Wake up Europe

The ongoing struggle in the Ukraine and its resultant debate is merely an indicator of a larger question that Europe seems increasingly unable to answer.

Ukraine might seem important to European defence in itself but it is not, it is merely an indicator of this larger question.

The question of importance is;

Who provides a security guarantee for Europe

Is it the USA or Europe.

We should remind ourselves that the armed forces of Europe consist of more than a million and a half personnel, its defence industries produce equipment that is qualitatively as good as anyone else and includes a couple of nuclear powers sitting on the UN Security Council.

It is not to be trifled with.

Europe also has painful and searing recent memories of war, horrors that would make ISIS blush and that resulted in people having to eat grass to survive. Naturally, this colours a European world view that does not want an encore. When American commenters are critical of the pursuit of the avoidance of war in the capitals of Europe they would do well to remember this.

We can have endless debates about US self interest and its desire to replace old empire with new but lets not forget, the USA has earned the right to be critical, her soldiers died helping to liberate Europe and during the Cold War, she underpinned the defence of Europe. The intervention in Libya was a European idea and yet when push came to shove, it was the USA that did the heavy lifting. This despite Europe having a combined GDP of a couple of trillion Dollars north of the USA and being next door to the operational area.

Libya was supposed to usher in a new era of strategic self reliance, it was Europe’s issue, not the USA’s. Yet for all the bluff and bluster it was the USA that underpinned, reluctantly, the whole operation. European powers could barely muster a handful of fast jets and precision munitions and this limitation, coupled with soundbite platitudes and an unwillingness to get involved beyond long distance showboating has resulted in the chaos today on Europe’s southern border.

5 years ago (nearly) the message was clear, Europe wanted to do more on its periphery and the USA less, Russia was settled, they were becoming more like ‘us’ after all and the world was good.

What has happened since?

The European Union (EU) embarked on an ill advised eastward expansion, its members, an ill advised reduction in defence spending and because of Europe’s goldfish like attention span, the ongoing chaos in Libya set in train a series of events that would lead to ISIS.

Then Ukraine happened.

An oversimplification, yes, of course, but it serves to illustrate the point.

John McCain is getting traction agitating for stronger response in the Ukraine. Europe should have the strategic confidence and will to say to Mr McCain, do one baldy !

I joke of course but the USA is quite correctly moving (however slowly) it’s geopolitical focus to the Pacific and Europe has to learn to stand on it’s own two feet.

Standing on its own two feet can mean one of two things.

Maintaining an effective defence against aggression within it borders and essentially, giving up any intervention on its periphery and future expansion into the East.

Or, maintaining the same effective defence against aggression within its borders but also taking some responsibility for its periphery and overseas interests.

The first is easily achievable, especially given the strength of the UK and France.

The second option needs the will and the wallet.

Without that, talk of alliances and treaty obligations is a sideshow, is Germany or the UK really going to go to war if Russian has one of those new fangled ambiguous semi invasions in Latvia, is Belgium, France or Turkey, NATO members all?

Is the USA?

I have said this before but credibility and perceptions matter.

Right or wrong, the perception at the minute is one of a Europe cowering in the corner hoping the Russian Bear will leave us alone if only we buy some more gas and ignore murdering people with radiation in London and murdering innocent airline passengers in the Ukraine.

It might do, but not for the long term.

This means Europe does have some notice, some breathing space, but not for the long term.

Russia’s economy is in a poor state, it’s military not as scary as they would have us believe and as a nation, unable to control their insecurities about encirclement and lost glories. That does not mean they are not dangerous though, Putin is trapped in a strategic context of his own ill advised making aided and abetted by a weak Europe

A trapped animal is a dangerous animal.

If Russian aggression in the Ukraine is not a strategic shock then I am not sure what is and the penny has to drop sometime.

Calls to provide arms to the Ukraine have been met with a rising chorus of ‘it will just make matters worse’ and they are probably right. The time to provide security assistance to the Ukraine has gone, the reality on the ground is the reality. Ukraine is not a member of the EU or NATO, in reality, Old Europe does not owe any debt of collective defence, as unfortunate and harsh as that may seem to the poor people of that nation. Whilst the time has passed for effective action it is also probably fair to say that it would have been foolhardy to do so.

Although Ukraine might feature heavily ‘in the now’ what is important is what comes after.

It is here where perception and credibility will matter most.

This is not to say Europe should discount or pull away from the USA, far from it. Putin is trying to drive a wedge between the US and Europe, it is the obvious strategy of ‘attacking alliances’ but an alliance of unequal’s where the disparity is so marked is a weak alliance.

It is time for the USA to make Europe stand more on its own two feet as it moves its geopolitical focus to the Pacific.

Europe has to wake up, it is not too late.

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Simon257
Simon257
February 10, 2015 11:07 pm

Nice Article TD

Where do see Greece in all this. If they decide to Foxtrot Oscar out of the EU. What chance the EU and the Euro with it, won’t collapse just like a pack of cards!

MSR
MSR
February 10, 2015 11:13 pm

[QUOTE]
Ukraine is not a member of the EU or NATO, in reality, Old Europe does not owe any debt of collective defence,
[END QUOTE]

There is the small matter of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, signed by the US, Russia and the UK, in order to convince Ukraine to hand over its inheritance of Russian nukes. While they did not, effectively, have operational control of the nukes at that time, there is no reason to believe they couldn’t have remedied that situation quickly, particularly given Russian’s weakened state at the time. Possession is nine tenths of the law.

So, do we (the UK specifically, as the only European signatory) not bear a certain responsibility towards Ukraine, having convinced them to divest themselves of assets which precedent (North Korea, Pakistan) proves can keep a small nation free of a larger aggressor?

The situation reminds me of Poland, 1939, and I don’t think that’s an exaggeration. Strong action in defence of Poland might… might… have averted war at the time, and like many despots, the longer Hitler remained in power without an external focus for the population, the less powerful he would ultimately become as that population centred its focus on him and his regime. Galtieri knew that. If he hadn’t started the Falklands he’d have been pushed out, anyway.

We missed the boat for strong action in Ukraine, as you say, but that doesn’t mean we should abandon them, now. If, as you also say, we need to show the Russian bear, and anyone else, that Europe is no push-over then Ukraine remains the forum in which to do it, else we’ll be doing it in Latvia or Finland, or the North Sea, instead!

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
February 10, 2015 11:13 pm

Good post TD, deserving a considered reply, but not one that I have the concentration to write at this late moment.

What I would observe is that, notwithstanding the whole raft of complexity introduced by a need for a collective European response in the absence of any political consensus while nations deal with a financial crisis of social overspending on a continental scale, we in the UK have made some strategic errors in the last decade. We have hollowed out our land forces, burned our public acceptance by ill-advised ventures in the middle east, and quite foolishly have placed most of our future budget in the wrong service.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
February 10, 2015 11:54 pm

@RT – Not sure our having a bigger army would help much at this point…wouldn’t they be a bit lonely along the Vistula, with most of the Cousins back home in Kansas and the Bundeswehr resolutely kipping in their Kasernes; although the Poles are no doubt fine fellows, how the hell would we get home if something went wrong? :-(

GNB

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 11, 2015 12:07 am

TD, a good text.

This, though, raises a question:

“The European Union (EU) embarked on an ill advised eastward expansion”

Which is: who advised?

The Baltic states have been European since the Crusades (yes, one to the North as well). Poland is also European as what was in doubt is now called Belo-Russia. We know the Chzechs (they would have been the reason to go to war and even the commie Russia would have joined in – sorted!). The Hungarians saved us from the Huns ánd the Turks. Well, who wanted the rest? It was to make sure that Warsaw Pact could not be re-erected in any shape or form?

What came out of that? The western Slavs against the rest. Not the best story in the history of Europe.

Even the leading article includes the use of”the” Ukraine, instead of Ukraine. The borderlands, rather than a nation state defined by something else. The Congo; the Sudan? At least we have got rid of that with (the) Lebanon. Even though they might go the same way as (the) Ukraine: partioned along the old fault lines. I hope not, but language is an indicator of how we think and see matters.

IXION
February 11, 2015 12:36 am

This is not Poland in 39.

This is Czechoslovakia in 37-38.

If we ( the west) do not stop this creep now, he will be agitating next year for the return of Latvia etc. Putin wants to rebuild the Soviet Union. He has the Hitler mindsest… wherever there are Russians is Russia, and there are Sudaten Russians ready to agitate in significant minorities in all of the old republics.

We do not need to role tanks east.

We just Need to get really heavy with sanctions, arm the ukranians offer them cash credits, and sequester all Russian assets abroad. As a starter.

If that does not Work I suggest starting with airstrikes in support of the goverment of ukrain in its own territories, then deploying NATO troops in their defence.

Seriously this is worth going to war over now.

The Russians aint gonna rock up at Calais with 10 divisions. I suspect they dont even care about the old Warsaw pact contries but It does want All the old Soviet republics back and is prepared to lie cheat and kill to get them.

The europen response so far has been pure appeasement. That worked well last time.

Challenger
Challenger
February 11, 2015 1:00 am

I see Putin’s way of doing things far more akin to 19th century Tsarist Russia than the Soviet Union or Hitlers Germany.

It’s a half paranoid fear of encirclement, wanting to push the boundaries out and have buffer states, whether directly incorporated or under the thumb and a declining population linked to a nationalistic desire to see all Russians living under the Russian flag.

Essentially it boils down to Putin wanting his own version of the Russian Empire of old. It’s not a case of trying to export an ideology like the USSR or conqueror the world, but instead to have Russia respected as a great power and one that has parity with the other major players and is a force to be reckoned with from Europe and NATO’s point of view after decades of post Cold War stagnation, corruption, perceived loss of standing etc.

Don’t get me wrong, Putin is a dangerous guy and the situation should be treated seriously but to half agree with IXION this is most like Czechoslovakia 1938 and will continue to be so, not an out and out chance of full-scale war, but potentially a series of expansionist grabs of what he considers Russian territory piece by piece to put the empire back together, with Crimea and Eastern Ukraine being the start.

jon livesey
jon livesey
February 11, 2015 1:39 am

No, this is not Poland in 1939, and in 1939 “strong action” would not have avoided war because the UK wasn’t trying to avoid war. The whole point of the Polish Guarantee was to give the UK a legal justification for declaring war if Germany invaded Poland. There was no notion that we could “help” Poland, especially since that would have given a weak country control over a strong country’s strategy, only that eventually Poland would be liberated.

The strategy here is that Germany is an industrial state in a resource poor country. It can win very short wars, but its shortage of resources – for example, in 1930 it imported 80% of its oil – makes it vulnerable in long wars, especially if it is subject to naval blockade.

In 1939, the nightmare scenario was that Germany would invade Poland, and if the UK and France remained neutral, it would then push on into Russia, seize Russian oil and other resources, and attain strategic invulnerability. The Polish guarantee was a clear warning to Berlin that it would be faced with a two front war and a naval blockade. Sure enough, Germany fought the war with a chronic shortage of oil and other resources.

There is nothing like this concerning Eastern Ukraine. It is historically part of greater Russia and it has only ever enjoyed temporary independence. Its economy is integrated with the Russian one. Going to war for Eastern Ukraine makes no strategic sense for the West, so we should probably concede some sort of parition and concentrate on developing Western Ukraine.

Nick
Nick
February 11, 2015 6:11 am

One point that I don’t think is necessarily well understood. Putin doesn’t want the Donbass region; only about 20 to 25 % of the population are ethnically Russian (although Russian speaking is the norm, the rust belt economy focusses most towards Russia and their seems to be some cultural differences with Western Ukraine that are being exploited by the politicians).

The whole point of this is to destroy Ukraine’s economy and bring them back into line and into the sphere of influence. As a bi-product I guess he expected it to show our weakness and to thereby influence Belarus, the Baltic States and the wavering parts of East Europe (Hungary, Bulgaria, Serbia stand out) that Russia is a real force.

Once he started down this track, then his internal political narrative makes it impossible for him to back down without claiming a victory to his people. I don’t think he expected sanctions to be this aggressive (and if he had stuck to Crimea it wouldn’t have been).

The problem with the article is that it refers to Europe as though Europe is the USA and has a single government controlling it. It doesn’t and isn’t (and may never be). Each country has its own economic interests, its own political considerations, its own view on history and the lessons learnt. For example, Germany is undoubtedly deeply scarred by the legacy of the two world wars. Their instinct is not as bellicose or interventionist as ours and they certainly have a much bigger and deeper economic stake in Russia than we do. However, even with all that, Europe is united on this issue, even if there are a range of different views on what the next step might look like.

I agree you can draw parallels to the 1935 to 1939 period with Hitler gradually bringing the German speaking population together. However, I think we should also look at the response from the rest of Europe and much of the western orientated world. It really is quite different.

As to arming Ukraine government; many seem to be making an assumption that Ukraine military is actually capable of using modern western equipment. It really doesn’t seem that it is. Therefore with weapons must go a significant training component on the ground. I think we can all see how Putin would portray this; its an excuse to bring more Russian troops into the Country and to step up type of equipment used (air power for example). Are we really ready to take that step just yet, knowing what it is likely to mean ? It’s not a step to be taken lightly is it ?

Obsvr
Obsvr
February 11, 2015 6:44 am

It’s a continuation of Russian history, expand in all directions when possible. The Finns recognise this (having spent a couple of hundred or so years as a Russian colony and being attacked in 1938). Poland is the same, in 1795 Poland reached almost to Kiev, but was dismembered between Prussia, Russia & Austro-Hungary by the Treaty of Vienna. Being a Russian neighbour is not a happy place to be but that is not a reason to forget them.

S O
S O
February 11, 2015 7:12 am

“The intervention in Libya was a European idea and yet when push came to shove, it was the USA that did the heavy lifting.”

This is actually 100% incorrect. Look up the real history.
———————————————
“There is the small matter of the 1994 Budapest Memorandum, signed by the US, Russia and the UK, in order to convince Ukraine to hand over its inheritance of Russian nukes.”

It was no guarantee of sovereignty as previously given to Poland or Belgium. It was a non-aggression guarantee that Russia breaks.

The Ukraine is in deep trouble because it did not provide for its national security – neither through successful diplomacy nor through preparation of its armed forces. This in turn is the consequence of the Ukrainians electing and for a long time tolerating a political leadership that was only interested in enriching itself and not interested in providing all basic functions of a state.

To help them much would provoke moral hazard in the future, but foreign policy in Europe is known to be incompetent enough to create such undesirable side-effects often. Another example was the Kosovo intervention, which told everyone that the West may intervene once the violent opposition in a country tells enough lies about government atrocities (compare the imaginary massacres in Kosovo with the many imaginary chemical weapons uses in Syria!).

Martin
Editor
February 11, 2015 7:21 am

@ TD
Very good point, A Weekend Russia is a dangerous Russia. We often fail to see just how paranoid they are. A Situation like this can get out of hand very quickly.
Ukraine is a failed state, we should not risk nuclear confrontation with Russia to prop up a failed state. What we should do is cripple the Russian economy with sanctions to prevent them from getting into a position where they can threaten us. We should also pump money into EU boarder states so they can look after themselves with no need for us to come to the rescue which given Russians 6,000 nuclear weapons neither we, the EU or USA are going to do.
If a nation the size of Ukraine can’t defend itself from a very small and badly equipped Russian/rebel force then does that state have any right to exist in the first place?

@ MSR
“So, do we (the UK specifically, as the only European signatory) not bear a certain responsibility towards Ukraine, having convinced them to divest themselves of assets which precedent (North Korea, Pakistan) proves can keep a small nation free of a larger aggressor?”
No we have no obligation beyond respecting the boarder

Pete Feeney
Pete Feeney
February 11, 2015 7:52 am

Said it before – we are brave enough to Bomb ISIS; to contemplate sending troops; to arm the opposition. In Ukraine we wring our hands and try to take away the bully’s sweets. But of course HE has airpower and nuclear weapons ….
Cowardice? Hypocrisy? The worst of the Rich, Idle Bourgeoisie in my view.
“All that is required is for good men to do nothing”

Sazuroi
Sazuroi
February 11, 2015 8:26 am

Greetings, gentlemen. I would like to offer a German-based perspective on this matter.

As may be known – BBC is certainly covering it – Germany has since the start of the crisis spearheaded the diplomatic efforts to find a solution. We were also fairly reluctant to carry the sanctions, which may have served to limit them some, but have been more acceptant of them as time went by. We have more connections to Russia than to Ukraine, one of our former Chancellors for example is personal friends with Putin and caused a small media eruption when he hugged that same Putin at his birthday party last year. Our current Chancellor, as is likely known, also has some common ground with Putin, since she is from the former eastern bloc part of Germany, speaks Russian proficiently and has a cordial relationship with him, which Putin has tried to maintain throughout this crisis – he was always very welcoming of her visits and phone calls, if not beyond friendly words and vague promises. However, she is considered critical of the man, and has earlier in her career spoken out against him, which, if she still does it, has surprisingly enough not made the media in this situation.

As such, on the political and diplomatic fronts, our stance is accomodating of Russia, though we don’t feel sympathetic of their percieved encirclement – that particular part of our history has vanished from our library of political comparisons entirely. Therefore, I doubt we can move Russia to a compromise that is not entirely of their making, since they also recognize we actually have much more to lose by taking a tough stance against them in favor of the Ukraine – which we have fairly neglegible trade contacts with – barely 2 billion against nearly 40 billion Euro -, and less of our citizens and residents have Ukrainian roots, though the difference in that regard is much less pronounced.

Before the crisis broke, however, the Ukraine was largely not on the radar for neither our media nor our gouvernment, so we have little history to build up solidarity with them, except perhaps that they are heading for a vaguely similar situation as Germany was in after the Second World War, with half of them Russia in disguise (or not) and the other half buttressed by western interests. There are some critical differences, which may be why the comparison has not been made, but this is more or less the only big reason we would be able to summon up to involve ourselves beyond fleeting economic self-interest – Russia feeling excluded might mean they are less open for trade, which would also hurt our bottom line.

So much for the crisis at hand, now for the “big picture”.

Germany is still very much on board with the european idea, and while some critical voices have appeared – there is a new party with an anti-Euro-platform, but it is oddly enough only against the currency and not the union, and there has been a right-wing protest movement against… something to do with muslims, which has created much outrage since Germany generally has no right wing that is not vehemently shunned. While we do share the concerns about benefit tourism – which are largely unfounded, actually, but where else to hide the xenophobia – the migration has largely achieved a positive light, though there are some concerns about muslims and turks especially. That is basically it, some say we pay too much for the union, but considering how much we gain from it we may actually pay too little, though suggesting that invites ire. For an example, look at Greece’s mascot and his populist suggestions we should pay back a forced loan Nazi Germany took off Greece after conquering it.

However, militarily? I think the dismal state of german equipment has broke the news outside our country as well, what with about half and in some cases more than half of our vehicles (sans fleet) not being available and spare parts not being ordered since 2008 in some cases, even though the budget for them was there – and returned to the coffers. I blame the defence ministers having largely no idea what they are doing.

This blog recently bemoaned no UK party having as much as a mention of the military in their programs, which is as to my knowledge not the case in Germany – only when the military is mentioned, it is usually in the negative. While there is some acknowledgement that defense exports provide a decent amount of money, the ones that actually show up in the news almost never happen – Saudi Arabia wanted Leopard 2s at some point, but ended up buying Leclercs because of concerns they might actually use them ever. Aside from the opportune scandal now and then – a lot more recently, since the new defence minister apparently needs to go else she may become too powerful – the military is largely considered an outdated institution that has little stake in the current nation, and the citizens are generally indifferent, with a significant minority being anti-military, a position that is fairly often asserted by more than one party. I think “Die Linke” (The Left, very imaginative name, merger of the state party of former East Germany and the seasonal SPD splitoffs) even had this on their election ads several times, to the effect of ending all exterritorial deployments and if possible dissolving the military entirely. Also, no more arms exports. They are purely an opposition party and their leadership is composed of nuts and certified opportunists with some decent pragmatists on the mid level in the eastern states, but they do earn more than the 5% vote share they need to sit in the parliament.

Hence, Germany likes to hide their military behind somebody else, an instinct which we may never lose. At least not in the front half of this century.

However, as for the EU dissolving/being suborned, the idea feels very surreal here, as the question is not even on the table for us, and Russia does not seem all that threatening with all their honeyed words and the fact they give us warmth and care. Though my heater feels a bit cold right now, fittingly enough.
Personally, I do agree that Europe needs to become more than the US’ fan club atlantic chapter, but the political will is just not there. Trade is fine and less trade barriers also, and apparently we are also on board with fishy angloamerican neoliberalism now (I do not like that, but that is for a different matter and money is money), but aside from largely symbolic policies and organisations there is little to present a common front to the outside, and the inside is wrought by increasingly petty politicking since everybody wants to hold onto their own minority stake in what is done.

I do also not see an external “threat” changing that, not least since Russia is only seen as a threat by some eastern countries not including Hungary (one of their near-fascists even praised Russia’s strongarming) and the US, and perhaps your UK. As I outlined above Germany and likely France (no idea since french news are in french) are more in the “stop warring around so we can expand our markets” camp.

The IS is basically a collection of pitiful lost children who will need extra care once they come back from their play-war, so no real perception of threat either, since there was never a successful terrorist attack in Germany perhaps. We did give the Kurds some weapons, but I suspect not for free. That’s pretty much it. Eastern Europe also does not seem terribly interested in this “threat”, though for France and Great Britain as former colonial nations in the region events there are probably more acute and less “some desert stuff”. Note that the highlights of German involvement in Afghanistan were the assertion that our freedom also has to be defended at the Hindukush, a major scandal about some officer calling an air strike on what turned out to be a mob of civilians being supplied with gasoline by the Taliban and our soldiers finally being allowed to shoot before somebody shot at them first if they are really really sure somebody wants to shoot at them in around 2012 or something. Largely, the political side made a point that the part of Afghanistan we’re in is really save and not at all that dangerous. I we lost 54 men there, so as far as warzones go it actually was.

In Europe, Germany is seen as one of the drivers of further unification, but from an inside perspective, we are quite content with how it currently is, and seem more to be trying to keep everybody else on board than deepen the ties, especially since we also get told off some recently. Or get more people on board to sell stuff to, well. We are so peaceful nowadays even the possibility of war actually having returned to Europe (not that it was ever gone, see Balkans) has not arrived in the public consciousness.

Hence, if Russia does embark on some more military adventures – which I do not think will be in the Baltics, at least not before letting use calm down and lower the military spending after the Ukraine is gone, because they legitimately are in both the Nato and the EU – Germany will probably ignore it, save for the ineffectual peace protesters. I see the bigger threat for Europe as a concept to be forgotten and isolated, much like an island. While that has worked out swimmingly for several centuries of anglophone superpowers, an island is harder to reach but also harder to leave, and if it is a pleasant island I doubt many Europeans will want to leave it, and be it to protect their own interests.

Rocket Banana
February 11, 2015 9:01 am

“…Europe wanted to do more on its periphery and the USA less, Russia was settled, they were becoming more like ‘us’ after all and the world was good… What has happened since?”

We have demonstrated to Russia that we are incapable of winning ground wars – all due respect to those who have fought. We are simply unprepared to do it properly en-mass due to the costs of defending low-yield land. There is no return on our investment either short-term or long-term.

We should look at Ukraine as a training exercise and get a whole load of MBT and artillery units out there for target practice against anything with a gun that doesn’t sport our flag.

Otherwise Moldova will be next on Putin’s list, with Georgia, Armenia and Azerbaijan to follow. I see method in his madness. He is after all, if we are honest, a clever and powerful man. He has manipulated an entire country. He “manages” a plutocracy, which in itself is an impossibility.

He needs to be seen to fail… publicly… so that he is ousted by his own people. This means being kicked out of Ukraine and sanctions galore to topple the rich and powerful within.

Rocket Banana
February 11, 2015 9:06 am

Sazuroi,

“…from an inside perspective, we are quite content with how it currently is, and seem more to be trying to keep everybody else on board than deepen the ties…”

Well that concurs with my understand of the entirety of Europe (including us). It also happens to be the perfect balance, which we should defend. There is no reason we cannot stand shoulder to shoulder when needed. Unfortunately, I think now is when it is needed to send a strong message eastwards.

Chris
Chris
February 11, 2015 9:56 am

PeteF – I don’t quite see things that way – the thugs of ISIS are selling instant glory and status dressed up as an idealogical message based on an extreme interpretation of a small part of their religious texts to the mostly young disaffected individuals of their faith who feel they deserve more respect than they get. If left to run its course unopposed then clumps of thuggish jihadis will pop up all around the globe. In this case the “do nothing” option is the most risky for the continuation (survival even) of our western society.

On the other hand, Russia is not apparently seeding the west of Europe with revolutionaries ready to kill and butcher to create a new Soviet paradise stretching all the way to Cork. It is however a peer militarily, and has the capability to meet military threats head on. Outside of the desire for reinstatement of its Iron Girdle of USSR days, and some internal projections of pride and strength on the international stage, Russia’s belligerence seems limited – certainly there are no evident ambitions to subjugate Europe/Middle East/Asia under New Communism. In this case then it would seem Europe’s most risky option would be to initiate military operations that would result in rapid escalation between two very well armed opponents.

Wars are not started because of religion, or historical rights, or family feuds. Wars are started by people who think they deserve more status; more respect than they currently receive. Kaiser Bill needed to prove he was better than his Royal cousins in Britain and Russia. Hitler needed to prove Germany deserved more respect than the Treaty of Versailles left them. The American Revolution was based on the settlers needing to achieve peer status as an independent nation and not a minor colony on the coast of land over the ocean from its government. The brutality in Ruanda was a fight for top-dog status between Tutsis and Hutus. In each case webs of justification would be woven, but the basic cause has always been the hunger for greater status.

Vlad’s status within Russia is based on his not bowing to pressure; sticking to his guns; protecting (as he will report it) Russia’s interests within its own borders by ‘helping’ neighbouring states resist the Imperial tendencies of the West. A stand-off suits his needs just fine and while escalation is possible, its improbable. ISIS status is based on committing butchery in God’s name and being able to crow about it to the world and escalation is guaranteed if their barbarism is tolerated.

These aren’t the same things at all.

John Clark
John Clark
February 11, 2015 10:25 am

It appears, rather depressingly, that the current regime in the Kremlin has designs on territory it once had dominion over…. Now history shows us that appeasement doesn’t work, this is especially true of the general Russian mind set.

Having worked for a Russian company on a contractor basis, I have found in general terms, they respect strength, I have found that a typical large Russian business is run with a rod of iron, with genuine fear by the employees of those in authority.

I would imagine the Russian Military is no different ……. they will I feel, take any form of appeasement as weakness and a green light to crack on!

The real danger here of coarse, is that a Russian commander will follow his orders, given the still fragile and largely obsolescent state of the Russian military, this would be madness, in every conceivable way, they are in no shape to take on the highly professional and well equipped (if too small) Western European NATO countries.

We do need to be strong (as NATO and the EEC), look the Russian Bear in the eye and face him down, as there is a real danger of Putin ( yet another Napoleon complex suffering individual), starting a new Cold War…..that has the real potential to turn hot!

The Other Chris
February 11, 2015 10:51 am

Blank piece of paper, with the combined Defence Budgets of the European nations (1.5 million manpower, currently an approximate £142m annual budget, £185.5m budget if that’s increased to 2% of EU GDP).

Similar to Gaius Marius and his sweeping Marian Reforms, how would you Reform the European military?

For example, the “TeeDian Reforms” might look something like:

True European Defence Force with Army/Navy/Air Force with sovereign states maintaining Coast/National Guards and Reserves?

Or:

Divide Europe into responsibilities e.g. France/Italy defend Med, UK/Spain/Portugal the Atlantic, Germany/Poland the East, smaller nations to convert to logistics/support, allowances for sovereign states to maintain their expeditionary warfare sufficient to defend and retake overseas territory (e.g. French Southern/Scattered Islands, British Falkland Islands, etc)?

Or:

Continue as currently with more/less pooling and collaboration?

Martin
Editor
February 11, 2015 11:10 am

@ The other Chris

The issue with letting Germany handle the east is as our German friend has pointed out the Germans don’t really see the Russians as a threat until the enter the suburbs of Berlin.

@ Pete Feeny

“All that is required is for good men to do nothing”

The guy who rote this did not face the prospect of getting glassed by 6-8000 thermo nuclear weapons. Honestly if we start sending heavy forces to fight in Ukraine this is the position we may end up in. After reading the CIA’s analysis on Putin last week I am more convinced than ever that the guy is mentally ill. His entire country is paranoid about God knows what. Most Russians actually believe RT News.

There is no military options for us here. Economic sanctions are the only course of action. Cripple them and let them starve switch off all the gas pipelines and let the Russians go bankrupt.

The cost will be high for Europe but we will get by. It may be the end for Russia though.

viceroy
viceroy
February 11, 2015 11:57 am

I have to agree with jon livesey. Ukraine has been partitioned, whether Russia gets actual territory or merely the buffer of a semi-autonomous region that ‘belongs’ to Ukraine is all that’s left to decide. All that is needed is formal acceptance of whichever is achievable at least cost. The Baltic states and Poland however must be bolstered and our actions must speak loudly of real joint determination from US/EU even as our words seek to mollify and resolve the Ukrainian situation.

NATO deployments in the Baltics and Poland must be stepped up and the line drawn.

Putin wins this round. Ukraine pays the price for shelling its own citizens.

The EU’s foreign policy must be brought to heel by the Germans and French if they wish to avoid a recurrence.

Sazuroi
Sazuroi
February 11, 2015 12:30 pm

@ The Other Chris, Martin: I was fairly surprised that the german gouvernment had it in them to actively participate in this fig leaf “fast response force” that is being set up to calm nerves in the Baltics, but an interesting bit about the structure of the Bundeswehr: Several of the combat brigades and divisions permanently include units that are not actually german, but part of the cooperation with neighboring nations such as the Netherlands, France and Poland.

Those are seperate from the readiness brigades gathered by the EU for each half-year, so at the fringes there already is some military overlap, though this is not widely publicised here. It also allows for some shared responsibility should those units be deployed, though the shared parts also make coordination a problem outside of NATO or UN operations, which is likely not going to be a problem since Germany is still very much done waging war and we have no outside interests we feel a need to go to arms over.

Hence, if the impression can be avoided that Germany was being overly proactive in military matters, there probably would not be a public backlash here until the announcement that the EU has a military now.

Personally, I like the idea of partitioning responsibilities since that also allows to leave “capability gaps” for some other country to fill, even if this is a dangerous temptation if coordination can not be ensured. However, I would focus less on “you defend this, we defend that” but indeed on “you maintain this capability, we maintain that” with some overlap to ensure reserves are available and the arms industry is happy.

Long-term, cooperations like EADS for other military fields would be interesting, but given that EADS does not have a terribly good quality record the organization of those would have to be different.

Also, Germany has no border with non-EU countries, so capability-wise it would suit us to focus on logistics, since this is also a major concern in our current military structure – we essentially established all the non-fighting capabilities as their own branch of forces, though I am uncertain how well that functions in practice. Logistics in this sense may also include heavy equipment and reserves, with the heavy equipment being a traditional strength of our arms industry and reserves being both somewhat removed from the dying and thus less likely to agitate the public (reserves can just be deployed, this is on paper) and also suited to the comparatively large end-number our military reforms are aiming for.

PJS
PJS
February 11, 2015 12:40 pm

A lot of very interesting comments … haven’t had the time to absorb them all…

my tuppence worth.

‘Self-determination’ – we move this goal post around at our peril.

If you have been to Ukraine [I have and, yes, the woman are beautiful] you get a real sense of how the country straddles, geo-politically, two behemoths and that there does exist a division amongst the populace of which way they look. It doesn’t fall as neatly as west and east of the river Dnieper but lets be thankful that Germany, or whoever, hadn’t managed to fast track Ukraine [or part thereof] into the EU, or indeed NATO, as, I understand it, we’d be at war with Russian now. But, but, there are some areas to the far east, bordering Russia, where the ‘majority’ want to be part of a greater Russia. Would the rest of Ukraine be better to let them have the choice to cede [isn’t that what grown up nations do, as we did in the Scottish referendum … ]

But immediately that idea makes Germany uncomfortable because of their plans to bring Turkey into the EU. As what of Turkey’s treatment of Kurdish self-determination, which is less than savoury. Yet, the Kurds are currently the ‘West’s’ effective buffer to ISIS [or what ever the ambulance-chasers at the BBC plan to call them this week…]

but if I were a scheming politician wouldn’t it be interesting if Russia was too busy with its own Islamist challenge in Chechnya, and the like, to have time and resource for intervening in Ukraine… do you think the chaps in ISIS might be receptive to moving their caliphate there?

What a web we do weave…

Martin
Editor
February 11, 2015 1:07 pm

@ Sazuroi

Realistically what capability could we rely on Germany to bring to any party. German foreign policy has been verging on the rouge nation status for the last two decades. even in areas like Libya where virtually the entire EU was behind intervention Germany went out of its way to stop it.

Germany is a terrible Defence partner, in the Cold War it looked to everyone else for protection, now Germany is unwilling to provide the same for others. They also really screwed us on Typhoon. German apathy is the main reason Europe lacks a coherent defence or foreign policy. Now Angela Merkal has taken it on her self to fly off to Russia to appease Putin with two fingers firmly shown to the USA that ultimately guarantees Germans sovereignty (because it’s not the German armed forces doing it)

Germany has to stop acting like a big Sweden and pull its weight, stop hiding behind the pacafist excuse, the Second World War was a long time ago. I am also amazed about just how cheaply the Russians seem to have bought much of the German political class and with so little public outcry.

Mike Wheatley
Mike Wheatley
February 11, 2015 1:10 pm

Let’s see: two years ago, the Ukraine was run in its entirety by a pro-Russian from Crimea, and bound to Russia by trade agreements that had Russia as the dominant party.
Now:
(1) the Crimea has re-joined Russia – and this is one of the very rare cases where ‘re-joined’ is actually true.
(2) Russians in the eastern provinces of Donetsk and Luhansk have declared independence for their provinces, and with Russian help, are struggling to hold half of those provinces.
(3) The Russian action is driving the whole of the rest of the Ukraine to want to join not just the EU, but NATO as well.
(4) Europe is very keen on not being dependent on Russian gas.

Rebels can expand the borders, but Russian troops cannot be seen to do so. Hence his denial about there being any Russian soldiers.

Q: What happens if we adopt a strategy of ‘bleeding Russia’s money’ there? That is, fighting to make Russia spend money it can ill afford?

Q: Would a public NATO force prompt Russian to declare a Russian intervention force? If so, Russia would then be responsible for the border. Once the Russians were there, the NATO force could be re-deployed within the Ukraine in the cheapest possible manner, e.g. a convenient training site that NATO forces get cycled through.
(scene 1: “We are locals – we are taking our land back.”
scene 2: “We are American tanks – oh no you aren’t.”
scene 3: “We are Russian tanks, come to protect the locals against America.”
scene 4: “This is a web-cam pointed at you Russians across the border. We’re driving back to Kiev for hookers and blackjack. Have fun being non-aggressive on the new border that you are now responsible for.”)

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
February 11, 2015 1:22 pm

@Sazuroi “Fishy Anglo-American Neo-Liberalism”…I take it from that, that you don’t view our potential departure from the EU Project come 2017 with much concern…possibly you might even welcome it? :-)

Genuine question, as it is difficult to get much sense from the UK press about how Brexit would be viewed elsewhere in the EU, and to my regret I read neither French nor German adequately to learning more from the primary sources.

GNB

Mike Wheatley
Mike Wheatley
February 11, 2015 1:23 pm

@ TOC:
I don’t believe it is possible to have a EU military union without EU political union.

In my fantasy world, (not even an ideal one, but lets not go there,) each EU state would have a Foreign Minister with absolute executive power over foreign affairs – more like a President with no domestic powers. Further more, the same individual would be allowed, and encouraged, to stand for election in multiple states. In this model, political union would come about (or not) only as a result of constant affirmation by the electorate.
In parallel, NATO would continue to push for common equipment and training standards.
Logistics and other non-contentious capabilities would be migrated to EU federal ownership, with the ‘pointy’ parts held by each nation state. Almost the opposite of the US model – actions would be carried out by fighty EU State Guards, supported by unglamourous EU Federal ‘tail’ forces.

Mike Wheatley
Mike Wheatley
February 11, 2015 1:30 pm

@ Simon,

It is impossible to win a ground war without annexing territory; in a Democracy, that requires giving citizenship to the newly conquered foreigners; and most humans are too xenophobic to do that.

Jeremy M H
February 11, 2015 2:08 pm

Listening to both the German (and to some degree western continental European) views and Russian views on Ukraine in particular and Eastern Europe as a whole I can’t help but feel sorry for the people unfortunate enough to be born in those nations. By accident of birth they have been wedged between a German dominated central Europe and Russia and seem to be viewed by both sides as little more than a nice meaty buffer zone of bodies that can be used to protect one side from the other.

I can blame Poland and the Baltic states for one second if they are screaming for NATO boots from Western Europe and the US to be on the ground. I wouldn’t trust us either. Failing getting that done were I them I start working on building nuclear weapons of my own.

This all (EU and NATO) only really works if Western Europe is as committed to defending Poland, the Baltics and other Eastern territories to the same degree they were committed to defend the German border during the Cold War. But the attitude of Germany, both publicly and by its citizens, show fairly clearly that they don’t see things that way. And like it or not they need to be a major player if those things are going to happen.

Observer
Observer
February 11, 2015 2:11 pm

Mike, you can always give it back, like Israel and the Sinai! :)

To be honest, the whole thing with Ukraine seems overblown, not helped by media hype. With or without the extra noise and actors, the whole show is still going to play out the same, Ukraine and Russia with a buffer state in the middle. The only variables are 1) How long is it going to take to settle into this new high water mark and 2) How big is the buffer state going to be.

wf
wf
February 11, 2015 2:45 pm

, @Sazuroi: we don’t need to deploy armoured divisions to the Donbas to cook Mr Putin’s goose. Sanctions, arming the Ukrainians with some old Milan/ Starburst and NATO moving of an armoured brigade and a couple of fighter squadrons into the Baltic states will do just fine. Mr Putin has merrily reneged on all the old agreements made after the Cold War, so he can hardly complain.

Russia doesn’t have many decent units, and the requirement to keep a few more of them in the Baltics and northern Europe will greatly reduce the scope for mischief. Chuck in a thousand surplus US Army M1A1’s/200 F16A’s for Central Europe militaries. The US doesn’t want them, why let them sit in the desert?

Meanwhile, frack and build LNG import terminals :-)

Kent
Kent
February 11, 2015 2:59 pm

– “…A Weekend Russia is a dangerous Russia.” So,…during the week they aren’t so bad? Must be the drinking.

Hohum
Hohum
February 11, 2015 3:11 pm

Should “we” be protecting Ukrainian territorial integrity? Yes, of course we should, it’s being invaded by Russia.

Are “we” going to protect Ukrainian territorial integrity? Self-evidently not, nobody is prepared to do the one thing that would actually do that which is send troops into the Ukraine to resist the Russian invasion.

What does this mean? It means that the Eastern European states are simultaneously feeling smug and concerned. Smug because they have been warning about something like this happening for years, concerned because they have noticed that the Western commitment to Ukraine is not what they imagined it was and now they are looking at their own positions.

wf,

BS. Russia could deploy a well equipped 50,000 man force into Ukraine relatively quickly, it could mobilise a much larger force over a longer period of time if it so chose and you can bet its a contingency thats been run as a war-game in every Russian officer academy and by the General Staff multiple times. This persistent mocking/underestimating of Russian military capability is one of the elements that got us to where we are, another is underestimating how much the Putin regime is prepared to escalate.

S O
S O
February 11, 2015 3:41 pm

“Germany is a terrible Defence partner, in the Cold War it looked to everyone else for protection, now Germany is unwilling to provide the same for others.”

That’s an impressive lie, considering that Germany provided 12 of up to 26 divisions that secured NATO’s main frontline since the 60’s and throughout both the 70’s and the 80’s. There’s no indication that Germany would not meet its article 5 obligations in the event of an aggression. Ukraine is no NATO or EU member, period.

It also ignores that West Germany had no choice; the alternative to becoming a NATO member would have been to pay the same or more, but for occupation troops.
Germany protected Western Europe more than it protected itself during the Cold War; everybody knew it was having its body in front of its allies as a shield. It would have been bombed – West and East – by its “allies” if war had started.

And then there’s the fact that 1/5th of Germans have absolutely zero reason to be thankful for NATO’s Cold War performance because they were Warsaw Pact members.

Alliances are furthermore always temporary – even though many people have illusions about NATO being quasi a nature’s law. Germany could leave the North Atlantic Treaty tomorrow and there would be squat ungratefulness involved. It’s simply what sovereign countries can do and often do: Leave a treaty if it doesn’t fit any more.
There’s no obligation from thankfulness whatsoever.

PARTICULARLY since you’re not writing about “defence Partner”ship, but about military adventure cub activities, a.k.a. “security policy”. Most of the violent “security policy” actions are actually violations of the North Atlantic Treaty! I’m serious, go read it: It obliges the members to be peaceful up to the high standards set by the Charter of the United Nations.

The horrible alliance partners are the US and the UK, even France and Poland and to some degree Greece and Turkey with their own bilateral cold war of bullshit.
Germany has violated the North Atlantic Treaty obligations but once; when it participated in NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia.

Sazuroi
Sazuroi
February 11, 2015 4:21 pm

S O summarizes the attitude of Germany quite well, it will stick to the treaty, but it won’t show much “initiative” beyond that, as is apparently expected. Hence my suggestions to make it easier to stick to the treaties, and not ask Germany to make big waves in a military context – the public would not carry that.

While it is a problem that the largest and most moneyed nation in the EU is so inert, there is no real way to change that as the prevailing opinion is to be less involved rather than more. This is also the logic behind the populist assertion Germany was paying too much (we are paying exactly what is required for the EU and are getting what is required, plus benefits). However, there are some more treaty violations, for example we are not spending 2% of our GDP on military matters, obviously.

This again ties back into the right wing being essentially nonexistent, while there seems to be a fairly large number of people that is not vocally against, say, more defense spending or more security commitments, the parties that would actually bring that issue to the political table are largely untenable, populist or downright nazi holdovers, so a discourse about that would always skew towards the more reluctant, and hence end up in quiet pragmatism at best – Merkel and her mentor Kohl largely rule off the books, though their methods are different. Where Kohl had some bluster, and hid the actual activity behind that (he held power for 16 years) Merkel waits the debates out and then makes a decision once it is clear how a consenus can be reached.

So much for that matter.

@GNB: The repeated threats that Britain would leave the EU are largely painted as bluffs, but as I have implied, Germany does not have much of a basis to understand why somebody would want to leave the EU – for us, it was largely an economic benefit, and it caters to our desire for peace and quiet at our borders. Germany and especially Merkel also refuse to be blackmailed by that, so rather than make concessions going against our grain, we would probably have you go.

In that desire for peace at the borders we are probably closer to the central european countries in that regard, though they are probably more proactive in enforcing that peace and quiet by force if necessary – only their militaries are not wholly modernized. While Germany’s is, we are still industriously reorganizing after having phased out conscription in 2011, so it is difficult to give a clear picture of our capabilities.

monkey
monkey
February 11, 2015 4:40 pm

@SO
“This in turn is the consequence of the Ukrainians electing and for a long time tolerating a political leadership that was only interested in enriching itself and not interested in providing all basic functions of a state.”
Viktor Yushchenko and the Orange Revolution ? On successfully winning the election he was promptly poisoned by ironically a key ingredient of the the dioxin poison Agent Orange but survived and tried to steer the Ukraine towards a stable economy. Not an easy task , the states of the former GDR are still recovering even with the help of the whole EU.

Jon
Jon
February 11, 2015 5:01 pm

It seems to me that what is happening in Eastern Europe is classic rebalancing after the fall of a large multi cultural empire. You get an unstable region of new ( or remade) nation states each dominated by a single ethnic/ cultural group. But each containing ethnic minorities from the dominant groups in some of the other new nation states. This is followed by a period of developing and significant intolerance of the minority ethic groups within the nation states which creates tension( or is an excuse for tension) between the nation states. Invasions occur, populations move between nations and the region is a tinder box until it all shakes out.

Unless you have a significant strategic interest in the area or there’s significant ethnic cleansing and you feal the need to make a moral stand it is best to leave alone. Which is my view of poor Ukraine.

Particular to Russia is also the lesson from the Cold War on how to deal with issues between nuclear powers:
1) never piss in each other’s back yard
2) play power games using proxies and economics
3) have very defined not beyond this line limits ( ambiguous lines cause nasty events and potential mistakes with number 4)
4) never ever go hot with each other and never back the other guy in a corner they can’t get out of,unless you are happy with large chunks of your population having a nasty case of death and not having a functional nation left.

So what Europe needs to do is properly define its relationship and limits with Russia in a strong but not overtly threatening way ( I will leave how that is done to cleaver specialists)

As for Islamic state they are a symptom of the same rebalancing process (from another group of falls, some of them are very old falls that had not fully balanced out) it’s just in this case we have a strategic interest in the area, they are ethinicly cleansing in a very brutal way and most importantly the ethnic fault line seems to have spread to encompass some of our own nations citizens. So in this case we are (as in Europe) involved and don’t have an easy exit (unfortunately).

S O
S O
February 11, 2015 5:02 pm

“However, there are some more treaty violations, for example we are not spending 2% of our GDP on military matters, obviously. ”

Sazuroi, there is no such treaty obligation and thus it’s no treaty violation:
http://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.de/2014/11/nato-summits-and-spending-pledges.html

@monkey:
Yanukovych mostly, he had no use for the military and neglected it. Being pro-Moscow, he wasn’t interested in deterrence.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 11, 2015 5:11 pm

Monkey, it was a good try that soon fizzled out. I think SO’s statement is accurate… And against that background it is amazing that they found someone like Poroshenko. Even the Kremlin insiders say he is the “best available”… Just like Putin was, btw, when Jeltsin could not stay in the saddle anymore.

monkey
monkey
February 11, 2015 5:21 pm


Yeltsin couldn’t stay Vertical any more :-)
Yushchenko gave it a good try , 5 years, leaving power in 2010
but against the internal oligarchy as well as Russia and as Sazuroi points out the likes of Germany and the rest of us no doubt pouring investment into trade deals with Russia as opposed to our nearer neighbours ( Germany should of kept the nuclear powerstations running ) he had little to work with financially and was ousted.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 11, 2015 5:35 pm

Yep, may be this national emergency and awakening is a blessing in disguise:
http://www.transparency.org/cpi2014/results

Sazuroi
Sazuroi
February 11, 2015 6:10 pm

@ S O, budget: Well, I did not check the actual declaration, but almost everybody ignoring that goal should have shown me it was not binding.

@ Jon: The thing is, we thought we had an understanding with Russia about further expanding since they were welcoming – until the Ukraine revolted over their top dog rejecting the EU trade agreement, which they saw as an attack on their interest. The consistent Russian narrative for all those color revolutions is that they are instigated and financed by the west, by the way, and Russia has taken steps to prevent that in their own country (a youth organization named Nashi that was dissolved after mission accomplished, some dead journalists, nationalism). This is also the reason the Asian countries including China are largely backing them, they don’t want that.

In reality the color revolutions are more complicated, while there were some western NGOs involved (actual NGOs, as far as science can tell) the impulse came from the people, and the NGOs only created some awareness and taught some methods, which is surely important, but does not by itself cause that.

@ monkey: No! Nuclear Power is evil! It all must go!

Though to be honest, Merkel was well underway on rolling back the shutdown, and then Fukushima broke. Most of the older reactors were shut down before their time and the schedule for the others was moved up or maintaned.

Generally, it is preferable to us to cater to power sources we can actually supply ourselves (coal, renewables), but in the meantime we are leaning on natural gas as that burns cleaner than coal… surprise Russia! That would not have changed however even if the nuclear plants were kept running, which was a major piece of work since the anti-nuclear movement is very powerful and firmly entrenched across most of society, so they are a vote share that can’t be ignored. Plus, nuclear power stinks of big business and renewables are nice, decentralized and democratic. Surely a winner.

If they are an actual winner depends on whether we can make the grid rebuild happen that would be needed for that and the storage technology is affordable enough – it exists, actually, so it isn’t an issue of betting on technology that does not exist yet or is not effectively usable, but power station – sized batteries probably come with their own baggage. Different discussion, that, and even if we went all green we would only have a positive trade balance with Russia since they have less they could export to us then, so it isn’t terribly relevant here.

Jon
Jon
February 11, 2015 6:10 pm

@ Armchaircivvy

Interesting thank you. Some of our Southern European neighbours look positively opec.

monkey
monkey
February 11, 2015 7:00 pm

@Sazuroi
A little off topic but we too are watching how you , France and parts of the US learn how to manage solar and wind renewables carefully as we at present are having similar , but on a smaller scale , problems. One of our solutions is to pay wind farms not to produce !
Getting back on track these flexing of Russian border politics , even resorting to proxy destabilization and direct , if hidden , military help to ethnic Russians outside the motherland ( russian troops on their holidays helping the rebels! ) will only continue without a mechanism put in place to establish a non-violent means of a population ,such as in the Crimea, choosing different overlords. The problem will be the Kremlin will want it to be a one way process, inherently unfair to regions like Chetneya which want to go their own way at least they did untill the Russian army killed enough voters so it is a Russian majority now. What your Channcellor and Monsieur Hollande are trying to achieve , a peaceful solution is laudable but unlikely to be achieved . It does give us a breathing space as previously mentioned and some action is being taken by NATO as a whole but with so many member Nations of both the EU and NATO consensus is going to be hard to achieve. Germany and France mobilizing their armies and reserves will not help Angela’s and François in their negotiations but I bet the der Heer and La Armee are making plans.

TimUK
TimUK
February 11, 2015 7:41 pm

Attack his Oligarchs and their mafia protectors , don’t worry about Putin just hit those who prop him up financially as hard and as quickly as possible. Then we will see “hero” Pisstin crash in foggy conditions.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
February 11, 2015 8:31 pm

@Sazuroi “The repeated threats that Britain would leave the EU are painted as bluffs”…an interesting view in light of the UKIP performance in the last EU elections, and the lack of a sure-footed response from any of the more established parties to the level of possible support that they might secure. I’ve got an open mind on Brexit myself, not least because I remain to be convinced that the difficulties of the Euro have run their course so I’m not at all sure what we might be voting about in 2017 (or earlier, as now seems possible)…however I wouldn’t rule out our possible departure myself.

The use of the term “bluff” is actually quite revealing…the political class might run a bluff in order to strengthen their hand in negotiations…but in this case the political class would actually prefer not to be offering a referendum at all, because they are mostly pro-EU…the discussion is being forced on them by some the people, a goodly number of whom seem to feel more strongly about this issue than practically any other.

Not unlike Syriza in Greece…I wonder what your take on that is? :-)

More generally, we seem to be about to concede the principle that agreed national boundaries can be changed by force provided that the aggressor does a little preliminary work to establish a disaffected fifth column in the intended acquisition, and then makes a cursory effort to disguise the identity of his little green men…in general, this seems to me to be a rather bad thing. If I were Latvian or Estonian I think I’d be opening a bank account in Helsinki, and clubbing together with my pals to get a fast boat suitable for a short Baltic trip at short notice and in all weathers… :-(

Also seems to me to raise issues not only about the plausibility of any common European approach to Foreign and Defence Policy, and the credibility of NATO…but also the UN, one of the few fixed principles of which used to be that existing national boundaries are not to be varied by force.

We seem to be living in interesting times (a well known curse employed in the Chinese Civil Service I believe!) I’d be interested in @Observer’s observations about any small states contiguous with China having a discontented Chinese Diaspora who might be wound up a little…as I recall the default position of the Middle Kingdom was for many years that they were the universal overlords, even if they hadn’t bothered with this vassal or that for a century or two… :-)

GNB

John Hartley
John Hartley
February 11, 2015 9:18 pm

Wars are often started by mistake or misjudgement.
Other random thoughts.
Berlin & Washington staged an undemocratic coup against the elected Ukrainian President. OK he was unpopular & Putin’s stooge. He had agreed to go. Had Washington & Berlin waited for a swift election of a new President, all this bloodshed might have been avoided. If the West does not respect the ballot box, then Putin could not see why he should either.
I have a map of the area from around 1600. Russia is way to the East & North. Most of Southern Ukraine & Crimea seems to be under Turkish rule.
So what do we do now? Double the non-dom fee for oligarchs living in London? Make Europe self reliant in energy, whether new nuclear, clean coal, solar & tidal, to deny Russia its energy exports to us?
Perhaps a weapons cascade ie. Western Europe gives its surplus weapons to Eastern Europe NATO/EU members. They then give their old Russian weapons to Ukraine, the kit the Ukraine forces know how to use.
Perhaps a quiet realpolitik deal, with no press around. Russia keeps Crimea & Donetsk, but is told firmly that it is war if they try to take another inch.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
February 11, 2015 10:01 pm

Hartley – cross-referring elsewhere, it’s a particularly good time for a lame duck US President, an EU completely pre-occupied with holding together a single currency based on voodoo economics and resulting in the near collapse of much of Southern Europe, and a UK Election where none of the main parties has a discernible defence policy bar paying for less of it on the quiet…and the Heir of Pitt, Lloyd George and Churchill has “chateramas” with the Civil Service about the great issues of the day…

It’s a great comfort to know that the future is in such safe hands…I’m now off to find my old copy of “Protect and Survive”, and I’ll start building the bunker in the cellar tomorrow. Fuck all use in respect of instant sunshine of course, but might be handy in the case of anything more conventional… :-(

GNB

Phil
February 11, 2015 10:11 pm

I think the US pivot to the Pacific is wishful thinking which goes against the grain.

There’s a huge arc of instability which has claimed the lives of who knows how many thousands in the last few years, seen chemical weapons used along with the rise of a proto-state of evil and the attempted annexation of another – and none of that is happening in the Pacific.

Chris
Chris
February 11, 2015 10:57 pm

Gloomy – in case you can’t find your valuable Public Information leaflets: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m6U9T3R3EQg

There. That’s helpful.

I didn’t know (remember?) there was an official public fallout warning as well as an attack warning – the latter being the WW2 air raid warning so that at least was obvious. The official fallout warning it said was three maroons, ‘gongs’ or whistles – the gongs being electronic beeps or something like. Sadly of course we all get that fallout warning several times a year as people’s car alarms set themselves off, so if the real warning ever happened we’d all give it a good ignoring as we always do when car alarms go off.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
February 11, 2015 11:03 pm

– That’s very thoughtful of you…if you end up near Gloomyville come the apocalypse we’ll find you a corner in the bunker and share our spam with you… :-)

GNB

Sazuroi
Sazuroi
February 12, 2015 3:59 am

@ John Hartley: As I outlined above, the color revolutions and this one as well were more complicated than, as Russia also says, “just western influence”. While there were indeed some US and EU NGOs active – again, NGOs that are not controlled by the gouvernment, but who subscribe to a similar or more hardline ideology, they did not cause the uprising and they did not support it in particular either. They did provide forums for some people to foster political dreams in and gave some statebuilding lessons, which most such NGOs are very transparent about.

However, nothing of that implies any western support for Ukrainian liberals, unlike the far-reaching free trade agreement that was offered, and which many saw as a credible chance to get out of their pit. Years ago, I met somebody from the Ukraine who described how little of their economy was actually functioning and the official census numbers were likely false and a lot more people had left than they imply, so the dissent was there and strong all along. The Orange revolution had more NGO activity than this one, and it ultimately had no real western support and failed.

As of yet, we have hardly given the Ukraine any support at all, save for promises and I think some money, plus a few nationalists for both the Ukrainian and Russian side who went there all on their own (since they are documented political outcasts, unlike the “Seperatists” most of which have documented gouvernment, military or intelligence ties to Russia) and possibly some actual military advisors (not the kind that advises by example) skulking around in the background, but nothing that would run any risk of making the media or making an impact.

Had this been a western operation, I would hope we make sure our goals are actually achieved without requiring further input in the ways outlined by others in this discussion.

@GNB: We aren’t back to Cold War yet, so hold off on the doomsday scenarios, you come across positively american like that.

The “voodoo economics” make more sense to us than selling everything including our lives to the banking sector and relying on it not crashing again, which it will because that is how the stock market works in the first place.

Ours is just another kind of economic delusion, less prone to crashes and a little bit more inclusive, but just as much behind the times. We’ve been researching new indicators to determine how the economy and citizenship of a nation is actually doing instead of just counting some random money getting thrown around, but those haven’t proven themselves so far.

But Europe has only its laurels to rest on, while literal billions of people have a lot less and are willing to sacrifice a lot more of it to get some, which on the long term we can’t match. Either we try to compete despite overaging and our economy being firmly established for a completely different economic outlook, as Britain seems to be trying, and as the US may actually accomplish thanks to enough young latin-americans immigrating, or we try to keep our dignity and social fabric moderately intact and accept being have-beens, as at least Germany has been trying without much appreciation, including from our own public who are upset by the cuts and compromises that still need to go along with that.

And Germany is seen as a successful economy. Well, at least not all of our industry has run away to China yet.

As to Syriza, they have insulted us despite having been given enormous amounts of money with a very long repayment plan, and while the social cuts the package required were indeed extreme, there could not have been any change without them. So far their suggestions are all blatant populism and would be impossible to finance in a working economy, and having the gall to demand we give them even more money for that to even better conditions and also kindly pretend the debt they already incurred did not exist is completely unintellegible to us.

Nevermind that even the economists agree Greece would be a financial pariah if they did not even try to pay back this debt. Frankly, trying to pull some kind of half-baked and ill-advised plan out of their hat now instead of trying to buckle down and get the economy running and companies hiring again first and blatantly buy voters second will make Greece break apart faster than it would have if they just did nothing.

Hence, they are sending bizarre rhetoric and incoherent signals in all directions, which will most likely prevent any compromise. We could now say this is all a plan to leave the EU and get closer to Russia or something, but they have nowhere near the organisation to actually do that on purpose, since they’re just populists. It’s sad for Greece, but they have the wrong dreams at the right time for action.

Jeneral28
Jeneral28
February 12, 2015 6:11 am

I got a question to all. Say you want big spending on defence. Damn foreign aid (never initiate a Marshall Plan next time, let Europe rot) and spend all money on Defence. When do you stop spending? When your family doesnt have enough funds for education–university fees? Health–ok privatise the NHS! When you get polluted streets–on war is go, don’t bother to clean up? When and how much is enough? How many troops, airmen, sailors, ships, main battle tanks, bombers, fighters, artillery is need?

Also how many nukes are enough?

You dont have to answer all just one of the questions.

Nick
Nick
February 12, 2015 6:37 am

@Sazuroi

The “voodoo economics” make more sense to us than selling everything including our lives to the banking sector and relying on it not crashing again, which it will because that is how the stock market works in the first place.

That was the best the UK made in particular. It worked well until 2008; we finance personal spending on the back of property debt and property bubble for 20 years or so.

However, most of the Eurozone did something similar, except the debt was incurred by governments and used to fund public spending and “job” creation. Yes the UK did that too. That debt was mostly financed by Bank loans to government and the banks borrowed from other European banks. This didn’t generate enough income so the Banks went looking for what were really high risk/reward investments. These went bust in 2008.

The UK(USA) cleaned out the worst of the banking debt; most Eurozone states didn’t. The UK is trying (and failing) to clean up its government debt. Most Eurozone states haven’t really tried at all.

I’m afraid that Germany is underwriting the Eurozone banking/government debt and is slowing loosing control over just how this mountain is managed as the rest of the Eurozone wants to loosen the deals on reduction of government debt without sorting out the problem at all. We all know that Greece will get a new deal; the debt may not be cancelled but it will be rescheduled so that it will never be repaid at any thing like its current face value. Greece is the smallest Eurozone problem. Spain, France and Italy are the problem. All are too large to fail. Germany will bail them out (by rescheduling the debt). ECB quantitative easing fund buys their debt (plus matching amount of German debt because that’s how the rules work). However, for each euro of new ECB debt created, Germany needs to offset 54 % (if I recall correctly) with a loan balance from the German central bank to the ECB (that’s how the ECB is funded).

In effect under Eurozone rules, Germany is indirectly taking on unsustainable debt from the rest of the Eurozone; the money will never be repaid. Its a giant Ponzi scheme (Madoff would be proud).

Unfortunately for all of us, the “solution” austerity doesn’t work as it doesn’t create wealth or growth.

Nick
Nick
February 12, 2015 7:27 am

@Sazuroi

The House of Cards is recognized by at least some Germans too

“Bild Zeitung devoted two pages this morning to warnings that Grexit would cost Germany €63bn, or much more once the Bundesbank’s Target2 payments though the ECB system are included. The unpleasant discovery that Germany’s Target2 exposure can in fact go up in smoke – despite long assurances that this could never happen – might make it untenable to continue such support.”

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/economics/11407256/Germany-faces-impossible-choice-as-Greek-austerity-revolt-spreads.html

S O
S O
February 12, 2015 8:06 am

Ignore what the Bild Zeitung writes. It’s not a real newspaper, but agenda-driven or populist crap. It produces about as much crappy reporting as all other German newspapers in sum, and its run is shrinking quickly.

It’s been reported years ago that the total loss may exceed € 100 billion in case of a 100% default of Greece.

Obsvr
Obsvr
February 12, 2015 9:29 am

A thought that keeps popping into my mind concerns the citizen of the former GDR, Frau Merkal, and what tasty tidbits about her are tucked away in the FSB files.

The Other Chris
February 12, 2015 9:32 am

There’s quite a few politicians that you just want to yell “Vada a bordo, cazzo!” to, isn’t there?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 12, 2015 9:36 am

Busy week ahead
– will Minsk II happen; IMF will announce the new billions for Ukraine (no doubt more will fall on the EU)
– EU summit: more sanctions, same sanctions… Or in the light of the above, less of them?
– Greece talks to resume on Monday

Sazuroi
Sazuroi
February 12, 2015 9:38 am

@ Bildzeitung: I am in full agreement with S O there, the Bildzeitung is what politicians read if they want to know what absurd delusions the public has that they can manipulate. At best the articles are involuntarily funny, but most of the time just bottom drawer.

@ Nick: The debts are already not scheduled for the repayment to even start before ten years or more. Market paranoia aside, Greece effectively has no debt right now, but they want even more money up front to finance their vote buying which is not something the political sector should permit so easily. So far they have not produced any plans that would create a stable economy or open a path towars one.

Other than that, relying on the banks that have already failed with no fundamental changes or even forbidding Credit Default Swaps again which actually were the reason behind the 1920s stock market crash that became one of the main reasons for WW2 is just nonsensical. Sure it increases the “market dynamic” if more money is easily available, but that does not create particularly more jobs, especially not good jobs you can actually do and still live a decent life on the side. As I said before, expecting anything else is anachronistic since there are other industrial powers besides the west now, but cutting into the substance more than necessary and not making at least the effort to maintain an economy that is not a huge gap between inappropriately high-paid managers and inappropriately low-paid peons is essentially anathema to the german political discourse.

This is also a reason we have tolerated comparatively low wages with little growth for so long here, because it kept at least the structure of the economy viable. And it is not like private companies or a secondary economy would not produce any profit, they just don’t produce as much profit as some other models which in exchange take risks and make tradeoffs that not everybody is ready to accept. And we, that is, Europe, are not the USA, hence an economic theory that was developed for a completely different economic culture and social dynamic would not necessarily apply here, and it has already shown full well that it isn’t sustainable here.

Even in the US, I would not be so sure that unemployment falling actually means a true economic recovery, many of the new jobs are not at the same standards as the ones that were destroyed in the previous crisis. But without even trying out other models instead of slavishly imitating what the US does, our economy will never recover, or if the economy does, it will not create much actual wealth, not for a lot of people.

This also ties into the problem with Russia, the roots of their problem may be different, but their economy is still largely guided by an absolute minority interest with very little sense for their social impact, and ever larger blobs of money and little else can lead to a similar situation in “the West”. Rather than subscribe to a theory that holds that wouldn’t happen because of some zany invisible hand with which the markets regulate themselves in favor of the broad population, there should be at least some diversity in approach permitted. Gouvernments are indeed bad businessmen, but not everything is about business.

Nick
Nick
February 12, 2015 10:32 am

@SO @Sazuroi

I’m not German nor read the German press in English (to my detriment I’m sure). However, the Eurozone looks like a calamity waiting to happen from this side of the channel. The current Eurozone economic model is unsustainable in the medium term; Economic recovery requires growth in all Eurozone members and this cant come to the majority of the south (including France and Germany) while cutting government debt in a fixed exchange rate environment without causing even worse economic conditions that the Eurozone has now.

I agree it is clear that Greece has the best debt situation out of much of the Eurozone members who are in trouble. We may “know” that the Greek debt owed to Germany is worthless paper, but does the average German voter ?

In any case, the current plan isn’t really turning the Greek economy around; status quo isn’t sustainable. Whilst the Greek people might not want to leave the Eurozone, they are living a dream. Euro exit is the only solution apart from direct money transfer from the wealthy North (as though it was a single country funding the turn around of a poorer distressed part). This requires full political and economic union, which isn’t going to happen any time soon.

I actually don’t think the German economy is big enough to turnaround the whole of distressed part of the Eurozone via this mechanism anyway. The only viable solution for the Euro is to shrink to a workable core (excluding Spain, France and Italy) and rebuild monetary union on a longer term path based on economic variables not political dreams. I think the UK could actually join monetary union on that sort of case.

Grexit is inevitable as the price the rest of the Eurozone needs to pay (Portugal, Spain, France and Italy doing the same) is too high (at current rate there will be new governments in Spain and probably Italy who will choose to follow Greek path within 18 to 24 months anyway). Even if you assuming there will be some sort of compromise Greek deal to avoid Grexit this year, the politicians are only pushing the problem into the next parliament. With no deal, does the current German government survive 100 billion + euro write-off ?

Martin
Editor
February 12, 2015 10:33 am

@ SO – I think you have proven my point about why Germany is a crappy Defence partner, there is more to an alliance than a collection of rules. Germany seems to fundamentally lack a common interest with others in the alliance beyond its own territorial Defence.

There is very little in writing between the UK and the USA but a shared set of values has seen us fight together through thick and thin in numerous wars.

John Hartley
John Hartley
February 12, 2015 10:53 am

Saz. I never said it was a full Western plot. It was a handful of idiots in Berlin & Washington who made a poor judgement call to urge the Ukranians into a coup, when waiting a few weeks, would have allowed an election & kept to a democratic path of sorts. That would have given Putin far less wriggle room to do what he wanted.

Nick
Nick
February 12, 2015 11:10 am

John

Its strange that (some) of the Ukraine MPs who voted against Yanokovych in the days before he chose to flee the country were the same Party of Nations MP’s who supported him and were the majority party governing the country.

Calling it a coup (however unconstitutional the vote was) falls into Putin propaganda. Any Presidential election would have been at least 3 months away (assuming it wasn’t postponed – I recall it happen in May instead of March anyway) and the parliamentary elections pretty much happened when originally timetabled.

The “men in green uniforms” who took control of Crimea did so as the great man fled; their official excuse was to stop the Right Sector fascists and their private militia taking over Crimea for Lvov.

(You might as well call Major replacing Thatcher a coup as well)

Chris
Chris
February 12, 2015 11:21 am

Martin – ref spill chocker auto-collect – just think how much development effort the likes of Apple put into their spell checker algorithms, and they are still pretty useless. Now consider how much less effort the much smaller companies making autonomous nav for UAVs or even autonomous control of driverless cars can afford. That software will be on a street (or in the air) near you very shortly. I wouldn’t trust then further than I could throw them (and that would probably have a higher probability of arriving where I intended).

It has struck me over the past three decades that the least reliable part of modern equipment is the software within. We tend to sort of accept its unreliability but only because the IT’s favourite magic trick of turning the failed item off and on again makes the problem disappear – apparently – where hardware issues always need a repair. But in cases where no-one is closely monitoring correct function, software is risky.

Nick – have you been to the Gloomy school of international affairs? Just asking. Its a fairly pessimistic assessment of the Euro’s future from the EU ‘ever closer union’ point of view. (I tend to agree by the way; no criticism.) When the idea of a single currency was suggested (and I was very young – honest) I could see two divergent conclusions. One was that it would result in a single fiscal framework; a single treasury for Europe controlling EU wide taxation and regional funding, which really meant there would be a single government and the EU would have become a federal state. The other was that the experiment would run as originally set up, with each state on the hook to meet economic ‘interface’ criteria by their own treasury’s fiscal controls, but which would inevitably break down when countries could no longer meet their obligations. We saw an example here in the UK when we were locked in the ERM – our exit from that was a significant relief. I’m pretty sure that experience colours UK public preference to stay out of the Euro (how glad I am). So, in my opinion, ultimately the nations of the continent will either fall back on national currencies (possibly with an EU super-currency which nations can hold in significant volume as a foreign currency for international trade), or will bit by bit give up national independence and become the United States of Germany – sorry – Europe. Either, or.

Nick
Nick
February 12, 2015 11:46 am

Chris

I think you can cover up an awful lot while the good times are rolling by. Unfortunately, we’re up to our neck in it and our solutions to date have largely failed to a greater or lessor extent. There needs to be a paradigm switch to a different sort of economy than the one we have now (I actually think we’re in the transition phase to it right now); it needs long term sustainable low pollution energy supply to power growth, which we haven’t quite arrived at yet.

I think many Euro politicians thought EMU was a step to the Federal States of Europe (many European countries are federal already anyway) and the rest saw the benefits of currency stability in an enhanced ERM to act as a long term anchor to their economies (Italy, Spain, France). Others thought they’d have enhanced power (France) or that enhanced harmonisation (eg Single market) would create more opportunities than the political cost (eg Thatcher, Blair).

I believe (theoretically) that the Federal States of Europe is inevitable eventually if only for our common wealth and international position. It will be a highly devolved federation outside foreign, defence and economic policy though if it ever happens. We may choose to carry on as a relatively rich set of nations with some common/shared negotiating positions of course. However, our global influence will continue to shrink of course.

Right now EMU can only work on such as large scale with further economic union (which demands political union). The Eurozone seems to be in political denial about this, which is why there is no resolution to deal with the immediate problems let alone the long term ones.

monkey
monkey
February 12, 2015 11:52 am

One way the Euro zone could help itself is by not spend vast sums buying in something it all ready has , energy. The Eurozone wires €bns a month to Russia which in turn props up their defunct economy . By giving a clear indication to Russia its money supply is about (next 5 years) to be cut off at least from the west ( obviously there a lot of long term contracts to be honoured but they will eventual run out and contain minimum buy clauses which would adhere to) . As another on here has posted lets get fracking!
P.S. I believe the Russian federal coffers source over 60% of their income from energy taxes

Hohum
Hohum
February 12, 2015 11:55 am

SO,

That is some epic Putin-Botting you have been doing here, first class, you have hit several of the class Putin bot key points:

“Don’t believe that news source, it doesn’t say what I think!”
“NATO illegal wars!”

I imagine your bosses would prefer greater use of the words “fascist” and “coup” though.

Chris
Chris
February 12, 2015 12:27 pm

Nick – ref global influence without union – I am more optimistic about a loose federation of nation states than the view you hold. Its a bit like business in my view, losing independent businesses as they are soaked into a giant monopoly does not necessarily make things better. We regularly give BAE a bit of stick for its performance…

So I see separate nations with separate and different strengths as a good selling point to potential trade partners. Indeed, just 6 months back the SNP were proclaiming exactly that – that Scotland as a ‘brand’ had a unique and valued international identity that would help it build its trade links more robustly than as part of Britain. That may well be true. Certainly I can recall people holding brand loyalty to Austin or Riley or MG or Wolseley but having no interest in British Leyland a year or so later. You will note that such brutal abolition of subsumed organisations’ names and heritage is no longer attempted in the automotive domain, hence we still have Seat Skoda Audi VW Bentley Bugatti and Lamborghini and not an amorphous EuroVW Corp. So by read-across I think separate nations working together would make a better future for Europe as a whole than a single nation Europa (which has shades of USSR style obliteration of cultures in pursuance of the perfect European).

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
February 12, 2015 12:39 pm

“The Gloomy School of International Affairs” :-) I like that, I think I might get some cards printed…

More broadly, my underlying concern is that in general I do consider the Western way of running the show to be generally preferable to any of the obvious alternatives…and not only for those of us fortunate enough to live here; also as an aspiration for those who will risk a great deal to come, and the even braver ones who will risk even more to make where they are more like where we are.

By way of example, you might want to compare the DfID budget with the Russian offer in respect of foreign aid…or measure your chances of getting a court settlement in Beijing rather than London if it’s a Chinese company that poisons your developing world environment rather than a British one. Or indeed how you fare as a Chinese country boy looking for work in one of your own Cities without proper documentation…as opposed to an African illegal fortunate enough to make it to Malta.

Furthermore, our key collective role in making the rules and setting the terms of trade definitely plays out to our overall material advantage, and allows us to enjoy a standard of living that would leave even our quite recent ancestors open-mouthed with astonishment.

My concern is that if we do not get to grips with the world beyond our domestic pre-occupations pdq, we will lose our unrivalled ability to triumph in the chip-pissing contest which is in my view International Relations…and a great golden torrent of somebody else’s urine will come cascading down over our chips, along with those held by everybody else on the planet.

We know that we can win, so mostly we try to avoid fighting…anybody who seeks to supplant us will not believe themselves to have that luxury, and in some cases might actually prefer to demonstrate their primacy by violence.

And before anyone starts on US/UK Wars could I remind them that people thought the recent war in Iraq necessary at least in part because we had done as the UN told us at the end of GW1 and stopped the offensive at the Kuwaiti border, and then wasted years trying to constrain an abominable regime with sanctions and diplomacy…and in the case of Afghanistan the US could simply have bombed the place into oblivion…but instead put boots on the ground in an effort to punish only the guilty, and kept them there for years in a possibly futile effort to construct a functioning society with a passing resemblance to modernity.

GNB

Nick
Nick
February 12, 2015 12:42 pm

Chris

I agree with you. I think any difference depends on what you mean by federal union. My expectation is that running the UK post federalization will be pretty much the same as today (or perhaps tomorrow when the UK has a bit more devolution of powers that today – think Scotland after the next election and a bit more), but without certain elements of Whitehall

On top we would vote for a federal European government, with quite limited powers over local UK decisions and with a small federal tax raising power.

Monkey I can tell you that at its default setting about 60 to 70 % of revenue generated from oil sales goes straight to the Russian government. On top of that there are property taxes, payroll taxes, VAT and Corporate profits tax just like everywhere else. Plus there is then the money spent by employees and suppliers in the wider economy. My guess 60 % is an understatement.

Something like 6 million of Russia’s 10 million bbls of oil produced a day goes though Europe as Oil or refined oil product plus about 3/4 of Russian gas production. I’d need to big into research materials to get the exact numbers, but this is well within any reasonable margin of error.

Sazuroi
Sazuroi
February 12, 2015 12:42 pm

@ Chris: Germany actually never wanted to be in charge or seen as such, we are still surprised anybody is listening to our suggestions.

@ Euro: The one form of Europe-criticism that has any kind of political platform in Germany is the AfD, an amibigous, newly-formed and not terribly sustainable-looking right wing populist party, whose main and only consistend goal is to replace the Euro with the old Deutsche Mark. Back when the Euro was introduced, there was a fair amount of criticism going on and most of the people would rather have kept to the old currency, not least because everything was much more costly within two years all of the sudden – strong currencies are said to make imports cheaper, but it’s probably because many of our grocery products come from Germany itself or other EU countries or have at least a hefty block of domestic work tacked on that the higher-value currency ended up causing a great deal of price hike, which feels like inflation but apparently isn’t.

I agree the Euro was a political project, that much was clear from the start, and previous attempts to form something like a common currency had actually failed, or were ill-recieved. I think there was a pure trade currency of the sort Chris suggested in a half-sentence at some point, which I heard functioned fairly well. I also agree it came at the wrong point in the process, and was more symbolic and an effort to create path dependency towards greater unity in the union, which was surely a nice idea.

However, for a while the Euro actually did raise the EU profile and was even considered a possible alternative to the dollar at times, so it can’t be said it did not work. Only with how ubiquous money is, and how different the needs of the economies in the EU, or even the Eurozone alone, it creates too much rigidity, which necessitates extreme measures like currently undertaken. I am not actually convinced – I just find the other option to be even less promising. But even if they did, there is no reason the economies would follow a common pathway.

Recently there was some media clamor about Germany siphoning other peoples growth away with their dumping wages, which is funny because its not like Germany’s economy doing well did not also benefit the remainder of the EU. Not raising the wages, however, was largely an internal measure – the effects it could possibly have on other EU countries, if there indeed were any in particular, were not a consideration, and it was not a centrally controlled process in the first place. This is only an example.

While there is a lot of cross-border activity and economic interdependency, the countries of the EU are still different countries with different workers and different economies, which is actually a plus – diverse systems are more flexible, resilient, innovative and efficient, because differences can be leveraged for greatest benefit and if one model does not work out, others can be adapted. Over the longest term, there would probably be some nivellisation, as in the systems would converge, but there would still be several streams of convergence because every field already has several alternative approaches, and if there is not one but, say, 27 seperate units that can decide on their approach individually, all chosing the exact same approach would be a very rare coincidence.

However, politicians as a rule look for common ground, as do most elites. It’s “rational” to do whatever makes performance easiest, and a common public, for example, with largely known interests and values, makes tailoring one’s campaign exceptionally easy. As does a common legal framework, which is why the US are so keen on exporting theirs – that is, ours. Only we are even more adherent to the rules generally, at least in regards to some such as human rights, which is quite firmly entrenched in the Council of Europe, for example, in which Russia is also a member and which has one of the most successful human rights courts worldwide. Not that this was widely publicised, because it is essentially a political interest and does not concern most people terribly much.

The EU, as a political union, was an attempt to create such a common ground, but there was never a single leader, and hence it was not a very consistent or even coherent attempt, and the result is likewise chaotically structured. This is the main reason there are so many frictions recently – and the fact there are frictions also give everybody the opportunity to promote their own designs at solutions, none of which would work for all others simply because the scope is too small. It also is too small in national democracies, and gets worse the larger those democracies are. The individual states of the US actually have a great deal of autonomy, and the difference between that and the current EU is not as large as it may seem. Hence why the US were able to function at all for a while, but the economic slump, greater “overseas” activity after the second world war and some other factors have currently created such large divergences one of my US contacts insists the French Revolution will break out soon and the other speaks of complete collapse. This problem is less pronounced in the EU, and I actually am not in favor of going further in that direction.

Crises are also opportunities for readjustments, but for those there needs to be an initiative and and a perspective, which is lacking since kneejerk reaction is still “let’s enact this mechanism”, “let’s leave this treaty”, and an overall assessment of the successes and failing and options is not made. That is very regrettable because the above outlined diverse system would actually be able to achieve most political goals set for the EU and be a very easy sell and also easy to implement – it involves more treaties actually being shelved so there is a framework that can be the same for everyone, which would be a fairly light framework indeed. However, it would also mean less “unity” and this utopian system actually functioning would require a very different style of leadership and measures for “success” to still react meaningfully to outside and inside crises.

However, another advantage of this system is that it would form on its own if the frictions sufficiently cool down and the parties to the friction drift apart some, without violently disengaging. This is the main reason I prefer the “slow” model with the debt reduction and austerity, even if it does not achieve the short-term goal of “making the economy better”, which the other model likely does not achieve in a meaningful way either, only it would be seen to late. True, there will be need for further adjustments, but there will also be time and incentive for further adjustments, as the case of Greece also shows – they are mighty enthusiastic to make further adjustments, only for the wrong reasons still. Since we have some more opportunities coming up, hopefully those will do better.

S O
S O
February 12, 2015 12:50 pm

@Nick:
“We may “know” that the Greek debt owed to Germany”
Germany didn’t lend so much directly to Greece as the German state provided debt guarantees so potential creditors would actually lend to Greece with minimal risk premium on the interest rate.


NATO is a defensive alliance. Those who think it’s an aggressive alliance in 18th century style are confused people in my opinion.

@Hohum:
You sound confused.
The North Atlantic Treaty original text is on the NATO website, and the Charter of the United Nations is on the UN website. Go read those texts from reality. I made factual statements about their meaning.
Bild has no more credibility among Germans than Fox News among Americans. My statements about it are factual as well. There’s a famous media critic blog which began explicitly to call out lies, fabrications and ethics violations of the “Bild Zeitung” – it has to pick issues because that publication dishes out too much crap six times a week.
Now about your attempt to smear me as a Putin bot: You only embarrassed yourself in the eyes of those who know me better.

Nick
Nick
February 12, 2015 1:15 pm

@SO

the way the ECB is funded isn’t well understood. For each ECB loan to Greece, there is a matching loan from Eurozone members. There is a funding matrix and Germany is the largest provider at c 20 % (the bank bail out fund is similarly funded).

If Grexit occurs an the ECB loans default (and converted to a small amount of new drachma) than indirectly Germany would need to recapitalize the ECB by its share (on top of the effective debt write off). German banks would be exposed based on direct loans to Greek banks/Country (if there are any), plus on any other banks which collapsed (or were bailed out via the bail out fund). As for guarantees, any guarantee losing money will come to recover the amount in cash from you. Its not a loan, but the cost can therefore be as high (worse its not secured). 100 billion euro hit is a lot of money in anyone’s terms.

Worse you can almost guarantee that Portugal, Cyprus and the rest will need to exit as well (Portugal is actually worse off than Greece right now re debt levels). Like antagonizing Russia by arming Ukraine, its a dangerous path to walk down (that’s not to say its not the right path to follow).

@Sazuroi

If this

“slow” model with the debt reduction and austerity

was working or even looked like working I might agree with you. Instead its just creating local versions of Syriza in Italy, Spain, UK (UKIP), France (FN) etc with a political mandate for something different than today.

Sazuroi
Sazuroi
February 12, 2015 1:35 pm

@ Nick: Those parties would have shown up with any model, because each of them would require a long time to work, not least because the whole point of the bailout is to give time to enact reforms, some of which were prescribed, which may or may not be good – such prescribed reforms actually fixed the economies of the eastern EU nations within one legislature period, though the next one saw fishy nationalist parties crop up and promptly fail because they had no political substance, experience nor vision. Only the ones in Hungary are still active, but Hungarians have some entrenchment mentality going since they arrived here from the Ural a good millenium ago. Hence, those parties are not an actual threat, even if they may row back on some reforms. Other parties also do that all the time, anyway.

Just the opposite, as even some established politicians have remarked, if such fears and worries never make the political field, they can’t be adressed and resolved either. And the really large chunks like the Euro would take several consecutive legislatures to dismantle or rebuild, and unilaterally rejecting them is not possible either – that would still require a long setup, and an unskilled party with an unstable platform won’t achieve that in just one legislature, if they get anything done at all. Therefore even UKIP winning the next election or the referendum over Britain exit ending with a positive would not be much of a problem, because it would still be negotiated for a fairly long time, and realistically Britain would leave the EU in name only and hover at the sidelines like Norway and to a lesser extent Switzerland, who are part of several EU treaties and enact some of the legislation as well as much of the production standards, and Norway even does pay into the EU bucket as far as I’m aware. Norway rejected joining via referendum back then, by the way.

It would still be better for the outside perspective on the EU model and also for the internal discourse if they stayed, though. And be it because there would be much squabbling about what the official language of the EU would be now that only a tiny minority of the population are native speakers, rather than one of the five largest chunks.

Martin
Editor
February 12, 2015 2:10 pm

@ SO – again you back up my point. NATO is a defensive alliance on paper, but it’s also the defensive aspiration of the western world. Most countries in that western world stand up for a common set of values. Germany on the other hand sees the simple mechanics and obligations, not the spirit of it.

You say that Germany provided the bulk of the forces guarding Western Europe in the Cold War but these forces were guarding Germany. How many German divisions were based in the UK to guard us. How many British divisions were based in Germany?

I’m not saying the Germans are bad people or that they are even wrong in their view, just that they lack a common set of values with us in terms of international relations that makes them a very poor defence partner to have.

This would all be fine if Germany was a country of 8 million people but it’s a country of 80 million. with the current state of the world and European Defence we can’t afford to have one of the most powerful western countries free riding. The UK, USA and France can pick up all the slack on their own.

@ Chris – I can’t believe Apple paid anyone to create auto correct. Honestly it is more of a problem than ISIL. Just shows you why the F35 is having so many issues if modern programmers can’t even get a spell check to work properly :-)

Nick
Nick
February 12, 2015 2:15 pm

@Sazuroi

I would only argue that Poland has made any serious progress in reality. I’m not sure that I agree with you regarding the Syriza’s would have arrived any way, but you are assuming that in anyof these got in power things would continue as they would anyway. I think this is optimistic thinking.

I don’t believe the UK will or should leave the EU, but if we did in 2017, then whilst the exit would be a slowish negotiation, the political effect would be quite quick. I don’t think you can really quantify what would happen (the City of London would loose Euro trading and reduce in size – no bad thing in my mind). Much of the current legal framework would stay in place (its all UK law anyway) although bits would be dropped down the line. So you’re really talking about the trading arrangements.

We would probably seek to stay in the single market, but we wouldn’t adopt 100 % of the rules. I doubt we’d agree to unlimited EU migration as part of the deal for example (political non-starter; we’d have quotas in place pretty quickly). We certainly wouldn’t pay a penny to the EU except where we were a full partner in a bi-lateral agreement, which would be funded under a separate agreement. Since we contribute more than we take back, overall the change would be cheap to finance. Over time, we’d turn away from Europe even more than we do today. I don’t doubt the first couple of years would be painful and difficult, but then these sort of things have the ability to pull nations together. The euro dream for the UK is relatively new (about 40 years) and we didn’t enter it with any national consensus that this was the way forward. I think this is largely true today as well.

Then there is the knock-on effect. I don’t think you can say for sure that the EU today would remain unchanged if Brexit happened. Germany is too insular politically right now (but not economically) [in fact I think the opposite of the UK] and France is too protectionist. That’s not the best mix surely ?

S O
S O
February 12, 2015 2:30 pm

Martin, your nonsense is on overflow mode.

What you think its NATO’s spirit is mere conjecture. NATO’s spirit was to secure Western and Southern Europe against Stalin and his successors. That being gone, what’s left are the actual treaty from which the only alliance obligations stem and the fantasies of warmongers who think NATO should be a military adventure club, bombing the world, one or two countries at a time.
It’s delusional to accuse a country of being a poor ally because it doesn’t meet standards pulled out of the ass of warmongers. The relevant criterion is the treaty, and by that criterion Germany is a much more faithful ally than the US or UK.

Also, feel free to find a sane person who thinks that defending Germany didn’t mean to defend France, Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg – and by extension the UK as well.
Go, search for such a rube and spare us your nonsense.

Chris
Chris
February 12, 2015 2:42 pm

Nick – I must have misunderstood – you have stated you don’t think UK should leave the EU but by my reading then list a host of goodness should we do so? Clearly I’m not being that bright today.

monkey
monkey
February 12, 2015 3:33 pm

@S O
The NATO Treaty is to preserve peace by maintaining sufficient force of arms to act as an effective deterrent to conventional weaponry and to jointly respond to a direct attack on a member Nation.
NATO wanting to gain new partners strengthens the alliance and NATO wanting to project that effective deterrence to a potential aggressor which is displaying military intent in an adjoining country to the NATO block is surely showing military prudence whilst a peaceful political solution is reached. With NATO being generally on a low state of alert and due to various factors in Europe having is forces dispersed over 1000’s of miles time is a factor in following military doctrine to concentrate materials and manpower. NATO so far has mobilized 30,000 troops who are mostly all ready locally placed and asked for the existing quick response brigades to maintain their readiness. Is NATO war mongering ?

S O
S O
February 12, 2015 3:57 pm

“NATO wanting to gain new partners strengthens the alliance”

Strength is not the only thing that matters. NATO wisely rejected a couple applicants because importing conflicts into NATO would do more harm than good for the members.

NATO should not have set precedents with bombing and invading countries in its neighbourhood once a conflict supposedly provides an excuse for it. Russia adopted the same toolbox, and now we cry foul.

Maybe Russia would feel more bound by its 1994 promise of non-aggression towards Ukraine if the West would have paid more respect to international law itself and not bent or ignored IL whenever it was an obstacle.

Now we have a conflict in a small area of the Ukraine in which Russian forces which dropped their insignia wage war against the Ukraine in a land grab attempt, and the challenge is to convince Putin that this is not within his freedom of action even though the US and UK even got away with a blatant war of aggression against Iraq, bombing and territorial grab against Yugoslavia et cetera.
Why would such behaviour be within our freedom of action, but not Russia’s? They too have nukes, a UNSC veto power and enough of a military to not be defeated without a colossal mess.
And they’re operating in their backyard.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 12, 2015 4:16 pm

@SO

“Bombing and territorial grab against Yugoslavia”

There was a slight matter of a little bit of ethnic cleansing occuring. Some have issues with that.

monkey
monkey
February 12, 2015 4:17 pm

@S O
GW1 was a UN force to free another from a further act of aggression by Iraq , Iran held its own in the Persian war , GW2 was on the grounds of supposed WMD ( a whole other argument ) . GW1 personally I agree with , GW2 was stupid . With regards to Yugoslavia when it started to break up and ethnic cleansing on all sides broke out the UN asked NATO to take the lead but if I recall Russia came along for the party certainly in Kosovo.
The situation remains the same that once again Russia is rushing to the ‘defence’ of etnic Russians but this time its in NATO’s backyard . Chetneya ? NATO’s response ? Nada , Georgia ? Same , Azerbaijan? Same , Crimea where a clear Russian majority were indicating a change of overload NATO sat back and let due democratic process take its course. Now with a similar situation to Yugoslavia happening with a Nation possibly breaking up on ethnic lines but with an outside force deliberately stimulating it ( something they were accused of in Yugoslavia) NATO is responding a bit earlier this time.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 12, 2015 4:24 pm

I wonder what land was grabbed from what made up former Yogoslavia?

“wage war against the Ukraine in a land grab attempt, and the challenge is to convince Putin that this is not within his freedom of action even though the US and UK even got away with a blatant war of aggression against Iraq, bombing and territorial grab against Yugoslavia ”

The whole idea about land grab in E. Ukraine covers the two ultimate motives:
1. Break Ukraine as a state – set a warning example for those who attempt a decisive break from Russia’s orbit. They were bankrupt when this kicked off, in what shape will Ukraine emerge from the prolonged conflict?
2. Pre-empt anything resembling a colour revolution in Russia itself

GAB
GAB
February 12, 2015 4:53 pm

“The relevant criterion is the treaty, and by that criterion Germany is a much more faithful ally than the US or UK.”

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
You have presented no substantive argument that either the USA or UK were, or are unwilling to defend fellow NATO members, which is the single point of NATO.

Even accepting your argument about the NATO non intervention clause, your are arguing a technicality given the *goal* of NATO.

German sales of military equipment to Iran (e.g. Steyr), while Iranian forces were performing highly hostile acts like mining the straights of Hormuz, or detonating EFPs in Iraq to kill US, UK and other coalition troops also violates the common definition of a “faithful ally.”

We can go on and on about spying and other tit for tat, but the key question remains: “Is the alliance worth it or not.” As you have pointed out: this is not a point of acrimony, but a question of value.

GAB

S O
S O
February 12, 2015 5:19 pm

@monkey
There was no UN support for the attack on Yugoslavia whatsoever. It was a war of aggression with supposedly well-meaning motives.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legitimacy_of_the_NATO_bombing_of_Yugoslavia

I don’t think Donezk is NATO backyard. Transnistria would be NATO backyard and Georgia was, but Donezk is quite distant.

@GAB:
The US and UK violated Article 1 of the North Atlantic Treaty. That’s why they’re poor allies.
“German sales of military equipment to Iran (e.g. Steyr)”
Steyr is Austrian. Like Hitler. Beethoven was no Austrian.
Iran used plenty German small arms and its army emulated the Wehrmacht because of cooperation during the Shah era.

@ArmChairCivvy:
“I wonder what land was grabbed from what made up former Yogoslavia?”
Kosovo. Ask a Serbian whether it was grabbed they kinda know what happened.

@TD:
I have no idea what you’re hinting at (ASRAAM maybe?), but have fun with co-operations with France instead, then. They bailed out of several joint projects once they realized their production turnover would be bigger if they did it alone.
Super Etendard instead of more capable Jaguar M, for example. Typhoon/Rafale. Leopard1/AMX30.

Hohum
Hohum
February 12, 2015 5:33 pm

SO,

Not confused at all, in fact I can see through you with outstanding clarity. Every single one of your lines of narrative is classic Putin-bot, without fail. On one level I find your commitment to the Russian imperial revanchism cause endearing, however in general the perpetual conspiracy theories, whataboutery, outright lies and manipulation is just tiring.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
February 12, 2015 5:34 pm

I think this discussion illuminates with brilliant clarity why we might have been better advised to have wound up NATO soon after the Wall fell, organised an avowedly active and engaged Alliance between the English Speaking Peoples, and left the Europeans to sort their own self-defence out…not least because both we and the Cousins might have benefited very considerably by winding down USAREUR and BAOR more quickly, and reconfiguring ourselves for a more outward looking and expeditionary approach to the defence of our vital and worldwide interests…

Unfortunately we didn’t :-( but it may still be possible and indeed necessary to make good that deficiency if the European Dream lurches much further in the direction of “Nightmare”… :-) Mind you, it was never really our dream anyhow…not least because back in 1976 our political class were in the grip of such craven panic about the future of the old place that they very carefully talked up a “European Common Market” and equally assiduously avoided too much discussion of “ever closer union”…instinctively recognising that it is much easier to sell Free Trade than Grand Projects on this side of the Channel.

Which is not to say that the Europeans were not perfectly up-front about their plan, or that one couldn’t find the information if you looked…especially if you had good French or German. As I said earlier I don’t, but my Father did and he and I discussed the issue at great length until I voted against and he for; but then he was with the 11th Armoured Division, so could readily conjure up much worse things than a gradual loss of sovereignty…and like many Englishmen of his generation tended to assume it was all so much continental hot air and waffle in any event. I’d like to believe the politicians selling the free trade idea very hard, but generally avoiding the other were doing so on the same basis as him. But he was an honest man, and they were politicians and scared ones at that…

GNB

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 12, 2015 5:38 pm

Reuters has some detail of what hasbeen agreed in the last 24 hrs:

“Ukraine will also get control of its border with Russia, but in consultation with the rebels and only after the regions gain more autonomy under constitutional reform by the end 2015.

The ceasefire and heavy weapons pullback would be overseen by Europe-wide security body, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe”, plus in parallel

FUND BAILOUT

The talks in Minsk took place as an International Monetary Fund mission agreed a bailout to save Ukraine from bankruptcy.

The Fund provisionally agreed a $17.5 billion facility with Ukraine, part of a $40 billion funding package, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde said.

S O
S O
February 12, 2015 5:49 pm

@Hohum;
I told you, you only embarrass yourself if you claim that I am a Putin bot.

One don’t know what one doesn’t know, and you sure are utterly clueless here.
I have a blogging track record of more than seven years, most of it calling for a re-orientation of NATO towards collective defence (with Russia as the only semi-plausible opposing great power) – and plenty people in here know it.

I’m tempted to voice my opinion about your personality, but I understand the British insist somewhat more on politeness than people from Northwest Germany, so I will refrain from it since this is TD’s place.

Hohum
Hohum
February 12, 2015 6:08 pm

SO,

Yes, a blogging record and time span that perfectly fits the Putin-bot character profile. Of course you could always be one of the brainwashed European extremists who believe and regurgitate every word the Putin-bots spout but the obsessive commitment suggests you are an actual Putin-bot.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
February 12, 2015 6:13 pm

Bugger – that was of course 1975! Senior moment at Gloomy Court…

GNB

x
x
February 12, 2015 7:33 pm

Looking at your postion I would strongly suggest you put the Lewis gun in the novelty rock emporium as you will be able to cover the whole prom’ from there wih ease. And look out for nuns with Russian accents.

Hohum
Hohum
February 12, 2015 8:24 pm

TD,

Putin-bot is an often used term that describes the collection of web-based personalities who spout pro-Russian/anti-NATO talking points across the internet. They swarm to any story posted about Russia and they have remarkably consistent narratives.

monkey
monkey
February 12, 2015 8:42 pm

Back to TD’s original question
“Who provides a security guarantee for Europe? Europe or the US?”
Obviously not the Germans , I was only following your orders TD ;-)
I am quite sure der Heer and der Luftwaffe come the order from NATO hq will mobilize and provide their considerable manpower and equipment , which is pretty much first rate. The Chancellor is weaving a torturous road as the leader of central Europe’s greatest power between the needs of her people and sustaining their way of life and that of the EU of which Germany is a leading nation. Combined with the Euro crisis she has quite rightly focused on matters which directly impact Europe and avoided as much as possible anything to do with the bottomless pit that is military spending. They have moved away from conscription to a smaller professional force that will take time to shake out its capabilities even with the legendary German planning that proceeded it. The have had less than four years to implement the changes completely and are still settling in to their role within Germany as a whole. As was recently pointed out their is an bigger level of apathy towards the military in Germany than here with the possibility of the volk watching our antics and losses in Iraq and Afghanistan ( I know they served to but …). Mrs Merkel will wait to see which way the volk’s mood swings based on current events before plunges in with promises of 2% of GDP etc especially if the Germans get hit by bad overseas debt , yes kebab man we are looking at you . All in all if the Beast from the East launches westwards our chums in Germany will do their share if they don’t want to see a repeat of the Red Armies behaviour towards German females in 1945.
Myself we should be capable of easily standing our OWN ground here in Europe if the yanks get very busy elsewhere that’s on land ,sea and in the air. Note the stress on own ground not some sandpit or jungle on the other side of the world.

Sazuroi
Sazuroi
February 12, 2015 8:49 pm

The thing with Britain leaving the EU is that it would not be all that much in your favor – whatever the economic calculations are, the immigration is actually helping those along – BBC reported on a study finding that immigrants on average added over 2000 pound per person and month in the UK, besides that most of the immigration is still from commonwealth countries and not the EU. The panic is largely based on assertions the EU immigrants would unduly drain the social aid programmes, a panic which exists in Germany as well, but that kind of benefit tourism is far less widespread than most people assume and most immigrants – if they even plan to stay for long – genuinely do work.

The biggest draw on the social aid in Britain, according to the same study covered by BBC, was by far students, largely ones from Britain and not from elsewhere, because to foot the bill for studying at a british university you either need aid or have a lot of disposable money, and last thing I heard overseas students in Britain as a rule fit the latter category.

Outside of immigration, the majority of British trade is done with Europe, so you would indeed not be able to get out of many of the trade agreements without considerable losses, which are not part of the discussion in the first place. Europe requires products traded with it to adhere to certain standards, and Britain does not have the kind of weight needed to push something like the TTIP through which does not even change the standards, but mutually recognizes them.

And on the political front, Britain on its own has lost much power, and while the fleet is still large it will never provide the kind of power projection ability the US has. Much of the political activity is done through the EU, your Catherine Ashton even held the chief post for the outside representation for a long time, and EU foreign policy is largely aligned with that of Britain, only some more partial policies stick out.

Germany simply has completely different priorities in that regard and yes, also values. Of course a country whose predominant track record since its inception is losing the two largest wars in human history will be very, very hard to move towards more military interventions. Surely we could be more solidaric, but Germany is not the only NATO country that did not participate in the Iraq, which was not a successful or even necessary war anyway (Saddam Hussein was not the only brutal dictator in the world), and the same is true for Libya. The German public has very little connection to the mediterranian, and military intervention there is a very tough sell. That is not something you could demand the politicians change, because democracy works the other way round.

Because of that, it’s also fairly difficult to stomach you accuse us of freeriding, because from our perspective, nothing worthwhile is gained from all the recent interventions. Libya is a mess, and it could not have been much worse without the intervention, Syria is a mess, and we didn’t even intervene to prevent conflict with Russia and riots in the US, the Iraq is a mess and Afghanistan is shaping up to become a complete mess all over again. Even if one believes the narrative the goals of those interventions were largely economical in nature, there is not much economical benefit to be had, and what there is I doubt Germany gets a particularly large share of except maybe on sympathy since the Middle East paints us in a fairly positive light to my knowledge – which is not really a surprise, only the US believed there would be celebration in the streets once they “liberated” Iraq.

So what are we riding free in? We enter defense cooperations, contribute forces, joined the war in Afghanistan which was invoked as self-defense and not “coalition of the willing”. Our national goals do not see any overseas activity other than economic and diplomatic (including arms and dual-use sales, but there are tight restrictions in place against aggressive or dangrous countries, to the point we even did not sell tanks to Saudi-Arabia, which is clearly in the orbit of the west). This is much the same as Japan has behaved, though they are changing currently. And nobody blamed Japan for that too loudly. The lessons the Axis powers learned from the World Wars simply are different from the ones learned by the Allies, and neither is a wrong lesson.

Yes, it is prudent to intervene in a growing crisis before it creates a global one, though that kind of excuse if overused and therefore a very hard sell. In principle, it is still right, Yugoslavia would have created a lot more chaos had the NATO not clamped down on it, but the “War on Terror” failed on count of terrorists being very hard to target with military means, possibly excepting the IS who kindly move out in the open. Especially the structures that make terror work are not really something the military can fight, this is really more a police or even economic aid thing, a dimension that was greatly neglected, and the one regard in which Germany did take part in the Iraq matter – our aid organizations also went there, as did the THW I believe, only they did not achieve much either.

However, it is also prudent not to overstep one’s means and try to deescalate. Germany had to considerably rebuild its military to even be able to participate in Afghanistan on this scale, and we did not have much of a capacity to dispatch more troops to the Iraq even if the will had been there. Our military was purely built for national defense, it’s even there in the name. Besides lacking the strict ruling Japan has in our own (originally intended to be temporary) constitution because we were the definite attack angle for Russia and even had nuclear landmines laid on our territory at some point, so we may have needed some flexibility in regards to nukes on our ground. This also informs much of the opposition to nuclear power or technology in general, as did the Chernobyl disaster which was to my knowledge recieved much more immediately here than in Britain.

Hence, as such we are not freeboating because the boat has nothing we would like. From a purely defensive standpoint, kicking Germany out of the Nato for that or the like is not justifiable, because sooner or later we would have to join in defense of Europe whether we are in the NATO or not. And we did sent fighters to the Baltic states and eastern border, this was how the dismal state of our equipment even surfaced.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
February 12, 2015 11:41 pm

@Sazuroi “Germany simply has completely different priorities…and yes, also values”…bearing in mind Germany’s increasingly dominant role in the EU…and the likelihood that it’s dominance will grow as the Euro continues to unravel, requiring yet more German money to hold it together…that is an argument for Brexit pretty much more compelling than any other; and certainly one of potentially greater importance than the (probably short-term) economic pain attached to our departure…

Why would we think it in our long-term interest to go further into an ever closer union with a a group of Countries that do not share our values…even if they are our nearest neighbours? Why would they want us to? If indeed they do, which quite frankly I rather doubt…

“Fiat justitia ruat caelium” is not exact, but does seem to me apposite.

GNB

Sazuroi
Sazuroi
February 13, 2015 1:33 am

@ GNB: As I have previously outlined, my position is not actually to create an ever-closer union, and the union as close as you have let it come is more useful to you than you generally acknowledge. The argument the UK would be in a better place alone rings hollow like that of Scotland did, because they would still be in the orbit of the bigger political blob next to them. Though with less military threat, it would be a position much like Japan, some weird island people with good money but little else to offer. If the UK stays in the EU and helps foster a compromise, the resulting system would be stronger.

Also, again, Germany does not want to be leading anybody, and our population is baffled as our gouvernment is hesitant to actually accept that label. Though we may be sounding ambitious, we were actually expecting more resistance and counterarguments because that’s what the struggle around the newer EU treaties made us expect. And as such, we can’t really be blamed for not championing other countries’ interests if we expect to be in a largely collegial, multinational alliance where everybody outlines their own interests so a compromise can be made acknowledging all of them. Which is how our own federal gouvernment is supposed to work, by the way, so no surprise the politicians treat both bodies alike.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 13, 2015 1:58 am

@SA

Would not worry too much about GNB, he is a hustorian who has never really got over the end of the empire and trots out lines about english speaking alliances with zero reference to geographry, logistics or actual military capabilities. A bit like our SO.

Sazuroi
Sazuroi
February 13, 2015 2:15 am

Well, trade-wise I’m a literature and social+political sciences student close to getting the MA, so I see little reason not to respond to historical concerns, however theorhetical. They offer a good wall to bounce my arguments off of, if nothing else. :D

Martin
Editor
February 13, 2015 8:15 am

@ Sazuroi

“So what are we riding free in?”

You are riding free in NATO because you don’t come any where near the 2% of GDP pledge in military spending.

As for intervention you make it sound like the USA and the UK run around the world smashing up perfectly nice places. No one wanted to go into Libya but what was the alternative? The Germans seemed quite happy to let Gaddafi walk into Benghazi and butcher a couple of hundred thousand civilians. Same goes for Afghanistan and almost every other intervention with the exclusion of Iraq.

I honestly wonder how the UK and Germany can be so closely related yet see the world in such a different way.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 13, 2015 8:45 am

Here’s a nice graphic showing a ME orientation by country. As the “control sum” for all is 100%,the main orientation for others is elsewhere.

A question: would the overall levers for restraining Russia be more, or less, if NATO countries had developed no economic ties with her?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 13, 2015 8:46 am
S O
S O
February 13, 2015 8:49 am


That’s not meeting the definition of free riding. It would at most be cheap-riding or something.

More importantly, said pledge is irrelevant and has no force.
I can pledge to spend 40% GDP of my country for development aid and it would carry EXACTLY as much weight:
http://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.de/2014/11/nato-summits-and-spending-pledges.html

Nobody who was authorized to commit the next or future budgets ever gave a pledge because nobody had such authority in the FRG, ever.

“No one wanted to go into Libya but what was the alternative?”

Doing nothing, for example. There’s no evidence or even only much support for the thesis that the outcome would have been worse.

“The Germans seemed quite happy to let Gaddafi walk into Benghazi and butcher a couple of hundred thousand civilians”
That’s a lie (“happy”) coupled with 100% conjecture. Seriously, not bombing Ghaddafi might very well have led to less casualties. Or in other words:
‘All those warmongers insisted on killing Libyans in a bombing campaign even though else the war would have ended quickly with much less bloodshed than it did!’
The interesting thing about this hypothetical statement is that you have perfectly zero evidence to refute it. It’s just as made-up and unfounded as your position.

“I honestly wonder how the UK and Germany can be so closely related yet see the world in such a different way.”

The UK is kinda stuck in the very early 20th century, just as the United States. Some other countries have understood that a strong industrial sector and good international relations create and maintain prosperity and security, whereas the military does this well only against nearby uncooperative states.

Chris
Chris
February 13, 2015 10:27 am

Gloomy – is this what you meant? “Unio tenere ruat caelum.” I am not brainy enough to have knowledge of Latin, but Google says this is what ‘Hold the Union though the heavens fall’ translates back to.

APATS – a bit harsh old chap? There is yet another saying along the lines of ignoring your history guarantees you will repeat it; there is value in looking at previous decisions (particularly the bad ones) and their consequences; there is also equal value in looking at current events from a wider temporal viewpoint as there is from a wider geographic viewpoint. History shapes our perceptions and our aspirations as much as it shaped our nation.

SO – also a touch sharp – the UK industrial and trading base was what our national wealth was built upon; we understand the value of good trading relations and goods to trade. Our industrial sector was ruined by mass over-utilisation through two wars and there was little or no investment to aid rebuilding it. We fell behind. The US on the other hand had lots of investment and remains an industrial trading nation of the first rank – even in Germany there are a lot of US products and technology. But the difference you draw is to a degree valid – for better or worse this country has been at war almost constantly since the 1100s against many varied opponents. There have been a few short gaps and a few brief bloody intervals (the Anarchy of 1135-1154, the Wars of the Roses between 1455 and 1487, and the Civil War in the early 1600s) when we fought ourselves, but we have engaged foes at one time or another on every inhabited continent except Australasia. Over the centuries war was the norm; it was our history. And as I said just above, our history shapes our modern mindset – as a nation traditionally we have not been shy to fight. Germany is a much younger country; it had two big wars both which hurt – a lot – and has found industrial trade and non-judgemental diplomacy more to its liking.

Hohum
Hohum
February 13, 2015 11:00 am

Epic Putin-bottery right here:

“The UK is kinda stuck in the very early 20th century, just as the United States. Some other countries have understood that a strong industrial sector and good international relations create and maintain prosperity and security, whereas the military does this well only against nearby uncooperative states.”

The US has a vast technological and industrial sector, Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, etc, etc, that exports all over the world and creates vast amounts of wealth. It is that very industrial base that allows the US to also have an immensely powerful military. The UK is also no industrial slouch with the UK firms at the forefront of some of the most complex engineering sectors (gas turbines, microchips etc). Only in Putin-bot fantasy land do either country seriously fall behind Germany who were themselves the sick man of Europe in the 1990s and probably would be so again if not for their artificially low currency.

Martin
Editor
February 13, 2015 11:31 am

@ Hohum

Good point

@ SO – so just to clarify the German response to Libya would be wait and see what happens in Benghazi.

Is there any point of mast murder at which the international community should step in to a situation then? If so how many deaths are required?

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 13, 2015 11:59 am

Not if you are German, depends which is most efficient. Actually that is unfair, the Germans I was working with at the time were mortified by their Governments inaction.

S O
S O
February 13, 2015 12:43 pm

Martin, you’re still implying that bombing Libyans saved Libyan lives in the end. You cannot prove that at all.

@Hohum:
The US and UK have about 20% GDP primary + secondary sector. The US in particular has maintained trade balance deficits approximately as large as its military spending (so much about the industry sustaining the military) and so large that cutting consumption by its amount would devastate the US society.

The supposed sick man of Europe (which actually did a Herculean effort in modernising East Germany at the time) has maintained about 30% primary + secondary sector and has huge trade balance surpluses (and had approximately balanced trade in the 90’s).

It’s telling to see how you use unimportant anecdotal evidence without the intellectual effort of thinking in ‘per capita’ terms or similar.
Besides, your point is off anyway: I was writing about priorities, not about pecking order. Both the US and UK could be much more prosperous if they spent 2% GDP p.a. more on education and infrastructure rather than on more or less big sticks.

———-

Back to the topic:
The EU has more than enough military power to defeat the Russians in a conventional conflict with ease. Its casualties would likely be less than 100,000 until the Western and Southern Military Districts’ forces were destroyed. And the Russians know about their inferiority. I’ve actually looked at the relevant publications, this is not a mere feeling.
The most challenging defence scenario would in my opinion be a coup de main against the Baltic countries, but this is hardly a challenge to military spending. The Poles could focus on being ready to intervene in Lithuania and delay against Belarus with a single brigade or two. The Germans could then focus on being able to rush a couple brigades to NE Poland within days and all of its brigades to NE Poland within about two weeks. Deployment exercises would also need to include civilian trucks hauling 155 mm ammunition racks.

The defence of non-allied countries is not our business. The only non-allied countries are Ukraine and Transnistria anyway. Norway isn’t in the EU, but it’s in NATO. Belarus is allied with Russia.
The ‘worst case’ scenario for Ukraine is a second division which would leave an anti-Moscow, overwhelmingly ethnically and linguistically Ukrainian population behind. This one could be invited into NATO since Moscow spent all goodwill already. The Russians could then the peacefully forced to withdraw their ‘peacekeepers’ from Transnistria. The resulting geostrategic situation would leave no doubt that Russia couldn’t dare a hot conflict with the EU until further notice – even if EU military spending slumped a lot.

I think there’s not much we need to wake up to albeit I welcome the increased interest in real defence (which oddly doesn’t coincide with a substantial reduction in stupid small war activities). Putin has gone too far; he’s losing the bulk of the Ukraine (as it turns from neutral or split personality towards pro-Western). Meanwhile the EU countries don’t lose anything unless they turn extraordinarily stupid in some way or another.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 13, 2015 12:52 pm

@So

What we can prove is that the French air strikes stopped Gaddafi killing every last man woman and child in Benghazi , something you seem to have no issues with.

Martin
Editor
February 13, 2015 12:59 pm

@ SO – I am not saying that the bombing saved lives. I am simply trying to gauge if you feel there is any threshold that a dictator can cross that the international community should intervene in domestic affairs. Obviously in your mind the genocide and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and Kosovo was insufficient justification. If Gaddafi killed 1 million and used chemical weapons for instance would that be a sufficient justification? Or is it only ok to do something when Russia and China say it’s ok and it won’t affect German exports?

No doubt Libya is a mess right now but Syria is worse. Now the FSA has all but disappeared and we have ISIS sweeping across the ME and we did not do s**t there except remove the threat of chemical weapons with a single threat of action.

Also what about British intervention in SL or France in Mali?

Hohum
Hohum
February 13, 2015 1:02 pm

SO,

Your bosses will be proud, leaping to that level of economic statistics manipulation so quickly is heroic. I note that you deliberately avoided currency issue. FYI, trade deficits are not intrinsically bad as long as they are funded by something.

The Other Chris
February 13, 2015 1:05 pm

@S O

…[Putin is] losing the bulk of the Ukraine…”

Interesting. Is he really interested in the area outside of Crimea? That’s where the infrastructure, bases, access to the Black Sea, industry and industrial resource generation of Ukraine with regard to what Russia lacks are centred.

Everywhere else is largely a bread-basket, of which Russia has ample elsewhere.

In the devolved areas of Ukraine as being discussed in the latest cease-fire, he can once more reform a buffer area comprised of pro-Russian supporters without forming a direct border with an EU state.

Meanwhile he consolidates Crimea while events further north focus attention.

Chris
Chris
February 13, 2015 1:34 pm

TOC – if Vlad was in a conquering frame of mind (big if) then I could see logic in creating a coastal strip from the border of Crimea past Melitopol and Mariupol to the current Russian border at Maksimov. Without a land corridor Crimea is less useful to Russia than it could be, even if the ferry between Port Kavkaz and Port Crimea (near Kerch) was replaced with a heavy duty bridge or tunnel. But you have to concede the rebels’ territorial claim does not cover that corridor, extending far north instead. If the rebels were entirely under Russian Army control surely linking Crimea to Russia with permanent territory would be the primary task?

Hohum
Hohum
February 13, 2015 1:44 pm

Chris,

You make the assumption that Vlad sees this as the end state. He is still only in the second year of what will almost certainly be a twelve year reign unless he dies. This treaty is useful to the Russian’s as it effectively turns the situation they have created on the ground into the new accepted normal. The demarcation line as outlined by the ceasefire agreement* is now the border of a Russian client state that did not exist up until the Russian Army began invading Ukraine, he has thus already conquered. Vlad can restart this war whenever he sees fit.

*Just a ceasefire agreement, not a peace treaty, and with plenty of useful break points built in

The Other Chris
February 13, 2015 1:47 pm

Completely concur, if he can achieve that [Russian land bridge] he would be a very happy man.

Is it primary to establish a secure land route? Not sure – you’ve already mentioned the Kavkaz route and if the region settles down there’ll still be a cross-border route for civilian industrial traffic.

I think he’s got what he wants already.

EDIT: @Hohum – exactly.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 13, 2015 1:50 pm

RE. ” FYI, trade deficits are not intrinsically bad as long as they are funded by something”

True, the USD is a reserve currency and they can print more …nice!

Also, IF you have a surplus have to put it somewhere. Think of China:
-¥, no way!
-€, could be going to the dogs
-£, too small
, oh,welll, OK then:$

Germany:
– an internal market with a fixed FXrate
– higher productivity growth relative to others within it is equivalent to a creeping devaluation
– oh, well, OK then: circulate the surplusses, to keep the status quo (and get them back with interest one day…maybe)

S O
S O
February 13, 2015 1:50 pm

Martin,
the problem with the ‘genocide’ or ‘atrocities’ or ‘ethnic cleansing’ justification for interventions is that it’s so easily exploitable and has been exploited for starting stupid wars. One may err and not help people about to die, or one may err and make it only worse.
Remember how NATO was played by a ragtag of guerillas in Kosovo: All those reports about atrocities, rumours about mass graves in a stadium, photos of dozens of dead civilians, videos of civilians fleeing.
It turned out there were hardly any atrocities committed, photos shown of killed men were showing UCK fighters killed in a regular and legitimate skirmish, there was no mass grave in the stadium, and the people shown fleeing were fleeing from combat actions and actually returned a few days after instead of being victims of ethnic cleansing.
NATO was fooled.

The Biafra crisis was a case where I would say OK, send the navy to escort a couple blockaderunner ships with food, shoot at Nigerian warships or combat aircraft even within the 3 mile zone if necessary. ————–
Hohum, you’re but a troll and show the typical disinterest in facts and constant hostility and unsupported accusations as do so many other trolls.
————–
@The Other Chris;
I suppose the remnant of the Ukraine would turn West, and this could mean NATO border within IIRC 400 km of Moscow. Look at the maps.
It’s difficult to imagine a bigger debacle than that, and he couldn’t prevent it any more. It’s rather up to us and the Ukrainian government now. Putin could have gotten away with Crimea and could have pointed at Kosovo as precedent despite Russia’s 1994 guarantee. His Donezk racket is overreach.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 13, 2015 2:06 pm

I agree with that (though the link between Kosovo and sovereign guarantees to a sovereign Ukraine is a figment of imagination)

“would turn West, and this could mean NATO border within IIRC 400 km of Moscow. Look at the maps.
It’s difficult to imagine a bigger debacle than that, and he couldn’t prevent it any more. It’s rather up to us and the Ukrainian government now. Putin could have gotten away with Crimea and could have pointed at Kosovo as precedent despite Russia’s 1994 guarantee. His Donezk racket is overreach.”

He meant it as a demonstration effect…now, how to get out of the situation without losing face. The only way there could be a colour revolution is with the Russian economy crumbling… Which he hasnow brought about.

Hohum
Hohum
February 13, 2015 2:14 pm

SO,

You are a Putin-bot, with Putin-bot talking points and Putin-bot argument styles.

As if to prove the point, you deliberately conflate ethnic cleansing with mass-murder. Ethnic cleansing by definition does not have to include mass murder (though everybody admits there was some slaughtering of Albanian civilians by Serb forces), forced deportation also counts and the 1.1 million Albanian refugees were exactly that.

monkey
monkey
February 13, 2015 2:19 pm


The go ahead for the bridge has been signed with surprise ,surprise Putin best pal getting the orders , they like to get hot and sweaty together rolling around the floor in their pyjamas, correction judo gi’s.
http://www.google.co.uk/url?q=http://www.newsweek.com/putins-judo-partner-set-build-russias-bridge-crimea-299388&sa=U&ei=8QTeVK_rIMa9UZe7hJAM&ved=0CCQQFjAJ&sig2=NUtULtnSZ6U7r1xuv8ZgHQ&usg=AFQjCNEqcc43bqjApUcZ0lMwDmnIciQsIw
When Medvedev was President he put the tender out and signed a joint understanding but relied on Ukraine part funding it which they couldn’t but that problem has resolved itself as both ends are now in Russia.
Obviously bridges can be damaged and a land route would be preferably and a land corridor would also encircle the Sea of Azoz and give Russia 100% of the gas reserves very recently discovered there.

GAB
GAB
February 13, 2015 2:42 pm

SO:”
The US and UK violated Article 1 of the North Atlantic Treaty. That’s why they’re poor allies.
“German sales of military equipment to Iran (e.g. Steyr)”
Steyr is Austrian. Like Hitler. Beethoven was no Austrian.”

======================================================
My error on Steyr, but you are still making a BS argument: the essential point is that the UK and the USA were (and are) absolutely committed to defending NATO and that is what any sane evaluation of “ally” would focus on.

Also, you cannot deny that Germany was and is Iran’s foremost trading partner second only recently to China and this was during a time when Iranian Quds were very actively killing coalition troops in Iraq.

Then there are gems like this on the Iranian Nuclear program: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-19267157

Again the point is not ti for tat – the UK could easily accuse the USA of not cracking down on IRA funding.

The point is that the USA and UK have underpinned NATO from day one; the question is what is the value of the alliance going forward.

GAB

S O
S O
February 13, 2015 3:05 pm

@Hohum
I suppose TD my sooner or later enforce manners …

@GAB
Look, I’m a German. The British may not have learnt from experiences of Germany, but I did.
Back in 1914 all Germany really did to launch the First World War was to tell its ally Austria-Hungary that it would stand by its side when Austria would turn aggressive against a small power based on pretences.
The North Atlantic Treaty has treaty provisions (in Article 1!) obligating its members to be peaceful according to the Charter of the United Nations: They must not address any differences with other countries with the use of force or threat thereof.
The US and UK violate this obligation as a matter of routine, and every time they do and Germany doesn’t protest it basically does the same as in 1914.

I think that’s a very, very stupid way to do things and an intelligent being should rather learn from the past. I do insist on the proven fact that the US and UK have violated the North Atlantic Treaty many times (and Germany but once, in 1999). A serial violator of a treaty could not possible be considered a good or faithful member of said treaty.
Legally, there’s no reason to trust the US or UK with article 5 if they routinely ignore article 1. They’re obviously not faithful or reliable allies.
I suppose they would follow article 5 in practice as long as there’s no threat of nukes, but they don’t deserve being called good allies, nor do they or their citizens have the moral high ground to accuse other allies of being bad allies on ground of imaginary criteria that were never ratified.

“Then there are gems like this on the Iranian Nuclear program”
So the German state prosecutes criminals and that means what in support of your case exactly?

GAB
GAB
February 13, 2015 4:02 pm

SO,

The very presence of the British and American Army on continental European soil guarantees their commitment to the treaty.

It is painfully obvious that Germany would not send forces if the UK or USA were to suffer a surprise attack – German peaceful behavior in accordance with “article 1” of the charter being absolutely worthless in context. In fact it appears likely that Germans would likely try to seek additional trade with the aggressor!

See the difference between a good ally and a bad one? “Shackled to a corpse” indeed!

GAB

monkey
monkey
February 13, 2015 4:32 pm

A little more on the oil and gas riches Ukraine has all ready lost and could lose if the North Shore of the Sea of Azov becomes part of Russia . Western companies like Shell were developing the fields but have now stopped. A year ago Ukraine was looking at complete energy independence and becoming an exporter of gas to western Europe in direct competion to Russia. Funny how events played out isn’t it.
http://www.google.co.uk/url?q=http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/acquiring-crimea-vastly-increased-russias-potential-oil-gas-reserves/&sa=U&ei=lyTeVPXQJ46xacS-gYgD&ved=0CAsQFjAA&sig2=uH9JWQrsh2f3SOug-tXWGw&usg=AFQjCNEAnUR2pXUS-Qj0Y6cZiEm_-Q7Yrg-Qj0Y6cZiEm_-Q7Yrg

S O
S O
February 13, 2015 4:49 pm

@GAB
You seem to have given up on clarity of thought. If the UK and US proposed a surprise attack on another power to Germany, wouldn’t they be the aggressor … and your assertion about seeking trade then be just a very confused statement?

And what’s painful about Germany not participating in aggressions?

And what you called “treaty” is really just article 5. I’ve written enough about article 1, I suppose.

You sound as if you simply don’t *like* my points (cognitive dissonance) and follow the urge to throw something in my direction, no matter how substantial it is.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
February 13, 2015 8:45 pm

@apats – As a Hustorian I neither regret nor celebrate the passing of Empire…I simply reflect on both it’s good and bad outcomes, and consider how an understanding of the past might shape the future…hardly unreasonable as most current conflicts have their origins there…and not only as it was (itself a pretty slippery concept) but how it is understood by both protagonists and onlookers. I also, sometimes, speculate about roads not taken…but then the art of historical interpretation always involves an element of such speculation…especially in the Whig tradition to which I generally subscribe.

As to the question of a strong relationship between the English-Speaking peoples I am struggling to see why that is any less plausible in a globalised world with instantaneous e-communications than a strong relationship with our immediate physical neighbours. We are all branches of the same tree with very strong philosophical, political and legal connexions…a common language…vast amounts of mutual investment…and even reflecting on the participants here I personally find myself more often in agreement with chaps like Kent and Jeremy MH than SO and Sazuroi. Our past is shaped by the Common Law, Magna Carta, the Bill of Rights, the Declaration of Independence, the Pax Britannica and victory in two more or less “just” World Wars. Theirs by the Treaty of Westphalia, the Ancien Regime, the Code Napoleon, the Continental System and defeat in the same two World Wars (and let’s not be forgetting quite how many Europeans and quite how many Countries were at the least ambiguous about the Thousand Year Reich).

Finally, of course, in purely economic terms the other English-Speaking Economies are shaped by the same legal framework as ours, tend to be vigorous in the same sorts of ways ours is, and in some cases have massive reserves of the sorts of resources we need…as well as many business and academic links. In the modern world, why does immediate geography matter? The Caliphate, for example, looks like emerging as an international state linked by new technology, modern air transport and a shared view of the world…not contiguous territory.

I’d also guess that if the people of these Islands were given a mandatory binary choice between a European Union and an English Speakers Union the latter might prove more popular. Perhaps the Boss might run a poll? :-)

Human political, economic and social progress is about choices, and there is no inevitable direction of travel.

I am, however, a bit curious about why you crossed the road to pick a fight :-( but at least this time you haven’t instructed me to shut up because you are in uniform and I’m not, so that represents progress towards the normal courtesies of virtual back-bar discourse… :-)

– It means “Let Justice be done if the heavens fall” and goes back to the Roman Republic…but it’s most famous use in modern British History related to Lord Mansfield’s key intervention on Slavery in about 1780 where a High Tory Judge ruled that “To breathe the air of England, is to breathe the air as a Free Man” and opened the way for the triumph of that fine ‘Ull Lad Wilberforce. Apposite, because he was saying “do the right thing whatever the consequences” in the face of slave-owners and supporters assuring all who would listen that it would destroy Western Civilization. Much as Euro-enthusiasts insist that baling out of the EU will destroy the country and reduce us all to beggary…an unfounded conclusion, the confident assertion of which I find irritating not because I have a fixed view on the outcome but because I favour rational and balanced argument on big and important issues, not near shrill hysterical fear-mongering…I mostly feel much the same about UKIP as well, bye the bye.

Must be because I’m an Hustorian… :-)

GNB

John Hartley
John Hartley
February 13, 2015 9:46 pm

Those pink dots on the map, means we can still call ourselves an empire, just. From a legal tradition going back to Tudor times, nations have to obey international law (the Pope back then), while empires do not. So if we want to tell the EU or UN to take a running jump, it pays to keep empire status.

Timuk
Timuk
February 13, 2015 9:51 pm

What has been proven is that Germany cannot lead Europe. Disastrous policies for the Eurozone that is still in recession 7 years on, a pathetic weak military and appalling geo-strategic decision to give Putin a long cuddle resulting in a spanked bottom for Merkel and Europe.

Dithering is not leadership.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 13, 2015 10:47 pm

I find it hilarious that the same posters who talk about military austerity also talk about speciial relations with English speaking countries (the racist overtones excepted). I have news for you, even the US expects us to take our place in Europe and lead the defence construct. The special relationship is thinner than ever, even amongst the military.

monkey
monkey
February 13, 2015 11:01 pm

I am of the opinion , god help me , that if the detail of the NATO Treaty does lead us into illegal actions or we are left waiting for the UN to sanction what ever with a resolution ( change there also? ) Europe needs another , I did say god help me , European Union treaty which will allow us to act with a unilateral , as in Europe only , manner to address Europe’s needs. I know it will take decades to bring about but there is no time like the present. I suspect a lot of good intentions fall by the wayside ,and our potential adversaries know it , because mealy mouth individuals stick up their hands and say ‘ but have you thought of the legal implications? If we…….’ end of will to do the right thing at the right time and in time.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
February 13, 2015 11:08 pm

@apats – I didn’t speak about military austerity, and I only ever talk about the “special relationship” as opposed to The Special Relationship which are quite different things…I talked about straightforward factual points of connexion that exist between the English Speaking Peoples…the nature of states of alliances in an e-linked global age…and the possibility that the future includes options and forks in the road and is not a matter of inevitable progress in one direction or another.

Happy to argue about what I say, but there is no point in arguing about your assumptions about what I mean, much less the construct you have assembled in your own mind as to who I am or what I believe…

GNB

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 13, 2015 11:12 pm

@GNB

“…I talked about straightforward factual points of connexion that exist between the English Speaking Peoples…the nature of states of alliances in an e-linked global age…and the possibility that the future includes options and forks in the road and is not a matter of inevitable progress in one direction or another.
Happy to argue about what I say, but there is no point in arguing about your assumptions about what I mean.”

Obviously not as you are quite comfortably running your council estate harping back to the RAJ and encouraging others to actually put their lives on the line for your post Imperial fantasies.

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
February 13, 2015 11:29 pm

@ APATS – “(the racist overtones excepted)”

Sorry; who, what, and where?

I haven’t read the whole thread, but you should not cast that accusation around carelessly.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
February 13, 2015 11:29 pm

@apats – Never said any of those things…although there is nothing dishonourable about running social housing…the Raj was a reality both good and bad in respect of those running it and subject to it, but it has passed – and reflecting on it is History, not cheer-leading…and in Democracies with professional armed forces politicians decide what they do and electors not only can but should have a view on what is done in their name – places where the men in uniform decide about questions of war and peace are generally called “Military Juntas”…perhaps you might favour one of those over the current arrangements. :-)

GNB

Martin
Editor
February 14, 2015 1:39 am

@ SO – So basically you think the recent wave of genocide over the past two decades is a media and military construct made to justify the USA and UK’s blood lust.

What do we get in way of benefit for bombing all these countries?

Obsvr
Obsvr
February 14, 2015 2:30 am

1. ‘English speaking’ is not a race, do try not to be silly.
2. It seems that the organisation ‘Internet Research’ based in St Petersburg is the main Russian information war agency, their ‘journalists’ have to met their daily quotas of propaganda published online around the world, including on sites like this.

Its useful to remember that outside UK and France democracy is still a relatively modern concept in Europe. Less that a century ago most of it was run by three nasty autocracies (Russia, Prussia & Austro-Hungary incl the Spanish arm). Some of these areas are now democratic but in some cases I’m not sure how deep the substance is embedded to support the appearance.

That said Poland has probably the deepest democratic credentials in Europe, dating back to the constitutional arrangements of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth, but was royally screwed by the autocracies after 1815. I pity the Russians, autocracy of one form or another is all they’ve ever known and they think its normal! The problem comes when the autocrat du jour embarks on exportation. Merkal has lived most of her life under autocracy, and the jury is still out as to whether or not she really understands what democracy really is.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
February 14, 2015 8:15 am

‘European Union treaty which will allow us to act with a unilateral , as in Europe only , manner to address Europe’s needs’

The trouble with something like that is it will not change the fact that nations have differing opinions on matters such as Ukraine and also have differing ideas on how to deal with them, which come from their differing perpestives.

A case in point would be the Balkans (which was in Europe’s back yard) in the early to mid 90’s, Ourselves and the French had a differing opinion to the US on how it should be resolved. After a few years of involvement the French started to agree with the US and we were the nation that was filibustering. In the end the conflict was ended by a powerful military alliance bringing overwhelming military and diplomatic pressure to bear.

The fact remains that it was a powerful diplomatic and military alliance of nations that were in agreement and prepared to act that resolved the issue. I don’t see how naming it a European, NATO or ‘coalition of the willing’ will change the fact that some people disagree on solutions to problems and having a European frame work will not change that or make getting agreement to a solution any easier.

S O