Welcome to NATOstan

Discussion in 'International Politics' started by ajtr, Nov 20, 2010.

  1. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Welcome to NATOstan

    By Pepe Escobar

    Be afraid. Be very afraid. At the Lisbon summit this Friday and Saturday, a gargantuan, innocuously sounding, self-described "military alliance of democratic states in Europe and North America" that happens to be a Cold War relic sits in its own nuclear-adorned couch to speculate what it is actually all about.

    In this otherwise Freudian scenario, the guest of honor is United States President Barack Obama, who imperially presides over the other 27 North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies, all duly acknowledging their tributary vows and commitments on everything from European-wide missile defense (subjected to the US global missile shield) and permanent stationing of hundreds of US nuclear bombs in Europe to the turbo-charging of cyber



    warfare (subjected to the Pentagon's new Cyber Command), a blitzkrieg of navy patrol stunts on the globe's strategic sea lanes, and the spread of military bases guarding strategic nodes of Pipelineistan.

    In short: the menu in Lisbon is a Pentagon steak with bearnaise sauce. Indigestion guaranteed - and no money (as in overvalued euros) back.

    Less is more is not our thing
    In Lisbon, NATO is endorsing a new "Strategic Concept" - a sort of letter of intentions reviewed every decade. This is the first one since 1999 - and consequently the blueprint for the early 21st century. NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen has been spinning it as "more effective" (as in improved missile defense and cyber defense); "more engaged" (as in swarming with global "partners'); and "more efficient (as in firing 4,000 people from their command structure).

    Here - complete with made in China piped bird singing - [1] one may see how NATO loves to bathe itself in a "hills are alive with the sound of music" atmosphere. And here, one sees what "Strategic Concept" seems to be about. [2]

    Add the Rasmussen rant, and one finally finds what's been lost in translation: NATO is now effectively being christened as the ultimate Transformer global Robocop, consigning the helpless UN to a New York sand box.

    NATO has left Western Europe a long time ago; too small, too provincial. It's already in Central and South Asia as well as Northeast Africa, interlinked with the Pentagon's AFRICOM (only five countries - Eritrea, Libya, Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, Sudan and Zimbabwe - are not Pentagon-related). Way beyond the Afghan killing fields, NATO is fast becoming a huge "forward operating base" for policing the Middle East, Africa, Asia and even the South Atlantic, where the Pentagon reactivated the Fourth Fleet; as much as the 2009 military coup in Honduras worked and the 2010 in Ecuador didn't, Brazilians are very much aware of the Pentagon and NATO's designs in Central and South America, and will definitely put up a fight.

    Spoiler alert: Americans not anesthetized enough by the current porno-scanner/federal pat-down theater of the absurd taking place at their airports, and impoverished, crisis-hit Europeans won't fail to notice that "more effective, more engaged and more efficient" NATO is spectacularly losing a war in Central Asia as we speak.

    Gucci in da house
    Anyway, soon Europe may be wildly celebrating a continent-wide missile dome able to protect everyone from Ibiza to Innsbruck and Munich to Monte Carlo from those evil (non-existent) Iranian missiles, as well as from those existent, zany but effective Taepodong-2 from Pyongyang. Call it the Gucci Star Wars.

    The Gucci shield will be duly joined by the Dior bombshells - as in the US-owned 200 to 350 nuclear weapons sleeping in NATO bases in Belgium, Holland, Germany, Italy and Turkey (plus the 300 nuclear bombs owned by France and the 225 by Britain). Crucially it is these five "bomb resident" countries that would launch the US babies in any eventuality, something that makes a mockery of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to which, by the way, Iran has subscribed. The bottom line: NATO may hold a portfolio of as many as 900 nuclear weapons in Europe. It's like comparing Real Madrid or Bayern Munich with a North Korea third division team.

    Last month, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton did not allow any ruffles in her Hermes scarf, forcefully stating, "NATO must remain a nuclear alliance as long as nuclear weapons exist." And Rasmussen hit the home run, adding, "the anti-missile defense system is a complement to nuclear deterrence, and not a substitute."

    Is anybody complaining about all this nuclear paranoia? Not really. Rasmussen is right when he spins about NATO's "partners"; it's virtually everyone and his neighbor (75 nations, almost 40% of the UN), from the Central Asian "stans" in the Partnership for Peace to the Middle Easterners in the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative; from the "contact countries" in East Asia/South Pacific to the Troop Contributing Nations for International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (that includes Mongolia and Tonga). Not to mention the all-important NATO-Russia Council (Russian President Dmitry Medvedev is the first Russian leader to actually go to a NATO summit). Needless to say, all these "partners" have also gone to Lisbon.

    Turkey shoot, anyone?
    Even though its raison d'etre was to defend Western Europe from the Soviet Union, it's useless to expect NATO at the Lisbon summit to clarify what the hell it is actually accomplishing in Central Asia/ Afghanistan (see Have (infinite) war, will travel, Asia Times Online, November 18, 2010). It's safer to attribute to the realm of a Tom & Jerry cartoon the fact that NATO is more terrified of some ragtag Taliban than it was of the Red Army.

    Anyway, what matters is the infinity of it all. Not only US Defense Secretary Robert Gates and General David Petraeus, the coalition military commander in Afghanistan, are lobbying for Infinite War. British Defense Chief General Sir David Richards has just told the Daily Mail, "NATO now needs to plan for a 30- or 40-year role to help the Afghan armed forces hold their country against the militants." Talk about Enduring Freedom.

    Yet Afghanistan, that infinite quagmire, is just an appetizer. NATO is being cannily sold to world public opinion as being entitled to raise hell anywhere it pleases - leaving the UN Security Council, expanded or not, in the dust. Precedents exist - as in the illegal, failed narco-mafia state Kosovo, not by accident extensively dubbed NATOstan.

    A convincing argument can be made that everywhere the Pentagon/NATO "intervened" - from the Balkans to Afghanistan to Iraq - the mess has reached Gotterdammerung proportions. Who cares? The Pentagon has planted Camp Bondsteel - its largest base in Europe - in Kosovo; and it has also planted precious mega-nuggets in the Empire of Bases in both Afghanistan and Iraq.

    The "spoilers" in the Pentagon/NATO's Brave New World blockbuster are undoubtedly Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and Myanmar. None of them will be easily intimidated. Russian leadership is too wily to be easily co-opted - although Pentagon/NATO encroachment in the form of missile defense bases along the entire length of Russia's borders is relentless.

    NATO claims that it welcomes its "partnership" with Russia. But now there's a new element in the game to force - or not - Russia to play the missile defense ball (after all the decision to go all out has already been made.) Let's call it the Turkey shoot.

    The Pentagon/NATO ploy of building a multi-layered missile defense system to "protect Europe" from those non-existent Iranian nuclear-armed missiles would be a dim-witted prank if it had not already attracted the attention of the usual Eastern Europe suspects - Poland, the Czech Republic, Bulgaria and Romania. Turkey is a much more complicated case.

    According to Turkish press reports, Ankara will only accept a missile defense system if the system is NATO's, not American; if the system is deployed in all 27 NATO countries; and if NATO does not place Turkey in the unenviable position of frontline state just as it was during the Cold War against the Soviet Union.

    But part three of this equation is exactly what the Pentagon has in mind - especially now that the axis Ankara-Tehran-Damascus is a reality, not to mention the developing entente cordiale between Ankara and Moscow. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu anyway has made it clear, "We do not want a Cold War zone or psychology around us."

    But Cold War remix it is, and Turkey runs the risk of being just a paw in their game. Profiting from NATO's new Strategic Concept, the ultimate goal of the US global missile dome - complete with cyber warfare and Prompt Global Strike - is to encircle the heart of Eurasia and isolate, who else, Russia, Iran and China. War is peace. Welcome to the pleasure dome. Welcome to NATOstan.
     
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  3. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Have (infinite) war, will travel

    By Pepe Escobar

    Anyone aware enough to think that Washington's goal is not to "win" the unwinnable AfPak quagmire but to keep playing its bloody infinite war game forever is now eligible for a personal stimulus package (in gold).

    Let's review the recent evidence. All of a sudden, the White House, the Pentagon and the United States House of Representatives have all embarked on a new narrative: forget major US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2011; let's move the goalpost to 2014.

    Then wily Afghan President Hamid Karzai tells the Washington Post he does not want all these US troops roaming around "his" country no more, adding please, stop killing my people with special-forces night ops - a euphemism for Pentagon terrorism.

    General David “I'm always positioning myself for 2012” Petraeus is "astonished". How could he not be? After all, Karzai wanted to give the boot to private contractors - undisputed AfPak champions of false-flag black ops - then he gave up, as he might give up again on the night raids. As for Petraeus, he only wants the best of both worlds; kick up the hell-raising, as in drone hits and night ops (who cares about collateral damage?) and sit back and talk with the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence-created Taliban.

    Incidentally, Petraeus' counter-insurgency myth has been buried in the plains south of the Hindu Kush (not that many in the US noted). The counter-insurgency (COIN) myth implies that Washington, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and what passes for "Afghan security forces" could "take, clear, hold and build" areas previously controlled by the Taliban. They could not accomplish any of this even in Marjah, insistently sold by the Pentagon and compliant corporate media as a success, not to mention much bigger Kandahar.

    Former US secretary of state Colin Powell has just weighed in on CNN, admitting the US won't be "pulling out 100,000 troops. I don't know how many troops we'll pull out." Powell also said that "inside the national security team", the whole thing is "conditions-based". Thus "conditions" may be bent to suit any narrative. Sharp noses may immediately detect a whiff of Vietnam, and Powell had to insist that Afghanistan is not that country. Well, whether Karzai is increasingly becoming the new Ngo Dinh Diem is beside the point; his assassination would not solve anything anyway.

    And all this while a 71-page Council on Foreign Relations report written by 25 "experts" gets a lot of traction in Washington. The report finds that the war costs a fortune, may not serve US interests and it's not "clear that the effort will succeed". Do people get paid to conclude this? The report also meekly suggests that depending on President Barack Obama's December strategic AfPak review, the US "should move quickly to recalculate its military presence in Afghanistan". It won't.

    Let's try following the money. The AfPak war costs roughly US $7 billion a month - money that Washington needs to borrow from Beijing. Afghanistan in itself costs $65 billion a year - not counting NATO and humanitarian aid. Afghanistan's gross domestic product is only $22 billion. So Washington is spending three times the wealth of a whole country just to occupy it. Money for nothing. Properly invested, by this time Afghanistan would be the new Singapore.

    AfPak costs nearly $100 billion a year. Surrealist as it may seem, polls indicate that for most Americans the US federal budget deficit is not a priority. No wonder no election candidates on November 2 emitted a peep about the ridiculously expensive quagmire.

    Let's face it. Whoever is writing this screenplay deserves an Oscar.

    All you need is NATO
    According to the official narrative, technically NATO only left its (cavernous) building in Europe for Afghanistan under the organization's Article 5 (emphasizing collective defense) to help Washington fight George W Bush's "war on terror" against al-Qaeda. Yet even somnolent diplomats in Brussels know that Osama bin Laden and his deputy Ayman al-Zawahiri crossed from eastern Afghanistan to Pakistan in early December 2001, and disappeared into a black void.

    This would never prevent NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen - ahead of the NATO summit this weekend in Lisbon - stressing that the war, well, goes on forever, as in "there is no alternative to continuing military operations". NATO's council secretary Edmund Whiteside didn't mince his words, "Afghanistan will be a very long military venture." And German Brigadier General Josef Blotz insists: "No timetable has been set for withdrawal of coalition troops."


    The "strategy" of the 152,000-soldier, 50-nation, NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan ranks as a thesis on Monty Python geopolitics; to pledge a tsunami of euros for Karzai's shenanigans while forcing member countries to unleash ever more troops into the Taliban meat grinder - even though public opinion all across Europe says out loud "we can't take this anymore".

    At least the commander of British forces in southern Afghanistan, Major General Nick Carter, was sensible enough to stress that NATO would only know if it was "winning" by June 2011, "when the fighting season begins again" and everyone can "compare Taliban attacks with this year". Wait for another eight months and pray for 2014; that's the "strategy". Talk about on-the-ground intelligence.

    NATO is absolutely useless at infiltrating the historic Taliban - also known as the Quetta shura, based in Balochistan (they cannot even point a drone to where Mullah Omar is). NATO cannot infiltrate the Haqqani network in North Waziristan. And NATO cannot infiltrate the Hezb-i-Islami network, controlled by former prime minister and bomber of Kabul (in the mid-1990s) Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, based in and around the strategic Khyber Pass.

    The Pakistani ISI will always align with the Taliban under any circumstances - because this is Islamabad's way of protecting its "strategic depth" against India. The ISI will always insist on having the Taliban at the same table with Washington, otherwise any semblance of "talks" will be dead on arrival.

    Islamabad's dream scenario is the Taliban, the Haqqanis and Hezb-i-Islami controlling southern and eastern Afghanistan. That would also be instrumental in preventing another one of Islamabad's primal fears - that disgruntled Pashtuns will unite and go all out to form an across-the-artificial-border Pashtunistan.

    The key to all this mess is not Obama, Karzai, the Pentagon or NATO. It's which way General Ashfaq Parvez Kiani, number 29 on Forbes' list of the most powerful people in the world, will see the wind blowing. As much as during the Bush "war on terror" years, when Islamabad was ruled from Washington, during the Obama AfPak years the White House is a hostage of Islamabad.

    But for the Pentagon/NATO axis, Pakistan is just a drop in the ocean. Next Friday and Saturday, at the Lisbon summit, the world will be presented with a NATO-goes-global narrative. Team Pentagon/NATO will be convinced to abandon its privileged outpost of infinite war - Afghanistan - over its dead nuclear bombs. After all, Washington/Brussels has implanted a precious foothold in the heart of Eurasia - arguably for life.

    The Lisbon summit, moreover, will see NATO formally adopting a new strategic concept - which essentially means keeping its nuclear arsenal in perpetuity, including US nuclear bombs stationed in Europe. You know, those nuclear bombs that Iran does not have (but Pakistan and India, not to mention Israel, do). Paraphrasing the great Burt Bacharach, what the world needs now, is NATO sweet NATO.
     
  4. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Morning Brief: Afghanistan and missile defense on the table at NATO summit


    Top news: President Barack Obama will arrive in Lisbon today for a NATO conference at which he will face tough questions over the U.S. exit strategy for Afghanistan and economic policies and the alliance will attempt to define a new role for itself.

    NATO leaders are expected to endorse a plan to being the handover of security responsibility for some areas of Afghanistan to local forces next year and end the alliance's combat role by 2014. NATO officials also say they expect unanimous support for a new expanded missile defense system in Europe. The alliance will not single out any specific target for the shield, as alliance member Turkey objects to its ally Iran being named a hostile country.

    NATO will also adopt a new strategic concept at the meeting aimed at defining the alliance's future role. The document will likely warn member nations against further deep cuts in defense spending, as most European nations are not currently meeting the NATO requirement of 2 percent of GDP spent on defense.

    The trip is also a chance for Obama to do some fence-mending with European allies. European leaders were insulted by the administration's decision to cancel a U.S.-E.U. summit earlier this year, and the president is likely to assure them at a brief summit on Saturday that he is not neglecting the continent as his administration prioritized relations with Asia. Obama will likely also defend the U.S. preference for stimulus spending at a time when many European governments are enacting austerity programs.
     
  5. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    It's more about the suffix '-stan' (Sanskrit -स्तान), which literally means a place or a region. that has been a matter of worry for many a commentators in recent times. One commentator mentioned this:

    The question is, are we considering only the NATO member countries? To be honest, they are almost everywhere, hence most of the globe, is indeed NATOstan!
     
  6. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    NATO on course for new strategic concept

    The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato), the transatlantic military alliance synonymous with the Cold War, is in search of a facelift. A two-day Nato Summit being held in the Portuguese capital Lisbon on November 19 and 20, is aimed at setting the organisation upon a new path at a time when the alliance is beset with existential crises.

    Defence cuts in Europe, a protracted and unpopular war in Afghanistan, ambiguous relations with its old enemy Russia and a range of dispersed, unconventional threats from cyber attacks to amorphous terrorist outfits, set the challenging background against which Nato is searching for continued relevance.

    On Friday, the 28-member alliance will adopt what they call a new “strategic concept” an exercise last undertaken by Nato over a decade ago in 1999. The strategic concept is essentially a mission statement that aims to identify the threats likely to be faced by Nato over the next 10 years and the manner in which they can best be defended against. At the same time the organisation will reaffirm its core commitment to collective defence, as enshrined in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, which states that every Nato ally must come to the defence of any single member that is under attack.

    It remains unclear however, how the new threats of the twenty first century can best be defended against. One idea is to move away from the focus on protecting territory to that of defending strategic interest. But the definition of “strategic interests” is open to debate. Similarly it may not be immediately evident what kind of cyber attack, for example, may warrant an Article 5 response. It may not even be clear at first who the instigators of such an attack are.

    Nonetheless, the strategic concept is likely to be worded vaguely enough to be acceptable to all members and should be adopted by the end of the first day of the summit. Nato will also agree on a leaner organisational structure — achieved by the dismantling of at least four of its 11 command bases — as well as on modernising weapons defence.

    The latter is the cause of both internal controversy within the Nato alliance as well as a major bone of contention with one of Nato’s most important interlocutors: Russia. A crucial element of weapons’ modernisation is the development of a territorial shield against ballistic missiles, which Nato hopes will be a key deliverable for the organisation in the coming years.

    “I would expect the summit to make a decision on missile defence, which would be a very visible demonstration of our preparedness to improve our capabilities even during a period of economic austerity,” Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said at a meeting last month. However, the plan to develop a ballistic-missile defence (BMD) system has raised Russia’s hackles with Moscow viewing it as aimed at undermining its nuclear deterrent. While Nato officials insist the proposed BMD is not designed to counter Russia — a potential Iranian missile threat being more commonly pointed to as motivation — the Kremlin has remained unconvinced.

    However, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will be in Lisbon for the summit, attending the first meeting of the Nato-Russia Council since the row over Georgia in 2008. The United States has in recent months been extending a hand of friendship to Russia and Nato has put on the back burner its plans to grant membership to Ukraine and Georgia, a sticking point in relations with Russia.

    While it’s unlikely that Medvedev will sign up to Nato’s plans for the BMD while in Lisbon, the stage is thus set for some common ground for future cooperation. In particular Moscow and Nato are expected to agree to working more closely together in Afghanistan. Russia may offer to provide training for the Afghan army and help secure supply routes for Nato military equipment.

    It’s the war in Afghanistan that will be the main focus of the summit’s second day on Saturday with Afghan President Hamid Karzai meeting with Nato leaders in the morning.

    The protracted nature of the war, the internal divisions between alliance members on strategy and its unpopularity with domestic constituencies in member countries has provoked analysts to ask whether Afghanistan may turn out to be Nato’s graveyard.

    Despite nine years of battle and a recent surge of alliance troops, the Taliban remains strong in Afghanistan with even the United States showing signs of accepting that any final solution may have to include an accommodation with them.

    In Lisbon, US President Barack Obama is expected to spell out a time line for the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan along with an admission that this may take longer than he had once anticipated. Although the withdrawal will begin in mid 2011, he will likely announce a longer time horizon of until at least 2014 before combat responsibility is fully turned over to Afghani authorities.

    But many European nations like the Netherlands, Germany and Italy display less commitment and are determined to withdraw their forces at the earliest possible time. Canada has announced it will pull out in 2011. And despite the invocation of Article 5 for the Afghanistan war, there have been large discrepancies in the resources devoted by the alliance members to it. Germany for example has kept its soldiers away from the conflict ridden south.

    In Lisbon, Nato will pledge an enduring partnership with Afghanistan while admitting past mistakes. “I think that, seen retrospectively, we underestimated the challenge and our operation in Afghanistan didn't have sufficient resources, and yes, that was a mistake,” Secretary General Rasmussen told the Portuguese media in the run up to the summit.

    Amongst the lessons learnt by Nato in Afghanistan is ostensibly the idea that crises need a comprehensive approach combining military and civil resources, a take-away that it’s hoped will help shape the alliance’s future policies.

    The soul searching that Nato has embarked on will not end with the closing of the summit. Over the next few years it must find a new role for itself and redefine its partnerships and alliances with other major global powers. There are those within Nato who believe the organisation should morph into a grand facilitator of global security alliances that would include emerging giants like China and India.

    But others within the grouping, in particular the newer members comprising the former Soviet-bloc states, want a return to basics, with an emphasis on territorial defence of territory.

    The European Union, as it seeks a larger geo-strategic role in the world, is building up its own defence network through a re-energised common defence and security policy. The United States is preoccupied with strategic competition with China and the threat of global terrorism.

    Whether Nato remains the best vehicle for the challenges its members face in the twenty first century is therefore far from clear. Although an imminent death for the alliance is unlikely NATO will have its work cut out demonstrating its long-term relevance over the next decade.
     
  7. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    NATO: An old soldier fights a defining battle

    It was born in the Cold War, did not see action on a battlefield until 46 years later and is now fighting far afield from its European home base against enemies as diverse as the Afghan Taliban and seagoing pirates in the Horn of Africa.

    The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, at 61, is an old soldier in a new world – a lot beefier than in its salad days, somewhat unsure of its marching orders and battle-bruised. The clarity of purpose it had when the Soviet Union was defined as the single biggest threat to European-American security has since been muddied, and instead it finds itself bogged down in a war far from its historic theatre of operations.

    The two-day summit ending Saturday in Lisbon is a chance for leaders of the 28 member countries to say where they are headed. They are speaking of big ambitions for the alliance as both a political and military force: overseeing an integrated missile defence shield, shifting resources to develop a cyberwarfare strategy, embarking on a new dialogue with Russia, intervening to pick up the pieces in failed states, engaging with China, even mediating between intractable rivals such as Pakistan and India.

    But as they chart out the future, their more immediate worry is how to unwind the decisions of the past.

    The alliance “stumbled,” rudderless, into a prolonged war in Afghanistan, according to a Rand Corporation study published this week, and will be indelibly marked by its outcome.

    “A successful mission in Afghanistan could promote the vision of NATO as a global security alliance capable of undertaking a wide scope of operations, ranging from diplomatic engagement to peacekeeping operations and even to combat operations beyond the bounds of the treaty area,” the report said. Anything less will probably make it gun-shy of a global role for years to come.

    At the summit, NATO leaders will set 2014 as the target date for disengaging their troops from combat in Afghanistan. Canada's soldiers leave next summer, but acceded this week to a request from the organization to leave military trainers there for the duration of the NATO operation to prepare Afghan soldiers and police.

    The summit also adopted an updated “strategic concept,” outlining the alliance's purpose and fundamental security tasks. It was the first rewrite in 11 years.

    The threats it describes are far different from the one envisioned when NATO was created: a hostile army at the gates of Europe. The new threats include rogue states with ballistic missiles, pirates who disrupt international shipping and cyberterrorism that could bring the world financial system or power grids crashing to a halt.

    Yet in significant ways the new assessment is a catch-up document. Its explicit subtheme is that the threats and required responses may take NATO far beyond the actual borders of its members. In other words, it may have to do what it has already done in Afghanistan.

    “NATO's core function is still territorial defence of our populations and our member states,” Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said this week. “However, we have to realize that in today's security environment it may on occasion be necessary to go beyond our borders to protect our people effectively. Afghanistan is a case in point.”

    Afghanistan is also a cautionary tale of the risks of ambitions, and of straying too far from the core purpose of collective self-defence that lies at the heart of the transatlantic alliance.

    The NATO expedition in Afghanistan began in the wake of Sept. 11, 2001, as a retaliatory attack on the Taliban regime that was hosting al-Qaeda. It was the first time in the history of the alliance that its members invoked the founding doctrine that an attack on one, in this case the United States, is an attack on all.

    With American forces preoccupied with Iraq, NATO expanded its reach in Afghanistan but without a concomitant investment of manpower and planning. From the narrow focus on overthrowing the Taliban and chasing out al-Qaeda, the mission evolved into a more amorphous one of pacification and reconstruction of a nation. In retrospect, that was unfortunate hubris.

    “Much of what NATO decided to do vis-à-vis Afghanistan was driven by this need to find a new purpose for NATO,” said François Heisbourg, a defence expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, in Paris. “It was a big show,” he added, “so you had to assign it big objectives, and that was the basic mistake.”

    As NATO looks ahead, its ambitions will also be curtailed by the financial crisis that has hit hard on both sides of the Atlantic. The bureaucracy is set to shrink. Mr. Rasmussen, the former Danish prime minister who has been secretary-general since August, 2009, has proposed trimming the headquarters staff by about 30 per cent to “cut fat and build muscle.”

    In many European countries, financial constraints have led to trimmed domestic defence budgets and may also dampen the appetite for new spending projects.

    The grumbles within the alliance over resources and the long process of negotiation required to reach consensus have been a permanent fixture of alliance forums and debates. “You have to remember,” said a French diplomat in Paris, “that NATO is 98-per-cent boredom and 2-per-cent hysteria.”

    Successive American administrations have complained that European governments do not contribute enough, and the Obama administration has made the same complaint. The Europeans complain about American heavy-handedness.

    Disagreements over whether the future security strategy should include a nuclear deterrent divide France, with its nuclear arsenal, and many in the German government who see the missile-defence idea as a potential substitute. Former Soviet bloc states want NATO to refocus on its core defence mission in Europe against possible Russian aggression.

    As the Lisbon summit demonstrates, the goal of NATO leaders now is to get out of Afghanistan without leaving the country less stable and just as dangerous to Western interests as it was when the alliance went in. The experience may make the alliance more cautious about expeditions in far-away places, but it is unlikely and probably impossible for it to retrench too far back into its Cold War Europe-centric focus.

    In an interview with The Financial Times, German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said NATO has more than a military or defence role to play. “It is clear that NATO sees itself as a political union of values,” he said.

    Mr. Rasmussen has also suggested that the Afghanistan experience opens up new possibilities that give the alliance a new purpose – as an intermediary to ease the long-standing and seemingly intractable rivalry between India and Pakistan.

    Stability in Afghanistan requires “positive engagement from Pakistan,” he said this week. “We also have to ease tensions between Pakistan and India. So we should also engage with India. And we know that China can play an instrumental role in stabilizing the whole region.”

    These are grand ambitions that may prove too much to digest for NATO members that are now focused on disentangling themselves from Afghanistan. “NATO is still working its way through the changes that have occurred in the world since it was created,” a German diplomat said. “It is a process, and the process is continual and ongoing.”
     
  8. Patriot

    Patriot Senior Member Senior Member

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    Strategic Concept Will Guide Alliance for Next Decade

    [​IMG]

    WASHINGTON --- The new NATO Strategic Concept adopted by alliance leaders at the Lisbon Summit yesterday takes the lessons of the Balkans and Afghanistan and joins them with the core values of the pact.

    President Barack Obama and the leaders of the 27 other NATO nations approved the new concept during summit meetings yesterday. The concept will serve as the guide for alliance leaders for the decade ahead.

    The NATO nations agreed in the document to develop missile defense capability to protect all NATO European populations, territory and forces. The alliance also invited Russia to cooperate.

    The threat is real with more than 30 nations around the world working on ballistic missiles, said NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Some of those missiles already have the range to hit parts of Europe.

    The Strategic Concept encompasses more than missile defense. It adheres to the basic tenets of the alliance when it was formed in 1949. The alliance members still pledge to defend its members against the full range of threats, and Article 5 -- an attack on one member nation is treated as an attack on all -- still stands.

    The experiences of the alliance since the fall of the Berlin Wall have been instructive. NATO will work to improve its ability to manage crises and will enhance its ability to work with other international organizations and nongovernmental organizations.

    The pre-eminent military alliance in the world will work to become “more agile, more capable and more cost-effective, and it will continue to serve as an essential instrument for peace,” according to the Lisbon Summit Declaration released today.

    NATO allies have learned through experience combating terrorism that a whole-of-government approach is the only way to defeat insurgents, and the concept calls on the alliance to develop this inclusive approach. The alliance also will put together a “modest civilian crisis management capability” that will work with military forces as needed.

    The alliance also is addressing new threats with leaders agreeing to enhance alliance cyber defense capabilities. This follows the U.S. establishment of Cyber Command at Fort Meade, Md., earlier this year.

    NATO understands cyber attacks are becoming more frequent, more organized and more costly. Many attacks are aimed at military networks, but the alliance also depends on civilian infrastructure. The attacks also have the potential to inflict damage on businesses, economies and potentially also transportation and supply networks and other critical infrastructure.

    “They can reach a threshold that threatens national and Euro-Atlantic prosperity, security and stability,” the statement says. “Foreign militaries and intelligence services, organized criminals, terrorist and/or extremist groups can each be the source of such attacks.”

    NATO still has a Cold War hangover, and many of the structures put in place to confront the Soviet Union are still part of the command structure. Under the Strategic Concept, the leaders directed implementing “a more effective, leaner and affordable alliance command structure, and the consolidation of the NATO agencies.” They tasked the secretary general and the North Atlantic Council to act on the reforms without delay.

    The alliance also is looking at the effects that new technologies will have. These include, but are not limited to, laser technologies, electronic warfare technologies and anti-access technologies. These may be poised to “have major global effects that will impact on NATO military planning and operations,” according to the document.

    http://www.defencetalk.com/reports/strategic-concept-2010-eng.pdf






    http://www.defencetalk.com/strategic-concept-will-guide-alliance-for-next-decade-30284/
     
  9. Patriot

    Patriot Senior Member Senior Member

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    Medvedev wants missile defence carve-up of Europe: reports

    MOSCOW - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has proposed to NATO leaders that Europe be divided into sectors of military responsibility to better protect the continent from missile attack, reports said Monday.

    Medvedev did not go into details over the plan at the NATO summit at the weekend but Russian newspapers quoted officials as saying it would see Russia taking responsibility for one sector and NATO the other.

    But analysts cast doubt on the plan, saying that although Russia could help shield Europe by deflecting potential missile threats from Iran and North Korea, the scheme was hardly workable in practice.

    The president said at the NATO summit that Moscow was prepared to work with the alliance on missile defence, as the two sides sought to put an end to decades of Cold War-era suspicion.

    But sources told the Kommersant newspaper that the scheme, proposed at closed-door talks, would help NATO and Russia create a joint missile defence system without having to merge their missile systems and divulge secrets.

    "Medvedev's initiative can be briefly laid out as follows: Moscow is ready to shoot down any object heading to Europe through our territory or our sector of responsibility," Kommersant quoted an unidentified senior diplomat as saying.

    "That is literally to defend countries located to the west of Russia."

    "Equally NATO should take upon itself similar responsibilities in its sector or sectors: if someone decides to strike at us through Europe -- everything that will fly should be shot down by Americans or NATO members."

    The official did not say whether Russia's sector would be limited to its own territory or could extend further west, such as to ex-Soviet states.

    Kommersant said the plan, if realised, could mark the first major joint project ever between Russia and the alliance.

    General Nikolai Makarov, the Russian armed forces' chief of staff, said the proposal would see Russia taking responsibility for one sector and NATO the other.

    "This means that every country takes upon itself responsibility for certain part of territory," Makarov told AFP at the summit at the Portuguese capital Lisbon.

    Medvedev had made an oblique reference to the plan in his news conference at the end of the summit, saying Russia had offered the "creation of the so-called sectoral missile defence" and it required further analysis.

    "The reaction was positive and we did not expect more," Kommersant quoted Medvedev's top foreign policy aide Sergei Prikhodko as saying. "It could not be (described as) rapture but it it was not negative either."

    Kremlin's NATO envoy Dmitry Rogozin, writing on his page on Twitter micro-blog, described the plan as one of "the two knights, who stand back-to-back defending themselves from attacks."

    But analysts warned that the plan risked being nothing more than a pipe dream as Russia's defence industry was no longer keeping up with the West.

    "It is simply meaningless to speak of the missile defense system on equal terms," said independent security analyst Alexander Golts.

    Igor Korotchenko, editor of the monthly journal Natsionalnaya Oborona (National Defense), warned the practical realisation of the plan was hardly feasible.

    "There was a lot of good, beautiful ideas but there are so many discrepancies in a practical sense that they can bury the entire idea," he told AFP.

    NATO is likely to rely upon the US programme known as the Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System and Russia has nothing at the moment to match that, Korotchenko said, adding Moscow can only make itself useful by providing information about missile launches from radar stations like Gabala station in Azerbaijan.

    Even when Russia's S-500 air defense system is ready, it will hardly be compatible with Europe's and NATO would never agree to place elements of its anti-missile shield in Russia, Korotchenko added.






    http://www.asdnews.com/news/32018/Medvedev_wants_missile_defence_carve-up_of_Europe:_reports.htm
     
  10. Patriot

    Patriot Senior Member Senior Member

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    Is the Global NATO Dream Over?

    NATO has rightly resisted the temptation to press for a bigger global security role. Asian governments will likely be relieved.


    Many Asian security analysts and policymakers will have breathed a deep sigh of relief over the weekend.

    Heading into the NATO heads of state summit held this weekend in Lisbon, it had looked possible that the alliance would try to build on its Afghan precedent by pushing for a global security role that would have extended military activities into Asia and other areas outside the North Atlantic region.

    The push to do so had been coming from the very top of the organization, with NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen pressing Alliance leaders to expand their horizons beyond NATO’s traditional focus on the North Atlantic area. Since he took up the role last August, Rasmussen has frequently argued that NATO’s main security threats now emanate from global challenges—failed states, threats to international cyber networks, terrorists with global reach and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

    [​IMG]

    And the Obama administration and other NATO governments were, for their part, open to this line of thinking. The US Ambassador to NATO Iva Daalder, for example, co-authored a prominent article in 2006 advocating that any democratic state, regardless of location, should be allowed to join NATO if it wanted to do so. Meanwhile, those responsible for updating NATO’s Strategic Concept—which defines the alliance’s purpose, nature and fundamental security tasks—also adopted this expanded approach. Indeed, the committee responsible for providing guidance for the new draft this weekend had already stressed the need for Allied leaders to take a global perspective regarding NATO’s security interests. Their May 2010 report, ‘NATO 2020: Assured Security; Dynamic Engagement,’ called on the Alliance to become more versatile to counter novel dangers ‘from sources that are geographically and technologically diverse.’

    Such talk has unsettled leaders of several Asian countries, especially Russia and China, who have expressed unease about NATO’s efforts to establish a major presence in their backyard. The Russian Ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, captured the concerns of many when he warned that ‘Russia can’t be happy with NATO's transformation into a world policeman’ or ‘something like Orwell's Big Brother.’

    Political commentator Andrei Fedyashin chimed in that while the Alliance is seeking global partners to address common threats, ‘any potential partnership will clearly be tilted toward NATO leadership.’ He argued that talk of the Alliance asserting a global role was an attempt to keep NATO relevant despite the transformation of the European security environment since the end of the Cold War. Fedyashin also complained that the new non-traditional challenges NATO leaders were identifying as within their remit—ensuring energy security, preventing global warming and protecting natural resources—didn’t ‘sound like the objectives of a military alliance.’

    Unsurprisingly, Chinese commentators were equally unenthusiastic about NATO’s interest in expanding its non-European role. As far back as September 2006, an editorial in the semi-official People’s Daily decried alleged US plans to transform the Alliance into a ‘Global NATO’ by endowing it with a large rapid response force capable of worldwide operations. And, in an indirect expression of Chinese government concerns, the paper said the Alliance’s ‘interference in the affairs of major “hot spot” regions’—such as Afghanistan and Iraq—had already ‘drawn extensive concern of people worldwide.’

    Although NATO-China relations have since improved, there’s still lingering Chinese distrust of potential NATO involvement in other countries in the region. This concern is evident over Afghanistan, where despite their public support for the Afghan government, Chinese leaders have sought to distance the country from NATO-led counterinsurgency campaigns, and have also refrained from endorsing any extended Western military presence in the region. Chinese commentators worry that NATO activities in Afghanistan, and efforts to deliver supplies to the Alliance’s military contingents through Chinese territory, are actually a tactic for containing and weakening China by inflaming tensions between their country and Islamist militants already riled by Beijing’s policies toward Chinese Muslims in Xinjiang.

    The reality is that many Asian governments see the United Nations as uniquely capable of conferring legitimacy on collective military action and they oppose efforts by regional security organizations to try to displace the world body. Specifically, critics in Russia and China have indicated that they want to avoid any more episodes like the 1999 Kosovo War or the 2003 invasion of Iraq, when NATO countries waged war at their own discretion after failing to gain explicit Security Council authorization.

    The moves made at the weekend, though, should meet such concerns. Although the formal declarations and concepts adopted reflect a global perspective, they make clear that the Alliance’s main activities beyond Europe and Afghanistan will consist largely of dialogue or, as in the special case of the Gulf of Aden, joint defensive measures with other security institutions under a UN mandate.

    In addition, NATO explicitly acknowledged the unique role of the United Nations and stressed that the Alliance wants to partner with that and other international institutions rather than displace them. NATO’s New Strategic Concept, for instance, ‘offers our partners around the globe more political engagement with the Alliance, and a substantial role in shaping the NATO-led operations to which they contribute.’

    This is sensible. Managing the Afghanistan conflict is a much better focus for the Alliance’s out-of-area activities than using NATO to try to resolve countless global security problems. NATO should concentrate on the important coordination role it’s playing among the many countries and institutions involved there and indeed it has already made a good start by partnering with more than a dozen non-NATO members including Asian powers such as Australia, Japan and South Korea through the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

    This point was underscored by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, who attended the Lisbon gathering, and stressed the importance of UN and NATO collaboration in tackling Afghan security problems.

    ‘I welcome the Lisbon Declaration and the NATO-Afghanistan Partnership Agreement,’ he said. ‘We are all united in wanting to help Afghanistan to become a self-sustaining state capable of ensuring the fundamental rights of its people and enabling them to fulfill their basic needs.’

    So far the great Asian powers that remain outside of both NATO and ISAF—Russia, China and India—have supported Alliance efforts to prevent the Taliban or al-Qaeda from re-establishing a major presence in Afghanistan. If NATO wants to build on this and ensure the coalition’s ultimate success it would be far better for it to work on practical ways for overcoming the integration problems that persist among institutional and national efforts, rather than looking to grand but distracting visions of being a global security body.






    http://the-diplomat.com/2010/11/22/is-the-global-nato-dream-over/
     

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