things get messy - it is a grave error to conflate rolling back Russian expansionism with the idea that Georgia should have actual political, security, and military control over South Ossetia and Abkhazia. This is a difficult point, but it is essential. Based on what I saw in the brutal, unforgiving, as-bad-as-Yugoslavia, ethnic cleansing wars of fifteen years ago, in my view it is simply impossible for Georgia to govern those territories. I don’t think it was possible from the moment that Georgia declared independence; after all, secession happened practically moments later. And I emphatically believe that the level of brutal violence on each side sealed it. ...

It cannot possibly be, in other words, in the foreign policy interest of the United States to commit itself to a policy of actual, in-fact Georgian political and military and security control over Abkhazia and South Ossetia. It would be in the same general ball-park as suggesting that, in the name of
territorial integrity, Serbia could or should run Kosovo. Where, you ask, is the Milosevic of Georgia, and what makes you think that Georgian governance would turn out to be so destructive that its de facto control must be qualified by its friends and allies? Well, you were almost certainly not around fifteen years ago during the fighting and, anyway, one doesn’t necessarily need a Milosevic in order for a militia-army to loot, pillage, rape, and murder its way to ethnic cleansing....

The best solution is the placement of ceasefire monitors and peacekeepers who are genuinely from outside and who would have obligations to all ethnic communities by preference ceasefire monitors and peacekeepers from the OSCE...

I realize that this will not sit well with many of my conservative friends, those with whom I am ordinarily aligned - because it will seem like I am undercutting the plainest moral posture: invasion of a sovereign democratic country by a big imperial power. But the facts of South Ossetia and Abkhazia are not simply a narrative of Russia stirring up trouble in an otherwise untroubled corner of the world. One can tell me that I am therefore blaming the victim - but I was actually around tallying up the victims a few years ago; I do not have a lot of patience for high minded lectures from people who have not
been in bloody ethnic conflict up close, and in this bloody ethnic conflict up close.
"


Firstly, I respectfully agree with every word of that analysis. Those who, unlike Thomas above, have been following my posts on this crisis on different threads, will know that I have all along argued that:-

(i) this is a "both to blame" crisis;
(ii) the best means of sorting out the untidy mess there is on the ground is the OSCE;
(iii) until the "democracy and good government deficit" is resolved in Georgia, Georgia does not meet the tests to progress to NATO membership.

Perhaps the reason I accept the wisdom of Professor Anderson's conclusions even though I may start from a different political perspective, is that, unlike Bart and some others, much of my military service was spent trying to keep the peace, enforcing separation between people who hated so much that they had completely stopped seeing their neighbours as human beings who were just like them. Professor Anderson's point that in such cases the purism of the principle of territorial integrity may have to give way is well-taken.

Secondly, there are (or perhaps were) possible solutions stopping short of dismembering Georgia. The creation of self governing regions, for example, or allowing a prolonged de-facto separation of the factions. I have personal knowledge of peace enforcement in Cyprus. That conflict has been "frozen" for 40 years now. But it is slowly thawing and at last intercommunal talks are about to restart in September, talks which, if successful will have made the whole peacekeeping effort worthwhile. What has to be understood is that in these situations there are no "instant" solutions.

The fact that Georgia decided unilaterally to attempt to force a solution in South Ossetia has probably put back the prospects of a solution which does not involve secession. I hope not, but I fear otherwise.

Thirdly, I very much share Professor Anderson's doubts about the long-term viability of NATO. Perhaps not for the same reasons.
 

Thomas suggests that I am "the sort of ass that routinely diminishes the hard work of the US career foreign service" I am happy to deny that calumny.

One of the problems with the US Foreign Service is that it is disabled from carrying out out its proper functions by political interference. For example, the summit of a professional diplomat's career is to represent his country in one of the major diplomatic posts. What does the USA do: it uses ambassadorships as rewards for political cronies. This is not a phenomenon unique to one party - both do it. Take the present incumbent at Paris, Ambassador Stapleton. His qualifications are that he is a former President of Marsh and McLennan, a former partner of President Bush in the ownership of the Texas Rangers baseball team, and served as Connecticut State Chairman for the re-election campaign of President Bush. In Rome, the principal qualification of Ambassador Spogli seems to be that he was George Bush's room-mate at Harvard, although, exceptionally, he at least speaks Italian. Ambassador Tuttle in London is a retired car dealer who was also a Reagan Administration aide and who campaigned for Bush. As this Spiegel article from 2005 about Ambassdor Wilkins coming to Berlin Embassies for Sale - Want to Become a Bush Ambassador? points out, there has been a clear tariff for the plumb jobs, back to President Nixon when the price was US$250k. Under Bush, I suspect that sort of money might have only got you Ulan Bator. Seriously, readers, can you think of any other serious diplomatic service that carries on in this fashion?

As an Ambassador of King James I to the Venetian Republic, Sir Henry Wooton (1568-1639), wittily put it: "An ambassador is an honest man sent to lie abroad for the good of his country" It has to be said that the pun on the word "lie" earned the Royal displeasure for a time, but the aphorism has long survived.

A diplomat, whether career or otherwise, has formal functions in the representation of his country in the host state. That role has diminished somewhat with the advent of modern communications. But the other functions are just as important. Diplomats were the world's first tolerated spies. Their function has always been to gain useful intelligence about the temper of the local administration and the population generally, analyse that intelligence and report it back. Whether they like it or not, diplomats are the servants of the Executive. They can report, they can advise and in cases where they disagree with Administration policy, they can say so in private. It is not part of the function of diplomats to go public on such matters although, exceptionally, diplomats do resign on matters of conscience.

What is of legitimate interest is what Washington knew of Georgia's intentions, when, and what it decided to do with the information.

The US Ambassador to Georgia, John F. Tefft is a career Foreign Service Officer of 35 years' standing and who was previously Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, the post now held by Matthew Bryza. He had in-country a contact on a US Government payroll, within the Presidential Palace, in the person of Daniel Kunin, a person playing a role analagous to that of Alistair Campbell in the Blair Government, or Karl Rove in the Bush Administration. There were numerous US military advisers in Georgia. Indeed, as recently as January 2008, a 30 strong delegation from US Central Command had been in Georgia to prepare for training exercises conveniently scheduled for July entitled "Immediate Response 2008", part of which was "to train soldiers how to conduct combat operations in populated regions . How convenient.

So, again, bearing in mind all those in-country resources, when Georgia resolved unilaterally to seek to re-take control of South Ossetia, how come the USA did not know it was about to happen? Or perhaps the truth is that the USA did know, and either decided to let the Georgians "have a go" or, worse, tacitly or overtly encouraged them to do so.

I would categorise "not knowing" as incompetence, "knowing and doing nothing" as gross negligence and "knowing and encouraging" as being an accessory before the fact or co-conspirator.

Turning now to the problem facing the candidates. There is an old and good rule that there is "one President at a time". He has the conduct of foreign affairs until he leaves office. I think it was wrong for the McCain campaign (particularly in the light of the lobbying connections between McCain and the Government of Georgia) to seek to make use of the Georgia crisis for campaign purposes, thus obliging the Obama campaign to respond in kind.

The fact that one, or both, candidates may have spoken about advancing Georgia's application for membership of NATO is consistent with what appears to be Administration policy. It may or may not survive as US policy after the election and transfer of power. If it does, it will still, I think, be a wrong-headed policy.

Thomas: I am not a US citizen. I am British, a lawyer, a liberal and a supporter of the concept of European Union. I have the right to promote what I perceive to be European interests where they differ from those of the USA - but I think you may find that the true policy national interests are often either identical or complementary and in fact it is the policies of the Bush Administration which are either illegal(Iraq War), immoral(Torture) or rare cases, simply fattening.
 

The late Ray Charles' rendition of "Georgia" served to balance certain issues in America. But the Georgia on the mind of the Bush Administration seems to want to unbalance matters in the world at a difficult time that the Administration had been contributing to.
 

Mourad:

Professor Anderson has clearly been so affected by the ethnic slaughter during the dissolution of Yugoslavia that he sees no possibility for multi-ethnic states. Rather, the bloodier the secessionist movements (and their sponsors), the more their goals must be appeased to avoid casualties at any cost. However, this just rewards terrorism.

What is truly puzzling for one who has been to Yugoslavia is Anderson's faith in peace keepers to check ethnic genocides. Srebrenica, Rawanda and any number of other slaughters around the world where peacekeepers stepped aside in the face of militias makes a macabre joke of that suggestion.

The lesson of Yugoslavia is that you either allow the parties to war until they are exhausted and have rewritten the maps as in Bosnia or you send in the military to compel one side to surrender ala the bombing of Serbia to stop the Serb ethnic cleansing of Kosovo.

However, all of this is beside the point. This is not simply a matter of Georgians and Ossetians fighting over how Georgia should be divided and arguing whether a third party should intervene to stop the conflict. Rather, we have a regional power instigating a separatist movement in a tiny country to create a false causus belli to crush the tiny country for the sin of seeking an alliance with a rival power.

The argument for legal or moral equivalence between Russia and Georgia has no foundation at all. This argument is the equivalent of contending that an alliance of Czechoslovakia with the Allies combined with a move to suppress ethnic German secessionists to wanted to join Germany would somehow make the Czechoslovak government legally or morally culpable if Germany were to invade Czechoslovakia.

While it may not be wise to give a predatory major power an excuse to invade your country, such a mistake does not make you in any way legally or morally culpable for the invasion.
 

mourad said...

Thomas suggests that I am "the sort of ass that routinely diminishes the hard work of the US career foreign service" I am happy to deny that calumny.

One of the problems with the US Foreign Service is that it is disabled from carrying out out its proper functions by political interference.


We in the United States live in a republic. We elect Presidents to make foreign policy decisions.

Politics does not "interfere" with the operation of unelected bureaucracies. Rather, unconstitutionally formed bureaucracies are acting unlawfully and undemocratically when they ignore the elected branches to impose their own policies on the People.
 

This is not simply a matter of Georgians and Ossetians fighting over how Georgia should be divided

Actually, that appears to be exactly what was happening.
 

Exactly, as Bart says, Mourad, when the political arm of the White House interjects itself in the operation of the attorneys general and the DoJ, by replacing AG's with incompetent political hacks who will selectively prosecute those of the opposite party, that's their right, as the duly elected president and henchmen.

And if the duly elected president decides to eviscerate the EPA, a bureaucracy created merely through an act of Congress, turning its functionality over to Departments that are more friendly to business, why that's fine. Policy, you know, is all political.

If we wanted good government, we could, presumably, elect a good president. If we wanted real checks and balances, we could elect a Congress that would counter the executive. (The judicial branch is fast losing any respect it once had, thanks to the installment of right-wing zealots.)

While I agree with Professor Levinson that we have a defective constitution, decades of designing hardware and algorithms have made me cynical that, absent an honest desire to make it work, any written document would actually work. My experience in designing systems makes me believe that the first rule in designing foolproof systems is that "there is no such thing as fool-proof."

Another rule (this time, from the area of computer security) is that there is no true security from the sufficiently malevolent.
 

Thomas:

I don't know where Mourad is from--this is the internet after all....

It's no secret. He's from the UK (Britain, to be specific).

... I do know that he's the sort of ass that routinely diminishes the hard work of the US career foreign service.

He's miles behind Condi and the other eedjits that are in charge.

See, e.g., this:

[Condi]: "But I just want to emphasize again, Russia is a state that is unfortunately using the one tool that it has always used, that will make it – that – when it wishes to deliver a message, and that’s its military power. That’s not the way to deal in the 21st century. And if Russia wishes to make a different strategic choice, as President Medvedev said, this is a bad way to start."


and this:

State Department spokesman Robert Wood told reporters that Musharraf “has a right to live wherever he wants.”

Funny thing, if you're not an ex-military-dictator, you don't have quite as much freedom, at least according to CBP....

Let's give credit where credit is due, Thomas.

[Thomas continues]: Arne--So glad to see you finally endorsing Bush v. Gore. The Constitution means what the Supreme Court says it means, after all.

Unfortunately for your case here, Thomas, that's a bad example. The Constitution doesn't mean what the Supreme Court says it means. It meant that for that case and that case only, and they made sure that you should pay attention to that by pointing it out in the 'opinion'.

That aside, I don't pretend that Dubya v. Gore is bad law (to the extent that any commpetent analyst can make it in any way "good law" from the muddle of the decision). I simply point out that it is inexcusable from a logical standpoint, and a true black mark on Constitutional jurisprudence. "Bart", OTOH, insists that the recent Supreme Court decisions are in fact of no legal significance, and insists that the maladministration can go on ignoring them as if they were bad law.

Cheers,
 

Mourad:

As an Ambassador of King James I to the Venetian Republic, Sir Henry Wooton (1568-1639), wittily put it: "An ambassador is an honest man sent to lie abroad for the good of his country" It has to be said that the pun on the word "lie" earned the Royal displeasure for a time, but the aphorism has long survived.

Our own intellectual luminary, Ambrose Bierce, commented in a similar fashion in his renown dictionary (which, sadly, hasn't been given the attention of the inferior one of Webster here):

EXILE, n.
One who serves his country by residing abroad, yet is not an ambassador.

An English sea-captain being asked if he had read "The Exile of Erin," replied: "No, sir, but I should like to anchor on it." Years afterwards, when he had been hanged as a pirate after a career of unparalleled atrocities, the following memorandum was found in the ship's log that he had kept at the time of his reply:

Aug. 3d, 1842. Made a joke on the ex-Isle of Erin. Coldly
received. War with the whole world!


Cheers,
 

While it may not be wise to give a predatory major power an excuse to invade your country, such a mistake does not make you in any way legally or morally culpable for the invasion.

I'm quite sure that Saddam, were he still alive, would be comforted by "Bart"'s words here....

Cheers,
 

"Bart" DeApologist:

We in the United States live in a republic. We elect Presidents to make foreign policy decisions.

You misspelled "appoint incompetent cronies and hacks to high political positions based on ideological 'correctness', size of wallet, or both"

See Chandrasekaran's "Imperial Life in the Emerald City" for an example of such gone horribly awry.

Cheers,
 

On the "Crony Ambassadors" issue:

What Bart de Palma does not seem to understand is that when the President of the USA wishes to have medical treatment, he goes to Walter Reed and obtains the services of the best, properly qualified physicians and surgeons, not the man in charge of the plumbing.

Why then is it sensible for presidents of either political party to deprive themselves (and thereby the nation) of the best diplomatic advice by appointing wholly unqualified cronies to key diplomatic posts as a reward for campaign contributions?

The simple answer is that it is a crassly stupid practice which results in the foreign service under-performing.

Unfortunately, Bart does not wish to admit that so his non-answer is: "We in the United States live in a republic. We elect Presidents to make foreign policy decisions."

I suspect that if most voters of any party were asked for their view, their answer would be: 'Mr President: give up the campaign contributions, don't put offices of the United States up for sale, hire the most qualified people possible to represent the United States overseas!

Or, perhaps I'm wrong on this.
 

c2h50h:

I realize that as a liberal you would like to unconstitutionally replace every elected GOP President with an unelected judiciary and bureaucracy simply to advance your policy goals and this has become a habit over this GOP period of presidential dominance, but Article II does happen to grant the President rather broad powers, none more so than determination of the nation's foreign policy and the power to direct his subordinates in the State Department to carry out that policy.

However, as I have repeatedly noted, we live in a republic. You on the left have yet another opportunity to convince the American people that they need to elect a Dem President to implement your idea of a wise foreign policy.

Good luck with that.

If Mr. Obama gets elected, it will not be on the strength of his foreign policy. Most polls have McCain leading in that category by double digits - despite (or most likely because of) the fact that McCain is offering the Bush Doctrine that you loathe on steroids.

You folks may want to consider the possibility that the American people have not been buying the Dem foreign policy since Vietnam and why that might be.
 

If Mr. Obama gets elected, it will not be on the strength of his foreign policy. Most polls have McCain leading in that category by double digits - despite (or most likely because of) the fact that McCain is offering the Bush Doctrine that you loathe on steroids.

Too funny... Public support for the Disaster in Iraq (aka "Bush Doctrine") is around 34%. If this election comes down to the "Bush Doctrine", McSame is a dead man.
 

Bart,

I'm shocked, shocked I say, that you would stoop to a strawman argument, putting words I've never said in my mouth.

IANAL, but I think that, if you say "article II!" a few more times, perhaps clicking your heels together, it will convince everyone.

Arguments which start "you on the left" are fundamentally dishonest, as you must know, as well as needlessly argumentative. If you wish to point out where my comment is in error, be specific.

Also, widening the argument beyond the specific issues at hand really doesn't get us anywhere, does it? Aside from an attempt to change the subject, how does Obama's chances for being elected change one tiny iota the issue at hand?

I think that the phenomenon of "projection" is where this comes from. The truth is that you are quite happy with George Bush's trashing of the constitution, and you are simply projecting on the rest of us that we would be happy if Obama, when elected, trashes the constitution. Aside from your beliefs, what evidence do you have for this assertion?
 

c2h50h said...

Bart, I'm shocked, shocked I say, that you would stoop to a strawman argument, putting words I've never said in my mouth.

You were commenting on my post to Mourad educating him on how Americans vote for Presidents to conduct foreign policy and not Foggy Bottom bureaucrats. I ignored your strawmen trying to change the discussion to US Attorney political appointees and brought you back on subject.

I see you do not deny anything I posted concerning foreign policy so save your faux Capt. Renault outrage for someone who cares.

If you actually agree that we elect Presidents and not Foggy Bottom bureaucrats to set foreign policy and voters will decide what foreign policy we will pursue over the next four years by electing Mr. McCain or Mr. Obama, then you have a strange way of signaling your agreement.
 

Bart,

What can I say? Even those who know me well think my ways are strange.

There's that little matter of "advice and consent" of the Senate in matters of foreign policy (treaties, ambassadors, etc), which you seem to have left out.

I'd hate for any foreign individual to get their understanding of the way American government operates from the last eight years -- or from your pronouncements on the subject.
 

c2h50h said...

Bart, What can I say? Even those who know me well think my ways are strange.

:::chuckle:::

I think most of the rest of the world think bloggers fall between strange and daft. My wife just gives me a condescending look that says "That's nice dear" when I am blogging furiously on some subject.

I'd hate for any foreign individual to get their understanding of the way American government operates from the last eight years -- or from your pronouncements on the subject.

Do not worry about Mourad. Anyone who takes the time to draft 8000 word posts is already firmly entrenched in their own point of view and I doubt my posts are going to convince him of the error of his ways. I do not often get the opportunity to fence with a card carrying member of what Maggie Thatcher labelled the "loony left" and he is fun to fence with.
 

My wife just gives me a condescending look that says "That's nice dear"

I'm surprised her face isn't locked in that position.
 

"Bart" DePalma:

If you actually agree that we elect Presidents and not Foggy Bottom bureaucrats to set foreign policy and voters will decide what foreign policy we will pursue over the next four years by electing Mr. McCain or Mr. Obama, then you have a strange way of signaling your agreement.

Thanks for bringing the conversation back on track. While you may assert that the preznit has plenary authority to conduct foreign policy (and that he has the freedom to do so incompetently; as witness my links to Condi and such above), this is simply not true. For one, on the issue of appointing ambassadors, Congress clearly has a stake (as in the Rethuglicans insisting that we not send a "Ohmygawd, he's gay!!!" ambassador to one of those Euro contries that have such a horribly bigoted view of homosexuality). Imagine the horrible shot to 'Merkuh's image of rampant homophobia; it would loose respect amongst all those fervently anti-gay countries around the worlds; can't let a president project such a false and scurrilous image.

And then there's treaties too.

And appointments of the various executive officers as Congress decides should be appointed by the preznit (as opposed to by other officers or by the judiciary as they decide is best).

Matter of fact, perhaps the Constitution isn't as broken as Prof. Levinson suggests. Because I find nowhere in the Constitution the power of the preznit to fire those inferior officers that displease him (matter of fact, the only power of removal specified is that of Congress, through impeachment), nor does the Constitution require that any "inferior" [or other, which the Constitution doesn't rule out] officers actually obey the demands of the preznit. Their only formal obligation is in the oath they take to "support th[e] constitution".

Cheers,
 

While it may not be wise to give a predatory major power an excuse to invade your country, such a mistake does not make you in any way legally or morally culpable for the invasion.

Classic Baghdad Bart. Is there anyone with less self awareness?
 

Meanwhile, the situation on the ground is changing:

This BBC report Georgia facing reality of defeat is worth a read.

Bart's idiocies aside, what does anyone imagine the USA can practically do about this and what could it have done were Georgia already a NATO member state -and the short answer is - not a lot. Certainly nothing that is likely to restore control of the two disputed territories to the present or any future Government of Georgia during the remainder of the term of the present US President. Moreover, it is unlikely that any solution will easily come during the first term of the next President - no matter who he may be. That is the realpolitik of the situation. The damage has been done.

Whether the President of Georgia will long survive the judgment of his own people must also be in doubt. Politicians who lose wars rarely survive for long. As I have said before, I sincerely hope that the President of Georgia was not in any way encouraged by the act or default of any US person.

That brings me to NATO. There is a great deal of mythology about NATO and it is important to debunk some of the myths.

Shortly after World War II ended in 1945, an intense rivalry quickly developed between Communist countries, led by the Soviet Union, and the non-Communist nations, led by the United States. This rivalry became known as "the Cold War". It was in the common interest of the USA and the Western European nations to parry what they saw as the threat of Soviet expansion into Western Europe. But the Soviet Union had more conventional troops facing the Iron Curtain (as it became known from Churchill's speech at Fulton) than the USA and all the Western European nations combined had in Europe! US support for European defence was therefore seen by the Europeans as vital.

The main force behind the creation of NATO was not the USA, but the British and their post-war Labour Foreign Secretary, Ernest Bevin. He persuaded France and the Benelux countries (Belgium, Netherlands and Luxembourg) to initiate with the United Kingdom the precursor of what would become
NATO by forming the Western European Union in March 1948. By January of 1949, Truman called for an even broader pact which eventually would involve the United States, Canada and ten European nations. The North Atlantic Treaty was eventually signed April 4, 1949. The 12 original NATO countries were Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Greece and Turkey joined NATO in 1952. West Germany joined in 1955. Also in 1955, the Soviet Union and Communist nations of Eastern Europe formed their own copy-cat military alliance to oppose NATO. The Soviet-led alliance was called "the Warsaw Pact"

By the NATO treaty, each member country agreed to treat an attack on any other member as an attack on itself. Militarily, the United States was the most powerful member of NATO, in part because of its nuclear weapons and by signing the Treaty the United States made a firm commitment in honour to protect and defend Europe. As stated in the Treaty, "an armed attack against one shall be considered an attack against all."

The balance of power in 1950 and the assessment of the Joint Chiefs is now a matter of public record. It can be found in NSC 68: United States Objectives and Programs for National Security - April 14, 1950:-

"The Soviet Union is developing the military capacity to support its design for world domination. The Soviet Union actually possesses armed forces far in excess of those necessary to defend its national territory. These armed forces are probably not yet considered by the Soviet Union to be sufficient to initiate a war which would involve the United States. This excessive strength, coupled now with an atomic capability, provides the Soviet Union with great coercive power for use in time of peace in furtherance of its objectives and serves as a deterrent to the victims of its aggression from taking any action in opposition to its tactics which would risk war.

Should a major war occur in 1950 the Soviet Union and its satellites are considered by the Joint Chiefs of Staff to be in a sufficiently advanced state of preparation immediately to undertake and carry out the following campaigns.
a) To overrun Western Europe, with the possible exception of the Iberian and Scandinavian Peninsulas; to drive toward the oil-bearing areas of the Near
and Middle East; and to consolidate Communist gains in the Far East;
b) To launch air attacks against the British Isles and air and sea attacks against the lines of communications of the Western Powers in the Atlantic and the
Pacific;
c) To attack selected targets with atomic weapons, now including the likelihood of such attacks against targets in Alaska, Canada, and the United States.
Alternatively, this capability, coupled with other actions open to the Soviet Union, might deny the United Kingdom as an effective base of operations for allied forces. It also should be possible for the Soviet Union to prevent any allied "Normandy" type amphibious operations intended to force a reentry into the continent of Europe.

After the Soviet Union completed its initial campaigns and consolidated its positions in the Western European area, it could simultaneously conduct:
a) Full-scale air and limited sea operations against the British Isles;
b) Invasions of the Iberian and Scandinavian Peninsulas;
c) Further operations in the Near and Middle East, continued air operations against the North American continent, and air and sea operations against Atlantic and Pacific lines of communication; and
d) Diversionary attacks in other areas."


The philosophy behind the formation of NATO was that the the Soviet Union would not launch such a conventional force attack on the countries of Western Europe if the Soviet leaders thought such an attack would trigger a nuclear exchange with the United States. At no time in the post 1945 era, did the NATO member states including the USA) have sufficient conventional forces in western Europe to withstand a Soviet-led attack.

It was not widely publicised at the time, but most NATO planning was based on the premise that Soviet forces would be able to get from the frontiers of Western Europe to the Channel ports within something like 48 hours, with nuclear exchanges to begin thereafter!


During the Cold War, NATO helped maintain peace in Europe through its policy of deterrence. But almost from the very beginning it also experienced disagreements among its members. NATO was never an alliance of equals. The only two significant military powers in Western Europe after World War II were the United Kingdom and France. Both had been terribly weakened by the war and both had urgent need of such armed forces as they had for the purposes of their then colonial empires. Thus in both conventional and nuclear terms, the major military muscle was provided by the armed forces of the USA. Not unnaturally, this gave rise to a desire on the part of the USA to "call the shots", both militarily and politically. While forced to concede the economic impossibility of catching up with the USA in terms of military might, the nations of Europe were never convinced that the USA was all-seeing and all-knowing in geopolitical and diplomatic terms.

The foremost problem concerned the doctrine of containing the conventional force strength of the Warsaw Pact with the threat of nuclear retaliation.

Some Europeans opposed the use of nuclear weapons altogether. Yet others were unconvinced that the United States of America would risk nuclear devastation of its own territory in defence of Europe.

The United Kingdom felt it had a "special relationship" with the United States. Churchill, whose mother was American had an absolute conviction that what he referred to as "the English-speaking peoples, by which he meant the USA, the UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand" were indissolubly bound together by a common heritage of language, law and culture. The UK had collaborated with the USA in the development of the atomic bomb and had unique access to US nuclear technology and also to the UK-US-Old Commonwealth Echelon intelligence-sharing agreement. The UK was therefore, naturally, very supportive of the US position in the Councils of NATO and that remains true to this day.

The view of France under De Gaulle was very different. Charles de Gaulle, the dominant figure of post-war French politics, never forgot his shabby treatment at the hands of Roosevelt during World War II, nor the US plans for a post-war US military government of France, acquiesced in by Churchill, but which De Gaulle had been able to thwart. From this experience de Gaulle developed a fundamental mistrust of the United States - and of the United Kingdom - which De Gaulle saw as being always prepared to prefer US policy to that of France and continental Europe - a view which led De Gaulle twice to veto UK membership of the European Union.

De Gaulle feared that Europe was unwise to rely blindly on the USA and its nuclear deterrent to protect Western Europe from a Soviet invasion. He felt that the USA would be unwilling to risk the nuclear devastation of New York or Washington DC to save Berlin, Paris or London. He developed a French nuclear deterrent and withdrew France from NATO's military structures. In fact, De Gaulle may well have been right. It was not long before the USA developed a posture of "graduated response" signalling that not every putative act of aggression by the USSR might be resisted.

Churchill's touching belief that the USA would always and in all circumstances come to the aid of Europe with its nuclear weapons is now largely discredited. With the advent of satellite television links and the growth of the internet, the myth of America the principled, America the righteous, has been exploded: the last two US Presidents to benefit from the adulation of Europe were Dwight D. Eisenhower and John F. Kennedy.

Since then, Europeans have come to understand American politics, warts and all. It is understood that the the so-called NATO Umbrella - a nuclear umbrella in all circumstances - was a pipe dream - rich clouds of opium leading to perdition. The USA would act in what it perceived to be its national interest and whenever that perceived interest conflicted with that of Europe, the perceived US national interest would prevail. Back to the 'realpolitk' of international relations.

Since then, NATO has been an international organisation in search of a role. The issue is whether there is still a role for NATO to play.
 

Mourad:

It is important to realize that Soviet plans envisioned nuclear strikes on NATO command and control centers paving the way for three echelons of conventional forces driving through Western Europe through the Pyrenees.

The NATO plans envisioned using US strategic nukes to take down the second and third echelons of the Soviet conventional attack before they overwhelmed the NATO conventional forces.

In the 60s, the US started to move away from a heavy reliance on strategic nuclear strikes toward dedicating nearly all of its conventional forces to reinforce Europe under the Reforger concept to be able to win the war conventionally. Your claim that the US was ready to abandon Europe is crap.

However, in the 70s, the Soviets attempted a nuclear jujitsu. The Soviets had matched US strategic nuclear forces and ICBM technology made it impossible to tell the target of any nuclear strike. Any launch of strategic nuclear missiles would have to be assumed to be an attack on the opponent's homeland and a response strike would be launched before the missiles could be destroyed by the incoming missiles. The MAD doctrine was fully realize and essentially checked the use of the US strategic forced in a tactical role in Europe.

At the same time, the Soviets developed a series of medium range tactical nuclear missiles which could reach all of Western Europe while NATO's aging tactical nukes could not reach Russia. In this way, Russia achieved tactical nuclear as well as enormous conventional superiority over NATO.

The mid to late 70s was an extremely dangerous period for NATO. The US military had used most of its 60s era equipment up in Vietnam and rebuilding the Israeli forces after they lost most of their equipment at the beginning of the Yom Kippur War against Egypt's new Soviet anti tank missiles. US military personnel were demoralized and in some cases resembled criminal gangs. If the Soviets invaded in 1978, they would have own in short order because Carter would not have launched nukes and risked the US mainland. Thankfully, the Soviets never used the plans they developed.

In the 80s, Reagan and Thatcher changed the entire strategic picture for NATO.

1) US strategic doctrine changed from defense to offense. Rather than mere survival, the US military would seek to engage and destroy the initial Soviet drive at or near the border.

To accomplish this, the military cleared out the druggies and malcontents, doubled military pay and raised recruiting standards. It became cool to be a soldier again.

Reagan spent a fortune giving his new soldiers weaponry which was two generations ahead of anything the Soviets had and is still the mainstay of our conventional forces a quarter century later.

2) The US also replaced plans to use nukes to destroy the second and third Soviet echelons in Eastern Europe with plans to use smart weapons on aircraft, helicopters and rockets. The Soviets had nothing like this capability. The Soviets would not gain a causus belli to go nuclear from a NATO first strike.

3) Reagan matched and surpassed the Soviet tactical nuclear superiority over NATO developed in the 70s with some heroic diplomacy convincing NATO to base highly accurate US Pershing II missiles and cruise missiles with range throughout European Russia. Now, if the Soviets devastated Western Europe with nukes to pave the way for their conventional invasion, European Russia would be similarly destroyed.

This last move was furiously resisted by the Soviets, who used the full measure of their influence on the Euro political left to organize and heavily finance massive demonstrations by "peace groups" and labor unions. However, Thatcher would have none of this and Helmut Kohl also lent his support despite terrific domestic pressure. In the end, NATO agreed to the deployments and NATO achieved the military superiority over the Warsaw Pact.

This NATO military superiority as much as the Afghan War and other wars against Soviet client states forced the effective surrender of the Soviet Empire and freed Eastern Europe and former possessions of Russia such as the Baltic States, White Russia, the Ukraine and yes Georgia.

While it is militarily impossible for NATO to reinforce Georgia (which is why Russia started their reconquista here), how NATO reacts to the reemergence of the threat it was created to counter will determine whether this organization has a future or countries such as the UK and US will have to go it alone.
 

Bart,

I don't want to nit-pick, but I really think there's something wrong here: "driving through Western Europe through the Pyrenees."

I think that was the moors, not the soviets. If this is not a mistake, I'd really appreciate a source, because this would be fascinating.
 

Hannibal and the Alps elephantine strategy redux?

Tit for tat and vice versa?

King of the Hill?

How about the George W. Bush National Security Strategy (October, 2002): We are No. 1 militarily, No. 1 economically and No. 1 politically, and we will do whatever it takes to maintain these positions?

Or empirical creative destructionism?

Isn't it time for the fat lady to sing?

Or at least to get an up-to-date map?

Here's the battle cry: To their knees/On the Pyrenees. (Replacing: Up your nose/With a rubber hose.)
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

c2h50h:

I was referring to 1964 Soviet plans disclosed by Czechoslovakia after it was freed from the Warsaw Pact.

Poland disclosed later 1979 Soviet plans which have similar nuclear strikes to pave an advance to the Rhine.
 

Bart,

I figured that "through" was a typo, but it would have been so much more fun to contemplate if that had actually been their plan.
 

It seems that John McCain is not the only person who is "geographically challenged".

My postings to Germany were to BAOR (British Army of the Rhine) in the British Zone (North of Germany) hard up against the Soviet Zone. I think we'd have been much more comfortable if The Pyrenees had been suddenly relocated to the North German Plain as a barrier for the Soviet tanks. I can assure readers that they never popped up in Germany while I was posted there. The last time I crossed them they were still where they belong forming the geographical boundary between France and the Iberian Penninsula.

Bart is hardly likely to have have been out of nappies when I was freezing my ****s off on the North German Plain, so I don't think we need trouble too much about what he thinks of the cold war save in two respects.

The Four Minute Warning
From the mid-fifties until 1992 the UK Government operated a "4 minute warning" system which was supposed to give the population time to take cover in the event of a nuclear attack. There was also a widely derided Civil Defence booklet called "Protect and Survive". From about 1965 onwards the UK became acutely aware that in the event of nuclear war, the UK would no longer exist at the end of the first exchange and UK concern turned more and more to the potential irresponsibility of US Presidents.

The Thatcher/Reagan Love-In
It is certainly true that there was a special chemistry between President Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. But even Thatcher's confidence in Reagan as an ally was severely shaken by his behaviour in the Falklands War.

The romanticised accounts of the relationship on conservative websites in the USA gloss over this phase: Reagan and Thatcher: A Truly Dynamic Duo

"But just like in any marriage, Reagan and Thatcher had their squabbles. Despite their deep respect for one another, Reagan and Thatcher were often at odds. During the Falklands War, Thatcher felt betrayed by Reagan’s initial lack of support of the 1982 Argentine invasion. Reagan believed it was better for the United States to be a mediator rather than an active participant. When Americans invaded Grenada 18 months later, Thatcher was dismayed that the United States government had not warned her—especially since she was not in favor of the invasion."

"Betrayed" is an emotive word but it very accurately describes how Thatcher felt. Reagan and Kilpatrick wanted, of course, to support their dictator protégés in the Argentinian Junta. See the account in James Rentschler's Falklands diary.

Fortunately, the late Caspar Weinburger went as far as he could (and possibly quite a bit further than Reagan knew) to support the British and, after a discreet interval, he was quietly awarded an honorary kighthood as a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire. There was no higher decoration that could be awarded since the Garter is only given to foreigners if they are royalty.

Certainly, from the Falklands onwards, the UK was in no doubt, that if the USA thought its interests required it to support a gang of thuggish dictators rather than the British, the dictators might come first - and that conviction only grew with the increasing Neoconservative ascendancy on the US political scene.
 

This NATO military superiority as much as the Afghan War and other wars against Soviet client states forced the effective surrender of the Soviet Empire and freed Eastern Europe and former possessions of Russia such as the Baltic States, White Russia, the Ukraine and yes Georgia.

Baghdad, that is a pretty big pantload. The Soviets could no longer afford to occupy most of eastern Europe, so they brought their troops home. It had nothing to do with NATO.
 

According to this report BBC Reports Russia has recognised Abkhazia and South Ossetia a step further along the line to altering the status quo ante has been taken.

I think this makes any question of NATO admission of Georgia unthinkable until such time as its de jure and de facto borders are sorted out.

Russia has also made good on its threat to freeze relationships with NATO.

If I were John McCain I'd rethink the idea of sending my missus into a zone where there might easily be a very unfortunate incident.
 

c2h50h said...

I figured that "through" was a typo, but it would have been so much more fun to contemplate if that had actually been their plan.

I see what you mean now.

I should know better than to draft things with the TV on in the background.
 

Mourad:

When did you serve with the BAOR?

German winters are certainly delightful...
 

And what about Russian winters? Perhaps Lisa's bro has a Napoleon complex - or is that hand tucked in for some other reason?
 

Baghdad, I think we'd all like to hear some stories about your time in Russia during the occupation that followed our victory in the Cold War.
 

BDP: c2h50h said...

I figured that "through" was a typo, but it would have been so much more fun to contemplate if that had actually been their plan.

I see what you mean now.



I assumed you meant "through the Pyrenees" in the same sense as "the meeting will last through lunch."

Still, the idea of replacing the Fulda Gap with the Roncevaux Pass is mind candy.
 

Our military 'expert', "Bart" DeAbsolutelyClueless:

It is important to realize that Soviet plans envisioned nuclear strikes on NATO command and control centers paving the way for three echelons of conventional forces driving through Western Europe through the Pyrenees.

The Iberians (Spanish and Portugese) were of course horrified at the possibility. Andorrans couldn't sleep at night ... or speculated on brothels and tourist traps to cash in on the passing soldiers...

ROFLMAO.

Is there some point we just say that "Bart" is a complete eedjit talking through his a$$ before even bothering with a Google, and simply dismiss anything he says as most probably wrong?!?!?

Cheers,
 

Is there some point we just say that "Bart" is a complete eedjit talking through his a$$ before even bothering with a Google, and simply dismiss anything he says as most probably wrong?!?!?

I've been doing that for several years.
 

"Bart" DeTakesNoResponsibility says:

I see what you mean now.

I should know better than to draft things with the TV on in the background.


We thought you were drunk. As well as clueless. No one forced you to put in "Pyrenees" there, "Bart".

But I have to admit I just love the Republican Way™ that you take responsibility for your misteaks. It was never your fault. "The telly made me do it!" Perhaps you should consider just not "doing it"?

Cheers,
 

Very interesting and lengthy report on the run up to the Russian invasion of Georgia by a blogger who went there to find out himself.
 

Very interesting and lengthy report on the run up to the Russian invasion of Georgia by a blogger who went there to find out himself.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 3:29 PM


This is where I stopped reading:

Regional expert, German native, and former European Commission official Patrick Worms was recently hired by the Georgian government as a media advisor, and he explained to me exactly what happened when I met him in downtown Tbilisi.

Baghdad, until you can explain why the Georgian government would admit that it's attack was a mistake, you have nothing.
 

Baghdad, do you seriously think that website is credible?
 

Bartbuster:

This is where I stopped reading:

"Regional expert, German native, and former European Commission official Patrick Worms was recently hired by the Georgian government as a media advisor, and he explained to me exactly what happened when I met him in downtown Tbilisi."


ROFLMAO!!! <*ZINGGGGG!!!*>

Gotta hand it to you, BB, that's hitting our "American Exceptionalism" enthusiast (and McSame propagandist and proto-fascist) right where it hurts ... oh, waiddaminnit, maybe he doesn't have anything to hurt down there. Or he's too drunk to notice.

Cheers,
 

Keep reading. There is more than one source.

Furthermore, their statements mirror HRW's findings that the only ethnic cleansing was conducted by the Russian armed and inspired Ossetian miltias.

In any case, it is interesting how you folks parroted the Russian propaganda without question and dismiss without reading the victim's version of events. Interesting.
 

In any case, it is interesting how you folks parroted the Russian propaganda without question and dismiss without reading the victim's version of events. Interesting.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 4:13 PM


Dumbfuck, the only one parroting propaganda here is you. I don't care what the Russians have said. I don't trust the Russians any more than I trust the Georgians.

The problem you have is that the Georgian government has implicated itself. But even worse, is that if the Russians are completely wrong, they are only acting just like YOU would have US act. Your hypocrisy is absolutely staggering.
 

Keep reading. There is more than one source.

Why would I waste my time? It is blatantly obvious that it's a Georgian propaganda website. You may be too stupid to realize that, but I'm not.
 

"Bart" DeClueless:

In any case, it is interesting how you folks parroted the Russian propaganda without question and dismiss without reading the victim's version of events. Interesting.

Hate to say it, but no one is saying that the Russians aren't the "bad guys". What is at issue is whether the Georgians are the "good guys".

Why throw our lot with the Georgians here, like they were Marilyn Chamber's favourite product?

Why this effort to restart the Cold War with the big, bad U.S.S.R ... oh, waiddaminnit, I forgot, the "Islamofascists" trpe was getting stale, and being seen for the disaster it is, and now we need a new excuse for
Merkun Exceptionalism and a new Boogeyman to scare the people (and re-elect hard-line Rethuglican "all war, all the time, so 'Merkuh Can Stand Up Proud" RWAs....)

It's truly scary that we're so stoopid a nation that the "all war, all the time" stuff works (moreso when it's used over and over not to actually remedy that which is claimed to be a threat, but rather to install the scare-mongerers in power). Would it be too much to ask that the American population start acting rationally? I see signs, but it seems to be a long, slow, and painful not to mention costly) learning experience.

Cheers,
 

I dozed off into a dream of Soviet generals sitting in steamer chairs on the sun decks of baltic cruise liners (secretly converted into troop carriers and making their way south to Portugal) brushing up on the light infantry battles of the Peninsular War and making a careful note of Wellington's admission that endangering the Roncevalles Pass over the Pyrenees by splitting up his forces to beseige San Sebastián and Pamplona simultaneously was "one of the greatest faults he had ever committed in war", At about the point where these dream generals started discussing the RDV with the tank transports on the beaches near Biarritz I woke up with a start...(I'd left the TV on for BBC Parliament's C-Span feed of the Democratic Convention and Hilary Clinton was making the kind of speech which stirs up the party faithful)...such is the fall-out from Bart's somewhat eclectic views of military strategy.

Revenons-en à nos moutons - to the post cold war role (if any) of NATO in relation to the new democracies emerging from the collapse of the Soviet empire.

Arne said:

"Hate to say it, but no one is saying that the Russians aren't the "bad guys". What is at issue is whether the Georgians are the "good guys".

Absolutely. I'd go even further. Both have been "bad guys". Both must be given to understand that this is not what the international community expects from civilised states. There are two problems about this: (1) In the case of the USA and the UK, we are not in a very good position to preach at anybody given our behaviour over Iraq which weakened the legitimacy of the international rules; and (2) NATO is arguably the wrong vehicle to use for emerging states.

By 1987 NATO was an organisation looking for a continued role.

In an attempt to resolve the continuing lack of a clear role for NATO, the NATO Partnerships for Peace programme was rolled out in 1994 bringing in neutral counties and new countries: Albania, Armenia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Croatia, Finland, Georgia, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Kyrghyz Republic, Moldova, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, FRY Macedonia, Tadjikistan, Turkmenistan, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.

At the European Council's Cologne Summit in June 1999, the EU launched the Common European Security and Defence Policy ("the CESDP"). Note that this is a European Council function, that is to say, matters proceed by way of political co-operation between EU Member States and proceed on the basis of unanimity. It is an incremental process. The Cologne Council document contained a telling phrase which caused some fluttering in US and NATO dovecotes:-

"the Union must have the capacity for autonomous action, backed up by credible military forces, the means to decide to use them, and a readiness to do so, in order to respond to international crises without prejudice to actions by NATO".

In other words, the EU Member states were recognising that circumstances could arise where they would need to act militarily without the USA (and therefore without NATO). A later summit at Helsinki built on Cologne and established new EU structures to undertake the crisis management role. Both summits also proposed an EU Rapid Reaction Force which would draw mostly on the member states' commitments that had already been made to the WEU structure within NATO. On 20 November 2000, European Union Defence Ministers met in Brussels and agreed to the creation of a EU Rapid Reaction Force through the Military Capabilities Commitment. The force was to consist of up to 60,000 troops which would deploy on peacekeeping operations on the behalf of the EU.

Diminishing Confidence in the USA
Development of EU responses to problems within Europe was attempted by the EU member states during the wars in the former Yugoslavia in 1991-95 but the initiatives showed the limitations resulting from:-
(a) different national evaluations of what was in their national best interest;
(b) inability to deploy effective military forces outside the NATO framework and, above all, without US logistical assistance.

Eventually NATO, with US consent and with US political input, had to become involved and NATO also had to take the lead in commanding the deployed troops to enforce the peace. American politicians began to ask whether the USA would always have to deploy troops and equipment to sort out what they saw as Europe's problems. The United States also started to demand that Western Europe increase its defence spending on more high technology equipment.

While US complaints about shortages of heavy lift air capability were (and still are) justified, the complaints were also related to a desire to sell US high-tech equipment to Europe (at higher prices than sold to the US forces). This was part of a serious debate on an issue of principle. The USA wished very high tech capability for a response to a putative Russian conflict. Europe thought this was OTT, fighting the last war rather than the peace-keeping and peace enforcement roles of the future.

It was also clear that the USA was reluctant to deploy ground troops overseas as a result of its experiences in and lessons from the Vietnam War and from the later debacle of Operation Restore Hope in Somalia (the best efforts of Hollywood myth-makers notwithstanding).

US doctrine became one of only conducting ground military operations with minimum risk to US lives. The USA refused to deploy peacekeepers to the United Nations operations in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina during 1992-95, although it did eventually contribute troops to K-FOR in Bosnia but only post conflict.

NATO Research Fellow Dr Robert P. Grant wrote a June 1999 paper Coalitions of the Willing: NATO and Post Cold War Military Intervention which speaks to the tensions within the Alliance:-

NATO has several important post-Cold War roles. These roles include providing a hedge against a long-term revival of Russian expansionism, projecting stability eastward by taking in new members as well as by contributing to the establishment of a cooperative European security system, and helping to prevent the re-emergence of national rivalries in Europe.

However, the latter two roles are largely non-military in nature. It is moreover unclear for how long they can provide a significant rationale for NATO's existence, much less for the maintaining of a large military organization. The purely residual threat from Russia is also unlikely to prove sufficient over time to justify the preservation of anything resembling NATO's current military structure.

By the time that Russia could again present a significant conventional military threat, support for NATO as a functioning military alliance may well have long since crumbled. With no Russian conventional threat to NATO territory possible for at least the next ten years, and more likely the next twenty, the Alliance's willingness and ability to undertake non-Article V missions constitutes the only real basis for NATO to remain an active military alliance. There is, of course, broad agreement within the Alliance that NATO can and must undertake non-Article V military operations. The Alliance's new Strategic Concept, approved in April 1999 at the Washington summit meeting of the North Atlantic Council (NAC), states that in order to enhance the security and stability of the "Euro-Atlantic area", the Alliance will:-

"stand ready, case-by-case and by consensus... to contribute to effective conflict prevention and to engage actively in crisis management, including crisis response operations".

Nonetheless, a dichotomy exists between European and American interests in conducting non-Article V military interventions. Europeans are primarily concerned with peace keeping and crisis management operations on their own continent. Americans, on the other hand, have been very reluctant participants in European peace support and crisis interventions, at least as far as the deployment of ground forces is concerned, and have been more focused on the means of achieving a greater European contribution to eventual U.S.led interventions beyond Europe's borders, in particular the Middle East/Persian Gulf region.

NATO's survival as an effective military alliance may well depend on its ability both to conduct force projection operations successfully itself, and to prepare member nations to do so on a multinational basis outside the formal Alliance framework. Enormous challenges confront the achievement of this objective:
(i) the reluctance of the United States to engage ground forces in European contingency operations, which in both Bosnia and Kosovo played a major role in leading NATO to the very edge of a precipice;
(ii) doubts over U.S. and European ability to agree on the use of force in crises that take place beyond Europe's borders;
(iii) the continuing paucity of European capabilities for force projection operations; and
(iv) concern that American and European armed forces will not be able to operate together in the future due to Europe's inability to keep pace with the military transformation the United States is attempting to implement, known as the "revolution in military affairs" (RMA).

While in principle supporting the development of ESDI, the United States has often opposed, or only very reluctantly accepted, initiatives designed to do so.


This paper shows that the US - Europe divergences on the future role of NATO were already manifest at the time of the Clinton presidency. True to its reputation for being the most uncouth American presidency in the last 150 years, the Bush Administration may have upset many more people than did Clinton, but the basic policy differences over NATO had already begun before he took office.

The lessons of Kosovo
Dr Grant again:-

"The atrocities that ethnic and religious conflicts can generate constitute a very direct challenge to the values of European civilization. European leaders, in justifying the spring 1999 military campaign in Kosovo, all essentially stated that a «certain conception of Europe» was at stake in the conflict, and that to accept such a large scale violation of human rights on the doorstep of the European Union (EU) would have been an act of self-betrayal. Europeans have at times also feared that ethnic and religious conflict could spill over into additional countries and create wider instability in Europe, a concern that ebbed and flowed during the 1990's with regard to Kosovo.

European concern over religious and ethnic conflict within the boundaries of their continent immediately manifested itself in the willingness to deploy a significant number of ground troops, and to absorb significant casualties, within the UNPROFOR deployment in Bosnia. Although Western Europe was unable to stop the Bosnian conflict, the UNPROFOR operation served to place some limits on the level of violence and its human consequences, until this approach fell apart in the spring of 1995. As Western European nations became increasingly frustrated with its inability to halt the fighting in Bosnia, they turned to the United States and NATO to join the intervention. A senior French military officer stated in early 1993, «if the Americans would deploy even a single battalion to Sarajevo in the coming days, the situation on the ground would immediately take a completely different political direction».

In February 1994, France led the United States into backing a NATO ultimatum designed to break the Serb siege of Sarajevo, the first time that Paris attempted to use NATO for a positive objective rather than simply reacting, and most often negatively, to the policies of other member states.

From a European standpoint, non-intervention in Kosovo was not an option, just as it had not been an option in Bosnia. Once Serbia accelerated its campaign of ethnic [cleansing], if NATO had not first threatened, and then undertaken military intervention in Kosovo following the failure of the Rambouillet negotiations, the Alliance would have suffered a devastating blow to its credibility in Europe. Not only a «hands-off» approach to Kosovo was inconceivable from a European standpoint; also unthinkable was re-enacting in some form the UNPROFOR mission objective of seeking to contain the level of violence and human impact of Serbian ethnic cleansing. The UNPROFOR experience had demonstrated how unmanageable and demoralizing such an approach was ultimately likely to become....

U.S. political, expert, and public opinion is deeply divided over the use of American military power for the purpose of European peace support and crisis management operations. U.S. national security strategy proclaims European stability as vital to U.S. security, and makes the building of a Europe "that is truly integrated, democratic, prosperous and at peace" a U.S. strategic objective. On this basis, Washington should be ready to use military power, including ground forces in a combat environment, for the purpose of helping to ensure all of the above.

Yet, the Clinton administration refused during 1993 and 1994 to contemplate the sending of U.S. troops into Bosnia. It finally did agree in 1995 to participate in an eventual NATO peace implementation force (IFOR) in Bosnia only because if it had not been willing to do so those troops would have gone into Bosnia anyway leading a NATO force to extract UNPROFOR, and the conditions would have probably been far more difficult than those that IFOR experienced. Washington also agreed to participate in the follow-on SFOR deployment because Europeans insisted on U.S. participation and U.S. prestige and credibility had become engaged in Bosnia, making a collapse of the peace process there an unpalatable outcome. Given this situation, refusal to participate in SFOR would have gravely undermined the U.S. leadership role within NATO. Nonetheless, the Congress in particular was extremely unhappy with the continuing U.S. ground involvement in Bosnia.

In Operation Allied Force, the Clinton administration refused to consider the use of ground forces prior to a virtual Serb military collapse or agreement to withdraw until very late in the conflict. It is undoubtedly unfair to place the sole blame for this U.S. position on an unwillingness to accept the casualties that would have inevitably occurred in a ground combat operation....

The problem in the United States regarding the use of ground forces in European contingency operations goes deeper than an administration that tends to be reactive and unassertive in national security matters. Many American political leaders and experts view European crisis management and peace support operations as responding at best to third level U.S. security interests. Prominent American opinion leaders were even more dismissive of the U.S. interest in Kosovo. Henry Kissinger argued that the United States had no national security interests at stake in Kosovo. Robert Manning, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, similarly asserted, "In the Balkans, one must strain hard to get even in the parking lot of the ballpark of a vital American interest". This viewpoint was very much present in the U.S. Congress, with the result that the House of Representatives produced a 213 to 213 tie vote on a resolution endorsing the bombing campaign.

This American ambivalence concerning European crisis management operations stands in sharp contrast to the broad consensus surrounding the importance of U.S. military power to protect national security interests beyond Europe's borders. U.S. definition of allied burden-sharing has been increasingly focused on the ability of NATO's European members to make a significant military contribution to U.S.-led operations outside Europe, above all in the Middle East and Persian Gulf."


Kosovo in 1999 demonstrated serious shortcomings in Western Europe's ability to undertake a crisis management-type operation and the USA had to provide around 60% of the aircraft and resources. However, the USA again refused to consider a ground force option available during Operation Allied Force in Kosovo and many Europeans concluded that this prolonged the agony, cost many European lives, and made the subsequent peace enforcement process very much more difficult.

Many European governments again wondered whether the USA could always be counted on for assistance if some form of military intervention was needed in an international crisis in Europe. Some began asking the same questions as the French had done years before. Most decided that an economically and politically powerful Western Europe should begin to take much more responsibility for its own security by developing EU structures outside of NATO.

In essence, the message Europeans took from Kosovo was the same the British had taken from the Falklands:-

The USA was a dubious ally when it came to dealing with a major problem for Europe in a country most Americans had never heard of and where many Americans would have considered no vital US interest was at stake (such as security of supply of cheap gasoline for the American public's SUV's).

The Bush Administration
The advent to office of the United States Supreme Court's choice for president of the world's only remaining superpower brought with it a new wave of Neoconservative criticism of the Europeans and NATO and a new and unilateralist US foreign and defence policy.

Shortly thereafter, the tragedy of 11th September 2001 led the USA to determine to intervene militarily in Afghanistan. There was much US decrying of the failure of NATO to provide adequate assistance to US efforts. A good example was this article by John C. Hulsman, Ph.D. Europe and NATO: Strengthening the Alliance for the Future published on the web site of the Neoconservative Heritage Foundation.

The essential dishonesty of the article is that it does not say that the European states wanted and offered to give the USA every assistance of which they were capable. The public sympathy for the USA after 9-11 was at such a height that the USA could have asked for and got every person in uniform on the European sub-continent needed to interveen in Afghanistan. The problem was the UN Charter. European nations wanted the legal cover of an authorisation from the UN Security Council under Chapter VII of the Charter. Such an authorisation was on offer. The Bush Administration decided not to ask for one. It wanted to ignore international law and act unilaterally.

What is also true is that through lack of sufficient "boots on the ground" Rumsfeld's high-tech US military allowed most of the Al-Quai'da fighters simply to walk across the Afghan-Pak border and live to fight another day. The principal achievement of US intervention in Afghanistan thus far has been a vast increase in the illegal drugs trade from Afghanistan to Europe. The European NATO member states which have throughout contributed 90% of the ISAF force, have been left to pick up the pieces and recover the situation to the extent possible.

One of the think tanks devoted to thinking through US-European defence issues is US-Crest and in September 2002 (after the US-led unilateral intervention in Afghanistan, but before the unilateral and unlawful US-UK invasion and occupation of Iraq. it published what many think was an important contribution to the debate - a report of a joint working group established with the French based, Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique, the German-based Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik and the UK-based Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies and in which the US, UK, French and German defence ministries participated. [Warning - the PDF is 146 pages] Future Military Coalitions - The Transatlantic Challenge. Some key conclusions:-

"The terrorist attacks of September 11th sharply underscored the critical importance of "winning the peace" when intervening militarily in crisis situations, as festering instabilities and failed states can give rise to acute terrorist and other asymmetric threats. Moreover, coalition operations in Afghanistan and the debate over regime change in Iraq have sharply highlighted the fundamental importance as well as the huge problems involved in "winning the peace" when undertaking military interventions in countries with very difficult political, economic, ethnic and social conditions. Winning the peace entails creating the conditions that will allow for a withdrawal of the intervention force without risking renewed destabilization and violence. This requirement can often lead to very lengthy military deployments. These observations underline the critical importance for NATO and EU nations to form coalitions in order to carry out military interventions.

Washington chose to run the initial stages of the Afghanistan campaign largely on its own, except for the involvement of British forces and a modicum of support from other allies. In a campaign dominated at that point by local proxy forces, special operations forces, and highly sophisticated air delivery of precision guided munitions, integrating allied militaries into the operation seemed more of a complication than a benefit, while U.S. perceptions that European political involvement in the NATO campaign in Kosovo had been overly intrusive further motivated Washington to act largely on a unilateral basis.

However, following the overthrow of the Taliban regime, the militaries of other NATO countries became extensively involved in Afghanistan as the need to hunt for dispersed Taliban and Al Qaeda forces as well as to maintain security in Kabul required significant numbers of "boots on the ground". Despite this extensive allied involvement, NATO as an institution remained on the sidelines of the campaign, leading many in the transatlantic security community to proclaim that the organization was "dead."

Although the U.S. may be able to win wars without significant allied contributions, it is unlikely in many situations to be able to win the peace without military (and non-military) assistance from European allies, whether those situations develop within or outside Europe.

It is also true that the Europeans, having hosted two world wars in the 20th century, tended to accept vulnerability to the use of force as a fact of life, as undesirable as it might be. The United States, on the other hand, regarded vulnerability as an unacceptable condition. The attack on Pearl Harbor, perhaps because it occurred on an outpost of U.S. territory and did not directly affect the mainland, left Americans believing that the goal of invulnerability remained a valid U.S. national objective.

It is easy to overgeneralize, but it does appear that the divergence in U.S. versus European military capabilities and attitudes toward vulnerability over the years has contributed to different instincts concerning the use of force on behalf of national interests. The Europeans, facing a constant decline in their ability to project and sustain force beyond their borders, leaned increasingly on diplomatic finesse and economic largesse to sustain influence in the world.

The United States meanwhile, having built a large and capable military establishment, became more willing than Europe to use force to diminish its vulnerability, promote its ideology, and accomplish American foreign policy goals. The terrorist attacks of September 11th further increased this U.S. emphasis on military capability and the divergence in U.S.-European perspectives towards the use of force.


The perception as the Iraq war draws to a close is that the real interest of the USA in pushing for the admission of new NATO member states is a desire to arm them and use them as a recruiting ground for cheap "cannon fodder" or "boots on the ground" for use in US unilateral ad-hoc coalitions under exclusive US command. It has pursued this objective without regard to the question whether the governments of such states are ready to join NATO in terms of stability and good governance. Georgia is a case in point - but it is not the only example

So, for me, Georgia is a symptom of a much wider institutional problem with NATO. Part of the problem is down to the unilateralism of the Bush administration but it is wider than that - extending to diverging views on human rights and other fundamental differences at the political level.

There can be no military partnership where the Rules of Engagement of one partner tolerate torture and the ROE of the other make that criminal conduct or where one partner will use air power where the other considers that unacceptable.
 

Take a look at Robert Higgs' "A Funny Thing Happenened on the Way to the Georgian Forum at:

http://www.independent.org/newsroom/article.asp?id=2303

for the cheers of the military-industrial complex with this variation of the theme of "The Mouse that Roared."
 

I cannot understand why France would fear being attacked by Germany, since any attack would first require an invasion of Belgium in order to get troops to France. I see no realistic possibility of that happening.
 

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