Author Topic: US Sec Def sends a shot across NATO Bow.  (Read 8558 times)

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Offline FSTO

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US Sec Def sends a shot across NATO Bow.
« on: February 15, 2017, 17:31:57 »
Mattis telling NATO there is a limit to the amount of freeloading going on.

My worry that if Canada heeds the warning and ups our spending we wouldn't know how to do it!
https://blog.usni.org/2017/02/15/secdef-mattis-to-nato-sober-up

Offline jollyjacktar

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Re: US Sec Def sends a shot across NATO Bow.
« Reply #1 on: February 15, 2017, 19:37:15 »
Not so much how to do it, more like do it within the handcuffs, Chasity Belts, Iron Maidens, and other assorted dungeon torture devices of the procurement system we're using that is TB and PSPC.  Believe me, I could spend money very easily if it was that easy to spend it and I'm a small potatoes guy when it comes to systems I take care of when set against the real money pits.
I'm just like the CAF, I seem to have retention issues.

Offline QV

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Re: US Sec Def sends a shot across NATO Bow.
« Reply #2 on: February 15, 2017, 20:04:18 »
Finally.


Offline Chris Pook

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Re: US Sec Def sends a shot across NATO Bow.
« Reply #3 on: February 21, 2017, 13:15:12 »
On the Support of the American Citizenry for NATO and Foreign Intervention. ---- It ain't there.

https://thefederalist.com/2017/02/17/new-poll-finds-dc-touch-americans-foreign-policy/

Quote
Poll Finds DC Is Out Of Touch With Americans On Foreign Policy
FEBRUARY 17, 2017 By Jeremy Lott

The foreign policy consensus in Washington DC is so stubbornly pro-intervention that our most recent president—who dragged the country into several foreign entanglements and whose military dropped 26,171 bombs last year alone—is seen as, at best, a ditherer. The World Politics Review summed up his legacy by saying, “The problem with Obama’s foreign policy has been inaction, not weakness.”

Get outside of DC and the estimation of what we ought to be doing is much different. Americans who are actually stretched to pay for those wars and whose children may be serving in the military are not as gung-ho about going there.

That is my takeaway from the latest Charles Koch Institute/Center for the National Interest poll of American attitudes toward foreign policy. A majority of those surveyed in late January turned out to be deeply skeptical that what America has been doing has been working. It’s hard to argue they don’t have a point.

For instance, when asked if America’s foreign policy since 9/11 has made us more or less safe, a non-dangling-chad majority (51 percent) said “less safe.” Only 11 percent thought we were safer after two costly large-scale wars involving nation-building and countless smaller interventions across the Middle East and Arica.

Intervention Hasn’t Gone So Well

They thought that what was true for America was probably true for the larger world as well. A huge plurality (47 percent) said we had made the world “less safe” versus only a tiny minority (9 percent) who said we’d made things any better.

Our country’s national interest is what ought to drive our foreign policy going forward, a supermajority (69 percent) in the poll believe. They don’t necessarily like the ring of “America first” (only 30 percent signed on to more exclusive language), but they’re not okay with most of the things our country is doing that fall outside of a national interest framework.

Democracy promotion through military power? A plurality of 41 percent thought we should knock it off versus 24 percent who said full speed ahead. Only 11 percent thought the country ought to deploy more troops to Europe, and 27 percent said even our current garrison levels are too high.

We’re Not Getting What We Want

Although they are not typically aware of just how much America is spending on defense, Americans by and large do not want more spending for more wars. Fully 79 percent said that any additional tax dollars that come in should go toward domestic spending, not a military buildup. They think the amount of money we budget for military now is enough for a truly national defense.

In sharp contrast with DC, they’re also not wild about poking Russia or China. Only 12 percent said Russia was America’s greatest security challenge, and only 17 percent said that Russia should mainly be viewed only as a rival. Large numbers thought Russia should be viewed either mainly as a partner (29 percent) or as a realistic mix of partner and rival (35 percent). And only 5 percent signaled that they wanted confrontation with China.

These numbers are not flukes. They’re mostly consistent with two polls the same two groups commissioned in October and December of last year. If they persist, and if American foreign policy under President Trump does not significantly change, we may have a long-term democracy problem on our hands.

What the people want is not what we are getting. Our leaders need to know this, and either change course or tell us in convincing words why they are right and we are wrong.

Jeremy Lott is a senior fellow at Defense Priorities.
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Offline Chris Pook

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Re: US Sec Def sends a shot across NATO Bow.
« Reply #4 on: February 21, 2017, 13:20:16 »
NATO on Trump's (And Mattis's And Pence's) Call for Support and Renewal - Yes.

On the other hand - they have agreed to a lot of stuff in the past.

Quote
Candidate Donald Trump set off a furious controversy when he said NATO countries should pay their "fair share" of mutual defense costs and, later, that the treaty organization was "obsolete" because not enough of its efforts were directed against radical Islamic terrorism.

On Monday, Vice President Mike Pence took the Trump message to NATO headquarters in Brussels. And after all the controversy and complaining, NATO's response could be boiled down to a single sentence: Yes sir, Mr. Trump.

News reports from Pence's news conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg focused on Pence's effort to "reassure" nervous NATO officials that the U.S. will stand behind its treaty commitments. "It is my privilege here at the NATO headquarters to express the strong support of President Trump and the United States of America for NATO and our transatlantic alliance," Pence said. "I can say with confidence, America will do our part."

But at least as newsworthy was what happened next. Pence dropped the hammer of Trump's demands, and NATO quickly went along
 
"Europe's defense requires Europe's commitment as much as ours," Pence said. He reminded the group that in 2014 all 28 members of NATO promised to try to spend two percent of their GDP on defense by 2024. Only four countries, in addition to the U.S., are now meeting that standard. As a candidate, Trump repeatedly called for NATO to pay more, Pence noted.

And now Trump is president. "So let me say again what I said this last weekend in Munich," Pence said "The president of the United States and the American people expect our allies to keep their word and to do more in our common defense, and the president expects real progress by the end of 2017. ... It is time for actions, not words."

Just in case anyone missed the message, Pence encouraged the NATO countries that don't spend two percent on defense to accelerate their plans to get there. "And if you don't have a plan," Pence said, "get one."

To which NATO quickly acceded. "I fully support what has been underlined by President Trump and by Vice President Pence today, the importance of burden sharing," Stoltenberg said. "I expect all allies to make good on the promise that we made in 2014 to increase defense spending and to make sure to have a fairer burden of sharing."

On the issue of terrorism, Stoltenberg said yes again. First, he noted that NATO is helping train security forces in Afghanistan and Iraq and is contributing surveillance planes to the fight against the Islamic State. Then he added what Pence wanted to hear: "But we agree that the alliance can, and should do more, in the fight against terrorism."

It's hard to overstate the near-hysteria that met Trump's "fair share" and "obsolete" comments. But the fact is, burden sharing is an old idea, and a non-controversial one. Modernizing NATO's approach in the age of the Islamic State is also eminently reasonable. And now NATO, facing the reality of a Trump presidency, has little choice but to go along.

The bottom line is that Donald Trump moved the NATO debate. After much fretting, and complaining, and denouncing, NATO did the simplest thing: It went along.

http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/byron-york-nato-to-us-yes-sir-mr.-trump/article/2615336

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Offline Colin P

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Re: US Sec Def sends a shot across NATO Bow.
« Reply #5 on: February 21, 2017, 14:17:54 »
The US can "do it's part" by responding to an invasion of a NATO member, however standing up to the Russian bear and providing deterrence is the duty of the European members. Canada and the US can respond to a impending threat and assist in securing the sea lanes. The initial response and border protection should be European.     

Offline Chris Pook

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Re: US Sec Def sends a shot across NATO Bow.
« Reply #6 on: February 21, 2017, 19:43:11 »
They're not exactly broke, nor are they without material resources.  It isn't 1945 anymore.

Also with respect to the EU: I think an economically cohesive, but politically fragmented entity would suit everybody but the Eurocrats just fine.

Some thoughts on groupings by Corporate Tax Rate

Malta 35%
Belgium 34%
France 33%
Germany 33%
Luxembourg 29%

Greece 29%
Italy 28%
Spain 28%
Austria 25%
Netherlands 25%

The Original 6 plus the client state of Greece and Malta and Spain (culturally akin to Italy) - also the territory that was fought for by the Hapsburg-Valois-Bourbons (Greece excepted)

Norway 22%
Sweden 22%
Denmark 22%
Portugal 21%
Iceland 20%
Finland 20%
Estonia 20%
Latvia 15%
Lithuania 15%

Slovakia 22%
Czech 19%
Poland 19%
Hungary 9%

Slovenia 19%
Romania 16%
Serbia 15%
Albania 15%
Croatia 12%
Bosnia - Herzegovina 10%
Macedonia 10%
Bulgaria 10%
Montenegro 9%

Ukraine 18%
Georgia 15%

Switzerland 16.5%
Liechtenstein 12.5%
Cyprus 12.5%
Ireland 12.5%


And the UK is at 18%, heading for 15% and threatening 10%.

I suggest that each of these groups internally share not just similar outlooks on economics, politics and culture but also geopolitical realities.  Each of the blocks is naturally cohesive but not good fits for a single supra-national government.

The people with the biggest problems are likely to be the Irish - as their 12.5% tax rate doesn't buy them many friends in Brussels and nor does their neutral stance.





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Offline tomahawk6

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Re: US Sec Def sends a shot across NATO Bow.
« Reply #7 on: February 21, 2017, 20:03:40 »
Getting our NATO partners to help finance  their own defense is an old problem that isnt going away. From the US standpoint having an alliance meant the US wasnt alone.The US was willing to pay the freight so to speak.The reliability of the alliance partners has always been a key question mark for me. A number of our NATO partners have done yeomans work in Afghanistan. Unfortunately ISIS has duped Europe into taking in millions of muslims which undermine the very security of the host nations.Their are unable at least to this point to send the migrants packing.It will happen but I hope it happens before they are undone.

Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: US Sec Def sends a shot across NATO Bow.
« Reply #8 on: February 21, 2017, 21:19:43 »
Getting our NATO partners to help finance  their own defense is an old problem that isnt going away. From the US standpoint having an alliance meant the US wasnt alone.The US was willing to pay the freight so to speak.The reliability of the alliance partners has always been a key question mark for me. A number of our NATO partners have done yeomans work in Afghanistan. Unfortunately ISIS has duped Europe into taking in millions of muslims which undermine the very security of the host nations.Their are unable at least to this point to send the migrants packing.It will happen but I hope it happens before they are undone.

On the upside, they seem to be abandoning conscription, which was pretty much a guarantee that the UK, USA and Canada would have been left at the FEBA looking around and wondering where all their 'allies' went if the balloon went up for real.
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline Rifleman62

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Re: US Sec Def sends a shot across NATO Bow.
« Reply #9 on: February 21, 2017, 21:26:59 »
The important part of the Vice President's remarks should be highlighted. Are you listening Gerald Butts, I mean PM Trudeau?

Quote
“Europe’s defense requires Europe’s commitment as much as ours,” Pence said. He reminded the group that in 2014 all 28 members of NATO promised to try to spend two percent of their GDP on defense by 2024. Only four countries, in addition to the U.S., are now meeting that standard. As a candidate, Trump repeatedly called for NATO to pay more, Pence noted.

And now Trump is president. “So let me say again what I said this last weekend in Munich,” Pence said “The president of the United States and the American people expect our allies to keep their word and to do more in our common defense, and the president expects real progress by the end of 2017. … It is time for actions, not words.”

Quote
Just in case anyone missed the message, Pence encouraged the NATO countries that don’t spend two percent on defense to accelerate their plans to get there. “And if you don’t have a plan,” Pence said, “get one.”
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Offline Old Sweat

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Re: US Sec Def sends a shot across NATO Bow.
« Reply #10 on: February 21, 2017, 21:47:48 »
The important part of the Vice President's remarks should be highlighted. Are you listening Gerald Butts, I mean PM Trudeau?

I just commented to a friend who is studying the planning for Desert Storm as part of his master's program that the Americans have difficulty understanding that coalition negotiation is more than standing up and delivering an ultimatum of the "my way or the highway" genre in a loud voice.

Offline Rifleman62

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Re: US Sec Def sends a shot across NATO Bow.
« Reply #11 on: February 21, 2017, 22:27:41 »
It is not the US ultimatum "my way or the highway", it is an NATO agreement, signed by all partners, announced by the US VPres/Secretary of Defence in a loud voice.

Canada also has NORAD to be concerned about getting a plan. Purchased 60-80 F-35's should bring our expenditures up.
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Offline jmt18325

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Re: US Sec Def sends a shot across NATO Bow.
« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2017, 22:32:44 »
It is not the US ultimatum "my way or the highway", it is an NATO agreement, signed by all partners, announced by the US VPres/Secretary of Defence in a loud voice.

It's a guideline.  Nothing more.

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Re: US Sec Def sends a shot across NATO Bow.
« Reply #13 on: February 21, 2017, 22:41:09 »
Agreement is a mutual understanding. A guideline is a statement to determine a course of action. In this case I believe it was signed by all the country representatives of NATO. Thus this guideline, if that's what you call it, having been signed by all, was an agreement.
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Offline jeffb

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Re: US Sec Def sends a shot across NATO Bow.
« Reply #14 on: February 21, 2017, 22:56:58 »
I just commented to a friend who is studying the planning for Desert Storm as part of his master's program that the Americans have difficulty understanding that coalition negotiation is more than standing up and delivering an ultimatum of the "my way or the highway" genre in a loud voice.

Loudership is a recognized method of leadership is it not?
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Offline Journeyman

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Re: US Sec Def sends a shot across NATO Bow.
« Reply #15 on: February 21, 2017, 22:59:19 »
First off, it was a "pledge," hence merely a guideline.  The agreement does state that:
Quote
Allies whose current proportion of GDP spent on defence is below this level [2% GDP] will:
- halt any decline in defence expenditure;
- aim to increase defence expenditure in real terms as GDP grows;
- aim to move towards the 2% guideline within a decade with a view to meeting their NATO Capability Targets and filling NATO’s capability shortfalls. 1

Tossing about the term "2% GDP" is meaningless without considering "NATO Capability Targets and filling NATO’s capability shortfalls."

The other point is, the agreement stipulated "within a decade," ie - 2024 is the agreed timeline, not Trump's tweets.


I do not envy HR McMaster or James Mattis.   :salute:



ps - there's not a hope in hell that all 28 NATO nations will ever  reach 2% GDP defence spending. Ever. Regardless of the bombast.


1.  North Atlantic Treaty Organization, “Wales Summit Declaration,” press release, September 5, 2014, www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/official_texts_112964.htm.

Offline daftandbarmy

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Re: US Sec Def sends a shot across NATO Bow.
« Reply #16 on: February 21, 2017, 23:12:42 »
First off, it was a "pledge," hence merely a guideline.  The agreement does state that:
Tossing about the term "2% GDP" is meaningless without considering "NATO Capability Targets and filling NATO’s capability shortfalls."

The other point is, the agreement stipulated "within a decade," ie - 2024 is the agreed timeline, not Trump's tweets.


I do not envy HR McMaster or James Mattis.   :salute:



ps - there's not a hope in hell that all 28 NATO nations will ever  reach 2% GDP defence spending. Ever. Regardless of the bombast.


1.  North Atlantic Treaty Organization, “Wales Summit Declaration,” press release, September 5, 2014, www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/official_texts_112964.htm.

NATO countries could spend 50% of GDP on their defence and still fail to prevent the invasion of, oh I don't know, the Crimea etc, because of rotten leadership and poor diplomacy.
"The most important qualification of a soldier is fortitude under fatigue and privation. Courage is only second; hardship, poverty and want are the best school for a soldier." Napoleon

Offline Colin P

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Re: US Sec Def sends a shot across NATO Bow.
« Reply #17 on: February 22, 2017, 15:48:55 »
It's a guideline.  Nothing more.

For a lot of things in life, the guideline is what keeps you from breaking the law, in example guidelines to avoid destruction of fish habitat, if you don't follow the guideline chances are you get charged.

In this case if you don't meet the 2% without a good excuse, there will be political consequences.

Offline jmt18325

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Re: US Sec Def sends a shot across NATO Bow.
« Reply #18 on: February 22, 2017, 18:57:41 »
In this case if you don't meet the 2% without a good excuse, there will be political consequences.

Almost no one is meeting it.  What are the consequences?

Offline tomahawk6

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Re: US Sec Def sends a shot across NATO Bow.
« Reply #19 on: February 22, 2017, 19:29:20 »
Almost no one is meeting it.  What are the consequences?

The consequence wont be known until the Russians head west. Or until the mullah's figure out a way to instigate their fifth column to attemp to seize control of the EU state by state. AS this would be an internal matter is NATO still obliged to come to the defense of a member facing cicil war ?

Offline jmt18325

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Re: US Sec Def sends a shot across NATO Bow.
« Reply #20 on: February 22, 2017, 19:31:04 »
The consequence wont be known until the Russians head west. Or until the mullah's figure out a way to instigate their fifth column to attemp to seize control of the EU state by state. AS this would be an internal matter is NATO still obliged to come to the defense of a member facing cicil war ?

That's a separate matter.  What are the political repercussions from one member to another that doesn't spend the 2%?

Offline Chris Pook

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Re: US Sec Def sends a shot across NATO Bow.
« Reply #21 on: February 22, 2017, 21:05:35 »
That's a separate matter.  What are the political repercussions from one member to another that doesn't spend the 2%?

As T6 says - you won't know until the day the Russians, or the Germans, head west.  And then you will have to wait and see who shows up for the party and who discovers they have a prior engagement.

You don't come to my wedding, I don't come to your funeral.
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Offline jmt18325

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Re: US Sec Def sends a shot across NATO Bow.
« Reply #22 on: February 22, 2017, 22:49:34 »
As T6 says - you won't know until the day the Russians, or the Germans, head west.  And then you will have to wait and see who shows up for the party and who discovers they have a prior engagement.

You don't come to my wedding, I don't come to your funeral.

But what if I came to your wedding but didn't bring an expensive gift?  Don't you at least owe me some cheap flowers?

Offline Chris Pook

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Re: US Sec Def sends a shot across NATO Bow.
« Reply #23 on: February 22, 2017, 23:47:09 »
But what if I came to your wedding but didn't bring an expensive gift?  Don't you at least owe me some cheap flowers?

You'll have to wait and see, won't you?

Meanwhile - this article, in my opinion, pretty much sums up the Euro situation.

Quote
NATO, the Middle East, and Eastern Europe
By George Friedman
February 22, 2017


Over the past week, American officials have attended meetings of NATO and the Munich Security Conference. The topic has been the future of NATO, with the United States demanding once more that the Europeans carry out their obligation to maintain effective military forces in order to participate in the NATO military alliance. At the same time, many European countries raised the question of whether the United States is committed to NATO. The Europeans are charging that that Americans may have military force but lack political commitment to Europe. The Americans are charging that the Europeans may be politically committed to NATO but lack the military force to give meaning to their commitment.

The real issue is that NATO has achieved its original mission, and no agreement exists on what its mission is now. NATO’s original mission was to block a Soviet invasion of Western Europe. That was achieved in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed. Having achieved the mission, NATO could have dissolved, but the problem with multinational institutions is that they take on a life of their own, independent of the reason they were created. Disbanding NATO because it had achieved its goal was never an option. So it continued to exist, holding conferences, maintaining planning staff and acting as if there was political agreement on what it was supposed to do.

As the Soviet Union was collapsing, Iraq invaded Kuwait and the United States, as the only global power, created a coalition going far beyond NATO to repel the invasion. There was great satisfaction at the outcome, without a realization that the Iraqi invasion was not a stand-alone event but the beginning of a massive restructuring of the Middle East that would include vast instability and terrorist attacks on the U.S. and Europe. From 1945 until 1991, the fundamental global issue was the status of Europe in the wake of World War II. From 1991 until today, the fundamental issue for Europe and the United States has been the status of the Islamic world in the wake of the end of the Cold War, which had the effect of imposing a kind of stability in the region.

NATO was created to address post-World War II Europe. That is no longer the pivotal issue. NATO was not built to deal with what came after its success. There is consensus that chaos in the Islamic world is undesirable, but no consensus on three other points. First, there is no agreement that NATO as an institution has an obligation to take collective military action to pacify the region. Second, there is no consensus over what pacification would look like. Third, there is no consensus that a coordinated and collective effort to prevent terrorist attacks on NATO countries should be undertaken.

NATO’s institutions were created with a crisply defined mission, an understanding of the consequences of failure and, therefore, an allocation of military resources appropriate to the mission and to member states’ resources. There is no such agreement on the current conflict and, therefore, NATO does not have a unifying mission. The Cold War was seen as an existential threat to Europe. The Islamic conflict is seen in different ways by different countries at different times. No military strategy can exist based on this political base of sand. Therefore, interests within NATO diverge, particularly between the United States and many European countries. The U.S. has fought a war for 15 years in the Muslim world designed to contain those forces the U.S. perceived as a danger to its security and interests. Some European countries, such as the United Kingdom, have joined this war with major resources. Some have given what I can only call symbolic gestures, considering the resources they could have devoted. Others have been deeply skeptical and critical of U.S. strategy.

Therefore, these countries cannot fully agree on the strategic problem NATO faces and, as a result, can’t adopt a unified strategy. NATO members’ view of the world and willingness to act decisively varies widely. Therefore, the reasonable question is what is the point of NATO? The general feeling is that while the U.S.’ 15-year war did not compel Europe to act as a matter of collective security, other interests bind members together.

The problem is defining what other issues require an organization such as NATO, and whether, having defined the issue, the Europeans are prepared to devote the resources required to carry out the mission. It is vital to constantly point out that NATO is not a political framework where discussions take place but a military alliance that rests on military goals and resources. It is about soldiers and sailors, and if the issues being faced do not involve these, then NATO has no use. Some other sort of institution may be required to address these issues instead.

NATO is an alliance of habit. We used to need NATO and, therefore, surely we still need NATO. It is also an alliance of convenience. Rather than being committed to the military management of current problems, which is its mission, it has become selective in its engagements. The difference between NATO prior to 1991 and now is simple. Prior to 1991, it had a clear purpose and all members were committed to that purpose. It no longer has a clear purpose, and when some members, such as the United States, become involved in wars, participation is elective. To be more precise, participation can be broad but militarily insignificant. Europe’s military force is rationally shaped to the risk it is prepared to take and not to the requirements of the conflict at hand. Participation in conflict is not automatic but optional. Therefore, NATO is no longer an alliance, as an alliance requires mutual interests and support. NATO members have no mutual interest.

In trying to find a reason for NATO to continue operating, the obvious solution is to once again address NATO’s founding mission: deterring Russia. From 1991 until 2008 and the war in Georgia, NATO’s assumption about Russia was that it was the crippled remnant of the Soviet Union, incapable of posing a military hazard and interested primarily in evolving into a variety of liberal democracy with a vibrant economy linked to Europe. It seemed a reasonable assumption, but it was defective. The Russians increasingly saw European and American help as undermining Russia’s economic viability, and saw NATO expansion as designed to strangle Russia. Ukraine’s Orange Revolution in 2004 was the breaking point, along with the admission of the Baltic states into NATO. The Russians saw the latter as a violation of the West’s pledge not to expand NATO into the former Soviet Union, and the former as a desire to build anti-Russian regimes in areas of vital interest to the Russians.

Whatever the subjective intentions of the two sides, NATO’s perception was that Russia was crippled and did not have to be taken into account in planning actions. Russia’s perception was that NATO continued to fear Russia and would not be content until it did become crippled. That evolved into the current issue over Ukraine’s future, as the Russians seem to be modernizing their military force in anticipation of further pressure from the West. The West faces a Russia apparently returning to the patterns that made NATO necessary in the first place.

This issue is particularly important in what used to be called (and should be called again) Eastern Europe. Central Europe contains countries like Germany and Austria, and the dynamics of Eastern Europe are wildly different than those of Central Europe. Eastern Europe finds itself caught between two forces. One is the European Union, still functional but increasingly fragmented and unable to act in concert. The second force is Russia. It is increasingly insecure and seeks to stabilize its western frontier, which means the Baltics, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria are feeling the winds of a rising Russia.

From these countries’ standpoint, the EU’s fragmentation is replicated in NATO. Except for the presence of the United States and Canada, the two organizations are very similar. Eastern European countries are aware that except for the United States, NATO lacks the will and the force to create a major blocking power. A few battalions are shuffled around but nothing that would actually have military significance if the Russians were able to mount an attack.

Russia is posturing as a great power, but its internal economic problems are enormous. Much of its military force is a shadow of what it was under the Soviets, and its modernization program depends on finances, which are strained to near breaking point with declining oil prices. Still, Russia’s military force is greater than Eastern Europe’s, and NATO’s ability (excluding the United States) to deploy militarily decisive forces is limited. This region, which is part of NATO, may be able to count on some countries in the alliance, but cannot count on NATO itself because it lacks effective military force.

It is also a region in which the Russians loom larger than they are. This follows from 45 years of occupation by the Russians. The region’s vision of Russia still conjures hazy memories of Soviet armored guard divisions and a KGB that could hear the grass grow. The guard divisions are badly in need of repair and trained and motivated troops, and the FSB can shape individual politicians but cannot shape global events without their efforts blowing up in their face.

In fact, Eastern Europe, with some help from the rest of Europe and the United States, is quite capable not only of defending itself militarily against the current Russian reality, but also of protecting itself politically against Russian influence. If Eastern European countries were to work together, they would be a formidable force. But the Slovaks and Hungarians have little trust in NATO, and the Poles and the Hungarians are under constant attack from the EU because their people elected governments the EU disapproves of.

NATO’s original mission was to contain Russia. But in this case, countries like Germany do not carry the primary burden. That burden falls on Eastern Europe. But the minimal support needed to secure the region – a few first-rate divisions and air wings – is not available. The U.S. is recovering and perhaps preparing for another round of conflict in the Middle East, and the rest of Europe lacks the minimal capabilities needed for extended deployment a few hundred miles from home. Therefore, NATO’s core strategy cannot be implemented. Something that is well within the brief of NATO, and ought to be well within the ability of countries like German, is undoable. NATO solidarity on protecting Eastern Europe isn’t nearly as strong as it could be, and all the commitment in the world will not create anti-tank capabilities designed to make an unlikely Russian attack scenario impossible.

From a strategic point of view and regardless of internal politics, Poland and Hungary, as examples, are indispensable for deterring the Russians. While NATO’s brief includes this deterrence, the EU retains the right to lecture and condemn both countries even in the face of the political disorder in the rest of Europe. In other words, Eastern European countries have one relationship with NATO and another relationship with the EU. So at a NATO meeting the Germans speak one way, and at an EU meeting they speak another way. And the coalition that would protect Germany from far-fetched events (in a time when the farfetched has become routine) can’t take form.

The United States is a key member of NATO, and the U.S. is trying to figure out NATO’s usefulness. The answer is far from clear. In the one area where NATO can be helpful and can act within its mission, European members’ behavior is both contradictory and primarily theoretical. They simply have not built a military for a mission even clearly within NATO’s purview. To the extent the Russians have the ability to increase their influence on their western frontier, their European adversaries are inadvertently providing the opening.

In the end, there is no NATO problem. There is a European problem. A European consensus on defense does not exist any more than a consensus on economics does. Being in an alliance so unstable that a region the alliance must protect is under attack by the EU is too complicated for the simple and unsophisticated Americans. The sophisticated Europeans in the end are proving too much for the United States. U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis has laid down the price members must pay for NATO protection. The Europeans will assume it is just talk and continue as they were. Having opted out of collective responsibility in the Middle East, the Europeans are also opting out of collective responsibility in Europe. U.S. action in Europe will take place as needed, but it will not be constrained by the votes of those not incurring some of the risk. This is not an opinion on my part, but simply a rational analysis by the U.S. Why submit to an organization that cannot share the risk?

http://www.realclearworld.com/articles/2017/02/22/nato_the_middle_east_and_eastern_europe.html
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Offline Colin P

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Re: US Sec Def sends a shot across NATO Bow.
« Reply #24 on: February 23, 2017, 10:20:35 »
That's a separate matter.  What are the political repercussions from one member to another that doesn't spend the 2%?

Loss of contracts, lack of support on political issues both domestic and international. Countries like Canada build credits by supporting missions with our C17/C130J fleet, that pays dividends at other tables. What the US is saying; step up or find that your not invited to various tables, your companies not invited to bid, trade negotiations suddenly become harder and even potential tariffs.