Kolmapäev, november 01, 2006

A European counterbalance to the US?

Let's talk honestly here - the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has not only brought sunshine and lollipops to the countries of the old Warsaw Pact. It has also brought with it submission to a rejuvenated bi-polar interpretation of European security issues and enough anxiety for Russia to create the gas shut off to Ukraine last year, as well as the recent overreaction to the Georgian spying crisis.

Lacking significant power in numbers and euros, NATO countries are ultimately consigned to the will of the Anglo-American alliance. And so the debate over expansion of membership to Georgia and possibly Ukraine strikes analysts as a showdown between Washington and Moscow, and nothing more. It's a test of Russian and American political will, played out through the US' proxy organization NATO, which many in Russia see as "anti-Russian."

This week, however, the German defense ministry published a position paper that outlines its transition from a post-war army to one that will undertake a greater role in global security. Specifically, Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung is calling for raising troop levels by 5,000.

Germany is currently engulfed in a debate over the misadventures of some of its troops in Afghanistan, but the idea of Germany contributing more, especially within the context of NATO, was welcomed by The New York Times.

Military ties to the United States will remain at the heart of Berlin's defense policy. But larger and more robust troop contributions from the most populous European NATO country can help restore a measure of political balance to an alliance increasingly distorted by Washington's military role.


If Germany really does retool its army, it will be a positive for Estonia, because it will be easier for Estonia to cooperate in international missions - and have a say in critical decisions - if Berlin's thoughts count at least half of much as Washington's.

But I am sure our resident blog pundits have some ideas of their own.

9 kommentaari:

Anonüümne ütles ...

Mr. TV star ;)

Giustino ütles ...

It's a weird thing seeing yourself on television speaking a foreign language. I'm told I made few mistakes, but my accent is flat and American. If I only could learn to speak like you restless natives.

Anonüümne ütles ...

It wasn't so bad, you actually spoke it better than you write :P Of course there were some mistakes but nothing that would render you imcomprehensable.

Giustino ütles ...

This co-opting of blog content is weird. I suddenly am the top blog on Eesti Päevaleht for the day. WTF?

Anonüümne ütles ...

All the issue was concerned a lot about Russia and it's fears. So I assume not being native American you are Russian. No one else would spend so much space for that. Just it is not in center of gravity.

Giustino ütles ...

All the issue was concerned a lot about Russia and it's fears. So I assume not being native American you are Russian. No one else would spend so much space for that. Just it is not in center of gravity.

I am an American. I don't understand the rest of your post. I think you are saying that only an Russian would worry about NATO expansion to Georgia and Ukraine. I somewhat disagree. I don't worry about it - but I don't like that it is interpreted as "Washington vs. Moscow" instead of "Brussels and Washington vs. Moscow."

I am familiar with Russian paranoia about NATO. I have some American contacts in St Petersburg and through their opinions I see the information Russians have access to - mainly this idea that they are being surrounded by a hostile alliance.

They see Estonia's NATO membership as a forward staging ground for an attack on St. Petersburg. They think that Saakashvili is a paid-off American stooge.

I think they are irrationally paranoid, and their official position - that the USSR was one happy family - MUST be reexamined internally for their own benefit. Then they could finally understand WHY people want to join the alliance.

My point is that the growth of German military power could ease some of the strain felt between Washington, it's "New European" allies, and Moscow.

From all the polls I have read, the Russians don't feel threatened by Germany. They also seem to respect Germany more than America. So my point was that a stronger German role in NATO could take some of the pressure out of the current situation.

Anonüümne ütles ...

"So my point was that a stronger German role in NATO could take some of the pressure out of the current situation."
I can agree on that above...but...I dont think that the German army ever could be a counterbalance to US...US army is able to fight an offensive; German army can only defend or stand between two parties...their capabilities will never be as strong as the US. German army should stick to what they can, providing small quantity special units and supporting reconstruction works in war zones.

Giustino ütles ...

German army should stick to what they can, providing small quantity special units and supporting reconstruction works in war zones.

I can't say that I am happy that Americans provide most of Europe's security. Look at us - we're bogged down in Iraq, we can barely muster strong diplomacy on North Korea and Iran, we were attacked five years ago and still haven't caught the mastermind.

Would it be wise to tie the future of European security to the success of the United States, or would it be wiser to start investing now in your own EU security?

Anonüümne ütles ...

"I can't say that I am happy that Americans provide most of Europe's security."
hmm...In the case of germany, it was against the intervention in iraq. And what has the war in iraq has to do with european security? I truly believe in that the terror plots in madrid/london were caused by the messed up situation in Iraq!
But you're right, Europe needs to have an own army, Europe needs a own defense strategy and shouldn't be depend on US.