Quo Vadis, NATO?

We’ve spent the weekend looking back on the heroics that led to Memorial Day. It is meet and fit that we do so, for in many ways that is where the American character was forged. From the loyalty of immigrants, to the battle heroics, the superb leadership, and the mastery of logistics, the Civil War was our graduation into the ranks of the great powers. From 1865 it has been self-evident that the United States could not be invaded by any other power, it could be defeated tactically, but only at existential risk to the power doing it.

From 1865 it has been self-evident that the United States could not be invaded by any other power, it could be defeated tactically, but only at existential risk to the power doing it. That is the grounding of the American hegemony which has existed since 1945 and it is a different ethos than any that has come before. That is because it has never looked simply to American advantage, but has sought mutual benefit, and in most cases that seeking has been rewarded.

That is the grounding of the American hegemony which has existed since 1945 and it is a different ethos than any that has come before. That is because it has never looked simply to American advantage, but has sought mutual benefit, and in most cases that seeking has been successful.

This has been especially true in Europe, which has been since Roman days subject to intramural wars. That ended in 1945, and it ended due to American leadership.

But that leaves the question: Quo Vadis? Where do we go from here.

Kori Schake wrote recently in The American Interest about this in an article entitled NATO without America. The article makes many good points, quite a few of which are not obvious.

[A] palpable sigh of relief emanated from NATO’s headquarters in Brussels and the capitals of 27 NATO members when Donald Trump finally had a good word to say about history’s most successful and enduring alliance. He did not, of course, go so far as to acknowledge NATO’s genuine achievements: agreeing in 1949 that an attack on any allied state would be considered an attack on all; creating in 1950 a structure of military commands that facilitates operations and creates a common strategic culture among members’ militaries; integrating West Germany as a military power into a cooperative framework in 1954; holding at bay bristling Soviet aggression for 45 years and Russian revanchism since; voluntarily sharing the burdens of a common defense—including nuclear weapons responsibilities; using America as a counterweight to potentially ruinous intra-European competition; reunifying Germany in 1991 without setting off alarms among European countries and Russia; imposing an end to the Balkan wars in 1995 and keeping the still-hostile parties from shooting at each other since; expanding the perimeter of security that encourages prosperity and accountable governance to Eastern and Southern Europe; preventing the Qaddafi regime from carrying out its apparent plan to massacre Libyans in March 2011; fighting for 15 years in Afghanistan; and continually finding ways to adapt a Cold War institution to new security challenges. […]

President Trump is certainly ruder than previous American leaders have been in decrying the shortfalls of our European allies, but the aggravation has long been widespread and is still growing. Americans of all political stripes believe it is long past time for Europe to stop indulging in post-Cold War defense cuts. Every American President of the past thirty years—actually longer, for the plaint goes back to the early years of the Nixon Administration—has dreamt up a NATO initiative to cajole greater defense expenditures out of our European allies. […]

Referring to the invocation (largely at British instigation) of Article 5 after 9/11.

But even if the support of some allies was grudging, they did nonetheless pledge on September 12 that the attack on us was an attack on them, and offer any and all support the Bush Administration wanted in the unnerving aftermath. That Americans were consumed with doing as quickly as possible all that was needed in those unimagined circumstances in no way diminishes the magnitude of commitment evinced by our allies.  […]

But most European governments conduct their national security policies at a much greater distance from their militaries, celebrating their concentration on “soft power” tools in lieu of force. Not only do they privilege those tools, they often consider their policies, and themselves, morally superior for the choice. One need only listen to EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker or read of the European Parliament passing legislation condemning U.S. intelligence agencies to share President Trump’s aggravation with Europe. We sentimentalize the Transatlantic connection at our peril.  […]

In some ways, we have created a ‘welfare state’ with regards to the defense of Western Europe, but it is very hard to see what the alternative was. We have become the ultimate European power, and the ultimate outcome of European culture, for better or worse. For all we wish that the Europeans would do more, well at least Germany isn’t invading Poland this week. We could certainly use better allies, but who, exactly might they be?

The Saudis are often maligned as being as great a threat as al-Qaeda or ISIS. This not only ignores the great changes in Saudi national security policy, especially after the 2005 terrorist attack in Riyadh, but also the important political and social changes enacted under the influence of the Emirates’ successes and a reformist leadership in the Kingdom. America’s partners in the region have gone on a defense-spending spree, driven by concern about Iranian efforts to destabilize Sunni governments and infiltrate Shi‘a ones. Even with those changes, however, impediments to deeper cooperation remain […]

Jordan, in particular, has been heroic in its generosity to Syrian refugees and courageous in its policies toward the Assad government. The United Arab Emirates  leads in the development of serious military forces and in cooperating with U.S. operations, as it did in Libya. Jordan, Egypt, and the UAE have been stalwart in their commitment to the war in Afghanistan and are being cajoled into a common front against ISIS. Even so, the countries of the Middle East pose challenges that European allies do not. […]

[I]t also merits emphasizing that NATO and “Europe” are not the same. Very often when American exasperation boils up at Europeans, it is the European Union we are reacting to. Not only do the EU’s ambitions outpace its achievements, its advocates and officials often seek acclaim in the present for intentions to accomplish things in the future. But while most NATO allies are also in the European Union, they behave differently in each setting because the institutional cultures of the two organizations are markedly different.

American leadership in NATO creates opportunities that we will never have in other venues. The integrated military command (IMC)  in NATO is the way we go to war, because the NATO allies are the countries we most frequently fight alongside, and the long-practiced procedures of the IMC facilitate understanding. Allies show up using equipment compatible with American equipment, talk on radio frequencies already known to American forces, share intelligence across linked systems, and drop bombs that can be shared if one country’s forces run short. […]

[R]ussian aggression is reviving interest in European security, but not diminishing other claims on American attention. Part of the reason why Trump’s criticism of European defense resonates is that challenges in Europe look manageable with the power Europeans could muster on their own. Could Britain, France, Poland, and Germany really not bring enough power to bear to defeat a Russian invasion of a Baltic state? If not, should they not quickly mobilize greater military forces—or more creatively use the nuclear and conventional forces they already have—instead of relying so heavily on American guarantees? Russia is not the peer of any of those countries (with the possible exception of Poland), much less all of them combined.

This plaint misses an important point. In aggregate, Europe’s military assets look formidable, but only the United States can bring them together in an effective fighting ensemble. We are the mainframe, so to speak, and the allies plug into that—whether we are talking about intelligence, logistics, lift, or half a dozen other crucial functions in contemporary warfighting. However well equipped they look on paper, our allies strain to coordinate their assets without us.

In any event, Americans would be wise not to scorn Europeans for clinging to us when they’re worried. Few states have the ability or domestic support to act without benefit of allies or international institutions. The United States does. But allied support matters for our domestic political purposes as well: Americans are more confident that our government is in the right when we win the support of other states that share our values. It matters especially now, when the international order is fraying. The world looks less safe, and the rules less respected, than they did a decade ago.

There is quite a lot more at the link, which you should read and digest. But the point is valid. Without the US at the center, as we have been for 70 years now, Europe has real problems in executing anything especially at any distance from home. It’s easy for us, as Americans, to forget that while we easily switch from considering the Balts to the middle east to Asia, only we, and before us, Great Britain, have ever truly been world-wide powers, able to project force almost anywhere on earth. The other are all regional powers of one sort or another, but they can be and are increasingly worldwide partners, because their militaries are constituted to work within the distinctive American pattern.

That makes them uniquely valuable, and it makes us essential to them, forging a win for all of us.

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Send in the Cavalry

002-Cavalry-Regiment-COAYou know there’s some quite old traditions in America, one of them is that when you’re in trouble, you like to see the Cavalry coming. Still works that way, you know. Take, for instance, the Second Dragoons, they’ve been around since established by Andy Jackson, in 1836. In the years since they’ve spent much of their time on the frontier. In the American west, with the Army of the Potomac, in Mexico, in Cuba, and the Philippines, with Patton, in West Germany, in Kuwait, Iraq, in Bosnia, and back to Iraq, and finally back to Germany, always, they seem to be where there is trouble. The ‘Ghosts of Patton’s Army’ have pretty much always lived up to their motto Toujours Prêt, always ready.

So, where have the dragoons been lately? Czech Republic, Poland, Latvia and Lithuania and in Estonia is where, of course. Where there is war or rumor of war is where you find the cavalry. This is a demonstration of showing the flag, mostly, a patrol (a road march, they call it) showing everybody that the US is concerned and involved.

1-B-lu5Viis48FxuptInneVwDragon Ride II it’s called, and while the Strykers might not be really up to combatting the Russian army, well they said the same thing about the horse cavalry in the Great War, but the Dragoons engaged at the Aisne-Marne as mounted cavalry.

via The U.S. Army’s Great Green Fleet Returns to Eastern Europe — War Is Boring

1-SFiR8ibvQvKyKNoLq0DhsQ

These Polish folks seem fairly pleased to see the cavalry arrive, don’t they? A picture the US Cavalry has figured in all over the world for generations.

 

(Not) John Cleese on Threats to Europe

English: John Cleese in May 2008.

English: John Cleese in May 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

[A quick note here. Am I the only one who remember why we classed chemical weapons as ‘weapons of mass destruction’? It was because during the cold war we had lots of tactical nuclear weapons but no gas shells. the Russians had lots of gas shells. so we decided that a gas shell, a bio weapon, or a nuke were all nukes to us, and that was how we would respond.

Now on to the main story]

I’ve seen this before (in fact I think I’ve run it before) but it’s still pretty much accurate. From Steven Hayword at Power Line

(NOT) JOHN CLEESE ON THREATS TO EUROPE (UPDATED)

UPDATE: Turns out this is not from John Cleese, though it has an Aristotelian authenticity that causes me to leave it up anyway.

This is making the rounds, and should not be missed:

ALERTS TO THREATS
IN 2013 EUROPE

From JOHN CLEESE

The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent events in Syria and have therefore raised their security level from “Miffed” to “Peeved.” Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to “Irritated” or even “A Bit Cross.” The English have not been “A Bit Cross” since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from “Tiresome” to “A Bloody Nuisance.” The last time the British issued a “Bloody Nuisance” warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots have raised their threat level from “Pissed Off” to “Let’s get the Bastards.” They don’t have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from “Run” to “Hide.” The only two higher levels in France are “Collaborate” and “Surrender.” The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France ‘s white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country’s military capability.

Italy has increased the alert level from “Shout Loudly and Excitedly” to “Elaborate Military Posturing.” Two more levels remain: “Ineffective Combat Operations” and “Change Sides.”

The Germans have increased their alert state from “Disdainful Arrogance” to “Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs.” They also have two higher levels: “Invade a Neighbour” and “Lose.”

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels ..

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Australia, meanwhile, has raised its security level from “No worries” to “She’ll be right, Mate.” Two more escalation levels remain: “Crikey! I think we’ll need to cancel the barbie this weekend!” and “The barbie is cancelled.” So far no situation has ever warranted use of the last final escalation level.

Regards,
John Cleese ,
British writer, actor and tall person

And as a final thought – Greece is collapsing, the Iranians are getting aggressive, and Rome is in disarray. Welcome back to 430 BC.

(Not) John Cleese on Threats to Europe (Updated) | Power Line.

So the British told us to go away and deal with our own silliness, and now we’re stuck with the Cheese-eating surrender monkeys French

Which doesn’t mean or State Department shouldn’t take a lesson from the British Foreign Office

And we might want to do something about immigration before it gets like Britain’s as well

Welcome to Labor DayThe end of Summer, the first weekend of college football

Leadership

no_149_queen_elizabeth_ii_jordan_1983_postcards-r25372c63d2da4873bfb136f11213468e_vgbaq_8byvr_512“I have never forgotten the sorrow and the pride I felt as my sister and I huddled around the nursery wireless set listening to my father’s inspiring words on that fateful day in 1939″ when World War II was declared, the scenario had the queen telling her subjects at noon on Friday March 4, 1983. “Not for a single moment did I imagine that this solemn and awful duty would one day fall to me.”.

“Help those who cannot help themselves, give comfort to the lonely and the homeless and let your family become the focus of hope and life to those who need it,” the message read. “As we strive together to fight off the new evil let us pray for our country and men of goodwill wherever they may be.”

‘Solemn and awful duty’: Secret files reveal Queen’s World War III speech | National Post.

That is part of the queen’s speech in the Wintex-Cimex exercise from 1983 that you’ve been hearing about. It was part of a British/NATO war game. That was an exercise on thermonuclear war between NATO and the Warsaw Pact. They were not uncommon. Those of us old enough remember those days with a shudder.

For you younger people we all, east and west, from 1957 until 1990, when we got up in the morning we always knew, like a black cloud on the horizon that the world might end in nuclear fire that day, with less than 30 minutes warning in the US, 15 or so minutes in Europe. This conflict is what drove foreign policy from 1945 until 1990, for forty-five years. I can still remember in the early sixties, before our missiles were fully on line doing duck and cover in elementary school, it was a lot like a tornado drill, but for the end of the world.

This is what the visible part looked like

This was a drill, obviously, but if it was for real, by the time that last bomber got off (and this is merely one of many bases) the missile subs were approaching launch depth, the tankers were flying, the ICBMs were within about a minute of launch, and the government was being evacuated from Washington. And that doesn’t even count the bombers that were in the air from 1960 for many years, along with a flying command post staffed with a miniature battle staff commanded by an Air Force General Officer who was the final launch authority if all else failed (or was destroyed).

When you hear us speak of mutually assured destruction (MAD), this is what were are talking about. The only good thing about it is that it worked, because the Soviets were no more suicidal than we were.

And since we started with a Queen’s speech from an exercise, this is what a Soviet attack on England would have unleashed, and nobody in America or the Soviet Union ever doubted it. That is what it meant to be an ally of America.

That is in a sense not an authentic speech but, I can easily hear the Queen giving it, just like I can imagine Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, or Reagan giving one like it.

And for contrast there is this

On Closed Embassies, the Worldwide Travel Alert, and Wimpitude

by Daniel Pipes
August 3, 2013

In April, the city of Boston was effectively under military curfew because two terrorists were on the loose. Now, fears of al-Qaeda attacking has led the U.S. government temporarily to close 21 U.S. embassies in Muslim-majority countries and then issue a worldwide travel alert announcing that “Terrorists may elect to use a variety of means and weapons and target both official and private interests. U.S. citizens are reminded of the potential for terrorists to attack public transportation systems and other tourist infrastructure.”

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, said that the two steps result from “a significant threat stream” and so the authorities “are taking it seriously.”

Comments:

(1) Don’t know about you, but I find this pre-emptive cringing unworthy of a great country, even humiliating. Why do we allow a bunch of extremist thugs to close us down, rather than the reverse? For what purpose do we pay for the world’s best military and largest intelligence services if not to protect ourselves from this sort of threat?

(2) This timidity fits into a larger pattern that I have long found reprehensible. Here’s a comment of mine from 1998 I should like to resurrect, that responded to the double bombings of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania almost exactly fifteen years ago, on Aug. 7, 1998:

It’ll be a happy day when American embassies are again built in busy downtown intersections out of normal materials – and not, as they are now, bunkers located in distant lots surrounded by high fences. Such a change will only be possible when the safety of Americans depends not on walls, metal detectors and Marine guards, but on the deterrence established by years of terrible retribution against anyone who so much as harms a single American citizen.

Deterrence, not shuttering the bunkers we call embassies, is the solution. Maybe Obama’s successor will understand this imperative. (August 3, 2013)

On Closed Embassies, the Worldwide Travel Alert, and Wimpitude
 

God save the Queen

BBC News – Viewpoint: Counter-insurgency lessons from Vietnam

Viewpoint: Counter-insurgency lessons from Vietnam

American soldiers and Vietnamese refugees returning to the town of Hue, in Vietnam

The rise in so-called insider attacks by rogue Afghan security forces has highlighted the perils of joint operations in counter-insurgency. But former US soldier David Donovan, who fought in Vietnam, says lessons learnt long ago have been forgotten.

If you could feel the heat and sweat of the tropics. If you could hear the noise of battle and sense the fears.

If you could put yourself on the other side of the world where you are the selectee of your government to advise and help a unit of foreign fighters defend their village.

And if you and that unit are at this moment in combat but they are being slow to react, you might come close to understanding how I felt one day in 1969 in the Mekong delta of Vietnam.

The enemy were in a nearby tree-line. They had taken us under fire, and bullets were cutting leaves from the trees.

We already had wounded – one man shot in the foot, another in the side. Everyone had gone to ground and the Vietnamese officer, my counterpart, was down behind a small dike with some of his soldiers. He was fixed in place, not taking the lead.

I was an American infantry officer there to provide assistance when possible and leadership when necessary. Frustrated at our slow reaction, I ran toward my counterpart intent on getting him to lead his men. But as I made my way, a background programme had already begun running in my mind. It asked, “What are you doing here? Is this ever going to mean anything?”

Continue reading the main story

About the author

Terry Turner

David Donovan is the pen name of scientist Terry T Turner, of the University of Virginia. He served in the US army from 1967 to 1970, and saw frontline action in Vietnam. He has written a number of books about his experiences there.

BBC News – Viewpoint: Counter-insurgency lessons from Vietnam.

I can’t really say too much about this but, I have over the years known quite a few officers who were advisers to ARVN units, and they pretty much unanimously say nearly the same things as the author does here If they are correct, and I believe they are, it’s still another reason to get out while we can.

As Donovan says the Mullahs in the hills are saying exactly the same things about us as they did the British 150 years ago. Remember how the poem ends?

If your officer’s dead and the sergeants look white,
Remember it’s ruin to run from a fight:
So take open order, lie down, and sit tight,
And wait for supports like a soldier.
Wait, wait, wait like a soldier . . .

When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
So-oldier ~of~ the Queen!

 I don’t think it would be wise to have cause to write a similar poem about the American soldier.

Happy Saturday

From the E-Mail. Thought it would be nice to brighten your Saturday morning a bit.

So, here’s the world situation, according to John Cleese.

A little John Cleese humour to brighten up your day.

The English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent events in Syria and have therefore raised their security level from “Miffed” to “Peeved.” Soon, though, security levels may be raised yet again to “Irritated” or even “A Bit Cross.” The English have not been “A Bit Cross” since the blitz in 1940 when tea supplies nearly ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from “Tiresome” to “A Bloody Nuisance.” The last time the British issued a “Bloody Nuisance” warning level was in 1588, when threatened by the Spanish Armada.

The Scots have raised their threat level from “Pissed Off” to “Let’s get the Bastards.” They don’t have any other levels. This is the reason they have been used on the front line of the British army for the last 300 years.

The French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from “Run” to “Hide.” The only two higher levels in France are “Collaborate” and “Surrender.” The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France ‘s white flag factory, effectively paralysing the country’s military capability.

Italy has increased the alert level from “Shout Loudly and Excitedly” to “Elaborate Military Posturing.” Two more levels remain: “Ineffective Combat Operations” and “Change Sides.”

The Germans have increased their alert state from “Disdainful Arrogance” to “Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs.” They also have two higher levels: “Invade a Neighbour” and “Lose.”

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual; the only threat they are worried about is NATO pulling out of Brussels.

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Australia, meanwhile, has raised its security level from “No worries” to “She’ll be alright, Mate.” Two more escalation levels remain: “Crikey! I think we’ll need to cancel the barbie this weekend!” and “The barbie is cancelled.” So far no situation has ever warranted use of the last final escalation level.

— John Cleese – British writer, actor and tall person.

A final thought -“ Greece is collapsing, the Iranians are getting aggressive and Rome is in disarray. Welcome back to 430 BC.”

Thanks DBM-W, you made my day.

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