Sunday, January 03, 2016

A New NATO Charter

It's a problem that afflicts any club. Once it starts growing it inevitably lets in some members who are true dickheads. First everything starts going all to hell then rules of conduct have to be laid down and then you have to start turfing out members who just can't get with the programme.

Which brings me to NATO.  The Alliance has growing problems, some of them hardly new. Take Turkey's strongman (thug), Erdogan. He figures we're on the hook to back him up when he shoots down a Russian warplane that briefly, for all of 17-seconds, violated Turkish airspace. That's Russia for chrissakes. Russia - as in more nukes than any other nation on the planet - the US included.

That's Erdogan, the guy who bent over backwards to help ISIS recruits get into Syria. Erdogan, whose kids are suspected of brokering ISIS oil exports. Erdogan, who thinks nothing of violating other nations' sovereign airspace when he wants to bomb Kurds or just piss off the Greeks, another NATO ally. Erdogan, who seems to be on the verge of appointing himself president for life. Erdogan is a full fledged dickhead.

Then there are countries trying to work their way into NATO - places like Ukraine and Georgia - that could well use their membership to get nasty with guys like Vlad Putin. Oh yeah, there's Hungary and, possibly, even Poland.

Maybe it's time to amend the NATO Charter, especially Article 5, the mutual defence provision. That needs tweaking. Let's reserve Article 5 for "Old NATO," the founding western European states who all banded together so long ago to thwart Soviet territorial adventurism through the Fulda Gap and across the central German plain. That was back when the club worked as it was intended to work. We stood in defence of each other.

When it comes to Erdogan or the new NATO members, we should introduce Article 5(b) to provide that the mutual defence obligation will be suspended for members out picking fights or member states ruled by dickheads. You want to pick fights, you're on your own. You want to be a dickhead, nobody has your back. You get a hankering to shoot down Russian planes that are not attacking, you clear it with Brussels first. If you don't, well it was nice knowing ya.

Old NATO was never a source of worry. It put our minds at ease somewhat. New NATO shouldn't be a source of worry either - but it is.


zoombats in Hong Kong said...

At the least, change the name to" all the countries but Russia".

Toby said...

NATO is a club that should have been shut down when the Wall came tumbling down. At the very least, Canada should get out. If we have to keep it, then your Article 5(b) is a good idea.

Unknown said...

What's funny Mound, Trudeau Sr. wanted to take Canada out of NATO. He was talked out of it. The NATO of today is more or less a tool of American foreign policy.Toby's right it should have been shut down when the wall came down, but when you're empire building like the US, you're not going to let go of a tool like the US. Besides Britain and France especially would want to stay for the new US empire expansion. They could even be advisors.

crf said...

Countries should heavily pay dues (as in, money) for the privilege of belonging to NATO. Even Canada should pay more. An alliance implies some shared sacrifice.

Like Toby says, it is a club. And right now the entry fee is small enough that anyone can join.

I disagree with Pamela Mac Neil. NATO isn't anymore a tool of US policy. NATO has become a tool for so many countries to enmesh the United States into their petty foreign and domestic disputes.

Karla said...

Ample evidence in this posting and comments that the Dunning-Kruger effect is not limited to thinking about climate change. It rules in Canadian provincialism and dog-in-the-manger thinking which has thrived between the Barrens and the 49th parallel. Chronic avoidance of risk and the illusion that timidity=prudence have made Canada what it is today on the international scene. By all means, let's exclude and ban the troublesome and controversial. Also, compile a list of dickheads.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Karla - the only one suggesting "chronic avoidance of risk" and "timidity" seems to be you, Brunhilda. What do you imagine Canada is "today on the international scene"? Do you imagine that our half-assed participation in America's failed adventures in Afghanistan or our bombing campaign against Libya that merely helped Islamist radicals get entrenched and turn it into a failed state - just as they had announced they intended to do - somehow elevated Canada on your notion of the international scene?

BTW - the last wars our Head Office (Washington) won were its brilliant campaigns in Panama and Grenada. That must've done a lot for them on your international scene.

Karla said...

@Mound - Au contraire, Mound. Your wild attributions to me strike out in directions I would not remotely suggest, like the dirty wars of oil & empire. In fact, it would have taken courage to avoid being dragooned into participating in A-stan and Libya. Chr├ętien did us a service by staying out of the Iraq calamity, and Trudeau is IMO right to withdraw the aged 6 Hornets from the Syrian adventure and to minimize Canada's involvement in a foredoomed venture.

There are more facets to Canadian policy that the blanket condemnation of the US -- too easy for too long as a crutch -- while ignoring the depredations of other empire-builders. I daresay the world looks very different from Eastern Europe than it does from BC, and it is perhaps too facile and immensely unjust to buy into the Kremlin line that NATO expansion is a provocation and a manifestation of American expansionism.

At the end of WW2 which allegedly freed Europe from tyranny, some 60m Europeans were consigned to the Soviet orbit for a half-century. Given Putin's recent actions, many are understandably anxious to participate in an alliance that would prevent a recurrence of that experience. And I do not 'imagine', having spent several years on the ground over there on CIDA and CESO gigs and being in a position to evaluate local conditions and sentiments first-hand.

Rather than applaud uncritical pro-US me-tooism (having heard many in our media recently deplore our lack of a ´more muscular role´ in Syria, I go in the opposite direction, having too often been in the position abroad of repelling mislabelling which I find repugnant. "No, not American," I would insist over and over. "Canadian." Too often the response would be a shrug: "OK, whatever.¨

Let us not forget that NATO was in large part a Canadian creation, owing much to the hard work of LB Pearson. That its aegis has been misapplied in Far Eastern and Mideastern adventures does not suggest that its original mandate is either flawed or obsolete. One can certainly point to surges of antidemocratic populism as with Erdogan, Orban, Kacsynski and Zeman, but then these also occur closer to home with Trump and other GOP unspeakables. Let's keep an eye on the astonishing Jeremy Corbyn too, while we're at it, and Marine LePen. Global economic crises trigger strange political eruptions which must be *constitutionally* constrained. One cannot write off entire nations or half-continents on the basis of 'dickish' leaders. Otherwise, where would we be now in the afterglow of the Harpo decade? It looked baaaad from over yonder... ;-)

The Mound of Sound said...

Sorry, Karla, I misread you. My apologies. My concern with NATO is how, having seen its mutual-defence rationale falter, it transformed into a war-waging alliance - sometimes formally (Afghanistan) and other times informally (Libya). In the process NATO has evolved increasingly bellicose leadership such as Foggy Rasmussen seemingly itching to have at Moscow.

Bush/Cheney drove NATO to Russia's doorstep, picking up some doubtful nations en route. They're happy for NATO's assurance of protection but rarely, if ever, pull their weight as members. At times it's difficult to discern the commonality of interest between Old NATO and the newcomers.

NATO seems to have become the West's vehicle for deploying multi-national military force when it has been necessary to end run the UN Security Council. We seem to be getting too comfortable in that role.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Chris. I'm not clear what magnitude of "dues" you would have NATO member states contribute and to what ends these funds would be allocated. NATO's constant struggle has been to cajole members into 2% GDP defence budgets, a promise honoured far more in the breach especially in this era of austerity.

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Pamela. I agree that America's influence in NATO has become unhelpful. Here I refer to the drive, during the Bush/Cheney regime, to swallow East Europe, the Baltics and Balkans into the NATO roster while the alliance marched to Russia's doorstep. Washington's rapacious appetites seem to have encouraged, if not incited, uprisings in Georgia and the Ukraine.

I am reminded of a Princeton professor, Cohen, who was present as George H.W. Bush's advisor on Russia when Bush and Gorbachev negotiated the fall and reunification of East Germany into the West. Cohen was in the room when it was agreed by the two leaders that Russia would accept East Germany being absorbed into NATO on America's promise that NATO would never expand further East. Cohen hasn't minced words in saying that Gorbachev's mistake was to trust America to keep its word.

When America (and NATO) reneged on that deal it left Gorbachev mortally wounded and convinced Russians that there was nothing to be had in cooperating with the West. It was that bitter sense of betrayal that paved the way for a strongman like Putin to rise to power.

The other nations of Old NATO could have resisted America's expansionist drive but chose to go along instead. Their fecklessness damaged not only NATO but the European Union in the bargain.

Karla said...

Re: NATO dues... For the record, only five nations contributed less than to NATO in 2013: Luxembourg, Latvia, Lithuania and Hungary, all shy of 1% of GDP. Those meeting or exceeding the goal of 2% of GDP were UK, Greece, Poland and Estonia. And of course the States with 4.5%.

As to Eastern European nations being 'swallowed' into NATO, I won't in this venue even attempt to cite chapter and verse about the long and intense petitioning and bargaining that got some of those nations admitted. Oh, yes, I was present, but I don't suppose Stephen Cohen was. OK, now I understand Mound's thrust. In Kremlinologist circles Cohen has long been discredited as an apologist for Putin. As are those who allege the 'incitement' of the Georgians and Ukrainians.

"There are experts, and I put myself in this group, that understand why Putin did this and what his goals are, but I think most of those people would also not justify them,” Angela Stent, director of the Center for Eurasian, Russian, and East European Studies at Georgetown University, told The Huffington Post last year. "The difference is what Steve Cohen does is not only understand him, but he says Putin is right."

OK, Mound. Yankee bad, Putin was provoked, and to hell with Eastern Europe. And I am out of here... Sorry I dropped in. Glad I kept my pants on...

The Mound of Sound said...

@ Karla - before you get terminally shirty about this, a couple of points. First is the notion of states' contributions to NATO. I believe the 2% goal isn't some alliance levy but an expectation of defence spending by member nations. If I'm wrong, please advise.

As for Cohen, I've yet to hear anyone dispute that he was present, as GHW Bush's advisor, during the meeting with Gorbachev at which the agreement he outlines was reached. Are you suggesting that Cohen wasn't there or that there was no such agreement or that he's simply lying? If you are, have you anything foundational to back that up?

I have never suggested that Cohen was present for any of the negotiations with New NATO members. That,Karla, is a pretty feeble Straw Man. You can do better than that.

As for Cohen being discredited by "Kremlinologists" for his apparent support of Putin I fail to see any relevance in that. It sounds like mud tossing to me. I've never heard him apologize for Putin. To the contrary what I have heard him contend is that when America reneged on its agreement, that spelled the end for Gorbachev and ushered in strongman rule in the Kremlin. Gorbachev has said the same in recent years.

For some reason I can't grasp this gets you all prickly, Karla. Sorry about that but thanks for dropping in and, yes, for keeping your pants on whatever that means.