Sunday, February 05, 2006
NATO, What's It For?
Unbeknownst to most of you, assorted generals and majors from that military dinosaur NATO got together in Munich recently for their yearly powwow to chit chat on "security issues." NATO is still something of a lost child after losing its play partner the Soviet Union years ago. Since then, NATO has been in search of a new "mission." Bombing Yugoslavia in 1999 to "save" ethnic Albanians in Kosovo was part of that effort. It was the first time the military club had used its weapons for real not to repel an invasion -- as spelled out in its charter to justify action -- but to attack a sovereign nation that hadn't threatened it. Anyway, that mission didn't solve all the problems of NATO which now stands at 26 members having taken in lots of former enemy Warsaw Pact states. Anyway to the meeting. Angela Merkel, Germany's first female chancellor, has been in sycophant overdrive taking every available opportunity to brown nose the Busheviks in Washington, who felt snubbed by her predecessor, Gerhard Schroeder, whose anti-Iraq war rhetoric peeved off Bush and crew. (However, as the Informant and other top news sites have pointed out, it seems the German intelligence services were providing the Yanks with some furtive bombing target data during the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq.) So what did Angela have to say? Lots. She opined NATO "should be the first place to discuss international conflicts." I guess Angela forgot about another international organization with a slighly larger membership -- 190 countries or so --call the United Nations, set up for just the purpose Angela would like handed over to the more selective NATO club. Merkel called for NATO to engage in "broader operations" and take on "a primary role in the world." I can just see Bush and his bunch standing off by the side, rubbing their hands, saying "excellent, Angela, excellent."
Not to be outdone in the butt-licking department, German Defense Minister Franz Josef Jung also saw lots of work ahead for NATO. "Terrorism, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, failing states -- these are the scourges of our times," Jung told the conference. "The old NATO as a purely defensive alliance is history," he added. In hindsight, what do you expect a military man to say?
US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld thanked Merkel for her "thoughtful and important remarks on NATO." But Rummy lectured the Europeans on their shyness not to splurge on military spending like in the ol' US. "Insufficient" military spending, as Rummy put it, is holding back NATO's "potential."
The United States was spending 3.7 percent of its GDP on defense but other NATO members were spending far less, he said.
Leave it to the French, however, to be difficult. French Defense Minister Michele Alliot-Marie took a more skeptical view on NATO's role and stressed the importance of the European Union's growing security capability, reflecting widespread concerns in France that a stronger NATO would mean a weaker EU.
Hey, wait a minute, how can NATO and the US keep an eye and control over the Europeans, if the EU is stronger? Bad idea, Michele, bad. You're getting a little too uppity.
NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, however, supported "pragmatic" cooperation between NATO and the European Union and sought to calm French fears. He did say something very, very interesting. De Hoop Scheffer, (phew, that's a name) said NATO could "protect energy supply lines" from "terrorists." Protecting energy sources with military might? Sounds like the stuff those conspiracy nuts have been saying all along that motivates the U.S. in the former Soviet Union, specifically in the Caucasus and the Caspian Sea region, where oil and pipelines abound.
Just try, try, for a moment to look at this from Russian President Vladimir Putin's position. His country's erstwhile enemy is now talking about 'protecting' energy resources that lie within the old Soviet empire and not too far from presentday Russia. Might make him antsy, no?