2008/10/14

The NATO enlargement discussion and Germany

I updated an earlier blog article that covered the Baltic defense question with two links to fresh articles.

A third article was too interesting for a mere attachment to an old post:

"The German question" by George Friedman (Stratfor)

It seems to describe the situation quite well, except for some glitches*.

There's really a fundamental disagreement between Berlin and Washington over the NATO enlargement. The Anglo-Americans seem to ignore the risks or to not understand the risks. They're careless.
Germany has learned different historical lessons. It knows how terribly wrong alliances with the wrong countries can go.

The NATO cannot follow one path if some members oppose it. It would be impossible for Ukraine or Georgia to join the NATO even if only Luxembourg disagreed. Every member can veto an enlargement, because an enlargement equals an additional obligation. There's no way how some members could invent obligations for the other members in that club.
Germany opposes an enlargement and wants a co-existence (Chancellor Merkel is very likely really the most pro-American (relevant) politician in Germany, so this stance won't change soon)

The USA and the UK can (if not distracted too much by their economic crisis) offer a separate alliance to Georgia and the Ukraine if they want to, but that wouldn't be much more than hot air and inked paper as long as they don't win the Turks for their plan.

In short: The capability of the USA to define the Eastern European security system is abysmal. It's really up to the Europeans (including Russia) to do that.


*: Finally, I want to mention the "glitches":

1) He offers quite much room for interpretation on the energy dependence issue. It would have been less misleading if he had first shown how little additional motivation to resist is necessary (if any at all). This way, he first reinforced misconceptions about the severity of the present dependence.

2)"West and East Germany would serve as the primary battleground of any Soviet attack, with Soviet armor facing U.S. armor, air power and tactical nuclear weapons."
This is obviously misleading, as the U.S. forces were not the only forces that deterred the Warsaw Pact at all.

Sven Ortmann

2 comments:

  1. Interesting article. However, I don´t feel that NATO could not project any serious military power to Poland or the Baltic States in case of emergency. There´s a significant mix of light and heavy forces still at hand. And the Russian forces at the western border which could be used for an assault are not that large. In any case, a build-up is inevitable for both sides, which could favor NATO in bringing in a force to Estonia or any other country which is large enough to deter Russian intentions.
    The German contribution would most likely be the 13th Panzergrenadier- and the 1st Panzerdivision, the 1st Airmobile Brigade and the Division for Special Operations. Other forces would be the 1st UK Armoured Divison, the Polish 11th Armored Cavalry and 12th Mechanized Division, Dutch 1st Mechanized Division and the 1st US Armored Divison(partly due to transformation).

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  2. Well, being completely unprepared, but able to improvise isn't good deterrence.
    To plan is self-evident (I'm surprised that such plans apparently don't exist yet) and cheap. The Baltic States are members and deserve such a minimum effort.

    Our government's approach on this seems to be pretty bad - I would have made the self-evident plan and told the Russians that it's self-evident and defensive anyway. Just like I'd have a plan to defend Turkey against Syria and Spain against Morocco - unlikely, but self-evident.

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