Friday, August 15, 2008

Europa And The Bear

Brookings Institute just held an event on what all rowdy Russia means to the EU, NATO, Great Satan and 'front line states' (which is a very nice way of saying 'J'ever notice all of Russia's neighbors are either vassal states or enemies?).

Noted notables were on hand including the old Cold Warrior Realist General Scowcroft and neoconservative intelligentsia Dr Robert Kagan.

Dr K pointed out Europa will soon be running faster to hook up with Great Satan than a broke college co ed needing cash from papa for Homecoming Weekend.

"Europe, of course -- the EU was not configured to deal with a problem like this, and it also has not evolved quickly enough into being able to have a coherent foreign policy to address this kind of problem. You know, before this crisis, if you had a conversation with an E.U. member about when the European Union will be able to speak with one voice on foreign policy issues, they would normally say 10, 15, 20 years.

And so what we are seeing therefore is the breakdown of Europe into
its component parts and countries now responding according to each of their individual perceptions of their interests, much more than with any kind of pan-European sense. I think it is not surprising that the current EU -- the person holding the current EU foreign minister position, Javier Solana, is virtually invisible at this moment, and what we are seeing are actions by -- statements by individual European leaders.

The EU was divided when the United States went to war in Iraq,
which was attributed to devious efforts by Don Rumsfeld to divide Europe, but what we can see now is that any major international crisis, especially if it's in range of US borders, tends to divide Europe.

And what the big issue right now is what is the role of the new
members? I think if you had asked even a year ago in France or in Germany or in most parts of what we would call Western Europe whether -- if they could take back the enlargement of the EU they would. I think they would all like to take it back.

One of the things, for a variety of reasons, including the unwieldiness of the situation, but more importantly they have bought -- the EU has bought a confrontation -- an unavoidable confrontation by taking in these states.

And so now what we have, obviously, is an east-west -- a kind of
east-west -- it's a little -- I won't -- it's a little bit too simplistic
geographically but a kind of east-west split on this issue where the frontline, if we can call them that, front-line states have an entirely
different attitude to how to deal with Russia and then say, say France, and what is unknown at this point is so where does the E.U. wind up?

The weight of the East, the weight of the Central and Eastern European
and Baltic States within the E.U. councils on an issue like this is going to pull Europe much closer to a more confrontational and suspicious posture toward Russia. It’s one thing when it’s all purely theoretical and Russia is dividing Europe and carving it into pieces on energy and other economic issues.

It’s one thing when Russia is, as Sarkozy once said, throwing its weight around in a kind of brutal fashion, but it’s not a military fashion. It’s
quite another when, for whatever set of reasons, and I won’t even get into the justice or injustice of any of these issues, but the simple fact of Russia being willing to pour this level of troops into a neighboring state is unavoidably going to have a dramatic effect on the way the near neighbors view Russia.

The E.U., when it works best internally, trades off interest against interest: You make your cheese here; we’ll make our ham there. You care about this; we’ll care about that. We’ll all work it out, which is the E.U. negotiating process. Somebody gives something for something else.

The problem is fear is not a tradable commodity. Insofar as the countries that are closer to Russia are now afraid, they’re not going to have that same kind of bargain.

And so, I feel like that especially now that we see Britain. If you
just read the British newspapers by and large and see the comments of the opposition, David Cameron and the current foreign minister, the foreign secretary David Milliband, you’re clearly seeing a shift that I think was always underway in Britain ever since the whole poisoning and the spy episode, but now I think is quite dramatic.

So now you have Britain on that side. You have Carl Bildt of Sweden
taking a very strong stand. I think in the pivotal case of Merkel and Germany, I don’t think there’s any real question about where her sort of moral sympathies lie in this situation. Now there is a German approach to this which is more of in a tradition of we know how to deal with the Russians, but what happened at Bucharest is an interesting lesson and I think a harbinger of where things are going.

The Germans and the French went into Bucharest, saying there will
be no membership action plan for Georgia. They resisted some pressures from outside. But at the end of that meeting, Merkel was cornered by a number of presidents from what I would now call front-line states who managed to get her to agree to insert into that final Bucharest statement the extraordinary comment that Georgia and Ukraine will become members of NATO. So we’re not giving them a membership action plan, but we will make them members of NATO.

Aside from whatever confusing signals that may have sent to the
Russians and the Georgians, the important point is I think that represents Merkel’s inability ultimately to be as coolly realpolitik, if you want, in the face of this Russian action as perhaps the French are capable of being.

And so, I just think whatever the near term developments, the larger reality stemming from this is a Europe that in general is in a much more confrontational and suspicious posture toward Russia."

art -интернет-журнал or "Russia loves Georgia Peaches"


Findalis said...

The Russians would never had attacked Georgia if Georgia was a member of NATO.

I blame this last round on Britain and France for blocking the vote on allowing Georgia to become a NATO member.

Right Truth said...

Things are looking up, Courtney. Hubby sometimes listens to Rush Limbaugh's pod cast, and I was surprised at the number of people calling in defending what Russia did. Are these people brain dead?

Debbie Hamilton
Right Truth

Jeff Wills said...

First, I think Kagan is wrong about Rumsfeld. He did not keep the French and Germans out of Iraq. The French and Germans were not going in no matter what. "Old Europe," was a comment well deserved.

As for the Russians. This flexing of muscle is not totally unexpected. Russians envy American empire. The collective Russian psyche is wounded, in a unique sort of way, by lossing the Cold War. The expansion of NATO has concerned them for obvious reasons. The biggest one being that their excluded from the club.

I think NATO, and especially the U.S., needs to be very careful about NATO membership. I do think states have been allowed in that should not be part of NATO. These alliances, while helpful, are also putting nations into a pre WWI style world. Russia will only use the West's alliance building to stir up nationalistic sentiment at home. Thus Georgia.

kevin said...

Findalis is right.

' 'J'ever notice all of Russia's neighbors are either vassal states or enemies?).'

It's going to be a lot more vassals if NATO doesn't step up.

Unknown said...

Simply put the E.U. likes the States when there is dirty work that needs to be done. After all we are descendants of the peasant class that left Europa. Other than that they could care less about us.