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17 August 2020

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likbez
IMO NATO should have ended with the fall of the USSR. It now "confronts" a largely imaginary threat, concocted for the purpose of maintaining the status quo in US government expenditures for defense and supporting the imperial dreams of the neocons.

Does anyone really think Russia is going to invade the Baltics? Really?


Hear! Hear!

blue peacock

Col. Lang,

Isn't the western alliance for all intents & purposes already dead?

It is a shame as it could work together to counter the totalitarian CCP. But Mama Merkel it seems would rather get a few yuan from the communists and turn a blind eye to CCP authoritarianism until it becomes obvious that the CCP are ruthless and will be competing with Germany around the world for machine tools and autos by undercutting them on price and heavily subsidizing their companies until German industry is destroyed.

Barbara Ann

I have heard of these elusive creatures called "Europeans", but have yet to meet one, so am not able to comment on their alleged "smug superiority". How many divisions do they have?

JohnH

If anything drives the US and Europe apart, it will be trade, not security. Germany is clearly chafing under the US bit, which sacrifices European industry to US interests—sanctions on Nordstream 2, trade with Russia, trade with Iran, and China and Huawei. The US clearly prioritizes it’s own LNG , finance, technology and arms industries over European prosperity. It amazes me that it has taken Europe so long to wake up.

Biden will do nothing to change that dynamic, since he is beholden to the same interests as Trump.

srw

Does anyone really think Russia is going to invade the Baltics? The Baltics and most likely the Poles do with past history in mind. I would like to see them and the Ukrainians transition into something like the Finns who acknowledge Russian power but maintain their independence. Right now they are looking at NATO as their guarantee of independence in the future. Who can blame them when looking at history.

Polish Janitor

Col. Lang,

The Trump admin's (and for that matter, Trump's own instincts) are and have continuously been quite correct with regards to EU's defense expenditures agenda. The European 'humanists' take advantage of the American defense umbrella inside their own countries so they can afford to NOT spend on defense and instead spend more on domestic and economic development. So while America continues to pay for the EU's defense it cannot afford to invest in its own domestic programs (infrastructure, etc.) adequately. These Europeans then with the collaboration of their Atlanticist fellows on the other side of the pond do nation-building and democratization projects (call it endless wars) abroad, such as in Afghanistan. Just don't ask them about their track record in this department.

However, the thing is when their immediate interests are in danger they forget about America in a heartbeat. Examples, Germany's Nordstream pipeline with Russia, 5G infrastructure and development, trade with China, Paris climate accord, etc.

I tend to believe that EU knows best how to make an existential threat out of Russia. Anyone still remembers the novichok incident back in 2018? The thing with Russia is that from the POV of EU, they view their Eastern neighbor as a solid and stable illiberal system that is not within the ideological orbit of the western liberal democracy and thus they feel threatened by that ideologically, NOT a scenario in which from Tallinn to Toulouse is invaded and captured by Putin. In this endeavor they also have found willing partners in 'anti-authoritarian' hawks such as Bob Kagan, Hilary, Sam Power et.al that tow the same line and advocate for NATO expansion and other similar projects.

The EU in definitely terrified of a scenario in which the U.S. (under a nationalist conservative administration) starts de-funding NATO or withdraws its troops from Europe. In this case they need to cut public spending and allocate more on defense which has a clear impact on the 'democratic spirit' of EU's over-hyped social democracy.

In the past few years we have seen the rise of right-wing populsit nationalist parties in pretty much every single major EU country. I believe there are strong tendencies in the Trump admin-if DJT manages to stay in power for another 4 years- to do a little *something something* about EU's decades-long nefarious free-riding of U.S. defense umbrella and I don't think the effeminate EU leaders will gonna like it very much.

English Outsider


Barbara Ann - You say "I have heard of these elusive creatures called "Europeans", but have yet to meet one, so am not able to comment on their alleged "smug superiority". How many divisions do they have?"

The term "European" has become disputed territory. As an Englishman I regard myself fully as "European" as any German or Frenchman but for many the term now seems to mean exclusively "Member of the European Union". Tricky, that one.

Me, I prefer the term "Westerner". It takes in the so-called "Anglosphere" as well and therefore covers all the ground without going into the fact that some parts have become considerably less powerful over the last century and others considerably more. Also accommodates without fuss the fact that the cultural centre of gravity, at some indeterminate time in that last century, moved across from Paris, Vienna and Berlin to New York and parts west.

Not always to your advantage, to you as an American that is, because a fair chunk of the Frankfurt mob moved over your way with it. You caught from Old Europe the destructive and vacuous tenets of "Progressivism" and are now sharing the disease in its full vigour with us.

I mention that last because the violent TDS you see across the Atlantic isn't specifically European. It's merely that it's natural for progressives to detest Trump or rather, not the man himself but the "populist" forces he is taken to represent. It's garlic to the vampire for the progressive, the Little House on the Prairie or its various European equivalents, and the allergic reaction will become stronger yet. That "smug superiority" you will therefore find in the States as readily as you will find it here. America or here we live on sufferance in occupied territory, if we are not progressives ourselves, and should not the occupiers always be superior and smug?

I went hunting for the Telegraph article the Colonel discusses above. I didn't like that article at all. It gets the "freeloading" part right but in the context of a Russophobia that's seemingly set in stone. And the Telegraph is not so much a progressive newspaper as one that, while throwing a few token bones to its mainly Conservative readership, buys the progressive Weltanschauung just as much as the Guardian or New York Times.

"How many divisions do they have?" A few more than the pope but maybe that's not the point. I recently tried to follow the twists and turns of Mrs May's negotiations with the EU as they related to defence. I got the impression that in the matter of defence the supply of divisions could safely be left to the Americans. It was the allocation of defence contracts that they were all concerned about.

Deap

Residing in Europe in the late 1960's at a US joint NATO military attachment in Northern Italy, we mused were we there to keep our eye on the Russians, or in fact keep our eyes on the Germans. One still saw in the back rooms, AXIS memorabilia.

As an aside: the only reason Michelle Obama chose as one of her FLOTUS projects - support of military families -- was so she could get Uncle Sam to jet her around to all those US military bases still in Europe for tea with the commander's wife and then on to her real purpose - shopping and having fun with friends and families she was able to drag along. On our dime.

Deap

My last visit to Europe found there are now more Turks, than former "Europeans; except in France where they were more Algerians, than native French. And of course UK has long been little more than the entrenched polyglot of their vast far flung Empire.

Indeed, who is a "European" today. Birth rate demographics from the former colonies, boat people or import of cheap labor has now taken over anything we used to call "European". Can a resident Turk really serve up a perfect plate of raclette in Switzerland? One word answer: no. And that is a sad loss. One must instead shift their tastes to shwarma, if one wants European food today.

Diana Croissant

In regard to Europeans--and perhaps some Australians whom I've met--I have often felt that they in some ways did feel a bit superior to Americans.

Their sense of superiority, however, seemed more rooted in a sense of cultural superiority. Those on the blog who viewed the comic rendition of the Three Little Pigs that was recently posted here might think of that and its wonderful ending about the house that was "American made." it was a wonderful ending for that well-known tale and a great defense of our culture's current limited and plain vocabulary in some groups.

As an English major and English teacher, so much of the great literature that we taught did come from England. I took three Comps when I earned my Masters: English literature from Beowulf (which I read in Old English) to Chaucer's Catterbury Tales (which I read in Middle English) and then to Virginia Woolf.

For my comp in American literature, I read from Washington Irving to the modern American writers at the time I was in college.

My third comp was in Modern Linguistic Theory.

Of course we taught Shakespeare and Dickens---English writers--to our junior high and high school classes. We studied mostly American writers in regard to short stories, as short stories are considered the American genre. Our teaching of poetry covered both English and American poets. As far as novels go, we taught both English and American novels.

Russian and German novelists were also on our list of reading for our comps. (We read them in English translation.)

In summary, American culture was often overshadowed by the many longer centureies of European culture in much of my college career.

What the Europeans can't deny, though they may want to, is that the tehcology and innovation in things like automobile production, electricity, telephones, and into space expoloration ---many things like that--is where we can indeed be quite proud.

They can continue to feel culturally superior to us if it makes them feel better. I defy them, however, to minimize our importance in World War II.

Babak makkinejad

Deap

A European was understood, in Iran, to be a Christian. A Turk in Germany or and Algerian in France is just that, a Turk, an Algerian, i.e. another Muslim.

There are professional and managerial middle class French Muslims in Paris and elsewhere, but are they French? I do not know how assimilated they are.

Mathias Alexander

" he will follow some Trump-era objectives, because that is what American interests demand, thus showing that Trump was no extremist on China."
So if Biden and Trump both want something, that shows that it isn't extreme. How does that work again?
The drive for confrontation with Russia contradicts Europe's desire to do buisness with her. Hence the end of the Western Alliance.

Mathias Alexander

"The US faces a rapidly escalating political crisis. The losing party in November will undoubtedly go to the federal courts to claim that their opponents cheated in the process."
They all went along with electronic voting and postal ballots. Now they're all going to complain about the consequences.

Paco

Of course NATO should have disappeared together with the Berlin Wall, but it is alive, kicking and ever looking for trouble, Belarus comes to mind.
The problem with propaganda is that the emitter ends up believing it, Europe does not need any protection, we have the means to protect ourselves.
The US is an occupation force, and on top of it demands payment for it. Pick up your gear and go home, and by the way, Europe should worry about countries armed to their teeth by the US, I’m thinking about Morocco for instance, since I live in Spain. The beautiful line of the Sierra that I contemplate every morning while stretching has been contaminated with a radar station of the Aegis system, and that means we in our quite and beautiful Andalusian town are a target for the biggies. Stop believing your propaganda, pick up your gear and let everybody take care of themselves, the benefits will be for the US population in the first place, and the world will rejoice.

A.I.S.

The reason German military contribution to the "western alliance" is what it is is very simple.
It is according to the incentives that threats that German leadership perceives.

First: Objective strategic things:
Essentially, noone is going to invade Germany. This removes one major reason to have a large army. Secondly, Germany is not going to productively (in terms of return of investment) invade anyone else. This removes the second major reason to have a large army. There is something to be said to have a cadre army that can be surged into a real army if conditions change.

Second: Incentives of German political leaders.
While the degree of German vassal stateness concerning the USA is up to a degree of debate, that the USA has a lot of influence over Germany is in my view not. Schröder got elite regime changed over his Iraq war opposition (it was amazing that literally all the newspaper were against him, had a big impact on me growing up during this time).
Essentially, if you are in Nato, at some point, Uncle Sam will invite you to some adventure. If you say yes to this adventure you commit your armed forces to some confrontation in the middle east if you are lucky, or against Russia in Eastern Europe if you are unlucky. Your population is not going to like this, and you may face losing elections over this. It is also expensive in terms of life and material (although not very expensive compared to actual wars against competent enemies).
If you say no, Uncle Sam will be displeased with you and will make this known for example by sicking the entire "Transatlantic leadership networks" on you, which can also make you lose the next election.

Essentially, if Uncle Sam comes asking, you lose the next election if you say yes, and you also lose if you say no. Saying no is on balance cheaper, because you dont incurr the financial and human costs of joing a random US adventure on top of the risk of losing the next election.
The winning play is to get your army in such a state that Uncle Sam will not even ask.

Germany basically did create condition that enabled this.
Its a reasonably happy state for Germany to be in.

We are basically doing Brave Soldier Schweijk on the national level.

Solutions from a US pov:

1: Do less military adventures. If you do less adventures, people will fear being shanghaied along less. This will decrease the drawbacks associated with having a reasonable military as a Nato state.

2: Dont soft regime change governments that say no to your foreign adventures. Instead, maybe listen to them. Had the US listend to French and German criticism regarding the wisdom of going to war with Iraq, the US and also a lot of others would have been much better off.

3: Make it clear that particpation in foreign adventures is actually voluntary instead of "voluntary", make also clear that participation in defensive operations is not voluntary and is what Nato was created for and that you expect a considerable contribution towards this. Also, do some actual exercises. For example, if Germany claims that its military expenditure is sufficient, stress test this premise by having a realistic exercise in which a German divisions goes up against an American one. Yes, do some division size exercizes pretty please. Heck, after ensuring that this exercize wont be a failfest, have some Indian be the referee.

Barbara Ann

Territoriality European Outsider

Now we are getting to the heart of the matter. My jest about never having met a European was of course designed to illustrate that "Europe" is a secondary construct. Never has a person, upon meeting me, introduced themselves as a "European".

Europe is a moveable feast and even territorial definitions are slippery. "Europeans" I think, must be characterized by short memories, for was it not less than 25 years ago that European NATO planes bombed their fellow Europeans in Bosnia? It can't have been an accident either, as I understand the op. was called "Operation Deliberate Force".

If Europe is synonymous with the EU it has precisely zero divisions and though you yourself may remain "Western", you are as a consequence of Brexit no longer "European". No, I think you and Polish Janitor are close by identifying "European" as a progressive/liberal, democratic (read "globalist") value system. An insufficiency of "European-ness" can thus be used to justify NATO involvement across various geographies - from Bosnia to Afghanistan (& shortly Belarus?).

But of course the "European" members of NATO are hardly on the same page. It looks not at all unlikely that two of its members may go to war in the Eastern Mediterranean.

I agree with you re the Telegraph article btw. "European" smugness is well represented in that organ.

turcopolier

Mathias Alexander

No. They did NOT all go along with "electronic voting and postal ballots." The 50 states each run federal elections in any way they please. The US Constitution requires that. There are a wide variety of voting machines in use and only a few states use mailed in ballots. the Republican Party particularly opposes mail in voting.

Barbara Ann

Darn spellchecker "Territorially" of course EO.

I should also have added that "European" by the above definition is pretty much synonymous with "Atlanticist".

Jack

Paco,

You should be complaining to the politicians you elect. They’re the ones requesting US military protection. Prior to Trump, our governments were quite happy to provide that protection. He’s now asking for some cost sharing.

Be careful though, before you know it Spain could become a vassal of the Chinese communists as many countries in Africa are finding out now. Hopefully you can continue to extract euros from the Germans and Dutch while battling the separatists in Catalonia. There’s a thin veneer between stability & strife.

Deap

Paco, with a huge cost of lives and treasure the US was twice asked to clean up Europe's self-inflicted messes in the past century. Promise you won't call on us again, and we can talk. I know, past is not necessarily prologue but do at least meet us half way. It is only good manners.

English Outsider


Barbara Ann - Lots of Europes of course. "My" Europe may no longer be on the active list. Traces here and there. Few green shoots that are visible to me. Many rank growths overlaying it.

Also many "European Unions". They exist all right, in uneasy company.

So many "EU's". A ramshackle Northern European trading empire - I think that's too unstable to be long for this world but I could be wrong. A nascent superpower, that denied by many but for some their central aim.

A bureaucratic growth. A handy market place for all. A Holocaust memorial centre; when the EU politicians find themselves in a tight spot they can always call on Auschwitz and all fall back in line. I saw Mrs Merkel pull that trick at the last but one Munich Security Conference and all there, because Mrs Merkel was at that time in a very tight spot, applauded with relief.

A Progressive Shangri-La, all the more enticing for never being defined. Those adherents of that "EU" do actually call themselves "EU citizens" and I see the term is becoming more common usage. Maybe those are the self proclaimed "European citizens" you have not met.

And the producer of reams of lifeless prescription that seek to force all into the same mould and tough on the poor devils who can't fit the model. And on their families.

Lots of "EU's". I like none of them. While we wait for that edifice of delusion to collapse I hope the damage it does to "My" Europe is not irreparable.

Artemesia

@ Diana Croissant: "They can continue to feel culturally superior to us if it makes them feel better. I defy them, however, to minimize our importance in World War II."

What an unfortunate conclusion to your essay.


Paco

Jack, with all due respect, the politician who committed treason and gave away Spanish territory for a foreign power to install bases died in 1975, nobody voted for him, general Franco, an ally of Hitler, someone who sent over 50k troops to the siege of Leningrad, one of the greatest crimes in the history of mankind, a million casualties, mainly civilians, dead by hunger and disease, that fascist ally of Hitler we had to endure for 40 years, the price to close your eyes and your nose not to smell the stench were bases, an occupying force watching one of the strategic straights in Rota, close to Gibraltar, plus other bases inland. I could go on, and remind you of 4H bombs dropped over Palomares after a broken arrow incident, one of them broke and plutonium is still poisoning an area that your government is not willing to clean. So that is what foreign occupation looks like, if something goes wrong, well, we are protecting you…. they say. History should be taught with a bit more detail in the USA.

English Outsider

A.I.S

I'm afraid you're reading the dynamics of the European/US relationship quite incorrectly. Bluntly, you have the facts wrong.

This site, and particularly the Colonel's committee of correspondence, is packed with experts who have lived in this field and know their way around it. So I don't venture a comprehensive rebuttal myself - my knowledge is partial and I do not have the background to be sure of getting it dead right. But here -

"Essentially, if you are in Nato, at some point, Uncle Sam will invite you to some adventure. If you say yes to this adventure you commit your armed forces to some confrontation in the middle east if you are lucky, or against Russia in Eastern Europe if you are unlucky."

That is transparent nonsense.

Obama has stated that it was the Europeans, including the UK, who pushed him into some middle East interventions. I don't think he was shooting a line. The leaked Blumenthal emails confirm that and we merely have to look at the thrust of French military actions to understand that the French in particular push continually for intervention in the ME.

They are still doing so, and not for R2P purposes. They would see the ME and parts of Africa as part of the EU sphere of influence and their initial reaction to Trump's abortive attempt to withdraw from Syria shows they would be more than prepared to go it alone there if they could.

A squalid bunch, and here I must include my own country in that verdict. Reliant on US logistics and military strength they seek to pursue their own interests and could they but do so they would do so unassisted. Don't pretend that it's the Americans who force them into these genocidal adventures.


As for the Ukraine, we see from Sakwa's unflattering study of the EU adventure there that that was building up well before 2014. The dramatic rejection of the EU deal was the prelude to the coup. The Ashton tape shows an astonishing degree of EU intervention in Ukrainian internal affairs before that coup. And from the Nuland tape we get a glimpse of the EU regime change project that shows it was deeply implicated.

Pushed into the Ukrainian adventure by the US? Rubbish. The EU and its constituent members were attempting to play their own hand and were not merely following the US lead submissively.

We hear little of European neocon ventures. But what little has surfaced about them shows that your picture of peace loving Europeans dragged into these conflicts by an overbearing "Uncle Sam" is dishonest and misleading.

So I tell my German friends and relatives when they push the same line. They look at me with disbelief and go off and hunt around the internet themselves. And then come back and do not disagree. I suggest you do the same. The facts are all there, even for those of us without inside knowledge or who lack the requisite background.

Poul

English Outsider, I can't really see anything wrong or immoral in European countries (and various Middle Eastern countries) trying to pursue their own interests using American power.

Nobody is forcing the US to say "Yes". This is a choice American politicians have made to the cheering of various foreign funded think tanks and interest groups.

Trump's partial focus on real purely American interest as an idea is sensible however one can debate the execution.

Is the US not just moving from being "used" by Europeans to being the sucker for Asian countries with a Chinese problem.


Say the Philippines or Taiwan:

https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/South-China-Sea/Duterte-says-Beijing-is-in-possession-of-South-China-Sea

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