2009/08/22

Regional security policy among friends and allies

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I've got a working hypothesis about how allies and befriended nations should agree on a common security policy if they're not in the same region:

The ally/friend IN THE REGION should have a bonus on his opinion.
His security is much more at stake than the security of a distant ally or friend despite the talk about a 'global village'. His expertise on the region is also likely much better.

This would mean that Poland, Romania and the Baltic NATO members would dominate NATO's Eastern frontier (Russia) security policy.

Turkey would dominate NATO's Near/Middle East-related security policy.

South Korea would dominate 'Western' North Korea-related security policy.

South Korea, Japan and maybe Taiwan would dominate allied 'Western' PRC-related security policy.

Spain, Italy, Greece and Turkey would dominate NATO's southern frontier (North Africa) security policy.

This should happen on the political level (head of state, foreign affairs minister, defence minister), of course.

It seems just natural to me, and it would likely have avoided a lot of trouble.

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Nevertheless, the idea that Poland's Russia policy would outweigh the German Russia policy is rather unsympathetic to me. The principle could also lead to the tail wagging the dog in some cases.

Maybe a second requirement other than vicinity should be added to the equation:

The extra influence should probably only be granted if it's not causing an escalation. We don't want to see how the tail wags the dog so much that the dog bites someone unintentionally.

On the other hand, it seems very legitimate to me to grant countries at a hot spot the ability to de-escalate a conflict. Distant allies should not be able to escalate a conflict. Actually, no member (or group of members) of a defensive alliance should be able to escalate a conflict on its own.

The founders of the NATO apparently thought alike, as there is Article 1 of the North Atlantic Treaty:

The Parties undertake, as set forth in the Charter of the United Nations, to settle any international dispute in which they may be involved by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security and justice are not endangered, and to refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force in any manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.
which seems to be partially based on Article 2 of the Charter of the United Nations:

All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.
I expressed my opinion that we've got several too aggressive allies about a year ago. The assumption that power (and a UNSC veto right) equals freedom of action in international affairs should have its limit in the rights of allies.

Nevertheless, keeping up with a foreign arms build-up should be possible and not be considered to be an escalation.

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Let's sum up:
The allies of one region should be able to stall foreign policies of distant allies that stir up the conflict potential in the region. In fact, they should be able to coin the relations of the alliance in their region - without inciting conflicts.

Sven Ortmann
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2 comments:

  1. Is there a reason you did not want to designate the US Americans as the "ally/friend" that isn't in the region, or the "too aggressive allies? It's obvious who you mean.
    In any region (unless the Canadians or Mexicans suddenly decide to cause trouble. In which case no "help" from fair-weather friends would ever be expected).

    You should at least be able to say it honestly.

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  2. I meant the U.S. AND the UK as today's bad examples.

    A look at the linked earlier text shows a broader historical view, though. Aggressive allies are a general problem.

    To be in an alliance does not only give the entitlement to receive assistance if attacked; it also obligates a nation to minimize the likeliness that allies get into trouble (by staying peaceful).

    A look at the North Atlantic Treaty shows this very well.

    I think that's noteworthy, especially as nowadays some people falsely claim that some NATO members don't meet their Article 5 obligations to assist.
    There's not just the article 5 side of the coin; all OIF invasion participants (USA, UK, Poland) have in my opinion indeed blatantly violated their NATO obligations (article 1) without doubt.

    The text is also relevant to today's situation because it has become obvious in recent years how much expertise on a region means for foreign policy.

    Also keep the Havel et al letter in mind. It demonstrates a perception that the NATO doesn't meet the expectations in Eastern Europe.


    Maybe you assume that this was a hidden U.S. bashing text; well, in that case you would have missed about 90%. It was only in small part about the GWB administration's foreign policy.

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