• “Is NATO Relevant?” Sarwar Kashmeri with UK MP Mike Gapes, on Skynews

  • What’s Next For NATO: A “Reboot or Delete?” Robin Young, host of Here & Now asks Sarwar Kashmeri

  • Sarwar Kashmeri & NATO 2.0 on Fox News

  • To preserve NATO bridge it to the EU

    NATO used to be the world’s most formidable military alliance. But, its original reason for existence, the Soviet Union, disintegrated years ago, and its dreams of being a world cop are withering in the mountains of Afghanistan.

    Meanwhile, the European Union’s Common Security & Defense Policy (CSDP) has deployed twenty-seven successful military/civil missions from Africa to Asia in the last ten years. Through CSDP, Europeans are increasingly taking charge of managing their own foreign and security policy. NATO is no longer the sole and preeminent Euro-Atlantic security actor.

    But watching NATO fade into irrelevance would be a mistake. It is a tried and true platform to harness the resources of North America and Europe. NATO’s future usefulness depends on its willingness to accept its reduced role, to let the EU handle the day-to-day security needs of Europe, and to craft a relationship with CSDP that will allow North America and Europe to act militarily together, should that ever become necessary.

    It is time for NATO 2.0, a new version of NATO, to fit the realities of an ever more integrated Europe in the twenty-first century.

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Merge NATO with CSDP

To Save NATO we should merge it

with Europe’s CSDP

 
NATO isn’t working, warns Sarwar Kashmeri,

 

who advocates a U.S, Canadian and EU joint project thatwould “bridge” the Atlantic alliance with Europe’s

fledgling defence and security framework…< Read The Europe’s World Article here: >

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If Your grandmother grows whiskers, would you call her your grandfather?!

What is this fixation that NATO has with making an anti-missile shield the center-piece of NATO and inviting Russia to join in this “shield.” Here’s a Reuter’s report on a planned speech by NATO’s Secretary General, Friday, September 17, 2010:

SM-3 Launch from USS Shiloh

Missile defense key to boosting Russia ties: NATO

(Reuters) – Russian participation in a planned missile defense shield in Europe could open the door to progress in other areas such as reducing nuclear and conventional weapons, the head of NATO will say on Friday.  <Read full Reuters story>

Here’s an organization that can’t find a few hundred trainers for Afghanistan, an Alliance that is about to see its biggest members cut out of the war in Afghanistan and go home, and it proposes setting up a missile defense network to protect half the planet!!! Who is going to pay for this “shield?” The big NATO countries are about to slash their defense expenditures 15%-20%

As for getting Russia to throw in its lot with NATO, I’m reminded of a recent conversation I had with Dmitri Rogozin, the Russian Ambassador to NATO. His reply to my question of the chances of Russia joining the new “Russia-friendly” NATO, was:

If your grandmother grows whiskers, is it now a grandfather?

 

NATO needs to figure out how to be relevant and live within its means. It would be a disaster for Euro-Atlantic security if NATO were allowed to fade away. But that will happen if it dreams these unrealistic, empire building dreams like setting up a missile defense project from Vladivostok to Vancouver.

NATO’s Mission? Je ne sais pas

NATO works on a pay as you play formula. Meaning, if a country deploys with NATO, the country pays all its expenses. And that is a real problem for Eastern European countries such as Poland that bend over backwards to please the United States and want to be out front in any American led war.  Poland has over 2000 troops in Afghanistan and they have been putting up quite a fight. But Poland cannot afford its ISAF commitment any more. <Read full story in Siffy News>Polish Mi-24 heavy attack helicopter

Poland’s participation in the NATO-led mission in Afghanistan is so expensive, about USD 1 billion a year (10% of Poland’s defense budget) that it is hampering efforts to modernize the country’s armed forces, Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski said Wednesday, on his first visit to NATO headquarters.

Poland has also had it with out-of-area operations such as the NATO mission in Afghanistan. President Komorowski wans NATO to focus on defending its members, not playing at being world cop. Though he did not say it, that means watching the Russians who still scare the Eastern Europeans more than any Taliban in Kandahar. The problem is, playing world cop is what the Western members of NATO want to do.

Is there a meeting ground? I don’t think so. NATO has a lot of soul searching to do before that fateful November meeting in Lisbon. The moment of truth is around the corner.

Denmark Rejects NATO Request For F-16s

Denmark has turned down a NATO request to send F-16 fighters to Afghanistan as it believes it has done enough for the international military mission there, the foreign minister said Thursday. “…[Denmark…has a strong desire to scale down its military engagement” in Afghanistan as the Danish defence budget was “under pressure” and the government “is under no obligation to do more” there. Denmark “can be proud” of its role in Afghanistan, she said, adding that “it’s up to other countries to play a role and meet (NATO’s) demands”…   <Read full AFP article>

Two points stand out in this report. First, Denmark has been a faithful NATO ally, it has suffered more troops killed per capita than any other NATO member. So this refusal to help cannot have been an easy task. My question is, the NATO Secretary General is a former Danish Prime Minister. Could he not gauge the political temperature in Denmark? Is he so oblivious to Danish political and economic reality? Political decisions don’t just come out from nowhere. They germinate and then after much give and take, sprout. So, Mr. Rasmussen, what happened here? Why ask for something you know cannot be delivered.

Second, Denmark’s refusal is yet another reminder of the consequenses from the financial crisis. The ground has shifted in the EU and the U.S. With the recent German military cuts, U.S. scaling back its military budget, france and the UK trying to join their offensive and defensive military operations and maintenance. There is a strategic change underfoot in Euro-Atlantic defense and security operations, and the sooner NATO realizes it the more the chances that it will continue to be effective in the twenty-first century.  As a first step NATO should begin top level discussion with CSDP [the EU’s security and defense establishment] to bridge operations and eliminate duplication.

NATO plans to stay in Afghanistan even after Afghans can handle their own security!

 

There’s an article in the August 22, 2010 edition of NewEurope that reminds me of the delusional world that some in NATO inhabit.

Right after a statement by President Karzai of Afghanistan in front of the representatives of 70 countries gathered in Kabul on July 20, 2010 that,

 …the new government can manage the country on its own, relying on its own armed forces and on a solid financial support of the international community…all responsibility for security and implementation of the national priorities and programs in the country would pass to the Afghan side as early as in 2014.

Pretty good news I’d say. A success for all concerned. But not for NATO’s Secretary General Rasmussen

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen talks to reporters in Kabul, Afghanistan |NEW EUROPE/KULPASH KONYROVA

who addressed reporters after the Karzai speech, at the press center, and told them,

A statement that the national forces of this country can assume the responsibility for their country’s security by 2014 does not mean that NATO troops will leave Afghanistan. They will continue to provide support. We will not leave the people of this country even after the transfer of responsibility to the national security forces; we will stay to help them.

Now that’s a pretty bold statement to make. Afghanistan’s elected leader says thanks for your help, we’ll take it from here after 2014, and the military alliance that has come to Afghanistan to help him says that they really don’t care what the President of Afghanistan says. Foreign troops will stay in your country until they decide to leave.

Did someone say “occupation?” “Colonialism?” Isn’t Afghanistan a soverign state?

It will be interesting to see how Mr. Rasmussen hangs on to NATO troops when the Dutch, Brits, Poles, Canadians, and many of the U.S. military have left.  Seriously, one would have thought the Secretary General would commend Mr. Karzai and say, “Bravo, more power to you.” But I guess that’s too logical.

NATO’s existential crossroads

The United States’ department’s of State and Defense did something unusual this week. They coordinated and orchestrated a tough but constructive message to NATO and the Europeans.

      

Sec. of State, Clinton spoke at a reception for NATO’s senior team and high level officials, Monday, April 22. It was the kick-off to the one day NATO conference, Tuesday, Mar 23, to help draft the Alliance’s Strategic Concept for the next decade. Defense Sec. Gates opened the conference at the National Defense University the next day with as tough a description as I’ve every heard about NATO’s European members. Here’s how brutal it was.

The demilitarization of Europe — where large swaths of the general public and political class are averse to military force and the risks that go with it — has gone from a blessing in the 20th century to an impediment to achieving real security and lasting peace in the 21st…

<Read the NYT/International Herald Tribune Article> Gates Calls European Mood a Danger to Peace

Both Secretaries referred to each others remarks, built on what the other would say, and provided a one-two punch that was unusual, to say the least, in transatlantic circles.

Both Secretaries want NATO to expedite an overhaul of its bureaucracy (EG: over 300 committees, no integrated financial systems to track budgets, expenses, and projects) and to think about collaborating with the European Union and its security establishment: ESDP. No more double billing both Secretaries said, after all 21 of the 28 NATO members are EU members.

I was at the NATO conference, which was held under Chatham House Rules. So cannot offer quotations. I will tell you this, the mood was grim but determined. Grim because of the late hour for NATO. Determined because every person at the conference realized the importance of NATO to security and to the transatlantic alliance.

NATO Will Protect Georgia From Russia. Ha! Ha!

If I lived in Georgia, I wouldn’t make any bets on being saved by NATO were Russia to flex its muscles again.

France today sold Russia an advanced, shallow water, attack helicopter carrier. Sales of 3 more are pending.  Had the Russians had them during their 2008 conflict with Georgia, the sophisticated warships would have allowed the Russians to capture Georgia’s Baltic ports in 45 minutes instead of the 26 hours it took them.

The indomitable Western Alliance!

Here’s the story from today’s Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe

In A NATO First, France Agrees To Sell Warship To Russia

(RFE/RL) — French defense officials say France has agreed to sell Russia a technologically advanced battleship and is considering a request to sell Moscow three more.

If the sale is completed, it would be the first such arms sale between Russia and a member of NATO.

<Read the full story>

***UPDATE ***

From The Laura Rosen Blog on Politico, February 9, 2010

Diplomatically, Gates opposes French ship sale to Russia

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told French officials Monday that he was concerned about their plans to sell Mistral-class amphibious assault ships to Russia, although there is little if anything the United States could do to block the deal, officials said.

<Read the full Politico column>