No to Non-Euro NATO Bureau

For some reason, there is hardly ever any NATO coverage on this blog, despite the fact it’s the other pan-European institution. The Euro-Atlantic alliance is having a summit next month, to be held in Riga. Now, one of the main topics for this gathering is the long-running one of adapting NATO to challenges other than that of defending the North German plain from the Red Army. Role-of-the-week is, of course, fighting terrorism. A wider view might point out that the so-called “emerging security threats” predate the War On Terrorism, and that many of the capabilities required for “fighting terrorism” abroad are equally applicable to regional peacekeeping or even expeditionary warfighting.

Anyway, it’s long been thought in some circles that NATO’s radius of action ought to be increased. During the Cold War, NATO was quite intimately connected with other Western allies outside the North Atlantic, both via the Americans and also other multilateral mechanisms. The overlap between NATO, the EU, and other security communities and economic areas has often, then and now, been seen as a sort of “community of democracies” or (as Raymond Aron put it) “world of order”. On the other hand, E.P. Thompson savaged what he saw as a sick complacency in the face of nuclear dread and capitalist exploitation on the part of the “Natopolitans” in an article entitled Inside the Whale, and today’s rabid right wants to have a “Democratic Union” made up of NATO and EU states, Japan, India and Australia – but not France, naturally. NATO, meanwhile, has expanded in Europe and taken on a mission to Afghanistan, which is well out-of-area in NATOspeak.

The latest proposal was supported by the US and UK, and foresaw regular bilateral meetings between NATO and allied states outside Europe, with a shortlist of Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Japan. In a sense, it would have brought a sort of “secret NATO” or “virtual NATO” into the tent – the UK, Canada, New Zealand and Australia have separate alliances among themselves and with the US, including the UKUSA, CAZAB and Echelon intelligence cooperation agreements, ANZUK and ANZUS.

So what happened?

Well, in the traditional pre-meeting meetings among officials, it looks like the proposal has been kiboshed by the French government. Defence Minister (and new presidential candidate) Michéle Alliot-Marie explained why in an article Le Figaro carried on Monday (link). Now, the standard discourse is quite clear. This is simply an example of a Gaullist French government being NATO-sceptic, or if you are stupider, the cheese-eating surrender monkeys selling out American boys to the sociosexual dhimmicrats or whatever.

But Alliot-Marie’s official explanation is rather different. She refers to the possible appearance of such a move in terms of “clash of civilisations” (since when were Holland and Japan in the same civilisation?), but this is thin. More importantly, she claims to be concerned that NATO’s purpose may be diluted and the political will to maintain the Atlantic alliance strained if it is given further ill-defined missions. There is some point to this.

The most interesting question, though, is that it’s not as if France doesn’t participate in global-security tasks in cooperation with the US and NATO. The Washington Post reported not so long ago about a major CIA-run counter-terrorist coordination centre, “Alliance Base”, operating in France. The French navy is one of the founder members of the Proliferation Security Initiative, this highly anglo-saxon effort to check shipping for WMD components at choke points worldwide. And French forces have been participating not just in the NATO-run peacekeeping effort in Afghanistan, but also in the US-led terrorist hunt, Op. ENDURING FREEDOM. None of these are NATO tasks, but are instead “coalitions of the willing” with the Anglo-Saxons and their “intelligence special relationship.”

Personally, I would rather see more of these brought into the NATO orbit, and so should anyone concerned about US adventurism – NATO operates by unanimity, after all. And you would think the French government, if you assume its goal is to frustrate US unilateral activities, would want to bring these things into NATO for the same reason. Neither would they want to participate.

But the assumption that NATO or the EU is inactive against terrorism is not supported by facts. In fact, just as MAM’s officials troll-rated the Riga proposal, Sarkozy’s were signing off a new agreement on cooperation between EUROJUST, the EU judicial cooperation agency, and the US. In order to share information on drug traffickers and terrorists, as well, no doubt, any one of you and me who happens to crop up in their Big Database.

28 thoughts on “No to Non-Euro NATO Bureau

  1. I think French thinking has more to do with “North VS South” dichotomies than “clash of civilizations”. A NATO with more South Korea, Japan, NZ and Australia is simply shorthand for the First World. A group like this romping around ensuring “security” in the 3rd world is simply a modern version of the Eight-Nation Alliance which imposed capitalism and free trade upon a recalcitrant Imperial China. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eight-Nation_Alliance)

    France likes to think of herself as being pro-3rd world (though her actions are more mixed), especially regarding Black Africa and the Mideast. As such, I’m not surprised France is opposed to the creation of a 1st world military club.

  2. France is simply immune from the racist fascism that has gripped the anglophone countries as a result of its history. Plus France is still about a century ahead in democracy and social development.

    Advanced cultures like France and China will always be in a natural opposition to pseudo-democratic imperial countries that are based on submission and mass stupidity like the USA, I think.

  3. Name,

    Ha! Are you serious? What have all the riots in France been lately? Surely not about race. Thanks for hardy laugh on a Monday morning.

  4. It clearly was a class riot and not so much a race riot. Race is only an expression of class.
    But name’s comment was funny because France didn’t join in the Iraqi colonial adventures of the Anglosphere because of any moral reasons, though they obviously exist, but because it was clear from the start that the adventure would end in a great defeat.
    Thank god Iraq is falling into civil war otherwise the defeat would be even greater when a democratic Iraq would force the pro-American Arabian dictatorships to change in democracies which are naturally anti-American

  5. What is monday already?

    Well the riots in France are not about “race” at all. “Race” only exists in racist countries like the USA or Israel, anyway. You are just very misinformed by the anglo-fascist media.

    Of course, if you legalize guns and let people die on the streets as the normal way of life, then only riots with scores of dead get reported. That would be the kind of social contract the Imperial countries have.

  6. The S-G of NATO gave a speech today, setting out his priorities for the multilateral public organisation. http://www.nato.int/docu/speech/2006/s061106a.htm

    What should NATO’s role be, seems still to need an answer. Secondly, in answering this members and partners will bear in mind they’ll have to fund the role. However the funding problem would no doubt be eased if NATO was to become a special agency of the United Nations.

  7. In my opinion NATO isn’t “the other pan-European institution”. It’s mostly, to speak like the badly-behaved youth I’m definitely not, The US’ bitch and its proper reason for existence disappeared roughly at the same time as the USSR. Its current reason for existence is seemingly to piss off what’s left of the USSR for no clear reason, and to do the job the US can’t be bothered to do in Afghanistan.

    Perhaps the collapse of NATO would force the EU to wake up and set up a united armed force. Well, we can always hope 🙂

  8. @Name: Errr, we don’t have guns in Britain..

    @IJ: So, you envision NATO as the people to finally provide the troops the UN is meant to have under the original Charter?

    @Hervé: NATO looks as close to a useful EU armed force as we’re likely to get, as the Americans seem to be slowly seceding. Perhaps France could rejoin the single command structure to redress the balance.

  9. What is France’s exact position in the single command structure? Haven’t Mitterrand and Chirac made France sort of semi-join again? I’m not clear on what France’s current position is.

    NATO’s role as an American guarantee of (Western) Europe historically transcends the threat of the USSR. In fact, had the USA ratified Versailles then should would have guaranteed French security in the interwar years, might have saved us the grief of WW2.

    That said, I can’t think of any real threat to Europe (that is, the European theater) nowadays that the USA could possibly help us in dealing with. In that sense, I think NATO is superfluous. At this point, NATO is just a hat, a table, a forum and little else.

  10. “@IJ: So, you envision NATO as the people to finally provide the troops the UN is meant to have under the original Charter?”

    Yesterday’s speech hints at this.

    “We [NATO] need to coordinate better with other actors. A key lesson from the Balkans and now Afghanistan is the need to work more closely with other international organisations – governmental and non-governmental. . . We need to coordinate much more closely with the UN, the EU, the NGOs – and not just in the field, but also at the strategic level.”

    But will NATO’s allegiance to the United Nations prevent it from having members who act in opposition to the UN’s global rule set?

  11. France left the integrated command in 1966 or thereabouts but never left the alliance. These days, I think it participates in the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps, but uses troops from the Franco-German Eurocorps (which presumably maintains the fiction that France is not in the integrated command structure).

    A French military mission is stationed at SHAPE, and I think (although I’m not entirely sure) it was all along.

  12. Isn’t it possible that NATO has just outlived its usefulness? Like American troops in South Korea, there really isn’t much point to it.

  13. American troops are in Korea to make sure that South Korea is
    A) at war with North Korea
    B) Allied with Japan

    Remove them and there is no need for troops in Japan (atleast from the Japanese side) which would make the position of Taiwan solved as part/allied with China

    NATO now exist to prevent animosity between the USA and EU, which otherwise would pop up very fast as they are the to largest economic and military powers in the world.

  14. An exercise: Design a European Security Organization (ESO). Take history into account along with current tasks for securing Europe and the capabilities of the relevant states.

    A question: How much does the ESO differ from NATO? Is it greater or less than the gains of more than 50 years of close cooperation? Is the difference greater or less than the inevitable costs and compromises of creating a new organization? Would the relevant states be willing to devote as many resources to the ESO as they presently do to NATO?

  15. “NATO now exist to prevent animosity between the USA and EU, which otherwise would pop up very fast as they are the to largest economic and military powers in the world.”
    The EU si not even *a* military power, it is a set of divided smaller military powers, and as such, is completely incapable of rivalling the US in this domain.

  16. Charly, in what way would removing US troops from South Korea make them unnecessary in Japan from the Japanese point of view? Surely it would make them all the more necessary as a guarantee against China?

    And what US interest is served by South Korean/North Korean animosity? I can’t think of one.

  17. Japan would need to rearm with South Korea in the enemy camp (especially with the North Korean weapons which Hyundai paid for) and if Japan was rearmed then they wouldn’t need the American army.

    The US can have bases close to China as long as there is inter Korean animosity. Without that animosity the Koreans may start to remember the 40 years of dictatorship (partly by Japanese collaborators)

    [Japan is armed. Heavily]

  18. “Just like Germany before 1870.
    The Easiest way to unify a country is to find an extern enemy”
    Waiting for a Euro-Russian war or summat?

    Nuclear Sedan!

  19. You could just as easy add a comment instead of editing a comment.

    Japan is defensively very strong but it has no offense which is also needed for a good defense. They need the Americans for this.

    A European-Russia war will go nuclear very fast. To fast to be usefull as a unifing war. But a war between EU and USA over a colony without attacks on the homelands would allow the EU to be unified.

  20. How do you differentiate “offensive” and “defensive”? The Japanese have a fearsome air force, a serious navy (although one without carriers) and a formidable army. Economically, they could take the counter-offensive against China by blockading Shanghai and hitting power-grid nodes. They only need the Americans for a strategic nuclear guarantee.

    I doubt a Euro-Russian war would go nuclear quickly, if at all. The only way I think it would go nuclear would be if we were arrogant or “Dizzy with Success” (copyright – J. Stalin) enough to threaten the core stability of the state. The Russian army of today is not something to worry about with the exception of a few good units like the 63rd (Cossack) Brigade, all of whom are in Chechnya. If we were to start shooting over, say, Riga or some northern Norwegian gasfield, I would expect the Russians to make some progress until ERRF/1ARRC got there, then take a pub carpark shoeing – and that’s if the Latvians or Norwegians didn’t know their business in the sense of territorial/local defence. The Norwegians do know their business, as far as my sources tell me – they have been training every year with the Royal Marines since the mid-70s.

    The problem would be one of consequence management. How to stop?

  21. They have a fearsome airforce without refueling capability. Their enemies are continental powers so a navy isn’t that usefull (without even going into the fact that navy’s aren’t on the whole that usefull). The Japanese army is to heavy to be airlifted. Also their rocket force isn’t up to scratch. On the whole i would say that Japan has a really good defensive army but without the offensive counterweight. This could all change very fast with some strategic investments but as of now i can’t see how they could for instance hit the Chinese powergrid even when the Chinese airdefences are on holiday.
    Also South Korea is the wild card in this. There are some significant doubts on who’s side they would fight in a Chinese-Japanes war. They may do the surprising thing and fight on the side of the rising sun
    About the American nuclear deterence, Japan has the largest stockpile of plutonium in the world. Somehow i doubt that they need that deterence.

    The core of Russia is Gazprom. Hit it and expect nukes. Don’t hit it and see the next CEO of Gazprom make a speach about uninterrupted gas supplies to Europe. Not that we will fold after that.

    ps. Folding during a speach is not after it

  22. China is a continental economy that’s specialised on exporting manufactured goods mostly from cities in its eastern third through the ports of Shanghai and Hong Kong, whilst importing immense quantities of oil and metals. All of this goes by sea.

    What do you think happens if the port of Shanghai is shut down? Mass layoffs, bank crisis, panic in the streets.

    And Japan *does* have an air-to-air refuelling capability.

  23. Walmart without stock. Hunger in the streets of America.

    ps. During a war you use your factories to make weapons. No need to worry about unemployment

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