Point of the Spear – NATO’S New Global Direction.
In 2014 research reviews of the Global Media outlets, the key question appears to be, “Is NATO the answer to a dangerous world or is NATO making the world dangerous?”
NATO is and always has been a defense alliance of the like-minded and common economic interest. The dichotomy of the use of hard power versus soft war, which was the issue in the 1930s, appears to be relevant in 2014. After World War II, the “Cold War” pitted Europe and the U.S. against the Former Soviet Union FSU. NATO has never conducted an offensive military operation in the last 40 years with the Former Soviet Union (FSU) as a neighbor. During that last 20 years NATO operations were conducted in the Balkans, Afghanistan (12 plus years), Iraq, Libya, and elsewhere in the world. In 2014, NATO is now pointing the tip of its spear at Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and at North Africa. NATO has already used its airpower with the support of the U.S. Air Force to bomb Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, and which has now been directed towards (ISIS) operating in Syria. NATO is closely tied to the EU and the U.S. and is very dependent on its funding from both of these sources, 27%, and 73% respectively. However, NATO has outspent Russia in military platforms eight-to-one.
According to Robert Kagan, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institute, “(U.S.) President Harry Truman and Secretary of State Dean Acheson, the architects of armed liberalism, never had much interest in bargaining with the Soviets, while President Ronald Reagan was interested in chiefly bargaining over the terms of their surrender.” Reagan ushered in years of peace and cooperation between democratic Russia and the West. After the 2014 Wales Summit, the point of the NATO spear is still pointed at “the former militarist Soviet Union” who former NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen appears to believe that today’s modern democratic Russia remains the FSU and hence should be sanctioned over Ukraine. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier spoke after the Wales Summit, “I found some of the things that came in the last weeks from Brussels, from the NATO headquarters, not always helpful. I was not the only one in the German government who felt that way.” Certainly, there needs to be a softer tone on Moscow. Even Poland’s Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz, softened her hawkish rhetoric against Russian sanctions and the “unrealistic goals for Ukraine”. However, on October 28, 2014 NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the German Marshall Fund, Brussels said, “When we see national borders and international rules challenged by force. And turmoil in our neighborhood. To the east, Russia's actions in Ukraine are in breach of international law. They have severely damaged trust. And they pose a major challenge to Euro-Atlantic security.
International Law Framework
The Secretary General of NATO is an international diplomat who serves as the chief official of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. The Secretary General is responsible for coordinating the workings of the alliance, serves as the head of the North Atlantic Council, and leads NATO's staff. According to the bylaws, “NATO’s Secretary General reports regularly to the UN Secretary-General (Ban Ki-Moon) on progress in UN-mandated NATO-led operations and on other key decisions of the North Atlantic Council in the area of crisis management and in the fight against terrorism. In recent years, staff-level meetings and high-level visits have become more frequent. The United Nations frequently receives invitations to attend NATO ministerial meetings and summits, the NATO Secretary General participates in the UN General Assembly, and staff level meetings take place on an annual basis between the Secretariats of NATO and the UN. Similar meetings also take place with other UN organizations, such as the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and NATO experts participate in events organized by other UN bodies.”
Key Articles of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization
Article 4 of the North Atlantic treaty invokes consultation among NATO members. Consultations have been invoked four times; namely, the first time Turkey in 2003 over the Iraq War, secondly, in 2012 by Turkey over the Syrian Civil War after the downing of an unarmed Turkish F-4 reconnaissance jet, thirdly, after a mortar was fired at Turkey from Syria, and finally in 2014 by Poland following the Russian intervention in Crimea.
Article 5 of the North Atlantic treaty, requires member states to come to the aid of any member state subject to an armed attack, and invoked after the New York and Washington DC September 11, 2001 attacks after which troops began deployment to Afghanistan under the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). NATO has operated a range of additional roles since then, including sending trainers to Iraq, assisting in counter-piracy operations and in 2011 enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya in accordance with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973. U.S. President Obama stated, “Article 5 is crystal clear. An attack on one is an attack on all. So if, in such moment, you ever ask again who will come to help…the NATO alliance, including the armed forces of the USA right here, present, now?” In October 2014, Colonel Jaak Tarien, commander of the Estonian Air Force, in an interview with the journal of the US Air Force Association, said, “Article 5 is the bonding glue of the (NATO) alliance. If the trust is broken, the Alliance is gone. So if you send your road circus into a NATO country, just a small border area, create confusion…will NATO respond?”
Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nation states, “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defense shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.”
The Making of the U.S. NATO Enlargement Policy
Based on opinion polls, the American public in world politics is limited, and that only a small group of Washington DC experts and intellectual stakeholders push foreign affairs to the Congress or the Executive Branch. According to a NATO research study, “The United States played a very important role in the period leading up to the decision to enlarge NATO. Since the end of 1993, NATO enlargement had become one of the key components of the U.S. Bill Clinton Administration’s foreign policy. The U.S. also played a leading role in the period after ‘Madrid’ in which NATO member countries were to ratify the Protocols of Accession. (Only Canada, Denmark, Germany, and Norway ratified the Protocols of Accession before the debate in the U.S. Senate started). During the period between the Madrid Summit and the eventual US ratification of NATO enlargement, on April 30, 1998, a parallel was often drawn between the ‘Treaty of Madrid’ and the Treaty of Versailles US President Wilson was -just as Clinton was with regard to the ‘Madrid Treaty’- a driving force in the process leading up to the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. Both treaties were to have a major impact on the existing international security order.” The US Senate had rejected the Treaty of Versailles, and the outcome for rejection was extremely strong by many senators in order to underline the significance of the role of Congress in the making of the US policy of NATO enlargement versus the White House setting the US foreign policy.
On February 24, 1997, a Clinton Administration policy report (favored by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright) was sent to the U.S. Congress to enlarge NATO; the policy would then be seen “as part of a broad strategy to foster a peaceful, undivided, and democratic Europe. In addition, support for German unification; assistance to foster reforms in Russia, Ukraine, and other independent states; negotiation and adoption of the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty; and the evolution and strengthening of European security and economic institutions were part of that strategy. Most importantly, NATO enlargement was pursued for it would help the United States and Europe erase outdated Cold War lines and strengthen shared security into the next century. During The NATO Summit in Brussels in January 1994, Clinton presented his Partnership for Peace Plan to reassure the European allies of the US involvement in Europe’s security. At the Madrid Summit, held in July 1997, the then sixteen members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) invited Poland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic to begin accession talks with NATO, therewith offering them the prospect of becoming full members of the Alliance in 1999.”
During debate on NATO enlargement, Senator Joseph Biden was Chairman of the U.S. Foreign Relations Committee. Biden was also co-chair of the NATO Observer Group in the Senate. Senator Biden had gone on a fact-finding mission to Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Slovenia in early 1997. Biden had his staff write a report on his trip, which would become a “guide book” for U.S. Senators. Biden in his 1997 and 1998 speeches expressed animus towards Russia. During the debates in the U.S. Senate over NATO expansion, the cost of doing so was the key concerns. On 30 April 1998, NATO enlargement was approved by an 80 to 19 Senate vote. All proposed amendments on the resolution were rejected. The Senate had posed no restrictions on the (future) US NATO policy.
NATO and the United Nations (UN) share a commitment to maintaining international peace and security. The two organizations have been cooperating in this area since the early 1990s. NATO’s 2010 Strategic Concept commits the Alliance to prevent crises, manage conflicts, and stabilize post-conflict situations, including by working more closely with NATO’s international partners, most importantly the UN and the European Union. UN Security Council Resolutions have provided the mandate for NATO’s operations in the Western Balkans, Afghanistan, and Libya. They have also provided the framework for NATO’s training mission in Iraq. NATO has also provided support to UN-sponsored operations, including logistical assistance to the African Union’s UN-endorsed peacekeeping operations in Darfur, Sudan, and in Somalia; support for UN disaster-relief operations in Pakistan, following the massive earthquake in 2005; and escorting merchant ships carrying World Food Programmed humanitarian supplies off the coast of Somalia. Over the years, NATO-UN cooperation has been extended beyond operations to include consultations between NATO and UN specialized bodies and agencies on issues such as crisis assessment and management, civil-military cooperation, training and education, logistics, combating human trafficking, mine action, civilian capabilities, women, peace and security, arms control and non-proliferation, and the fight against terrorism. The complexity of today’s security challenges has required a broader dialogue between NATO and the UN. In 2010, following the signing of the 2008 UN-NATO declaration on cooperation, NATO sought to reinforce its liaison arrangements by establishing the post of NATO Civilian Liaison Officer to the United Nations, in addition to a Military Liaison Officer that was established in 1999. NATO hopes that these examples of enhanced cooperation will remain as an integral part of NATO’s contribution to a Comprehensive Approach to crisis management and operations.
Lisbon Summit (Russia &Ukraine Declarations) - 2010
“NATO-Russia cooperation is of strategic importance, as reflected by today’s meeting of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) at the level of Heads of State and Government in Lisbon. In light of common security interests, we are determined to build a lasting and inclusive peace, together with Russia, in the Euro-Atlantic Area. We need to share responsibility in facing up to common challenges, jointly identified. We want to see a true strategic partnership between NATO and Russia, and we will act accordingly, with the expectation of reciprocity from Russia. We recommit ourselves to the goals, principles, and commitments, which underpin the (NRC). On this firm basis, we urge Russia to meet its commitments with respect to Georgia, as mediated by the European Union (EU) on August 12 and September 8 2008. Over the past year, NATO-Russia cooperation has progressed and produced notable results. We welcome, in particular, the completion of the Joint Review of 21st Century Common Security Challenges, which has identified practical cooperation projects on Afghanistan, including counter-narcotics; non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery; counter-piracy; counter-terrorism; and disaster response. We also welcome the new extended arrangements offered by Russia to facilitate (ISAF) transit to and from Afghanistan. We are actively pursuing cooperation with Russia on missile defense, including through the resumption of theatre-missile-defense exercises. We will also want to discuss in the (NRC) a range of other topics, including Afghanistan; implementing OSCE principles; military deployments, including any that could be perceived as threatening; information sharing and transparency on military doctrine and posture, as well as the overall disparity in short-range nuclear weapons; arms control; and other security issues. We look forward to discussing all these matters in the (NRC), which is a forum for political dialogue at all times and on all issues, including where we disagree. Our dialogue and cooperation with Russia also help us to resolve differences by building trust, mutual confidence, transparency, predictability, and mutual understanding.”
NATO and Ukraine
“A stable, democratic, and economically prosperous Ukraine is an important factor for Euro-Atlantic security. Recognizing the sovereign right of each nation to choose its security arrangements, we respect Ukraine’s policy of “non-bloc” status. NATO remains committed to providing the relevant assistance to Ukraine for the implementation of wide-ranging domestic reforms. We welcome the Ukrainian Government’s commitment to continue to pursue fully Ukraine’s Distinctive Partnership with NATO, including through high-level political dialogue in the NATO-Ukraine Commission, and reform and practical cooperation through the Annual National Program, and in this context, we recall that NATO’s door remains open, as stated in the Bucharest Summit decision. We remain convinced that mutually beneficial cooperation between NATO and Ukraine will continue to be of key importance for peace and security in the Euro-Atlantic area and beyond, and appreciate the constructive role Ukraine plays in this respect, including through its participation in NATO-led operations. We welcome Ukraine’s interest in developing new areas of cooperation.”
Chicago Summit Declaration - 2012
Historical Command and Control Structure
According to U.S. military analysts, “The NATO bombing of Yugoslavia was NATO's military operation against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War. The operation was not authorized by the United Nations and was the first time that NATO used military force without the approval of the UN Security Council and against a sovereign nation that did not pose a threat to members of the alliance. In August 1998, US General Wesley Clark, then commander of US European Command (EUCOM) and Supreme Allied Commander, Europe (SACEUR), initiated Operations ‘Flexible Anvil’ and ‘Sky Anvil’ to conduct Kosovo-specific mission planning in response to the growing crisis there. Operation ‘Flexible Anvil’, led by Joint Task Force ‘Flexible Anvil’, would look at the possibility for tomahawk land attack cruise missile strikes and carrier-borne air strikes led by the Naval Commander of the U.S. Sixth Fleet. Operation ‘Sky Anvil’, led by Joint Task Force ‘Sky Anvil’, would look at the possibility for air-launched cruise missile and other air strikes led by Sixteenth U.S. Air Force. These missions were eventually tasked to support Operation Determined Force. The two joint task forces were composed of forces assigned to (EUCOM), which could and did respond immediately. In addition, while the task forces were titled as ‘joint’ they were effectively separate retaining the makeup and character of the parent service and responsible only for the planning of operations in their specific domain. Creating two task forces however, allowed General Clark to command the planning capabilities resident in US Sixth Fleet and Sixteenth Air Force, effectively removing the Commander, Naval Forces Europe, and Commander in Chief, US Air Forces in Europe from the chain of command. NATO officers were also excluded from the first round of planning. This meant that the US specific plans for potential limited strikes in Kosovo were presented to and approved by the National Command Authority before the North Atlantic Council approved NATO’s activation order for Operation Determined Force on October 13, 1998.”
“The Operation ‘Flexible Anvil’ and ‘Sky Anvil’ plans were subsequently made available to NATO. With the agreement reached with Serbia's President Milosevic on October 15, 1998, in which he agreed to abide by the provisions outlined in UN Security Council Resolution 1199, NATO began to take a more active role in establishing a plan for potential strikes in the event of a failure to comply. However, its focus was placed more heavily on the non-combat aerial verification mission, Operation ‘Eagle Eye’, which began on October 30, 1998. As negotiations continued on a final settlement of the Kosovo question and as Serbian authorities appeared to be working toward compliance, Operations ‘Flexible Anvil’ and ‘Sky Anvil’ ended in December 1998 and the Joint Task Forces were inactivated.”
NATO Multiculturalism Declaration
The Kosovo Force (KFOR) was a NATO-led international peacekeeping force, which was responsible for establishing a secure environment in Kosovo. The NATO declaration stated, “The Alliance continues to be fully committed to the stability and security of the strategically important Balkans region. We reiterate our full support for KFOR, which continues to act carefully, firmly and impartially in accordance with its United Nations mandate set out in United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1244. KFOR will continue to support the development of a peaceful, stable, and multi-ethnic Kosovo. KFOR will also continue to contribute to the maintenance of freedom of movement and ensuring a safe and secure environment for all people in Kosovo, in cooperation with all relevant actors, including the European Union Rule of Law Mission in Kosovo (EULEX) and the EU Special Representative, as agreed, and the Kosovo authorities. We will maintain KFOR’s robust and credible capability to carry out its mission. We remain committed to moving towards a smaller, more flexible, deterrent presence, only once the security situation allows. We welcome the progress made in developing the Kosovo Security Force, under NATO’s supervision and commend it for its readiness and capability to implement its security tasks and responsibilities. We will continue to look for opportunities to develop NATO’s ongoing role with the Kosovo Security Force.”
The declaration further states, “Our operational experiences have shown that military means, although essential, are not enough on their own to meet the many complex challenges to our security. We reaffirm our Lisbon Summit decisions on a comprehensive approach. In order to fulfil these commitments, important work on NATO’s contribution to a comprehensive approach and on stabilization and reconstruction is ongoing. An appropriate but modest civilian crisis management capability has been established, both at the NATO Headquarters and within Allied Command Operations, in accordance with the principles and detailed political guidance we set out at our Summit in Lisbon.
Article 10 of the Washington Treaty
Article 10 of the Washington Treaty was signed by the 12 founding members of the Alliance, as well as the Accession Protocols for the 16 countries, which have joined the Organization since 1949. In accordance with Article 10 of the Washington Treaty, “NATO’s door will remain open to all European democracies, which share the values of our Alliance, which are willing and able to assume the responsibilities and obligations of membership. In addition are in a position to further the principles of the Treaty, whose inclusion can contribute to security in the North Atlantic area. Based on these considerations, we will keep the progress of each of the partners that aspire to join the Alliance under active review, judging each on its own merits. We reaffirm our strong commitment to the Euro-Atlantic integration of the partners that aspire to join the Alliance in accordance with previous decisions taken at the Bucharest, Strasbourg-Kehl, and Lisbon Summits. We welcome progress made by these four partners and encourage them to continue to implement the necessary decisions and reforms to advance their Euro-Atlantic aspirations. For our part, we will continue to offer political and practical support to partners that aspire to join the Alliance. NATO’s enlargement has contributed substantially to the security of Allies; the prospect of further enlargement and the spirit of cooperative security continue to advance stability in Europe more broadly.”
NATO’s Nordic Leadership
Can the lack of NATO’s members contributing their GDP contribution, sustain the partnership with the USA paying over 73% for all military equipment and military readiness of NATO? Many Washington DC “think-tank” experts believe that NATO has outlived its charter and is seeking a mission to validate itself to the 28 countries of the EU. The Nordic Countries consist of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden. Once again, NATO has reached out to another Nordic leader. Former Anders Fogh Rasmussen was born in Ginnerup, Jutland, on January 26, 1953. After passing the baccalaureate at Viborg Katedralskole in 1972, Rasmussen studied economics at the University of Aarhus, graduating (MSc Econ) in 1978. As a professional politician, Rasmussen never served in a military command leadership position. The same year he became member of the Danish Parliament representing the Liberal (progressive socialist) Party. In the future, Rasmussen is expected to assume a high profile political position in the EU.
The new Secretary General of NATO is Norway’s Jens Stoltenberg. In Stoltenberg’s youth, he was a Vietnam War activist and participated in protest rallies targeting the United States Embassy in Oslo. This experience parallels the anti-Vietnam War activism of the current U.S. Secretary of State, John Forbes Kerry, who only after a brief six-month tour in Vietnam joined the Vietnam Veterans against the War in which he served as a nationally recognized spokesman and as an outspoken opponent of the U.S. Military in Vietnam. Kerry appeared before the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs where he deemed United States war policy in Vietnam to be the cause of "war crimes.” Chuck Hagel, Secretary of Defense, was a distinguished infantry squad leader in the Vietnam War, but it is not known if he participated in any anti-war activism.
In Stoltenberg political careers, he was a staunch opponent of both the Western military alliance and the European Union. Will Stoltenberg be moving NATO’s headquarters to Kiev Ukraine, which is about 372 miles from the Russian border? On October 1, 2014, Stoltenberg began his tenure by saying, “I see no contradiction between a strong NATO and our efforts to build a relationship with Russia”, he said, adding it was in fact “just the opposite ... only a strong NATO can build this relationship.”
The Grand Strategic Vision –Moving East
According to John J. Mearsheimer, a professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, as a Cold War backdrop, “…the logic of realism holds little relevance in the twenty-first century and that Europe can be kept whole and free on the basis of such liberal principles as the rule of law, economic interdependence, and democracy”. In the 1990s, three U.S. Secretary of State; namely, Lawrence S. Eagleburger, Warren M. Christopher, and Madeleine Albright pushed NATO to expand. In 1999, the Czech Republic, Poland, and Hungary were allowed entry into NATO. Then in 2004, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia, were accepted as members of NATO. At the 2008 NATO Summit, Ukraine and Georgia, were considered as candidates for membership, but no formal result occurred. Due to concerns from Russia, NATO simple declared, “These countries will become members of NATO.”
In May 2008, NATO unveiled a plan, the Eastern Partnership Initiative, “to foster prosperity in such countries as Ukraine and integrate them into the EU economy”. In 2009, NATO formally accepted Albania and Croatia as members. From 1991 to 2013, the United States provided more than $5 billion dollars to various non-profits to foster democracy in Ukraine. The main recipient of U.S. funds was the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), co-founded by Ronald Reagan in 1983. (NED is funded by the U.S. Congress and registered as a non-profit) NED stressed in public forums and books that the President of Russia was suppressing the growth of democratic opposition. According to Professor Mearsheimer, NATO formulated policies that reflected three values; namely, NATO enlargement, EU expansion, and democracy. Since historically Ukraine, served as a Western invasion land mass during France’s Napoleonic War to capture Moscow, the German Kaiser’s eastward imperialism, and Hitler’s eastward march in 1941, as well as a key strategic Russia neighbor, alarms in the Russian Federation could be set off. With these historical realities, Russia would always act militarily only in self-defense to protect its national security. During the Rome Declaration of May 28, 2002, the NATO-Russia Council (NRC) was formed to foster geopolitical cooperation. In May 2014, NATO stated that the (NRC) Council would be suspended. However, on September 3, 2014, NATO released a statement that it decided not to suspend the (NRC) but “the alliance no longer sees Moscow as a (equal) partner.” NATO’s actions appeared similar to the baseball umpire telling the opposing team that they can play the game, but if points are scored, they will not be counted. Certainly, it is a form of international diplomacy media stagecraft, which is in place to monitor one’s opponent and retain a conceived projection of power.
The 1993-2001 Democratic Party of the U.S., which was structured by the Clintons, “believed that the end of the Cold War had fundamentally transformed international politics and that a new post national order had replaced the realist logic that once governed the EU. The U.S. was not only the ‘indispensable nation’, as Secretary of State Madeleine Albright put it, it was also a benign hegemon and thus unlikely to be viewed as a threat to Moscow.” Russia politicians adhered to the “realistic view” and NATO with America adhered to the liberal progressive view. History is a good teacher. Countries will endure an immense amount of punishment to protect their core strategic interest. Russia does not have an economy or an army to sustain a confrontation with NATO. In 1989, Vladimir Putin, a young KGB officer was serving in East Germany. Ten years later, he reflected about the abolishment of the Soviet Union when he stated, “The Soviet Union had lost its position in Europe.”
In review of the bilateral meetings with Helmut Kohl, the West German chancellor, and Russia’s President, Mikhail Gorbachev in July 1990 and follow up conversations on September 1990, an agreement was made of a united Germany within (NATO), monetary assistance, and various military restrictions. However, Gorbachev never received any written guarantees against NATO expanding toward the Russia border nor did he ask for one. (For the historical record, President George Bush sent a letter to Kohl implying that NATO’s border would begin moving eastward. U.S. Secretary of State, James Baker, sent a separate letter suggesting the NATO’s border would not move eastward). James Baker wrote many years later, “Almost every achievement contains within its success a seed of a future problem.” Ukraine could be the seed that is beginning to grow roots that might sprout a tree of destruction to the western alliance. So far, the tree has not totally grown.
Three Pillars of 2014 Wales Summit
In the September 2014 NATO Summit in Wales, the three pillars plan was approved. The number one pillar was to re-vitalize the NATO Reaction Force (NRF), a multinational force that brings together land, air, maritime and special operations forces. The number two pillar was to identify an additional NATO headquarters farther east-(Speculated to be Kiev Ukraine). The number three pillar was to create smaller forward forces in locations where they are able to rapidly receive, assimilate, and develop combat power if required. General Breedlove said, “I believe the entire NRF needs to have adaptation, and I believe that a smaller portion of the (NRF) needs to be much, much more responsive.”
During the September 2014 Wales Summit, military analyst Marcus Weisgerber speculated, “Rasmussen has said the force would number around 4,000 personnel; General Sir Adrian Bradshaw, deputy supreme allied commander Europe wouldn’t commit to any numbers at this stage. David Cameron said the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) would be capable of deploying anywhere in the world in two to five days. The new force would be the spearhead of a 25,000-strong NATO Response Force. Unlike that force, the (VJTF) would not be manned on a rotational basis, but would consist of nations that have specifically committed to it.” On September 15, 2014, General Breedlove wrote in the Wall Street Journal, (NATO) “will take the steps needed to make (NATO) fitter, faster, and more flexible to address future challenges.”
On October 28, 2014, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the German Marshall Fund, Brussels set a stronger tone, “Our NATO Summit in Wales last month set out a clear course… I have set out three priorities. First, we must keep NATO strong. Strong as a political Alliance. And strong as a military Alliance. This starts with solidarity and resolve. We are an Alliance of democracies. We may not always agree at first. But by debating, consulting, and working together, we arrive at firm decisions. And together, we act on those decisions. This is the strength of our Alliance. To stay strong we must preserve and strengthen collective defense. The pledge to defend each other - Article 5 of our founding treaty - remains the bedrock of NATO. It is the basis for everything we do. This is why the implementation of the Readiness Action Plan we agreed at the Wales Summit is key…my second priority. To work with our partners to bring more stability to our neighborhood. Partnerships are one of NATO’s greatest success stories. Enlargement is another. Our partners have worked with us to increase the space of democracy and freedom in Europe. Twelve of them have actually become Allies. And all partners have made important contributions to our operations. They have helped to enhance international security and to defend the values on which our Alliance is based. But today, Russia is trying to roll back the progress we have made in this collective effort. And some of our partners are facing great pressures. We will continue to support Ukraine and our other partners in our eastern neighborhood. And we will continue to uphold the principle that each country has the right to choose its own path… And this is my third priority. Allies on both sides of the Atlantic must play their full part. North America needs a stronger Europe. And Europe needs continued strong engagement by North America. We all need to invest in our Alliance politically and financially. To make sure that NATO has the means to do the difficult jobs that it has to do. And the political will to use those means, when necessary. At Wales, we agreed to reverse the trend of declining defense budgets. And to aim to raise them over the coming decade as our economies improve. As a former Prime Minister and Finance Minister, I know how difficult this is. But I also know how important it is. And I know that, with political will, it can be done. Because the primary role of any state is to protect its citizens. I will engage personally with all NATO leaders to help us keep the pledge we made at Wales. I also intend to work closely with the new leadership of the European Union. I am encouraged that they too will seek closer engagement with NATO. Because now, we need each other more than ever.”
Military Force Structure
On May 02, 2014, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said, “Without deep engagement in the world, America would face more conflict, not less - and on the terms of our adversaries, not on our own terms. That is why America's commitment to its allies - in Europe and around the world - is not a burden ... it is not a luxury. However, it is a necessity. In addition, it must be unwavering.”
Operation Atlantic Resolve
Operation Atlantic Resolve is a U.S. DoD planned series of exercises and training activities to demonstrate its commitment to the collective security of U.S. NATO allies and partners in Europe, based on Ukraine’s Petro Oleksiyovych Poroshenko statements that Russia was sending troops into Ukraine. Earlier in 2014, Crimea became part of the Russia Federation by the popular vote of the 80% of the Russian-speaking population. The U.S. viewed the annexation of Crimea as a violation of international agreements and law. Since then, Crimea has become a mecca of global tourism.
After Crimea again became connected to its ancient Russian roots, the U.S. took several immediate steps to demonstrate solidarity with their NATO allies, such as augmenting the air, ground, and naval presence in the region, and enhancing previously (over 20) scheduled exercises. According to the U.S. DoD, “Russia's aggressive actions have already led many to call for reinforcing NATO's readiness through Article 5-related planning training and adjustments to force posture. The U.S. is also taking additional measures to enhance NATO military plans and defense capabilities, and remains committed to maintaining a persistent presence in Eastern Europe.” On October 28, 2014, Stoltenberg spoke, “The large majority of the people of Ukraine have clearly and democratically spoken in favor of an ambitious reform agenda and a European path. I strongly regret, however, that many Ukrainians were unable to exercise their democratic right to vote. In Crimea, which Russia illegally and illegitimately annexed. And in parts of Eastern Ukraine, where violence and intimidation by Russian-backed separatists continues. NATO fully supports Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. We call on Russia to end its destabilizing actions in Ukraine, and pull back its forces.”
Funding for the new direction into the Balkans and along the borders of Russia will be within the Department of Defense’s FY 2015 Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) request to Congress. The U.S. Congress is in recess until November 12, 2014. U.S. Army Europe’s 173rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne) deployed company-sized contingents (150 per country) of U.S. paratroopers to Poland (April 23), Latvia (April 24), Lithuania (April 26) and Estonia (April 28) to begin expanding land force training to demonstrate the U.S. commitment to (NATO) and collective defense responsibilities.
U.S. New Force Posture
Under the Clinton Administration, USAF European airbases were cut by 75%. In addition, the American military personnel who were stationed in Europe dropped by fifty-five percent. In 2014, the civilian and military leadership of the U.S. Army have re-missioned the Army as an Expeditionary Army. The U.S. Army has downsized from four brigades in Europe to two. The Air Support Operations Group (ASOG) German headquarters moved from Heidelberg to Wiesbaden. U.S. Air Force General Breedlove said that the U.S. would maintain a continual rotational presence in Eastern Europe until December 2014. Breedlove spoke in September 2014, “We are an expeditionary Air Force. If something happens here (Eastern Europe), depending on the priority, we would certainly have to go back to the expeditionary Air Force…with respect to permanent based combat aircraft…we think that it is reasonable.” In July 2014, Ann Stefanik, USAF communications spokesperson, confirmed that the Fiscal 2015 budget request would reduce 51 F-15Cs across the U.S. force structure of which 21 will come from Europe. In 2015 and beyond, there will be less U.S. combat aircraft in Europe.
According to NATO, “Persistent presence land forces assurance exercises are the first in a series of expanded U.S. land force training activities in Poland and the Baltic region-taking place for the next few months and beyond. The exercises, conducted by U.S. Army Europe soldiers and host nation forces, are a demonstration of U.S. commitment to NATO and to collective defense responsibilities through increased ground, air, and naval force presence. The intent of the supplementary exercises was to reassure NATO allies that the U.S. commitment to meeting the nation’s Article 5 obligations is unwavering. Accordingly, U.S. Army Europe has deployed a company-sized contingent of U.S. paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade, to Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia, roughly 600 Soldiers in all, to conduct the expanded land force training. This action comes at the request of the host nation governments.”
The major training base for the U.S. Army is Vilseek, in northern part of Bavaria. The U.S. Army Europe-led “Atlantic Resolve”, a multinational combined arms rotational exercise involving the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, and host nations, took place across Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland to enhance multinational interoperability, to strengthen relationships among allied militaries, to contribute to regional stability, and to demonstrate U.S. commitment to NATO.
The various 2014 planned and completed Operation Atlantic Resolve (OAR) exercises were as follows: (1) Land Exercises consisted of over 7,790 – 10,000 combat participants from the U.S. and Balkan nations. Those exercises were listed; namely, Exercises Saber Junction 14, Platinum Lion 14-2, Platinum Wolf, Agile Spirit 14, Saber Strike 14, Flaming Sword 14, Combined Resolve II, Rochambeau, Platinum Lynx 14-5, Platinum Eagle 14, Summer Shield 14, and Saber Guardian 14. (2) USAF Air operations consist of 10 rotations and training exercises, and the (3) U.S. Navy sea operations consist of USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) - Ticonderoga-class cruiser; USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79) - Arleigh Burke-class destroyer; USS Taylor (FFG 50)- guided-missile frigate; USS Donald Cook (DDG 75) - Arleigh Burke-class destroyer; and the USS Truxtun (DDG 103) - Arleigh Burke-class destroyer.
NATO’s (2014-2016) Tactics and Strategies
On October 28, 2014, Stoltenberg spoke, “To reassure our Allies. And to deter anyone who might wish to challenge us. In recent months, the number of NATO jets in the skies over our Eastern Allies has increased five times. We have deployed more ships in the Baltic and the Black Sea. And this year, we are conducting over 200 NATO and national exercises in Europe. A new exercise kicks off every two days. These assurance measures are just the start. We are also setting up a rapid reaction “Spearhead Force”. I expect Defense Ministers to approve the size and design of the force when we meet in February. We are also putting in place elements of a robust command and control structure on the territory of our Eastern Allies. And pre-positioning equipment and supplies. So that we can reinforce rapidly, if we need to.”
General (USAF) Philip M. Breedlove assumed duties as Supreme Allied Commander, Europe and commander of U.S. European Command in May 2013. On August 18, 2014, General Breedlove outlined three key components of an action plan. “First, we need to build on the steps we have already taken to assure (NATO) allies' security, to make them sustainable for the longer term. Second, we need the presence of (NATO) forces in Eastern Europe for as long as necessary; upgraded intelligence gathering and sharing; updated defense plans; and an expanded training schedule with more exercises, of more types, in more places, more often. Third, we need to upgrade elements of our rapid-reaction capability, the (NATO) Response Force, to make them able to deploy even more quickly and deploy at the first sign of trouble, before a conflict erupts. Speed is of the essence to deter sudden threats along (NATO)'s borders. We also need to pre-position equipment and supplies, so that they can travel light but strike hard if needed.” According to Breedlove, the (NATO) strategy for Eastern Europe is simply to have the right capabilities, in the right place, at the right time, which could make the difference between threat and reassurance, between confrontation and negotiations.
NATO Air Power
During the Cold War, the USAF supported a single combatant command in Europe. Seventy-two thousand Air Force personnel were assigned at 25 main operating bases. There were at the time, 805 aircraft assigned to 34 aircraft squadrons. In June 2014, Colonel Lars R. Hubert, acting commander of the 52nd fighter command said, “You are opening up the doors. You are building the capacity, not necessarily with a large force, but with a small force, and large forces could roll in behind that.” The theater security cooperation consists of two F-16s and two C-130 deployments. In March 2014, twelve F-16s from the 555th Fighter Squadron at Aviano AB, Italy and over 200 U.S. personnel were moved to Lask AB in Poland. According to Lt. Col. Steven Horton, 52nd Operations Group deputy commander in Lask AB in Poland, “The USAF F-16s supported Baltops exercises where they collaborated with US Navy, German, French, and Swedish forces conducting maritime interdiction, Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD), and defensive counter air munitions.” Exercises Eagle Talon, Saber Strike, Thracian Star consisted of numerous F-16s from various bases in Bulgaria, Powidz AB in Poland, Amari AB Estonia and even the Minnesota Air National Guard’s 148th Fighter Wing.
Air Power is major part of the partnership between NATO and the US Military. General Frank Gorenc, Commander of US Air Forces in Europe (USAFE), US Air Forces Africa, spoke on September 15, 2014, that two things that were demonstrated on the eastern edges of (NATO) were that “the inherent speed and flexibility of air power and the usefulness of forward-based force structure.” General Philip Breedlove, Commander, US European Command, and NATO supreme allied commander, stated, “Air power is a big part of the joint approach to this issue…in some cases we simply need to take aviation forces forward and exercise it and work with the nations.” According to Lieutenant Pagenkopf assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron 122, “The U.S. must take a leading role in the establishment of research centers, adoption of cooperative acquisitions, and enhanced coordination of NATO’s operational capabilities to maximize efficiencies across the R&D, acquisitions, and operational realms. If implemented effectively, the net effect of these reforms will be a much stronger and more cost-effective NATO better able to contribute to global security, stability, and prosperity.” In October 2014, F-22 U.S., British, and French Air Power acting as the point of the NATO spear were employed successfully in fighting ISIS. Bahrain, Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates "participated in or supported" the strikes, the U.S. Department of Defense said.
NATO Naval Power
In the 1990s, U.S. Navy Admiral William Crow invited Marshal Sergei Akhromeyev, on board an American U.S. Navy carrier. The purpose of the visit was to reinforce President Ronald Reagan’s intent to prove to the former Soviet Navy that they would have to spend more to keep up with the U.S. military abilities. NATO’s mine Counter-Measures Group One visited St. Petersburg Russia in October 2013. Port calls in Russia by NATO warships for training and military exchanges had a positive acceptance by both naval forces. Headquarters, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (HQ SACT), located in the U.S. Navy’s Norfolk, Virginia (United States) base is the only NATO command in North America. It houses the command structure of ACT and directs ACT's various subordinate commands: the Joint Warfare Centre in Norway, the Joint Force Training Centre in Poland and the Joint Analysis & Lessons Learned Centre in Portugal. It also has strong links with the Pentagon and other US military entities. On October 7 and 8th, 2014, the (NATO) Military Committee (MC), led by its Chairman Nordic General Knud Bartels, visited the Allied Command Transformation (ACT) in Norfolk. Bartels said, “The Readiness Action Plan (RAP) the Spearhead Force has been the focus of many discussions, lately, and duly so as it does constitute an intricate part of the RAP...”
Sea Breeze 2014
Under the directive published for Sea Breeze, “U.S. 6th Fleet participation in multinational exercises like Sea Breeze is common, as is U.S. participation in several other exercises in the region. U.S. naval forces recently participated in Exercise Breeze, a multinational exercise hosted by the Bulgarian navy in the Black Sea. Earlier this summer U.S. naval forces hosted BALTOPS, a multinational exercise in the Baltic Sea. All of these exercises are critical to building global maritime partnerships and regional stability. The U.S. Naval ship Ross is deployed in a multi-mission role to contribute to regional maritime security, perform search and rescue activities, support humanitarian missions, conduct bilateral and multilateral training missions, and to support NATO operations and deployments, throughout the region.(Ross is an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer in the United States Navy. Armament consist of 1× 29 cell, 1 × 61 cell Mk 41 vertical launching systems with 90 × RIM-156 SM-2, BGM-109 Tomahawk or RUM-139 VL-ASROC missiles, 1 × Mark 45 5/54 in (127/54 mm), 2 × 25 mm chain gun, 4 × .50 caliber 12.7 mm) guns, 2 × 20 mm Phalanx CIWS, 2 × Mk 32 triple torpedo tubes). The inherent flexibility and capability of naval forces allows the U.S. Navy to maintain the right presence where and when needed. This is especially true of our Forward Deployed Naval Forces. (U.S. Naval ship) Ross and the follow-on Forward Deployed Naval Force (FDNF) ships may be tasked to deploy to the Black Sea, Baltic Sea, Barents Sea, or other areas as part of their multi-mission role. Ross and the U.S. Navy’s presence in the Black Sea represent efforts by the U.S. to reaffirm its commitment to strengthening ties with (NATO) allies and regional partners, while working toward mutual goals of promoting peace and stability in the region.”
The Royal Danish Navy frigate HDMS Iver Huitfeldt is part of a three-ship class, all of which were commissioned in 2011. NATO member nations have a tendency to independently develop and produce weapon systems thus resulting in duplication of cost. The U.S. Navy should have one modern frigate design for a NATO common frigate that would meet the needs across the alliance. On October 14, 2014, President Obama sent the USS Cole and USS Mount Whitney to operate in the Black Sea and now docked at Georgia’s Black Sea port of Batumi. On the same day, U.S. Carrier jets and coalition air forces attacked (ISIS) positions in the town of Kobani along the Turkey and Syrian border. U.S. and Britain fighters attacked using advanced multi-role precision strike weapons such as the MBDA “brimstone”.
NATO Budget – “Show Me the Money!”
NATO’s leadership has made it clear that as an organization it needs modern, deployable forces. This will take considerable investment. Upgrades will be needed for military jets, helicopters, radar systems, short-range rockets, and electronics. In a time of the EU and non-EU members struggling along economically at a snail’s pace, the issue is simple, where is the war fighter military investment going to come from? On October 2014, Christine Lagarde of the IMF projected high debt and unemployment for the EU. In addition, high inflation will be the fiscal cloud over the economic prosperity of the NATO countries for some time to come. Defense budget are declining in the EU and the U.S. In 2014, Germany recently decided to cut military spending by about $1.05 billion dollars in 2015. In May 2014, Dutch Foreign Minister, Frans Timmermans said that the appetite for further cuts in military spending in the Netherlands had evaporated and support was building for increased spending.
The U.S has been the military defender of Europe after the World and the Cold Wars. The average share of GDP spent on defense by non-U.S. (NATO) members was just 1.6 percent in 2013. The U.S. spent 4.4% of its GDP on defense in 2013. In terms of dollars, this equates to the U.S. spending $735 million in 2013 compared to a total of $288 million across the “combined defense budgets” of the remaining (NATO) allies.
Only a small percentage of NATO members are making their commitments to fund NATO. Would the U.S. and the EU cut their social welfare programs to defend Ukraine or to send a massive army into the war with ISIS and Syria? After the NATO Wales Summit was adjourned, the shouts of “Yes, we will share our responsibility for mutual security and give 2% of our GDP when we go back to our nation’s capitals” but once the delegates arrived back to their capitals, the spoken commitments were never heard again. Alliance leaders may have agreed at their 2014 Wales Summit to step up defense spending and (NATO) readiness. The truth is clear. After years of decline, setting a target of two percent of annual economic output within 10 years, but the past trend does show that those commitments are pure fiction. Only the US, UK, and Greece spend more than 2 percent GDP on defense. British Prime Minister David Cameron pledged to spend £1.1 billion (US $1.8 billion) on defense equipment. President Barak Obama pledged $1 billion for European security fund or the European Reassurance Initiative. The $1 billion was proposed as part of the U.S. Fiscal 2015 budget. These monies are to be used for troop rotations, exercises, infrastructure projects in Romania, Poland, and Estonia, and the preposition of materials in forward readiness locations.
U.S. Defense Budget
The U.S. Congressional representatives are getting their darts ready to throw at a defense budget dartboard that will give them some clues as to how to lessen the 2015 and future budget cuts. An expert believes that there could be five options. The first is to “Pass a stand-alone sequesters measure before the 2014 November’s midterm elections or in a lame duck session after. The second is “the overseas contingency operations (OCO) budget that is not subject to sequestration nor existing spending caps. Analysts say Congress and the White House could agree to just pay for the Iraq and Syria airstrikes.” The third might be to “pass something that gives the Pentagon some form of budgetary flexibility, an idea that has had bipartisan support in the past —though too few votes to pass”. The forth option might be to “assemble a defense sequester-killing measure after a major crisis event… if the Air Force ... says we can’t carry out these missions because no ready air wing is available because the sequester went back into effect, or the Army warns that it lacks enough operational ground forces, that might make people reverse [sequestration] pretty quickly.” The fifth consideration would be to “tie a sequester measure to a Syria strikes authorization measure.” The final option is just do nothing and in 2015, Congress will pass overseas contingency operations (OCO).
U.S. Defense Budget discipline is a fleeting goal when the patriotic rhetoric starts to attract media attention and dies quickly with the next media cycle. Retired Admiral James Stavridis, former NATO supreme allied commander said it clearly, “So many nations are so far below (financial) target that unfortunately I’m not confident we are going to see alliance-wide statements.”
Many Questions and Changing Realities
The key question appears to be, “Is NATO the answer to a dangerous world or is NATO making the world dangerous?” Nevertheless, many other questions have been asked in the U.S. Congress and U.S. “think tanks” such as, what ways can NATO establish its relevancy? Has NATO placed itself as the reason that a new Cold War between the EU and the Russian Federation exist today? What concrete initiatives can NATO position itself in the future? Have NATO’s enlargement contributed substantially to the security of Allies; the prospect of further enlargement and the spirit of cooperative security continue to advance stability in Europe more broadly? Has NATO expanded its role and is now violating its charter? Is NATO taking on the role as a global police officer that ignores the sovereign rights of other nations? Is NATO moving into unchartered future consequences that may be casting the “old shadow of French colonialism and Kaiser Imperialism?” Can the lack of NATO’s members contributing their GDP contribution, sustain the partnership with the USA paying over 73% for all military equipment and military readiness of NATO?
NATO should wake up to the new world of war fighting involving policy and strategy. Within this new military war doctrine are irregular forces, cyber-attacks, and information warfare to neutralize adversaries without firing a lethal weapon by simply exercising information superiority. Since 1990, over 75 percent of defense infrastructure has been cut across Europe, and looking forward, more cuts are on the way. What form will the forward positioning in mobility and logistics, throughput and communications across Europe take in the future? General Breedlove said, “I hope leadership takes a knee before sacrificing people or aircraft.”
On March 17, 2011, the UN Security Council effectively authorized the use of force in Libya to protect civilians from attack, specifically in the eastern city of Benghazi. Acting under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, which provides for the use of force if needed, NATO with French airpower set the precedent in attacking Libya. NATO is moving across Europe East and South, participating in the Syrian Civil War, the ISIS Iraq Wars, and engaging Africa’s armed militias. NATO is working to build Ukraine into four major areas; namely, command and control, logistics, cyber, and transitioning the Ukraine’s volunteer army personnel back to civilian life.
It is clear that NATO intends to station troops in Eastern Europe. Stoltenberg said, “NATO, formed to protect Western Europe from the Soviet threat in 1949, faces challenges new and old, with the 2014 Wales summit setting the new direction it must take. They also highlighted the security threat posed by turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa, which cannot be ignored.” NATO is clearly moving away from its original charter in Europe and now moving as a “forward” global military force.
U.S. Retooling the Military
President Obama stated that ISIS is a threat to NATO, “Our objective is clear: we will degrade, and ultimately destroy, Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) through a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy.” I have made it clear that we will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are. That means I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria, as well as Iraq. This is a core principle of my presidency: if you threaten America, you will find no safe haven” The UK, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, Turkey, Italy, Poland, and Denmark will now be part of the core group to inflict military power on (ISIS/ISIL) in Syria and Iraq. On August 11, 2014, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said, “the Pentagon might have to retool its $555 billion 2015 budget proposal to account for the threats posed by and actions taken against the Islamic State. You are constantly shaping a budget to assure that resources match the mission and the mission and the resources match the threat.” John Bolton, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and senior fellow at the American Institute said in May 2014 “All NATO members need substantial defense-budget increases; if that means cutting domestic welfare and entitlement programs, so be it!”
The U.S. Army is moving heavy military equipment out of Afghanistan. The new Afghanistan government has agreed to a bilateral security agreement to allow 12,000 to 10,000 NATO troops to remain in the country for train-and-assist missions. The alliance must reach the $4.1 billion goal it set in 2012 for Afghan security force assistance. So far, the U.S. continues to pay for the majority of monetary assistance for Afghanistan’s government needs and military operations. At the 2014 Wales Summit, Rasmussen said, “Afghanistan still needs international support and NATO stands ready to do its part.” Experts believe that NATO’s separate agreement will likely provide 5,000 troops to augment about 10,000 U.S. Afghanistan forces in 2015.
On October 14, 2014 at AUSA in Washington DC, four-star General Dennis L. Via and the Honorable Heidi Shyu, Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology), spoke that “with the downsizing of U.S. forces, it is clear that a challenge exist between a shrinking budget and a battalion size-force that can be in a constant state of readiness. Further, rotational forces and storing forward equipment at six to seven locations, as well as ships at sea will be the second and third pillars of the Army’s Materiel Command (AMC).” Via stated that he has only three goals; namely, “prevent conflict by having a strong army; shape the military operational environment, and win the battle”.
One wonders when NATO states that it will create radar surveillance and early warning systems along its eastern flank, build a command and control structure in the East (more than likely Ukraine) to be a staging point and the “point of the NATO spear” that Russia would not take notice and respond in kind. When NATO organizes Article 5 military exercises several miles from Russia’s border, would it be surprising that Russia would respond in kind. NATO is planning on permanent bases in countries that have borders with Russia; for example, Finland (820 miles), Latvia (183 miles), Estonia (181 miles), Lithuania (142 miles), and Norway (123 miles). One cannot help remembering the paranoia that the Former Soviet Union (FSU) leaders had when they observed German forward firing bases along its borders with Europe. The United States reacted militarily when the (FSU) moved military capabilities in Cuba. NATO believes that the territories of its European members and the “surrounding areas” such as the Black Sea, Northern Africa, the Baltic Sea, and High North are under its “military security jurisdiction”. With the U.S. paying for the lion-share of the expenses for (NATO), will the national leaders of the 27 alliance countries continue to always “talk the talk, but avoid the walk”.
In September 2014, the Russia Federation announced it would add more than 80 new warships to its Black Sea fleet by 2020. Moscow also intends to complete a second Black Sea naval base near the city of Novorossiysk by 2016. Vice Admiral Aleksandr Vitko said the base at Novorossiysk was necessary due to (NATO) expansions. Vitko had accused (NATO) of planning to build a naval base in the Black Sea. NATO officials have denied the claim. Speaking at an emergency Security Council meeting in late July 2014, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia would respond to (NATO)’s expansion towards its borders. “No matter what our Western counterparts tell us, we can see what’s going on," he said. "As it stands, (NATO) is blatantly building up its forces in Eastern Europe, including the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea areas. Its operational and combat training activities are gaining in scale.” Putin added that (NATO)’s military build-up near Russia’s border is not just a defensive measure, but also an “offensive weapon” and an “element of the US offensive system deployed outside the mainland”.
Military and Political Strategy
On October 2, 2014, Jens Stoltenberg, said “My main message has been, today and for many years, that there is no contradiction between aspiring to a constructive relationship with Russia and, at the same time, being in favor of a strong NATO… We need to see clear changes in Russia's action, a change which demonstrates compliance with international law and with Russia's international obligations and responsibilities.” The softer tone of Stoltenberg may be just the right answer after the harsh tones that Rasmussen set in the 2012 Chicago and the 2014 Wales Summit and his view that Russia was a military and economic adversary to NATO.
However, Stoltenberg on October 28, 2014 sent a hostile and yet conciliatory tone, “… only a strong NATO can build a truly constructive and cooperative relationship with Russia. In the past, we looked at each other with suspicion, relied on deterrence, and talked to each other mainly to avoid dangerous misunderstandings and escalation. And let us face it, we can see echoes of that now. The other alternative is a relationship based on mutual respect, not suspicion. On the rule of law, not the law of the strongest. On common interest, not illusions. And NATO has invested a lot in building such a relationship with Russia ever since the end of the Cold War. NATO continues to aspire to a cooperative relationship with Russia. But to get there, Russia would need to want it, and to take clear steps to make it possible. It is precisely at this time, when our relationship with Russia is the most difficult since the Cold War that we need to have greater transparency and predictability. And to make sure that crises do not spiral out of control. Let me be clear. NATO does not seek confrontation with Russia. And nobody wants a new Cold War, 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall. But we cannot and will not compromise on the principles on which our Alliance and the security of Europe and North America rest…”
Barak Obama’s letter of October 3, 2014 stated, “America will continue to support Ukraine’s efforts to affirm its sovereignty and territorial integrity, and we will provide assistance and the best expertise available to help Ukraine repair its economy and address humanitarian needs. It is up to the Ukrainian people to determine their own destiny. As they work to restore unity, peace, and security to their country and build a more democratic, prosperous, and just state, we will stand by their side.” Further, the President of the U.S. pointed out the agreements that may have been broken. “These actions violate international law, including Russia’s obligations under the United Nations Charter. Russia’s intervention is also inconsistent with the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, in which the United States, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom committed to respect Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty, and existing borders.”
On October 27, 2014, Andrew Kuchins, Director of the Russia & Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), spoke, “the choice between an Eastern (Russian) versus a Western (European) economic orientation for Ukraine is not sustainable. The IMF forecast that Ukraine could contract by 6.5% in 2014…We are looking at 10% drop in 2014 GDP and 20% in 2015. Bankruptcy is imminent. Ukraine will need 300 billion Euros to just get by in 2015…If the U.S., Russia, Ukraine, and the EU do not work together this (economic) problem will not be resolved.”
It could make more sense for the U.S., (NATO), and the EU to diplomatically work with Russia and have good relations. How can that goal be reached when Kiev’s Army is participating in the wholesale shelling of the Russian-speaking civilian populations in the Donbas? The real global threat is Islamist hegemony and its threat against the civilized world. Russia would be a strong ally in that fight to defeat ISIS. Modern Russia should be part of Europe and not be viewed as a cold-war-warrior nation. The Russian Federation is not the Former Soviet Union. Russia worked closely with the West and (NATO) on counter-piracy operations, Afghanistan, Military exchanges, and training exercise, the High North Artic Regions, and Counter-terrorism and Counter-narcotics. Admiral James G. Stavridis, USN (ret) wrote in his book, The Accidental Admiral: A Sailor Takes Command at NATO, “The world needs a stable Russia. It is a nation of extraordinary resilience with an amazing history and a culture with a streak of dark humor that can survive almost anything. Russia’s future lies with the West. We must relegate the Cold War to the dustbin of history and build a true strategic partnership with Russia; the opportunities are many if we do.” Kuchins spoke that “the U.S. should support Ukraine, support diplomatic solutions, and less on sanctions.”
It makes for great media drama that the “Cold War” is back, but it only leads to lack of trade and trust amongst nations. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg concluded his speech on October 28, 2014, “North America and Europe must continue to stand together. To defend our common values. And to keep future generations secure.” Let us hope that (NATO) can be strong in war as well as wise in peace.
NATO and AMERICA – A SUSTAINABLE PARTNERSHIP INTO 2025? ©by Richard T Kusiolek October 19, 2014