Tag Archives: NATO

NATO Launches Its Own Operation in the Middle East, by Peter Korzun

Individual members of NATO have been involved in Syria, and NATO has performed a few support function, but now NATO is getting more heavily involved. From Peter Korzun at strategic-culture.org:

The recent NATO summit took a decision to formally become a member of the US-led coalition fighting the Islamic State (IS), in addition to its training mission in Iraq.

Last year, NATO started a training and capacity-building mission for Iraqi armed forces. In January, it opened a regional center in Kuwait. NATO AWACS aircraft operate in Syria. But the participation in combat actions against the IS has so far been limited to a few aircraft taking part in the operations of the US-led coalition of the willing. Formally, each alliance member contributes to the coalition, but NATO as its own entity does not. Despite the coalition’s efforts, the IS had grown and expanded in Syria till Russia launched its military operation there in 2015.

France and Germany have always had reservations about the prospect of joining the anti-IS coalition as an alliance, concerned that it would lead to NATO taking over the fight or overshadowing regional partners, such as Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Italy has been skeptical of the plan.

Despite all the speeches ringing alarm bells about the deadly threat coming from the IS – the mortal enemy of the West that vowed to fight it till it exists – the bloc’s combat ready forces are deploying…against Russia in the Eastern Europe! As a result, the alliance has seen no need to counter the IS plans to create a caliphate. It stubbornly turns a blind eye on the peril coming from the South.

Migrant flows are flooding the territories of European alliance members, terrorist acts are committed to kill citizens of the NATO member states, US and Turkish military are fighting the extremists on the ground but the bloc largely limits itself to words of condemnation while demonizing Russia – the country which says it does not want to provoke confrontation and calls for a dialogue!

To continue reading: NATO Launches Its Own Operation in the Middle East

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Breakup of the West? by Patrick J. Buchanan

As a general rule, SLL supports secessions, devolutions, and break-ups. It’s hard to see how the US would be any worse off by requiring the Europeans to take more responsibility for their own defense. From Patrick Buchanan at buchanan.org:

By the time Air Force One started down the runaway at Naval Air Station Sigonella in Sicily, to bring President Trump home, the Atlantic had grown markedly wider than it was when he flew to Riyadh.

In a Munich beer hall Sunday, Angela Merkel confirmed it.

Europe must begin to look out for itself, she said, “take our fate into our own hands. … The times in which we could rely fully on others, they are somewhat over.”

Merkel’s apprehensions are understandable. A divorce could be in the cards. During his visit to NATO in Brussels and the G-7 in Sicily, Trump, with both his words and body language, revealed his thinking on who are friends and who are freeloaders.

Long before arriving, Trump had cheered Brexit, the British decision to quit the EU, and shown a preference for nationalist Marine Le Pen in the French election won handily by Emmanuel Macron.

But when it comes to leaders, Trump seems to prefer Deke House to student council types. He has hailed Vladimir Putin as a “strong ruler” and “very smart.” In Riyadh, Trump declared King Salman a “wise man.” He calls China’s Xi Jinping “a great guy,” and welcomed Turkish autocrat Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the Oval Office: “It is a great honor to have you with us.”

When Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who has imprisoned and killed thousands of the Muslim Brotherhood, came to visit, Trump said, “He’s done a fantastic job in a very difficult situation.”

In a phone call, Trump also praised Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who has had narcotics dealers gunned down in the streets, for doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem.”

Trump has even found merit in Kim Jong Un, the 33-year-old dictator of North Korea, describing him as a “a pretty smart cookie.”

And where Trump was photographed by the Russians grinning broadly with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, his confab with Merkel was marked by a seeming reluctance to shake hands.

To continue reading: Breakup of the West?

 

 

Europe May Finally Rethink NATO Costs, by Ray McGovern

Defense, like many other things, is a wonderful thing…until somebody asks you to pay for it. The request usually prompts a certain realism and reassessment. From Ray McGovern at antiwar.com:

By dunning NATO nations to chip more money into the military alliance, President Trump may inadvertently cause some Europeans to rethink the over-the-top anti-Russian propaganda

President Donald Trump’s politically incorrect behavior at the gathering of NATO leaders in Brussels on Thursday could, in its own circuitous way, spotlight an existential threat to the alliance. Yes, that threat is Russia, but not in the customary sense in which Westerners have been taught to fear the Russian bear. It is a Russia too clever to rise to the bait – a Russia patient enough to wait for the Brussels bureaucrats and generals to fall of their own weight, pushed by financial exigencies in many NATO countries.

At that point it will become possible to see through the West’s alarmist propaganda. It will also become more difficult to stoke artificial fears that Russia, for reasons known only to NATO war planners and neoconservative pundits, will attack NATO. As long as Russian hardliners do not push President Vladimir Putin aside, Moscow will continue to reject its assigned role as bête noire.

First a request: Let me ask those of you who believe Russia is planning to invade Europe to put down the New York Times for a minute or two. Take a deep cleansing breath, and try to be open to the possibility that heightened tensions in Europe are, rather, largely a result of the ineluctable expansion of NATO eastward over the quarter-century since the Berlin Wall fell in 1989.

Actually, NATO has doubled in size, despite a U.S. quid-pro-quo promise in early 1990 to Russian leader Mikhail Gorbachev in early 1990 not to expand NATO “one inch” to the east of Germany. The quid required of Russia was acquiescence to a reunited Germany within NATO and withdrawal of the 300,000-plus Russian troops stationed in East Germany.

The US reneged on its quo side of the bargain as the NATO alliance added country after country east of Germany with eyes on even more – while Russia was not strong enough to stop NATO expansion until February 2014 when, as it turned out, NATO’s eyes finally proved too big for its stomach. A U.S.-led coup d’etat overthrew elected President Viktor Yanukovych and installed new, handpicked leaders in Kiev who favored NATO membership. That crossed Russia’s red line; it was determined – and at that point able – to react strongly, and it did.

To continue reading: Europe May Finally Rethink NATO Costs

Trump, Russia, and NATO: Why Tiny Montenegro’s Not Tiny Now, by Ted Snider

Probably 99 percent of Americans can’t find Montenegro on a map, but America’s sons and daughters are now pledged to fight and die for it, if need be. From Ted Snider at antiwar.com:

Donald Trump has just approved Montenegro’s accession into NATO. Montenegro is a tiny nation, and its inclusion doesn’t significantly change the abilities of NATO, but it’s inclusion is huge, and its meaning is significant and clear to Russia.

As the curtain rose on the Donald Trump presidency, the script promised an administration that would warm to Russia and cool to NATO.

The first few scenes did not consistently unfold that way, though. Despite the opening months being crammed with allegations of Russian communications, conspiracies, and cooperations, as recent American actions in Syria have highlighted, the early steps of the new government were, often, hostile to Russia and encouraging to NATO.

Immediately upon assuming the role of Secretary of Defense, General James Mattis called NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to assure him of America’s commitment to “the fundamental and enduring value of NATO for the security of both Europe and North America.” While they were talking, NATO was building up its forces along Russia’s borders as German and Belgian troops moved into Lithuania supposedly to act as a deterrent against Russian incursions. In mid-February, 500 U.S. troops deployed to Romania and another 120 were deployed to Bulgaria as part of the NATO operation known as Atlantic Resolve. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister, Alexi Meshkov, revealed Russia’s interpretation of the NATO buildup when he said, “This deployment is of course a threat for us.”

At the same time, 300 US marines were arriving in Norway 900 miles from the Russian border. Russia criticized the move as having no military benefit beyond antagonizing Russia. When Norway joined NATO as a founding member, they made the commitment not to host any foreign forces because of Russian concerns that Norway could serve as a launching ground for an attack on Russia.

At the end of January, US tanks and armored vehicles that were part of a 3,500 troop contingent fired salvos into the air in Poland. General Ben Hodges, the commander of the US Army in Europe, said, “this is not just a training exercise. It’s to demonstrate a strategic message that you cannot violate the sovereignty of members of NATO … Moscow will get the message — I’m confident of it.”

To continue reading: Trump, Russia, and NATO: Why Tiny Montenegro’s Not Tiny Now

Trump’s Military Budget Is Not NATO’s Fault, by Sheldon Richman

The $54 billion increase in military spending President Trump requested is more than the entire military budget of every nation except Saudi Arabia and China. From Sheldon Richman at antiwar.com:

President Trump’s budget proposal would increase military spending $54 billion, not quite a 10 percent increase over the current level. According to Quartz, the increase alone is more than all but two countries – China and Saudi Arabia – spend on their militaries. (China spends $145 billion, Saudi Arabia $57 billion, Russia $47, and Iran $16 billion, the International Institute for Strategic Studies reports.)

Meanwhile, Trump implies that NATO members take advantage of America by not paying enough for own defense. When German Chancellor Angela Merkel visited Washington recently, Trump tweeted: “Germany owes … vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!”

As we’ve come to expect, Trump gets it wrong. NATO members don’t pay dues to NATO, and they don’t pay the United States for defense. However, NATO requires members to budget at least 2 percent of their GDP for their own militaries. Some members haven’t spent that much, but that has changed in recent years.

Trump leaves the impression that Americans shoulder an unnecessarily large military burden because some NATO members underfund their military establishments. But that’s nonsense because that’s not how things work in Washington. Americans don’t pay more because Germans Italians, Spaniards, Portuguese, and Norwegians pay less.

At other times Trump seems to acknowledge this. In his campaign he never said the U.S. military budget would be smaller if NATO members paid up. Rather, he said he wanted to make America “strong again” – so strong that no one would dare “mess with us.” His budget message said, “In these dangerous times, this public safety and national security Budget Blueprint is a message to the world—a message of American strength, security, and resolve.” His address to a joint session of Congress also did not justify greater military spending by pointing to how little the allies spend. It was all about making America “great again.”

To continue reading: Trump’s Military Budget Is Not NATO’s Fault

McCain and Montenegro: The Anatomy of a Conspiracy Theory, by Justin Raimondo

If John McCain has his way,  the US will be obligated to go to war to protect Montenegro? If you don’t see what vital interest the US has in Montenegro, you’re a Putin stooge. From Justin Raimondo at antiwar.com:

Sure, he’s unhinged – but so is practically everyone else

Just in case you thought the conspiracy theory that Russia secretly controls the US government is exclusively an affliction affecting the Democratic party, Sen. John McCain’s recent performance on the floor of the US Senate should disabuse you of this optimistic notion. Responding to Sen. Rand Paul’s blocking of a vote in favor of the accession of Montenegro to NATO, the failed former GOP presidential candidate let it all hang out:

“I note the senator from Kentucky leaving the floor without justification or any rationale for the action he has just taken. That is really remarkable, that a senator blocking a treaty that is supported by the overwhelming number, perhaps 98 – at least – of his colleagues would come to the floor and object and walk away. The only conclusion you can draw when he walks away is he has no justification for his objection to having a small nation be part of NATO that is under assault from the Russians. So I repeat again, the senator from Kentucky is now working for Vladimir Putin.”

What’s “remarkable” is that this kind of lunacy is tolerated in the US Senate: I recall that Sen. Elizabeth Warren was rebuked – and silenced – by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell because she read a letter from Coretta Scott King that called into question the motives of Jeff Sessions, then a Senator and a candidate for the office of Attorney General. Surely McCain’s outburst was an even more egregious violation of the rules than Warren’s, and yet McCain was allowed to proceed uninterrupted. Perhaps this is an example of “warmonger’s privilege.”

In a later interview, Sen. Paul sought to explain McCain’s behavior as an indication of the Senator from Arizona’s advanced age: perhaps, he suggested, McCain is “past his prime,” and, by the way, “this is a good argument for term limits.” Well, yes, but in the current political atmosphere – where Vladimir Putin has been elevated to the status of a virtually omnipotent force who has the power to change election results and infiltrate the highest reaches of Western governments – it’s no crazier than anything else we’re hearing out of Washington these days.

To continue reading: McCain and Montenegro: The Anatomy of a Conspiracy Theory

Trump the Disruptor, but Justin Raimondo

European powers that be are just as pissed off at Donald Trump as American powers that be. From Justin Raimondo at antiwar.com:

If the New York Times is to be believed – a problematic proposition – then it looks as if Trump Derangement Syndrome has gone international. In a front page article headlined “As Trump Era Dawns, A Sense of Uncertainty Grips the World,” we are told:

“The Germans are angry. The Chinese are downright furious. Leaders of NATO are nervous, while their counterparts at the European Union are alarmed.”

Oh heavens-to-Betsy, whatever shall we do?

So what’s the source of this latest Trumpanic? It’s an interview with Tory mandarin Michael Gove and Kai Diekmann, a former editor of the German newspaper Bild, in which the President-elect reiterates what he’s been saying to the American people for the past year, and on the basis of which he won the election: US foreign policy is going to change, and in a big way.

However, to Times reporter Steve Erlanger, this all comes as a big revelation, evidence that “Trump has again focused his penchant for disruption on the rest of the world.” Oh, the poor babies! Perhaps they need to find a safe space in which to park themselves for the next four-to-eight years.

This being the Times, there’s the requisite Russia-baiting:

“No one knows where exactly he is headed – except that the one country he is not criticizing is Russia and its president, Vladimir V. Putin. For now. And that he is an enthusiastic cheerleader of Brexit and an unaffiliated Britain. For now.”

If this reads like a paragraph torn out of one of the Hillary Clinton campaign’s strategy memos, well then consider the source. And speaking of the source, what exactly did Trump say in this supposedly “disruptive” interview that has the Powers That Be in such a tizzy?

To continue reading: Trump the Disruptor