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Why NATO is a thing of the Past

by Frank Schnittger Wed Feb 25th, 2009 at 09:19:33 PM EST

Cross posted from the European Journalism Centre Think about it website
(Shameless self-promotion again!- please rate this post on the Think about it website above - its only one click away at the bottom of the post - and is part of a Euro blogging competition hosted by the European Journalism Centre)

NATO is seeking to use Web 2.0 technologies to engage with a wider public and obtain new ideas from bloggers.  But is NATO really a thing of the past rather than the future of Europe?


European Tribune - New Kid On The Blog

NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Public Diplomacy Strategy, Dr. Stefanie Babst, argues that public diplomacy needs to respond to the challenges of the Web 2.0 world and is encouraging NATO to be "more courageous in using digital tools to directly interact with the public":

NATO's New Public Diplomacy: The Art of Engaging and Influencing

"Why not widen the debate about NATO's new Strategic Concept beyond the 'usual suspects' and try to obtain new thinking through, for instance, online discussions with citizens on specific aspects of NATO's future role?"

"I would appreciate your thoughts on this issue. Perhaps your readers would like to weigh in as well. I believe this is a real chance for us to demonstrate to NATO's leadership that the public is interested in a direct and transparent dialogue with policy makers.

  1. Do you think NATO would benefit from engaging the blogosphere?

  2. Do you think bloggers have constructive advice for NATO's specific challenges?

  3. How could NATO identify and listen to the discerning bloggers and their readers? What form should such an exchange of ideas take?"

H/t to Afew

Everyone needs to have a web 2.0 initiative to be cool, with it, and demonstrate a "pro-active" engagement with "Stakeholders", and perhaps NATO is no exception.  Being a citizen of an avowedly neutral non member state (Ireland)  I probably don't have "locus standi" to take part in this debate.  Ireland is hardly a major player in the debate over the future of security policy in Europe.

But perhaps it would be helpful to articulate why NATO membership is a non-starter in Ireland, even though we have close family links with the US and are probably more culturally well disposed to the US than most EU Member states.

Irish Neutrality arose out of our historic dispute with Britain over the partition of Ireland which led to the creation of Northern Ireland (under British Sovereignty) and an independent Irish Republic.   Many thousands of Irishmen died fighting in Britain's wars (particularly in World War 1)  but when the nationalist Sinn Fein (and later Fianna Fail) took power there was a determination not to side with "perfidious Albion" ( as Britain is sometimes called) until such time as the Partition of Ireland was addressed.

Churchill even hinted at the possibility of an end to Partition  if Ireland joined into fighting in World War 2 but was simply not believed.  There had been too many instances of post-dated cheques from Briatin to Irish Nationalists not being honoured.  So De Valera remained neutral in the war - to the outrage of Churchill in particular - and the British in general. Britain responded with limited economic sanctions against Ireland.

(In practice Ireland was as pro-allied as it was possible to be without actual formally joining the Allied war effort - interning captured German airmen, relaying intelligence and critical weather forecasts for D Day etc.)

However De Valera retained formal neutrality even to the extent of offering condolences to the German Ambassador on the death of Hitler - something strictly in line with diplomatic protocol - but also illustrating the degree of estrangement from anything to do with Britain.

Whilst the cold war was raging, having a bulwark against the USSR made sense for a conservative Catholic Ireland which regarded Stalin as the great Satan and where even a soccer match with the USSR in Dublin caused considerable controversy.  But taking the same side as Britain was simply not possible because of the continuing dispute over the Partition of Ireland with Britain retaining Sovereignty over Northern Ireland.

The Cold war was replaced by Pax Americana and for a period - when Clinton was a hero because of his active engagement in the Northern Irish Peace Process - NATO membership might have been a problematic issue only for a left wing fringe although it wasn't seriously considered at the time.

But then came Bush and Iraq - a war which 70% of the Irish population opposed - many vehemently - and which inspired some of the largest anti-war demonstrations anywhere.  The traditional close Irish/US relations became as strained as they have ever been by extraordinary renditions and US troop transfers to Iraq through Shannon.  Joining NATO once again became a total non-starter.

So what is NATO now except a relic of the Cold War and of the US Empire?  A colonial relic to be taken over by the EU after its Eastern enlargement?  Why should the US be allowed to have military bases throughout Europe and to jeopardise relations with Russia through active encirclement and aggressive military domination?

The adventurism of the Georgian President: Mikheil Saakashvili in South Ossetia shows how easily the EU could be dragged into a conflict with Russia that is simply not in it collective interest.  NATO, from this perspective, now becomes a vehicle for a "divide and conquer" strategy by a US Military Industrial Complex perhaps not even fully under the control of democratic institutions in Washington.

I appreciate that former Soviet Satellite and Warsaw Pact countries want a bulwark against Russian Hegemony and the fear of re-conquest is or aggression by Russia is real.  I also appreciate it will be a long time before the EU achieves a military cohesion and capability which could credibly replace the US as the guarantor of East European sovereignty and security.

But ultimately it is in the interest of the US Military Industrial Complex to seek to exacerbate divisions and divide and conquer  Europe to prevent it becoming a credible competitor to a US empire which maintains military installations and bases in over 100 nominally independent and sovereign nations - many surrounding Russia.

Ultimately it is in the interest of the EU to maintain cordial relations with Russia, and perhaps even, ultimately, offer EU membership to Russia.  We share too many economic, energy and political interests in common.

So whatever way you cut it, is difficult to see a long term role for NATO in a post colonial Europe, one no longer dominated by a USA weakened by the financial crisis.  Ireland will not be joining NATO under any conceivable scenario, and perhaps a prolonged period of peace and good relations with Russia will lessen Eastern European fears and insecurities.

Perhaps NATO is aware of the tide of history moving away from it.  Perhaps they are desperately trying to think of new ways to maintain "relevance" by embracing web 2.0.  I don't think we should be giving that enterprise too much credibility.

I would be interested in hearing how my central and eastern European colleagues here view the role of NATO in the coming decades.  It would not surprise me if you have a very different perspective on this indeed.

Display:
 In the short term, it simply isn't going to happen. And attempting to hurry things along would only work against European interests. FIrst of all you'd exacerbate the divides, secondly you likely wouldn't actually see an end to NATO, but rather a rump, more hardline one with a shift in US military concentration eastwards. That would in turn make Russia EU relations worse and more unstable.

In the long term - who knows, maybe you'll get a Russian Willy Brandt and a shift in Russian public relations policy towards constant reassurance and apology for the past. That would eventually work, but I don't see it happening for the foreseeable future. Or perhaps over time the EU will be able to take the place of NATO in the minds of the Poles and Baltics, along with the military structures that implies, though without the Russian shift taking place, that wouldn't really change anything from an EU-RUssia perspective, except perhaps for the worse. And remember that NATO was a vital factor enabling the reconciliation and reintegration of Germany in Western Europe. (NATO's triple purpose: Keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.)

All in all, I don't quite get Europeans who are simultaneously pro EU integration, pro international stability, pro better EU-Russia relations, and anti-NATO. The last of these policy choices implies giving up on at least one of the first three.

by MarekNYC on Wed Feb 25th, 2009 at 11:37:46 PM EST
All in all, I don't quite get Europeans who are simultaneously pro EU integration, pro international stability, pro better EU-Russia relations, and anti-NATO. The last of these policy choices implies giving up on at least one of the first three.

This is a claim that requires elaboration. There is no clear way that support for NATO is pro-European integration or pro better EU-Russian relations, so it would seem to be that the claim hinges strongly on the notion that NATO is pro-international stability.

This is, of course, the military-industrial complex line ... that a base network of 700+ overseas bases accumulated in part as a result of fighting and winning WWII and then pursuing an encirclement strategy against the USSR, and accumulated in part just because it was possible to get a base in the country ... is somehow pro-international stability.

I think "international stability" here is a euphemism for Pax Americana, and if so it is one of those Orwellian terms that means its opposite, as Pax Americana seems to be one of the primary instigators of international conflict in the world at the moment.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 06:12:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
BruceMcF:
There is no clear way that support for NATO is pro-European integration or pro better EU-Russian relations
Pro-European integration is easy: the Central-Eastern European nations have strongly anti-Russian and consequently Atlanticist currents. Poland and the Baltics are the prime examples because they share a border with Russia.

The issue of Ukraine's possible EU or NATO accession would be a good test bed for elucidating this question.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 06:16:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the Central-Eastern European nations have strongly anti-Russian and consequently Atlanticist currents. Poland and the Baltics are the prime examples because they share a border with Russia.

My understanding is that this isn't representative of the reality on the ground. The self proclaimed 'elites' of the political circles are anti-Russian (I wonder what the financial arrangements are) while Eastern European society at large is hardly anti Russian.

Statistics on this are welcome.

by vladimir on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 06:26:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's what I read into Marek's
Or perhaps over time the EU will be able to take the place of NATO in the minds of the Poles and Baltics, along with the military structures that implies, though without the Russian shift taking place, that wouldn't really change anything from an EU-RUssia perspective, except perhaps for the worse.
(my emphasis)

Are you saying the Poles and Baltics whose minds we're talking about are the "self-proclaimed 'elites'"?

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 06:40:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's indeed what I'm saying : political elites and local media -  often owned by the same foreign (Anglo-Saxon, German) mainstream media which propagates pro-NATO values on the Western end of Europe.

The key to mind control is information control.

by vladimir on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 06:50:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's be clear, just like Frank describes how NATO membership is a non-starter in Irenland and Sven relates how there was a short-lived attempt in the last coupld of years to bring NATO membership into the mainstream in Finland, no "serious" political party in Western Europe advocates leaving NATO. For instance, in Spain that debate ended in 1986 and there's a "consensus" since. NATO membership is not an issue. I suppose the same is true in other countries.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 07:03:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In France, Nicolas SARKOZY - a known pro NATO advocate (and whose presidential campaign was - I suspect - financed in part by some US military-industrial organisation) wants to take the country back into the alliance without as much as a public debate.

The Socialists are opposed as is the center MODEM led by François BAYROU. Are these 'serious' political parties? BAYROU is calling on the government to organise a referendum on the issue. I would certainly support that. But if it's not on the agenda, it's because the French would vote NO. Vive la démocracie.

by vladimir on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 07:20:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
France has been in NATO but "out of its military structure", whatever that meant.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 08:24:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It means the US doesn't own French nukes and boots - as it owns the UK's nukes and boots - but France and the rest of NATO still talk to each other.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 01:09:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What a reassuring concept for the UK.
by vladimir on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 01:12:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's called an "'independent' nuclear deterrent".

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 01:13:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A small but interesting fact is that there are now about 50,000 Russian-speakers living in Finland and the number could double in just five years, according to a recent report. It is the third most used language.

Many of these Russian 'immigrants' are highly educated - something that Finnish companies and institutions have been slow to react to.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 07:27:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Helsingin Sanomat: Report: Russian-speakers often suffer abuse at school and at work

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 07:29:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are also a lot of ethnic Russians in Latvia - I'm not sure of the figures for other Baltic states, but overall there must be quite a significant Russian population already within the EU.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 10:03:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Those people are stateless or at best second-hand citizens and they have been let down by all three of Russia, the Baltic countries and the EU. We have discussed them here on ET before. See


Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 10:18:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Many thanks - I knew there was  problem, but had not read up on it.  I suspect this is an issue I could raise on the Thinkaboutit site and annoy some of the east Europeans there.  There appears to be quite a strong nationalist and Eurosceptic streak in that collective - I hesitate to use the word community.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 10:21:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which means that NATO offers to them an alternative to commitment to the EU and European Integration as such ... one in which they can play off goal conflicts between the eastern and western shores of the Atlantic.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 06:57:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By my count wikipedia lists 27 foreign Airforce bases in 15 countries; 89 Army bases in 8 countries;  27 Marine Corp bases in 7 countries; and 15 Naval installations in 9 countries.

A total, by my count, of 158 bases - a figure Wikipedia acknowledges to be incomplete.  Obviously this does not nominally local bases where some US troops may be based from time to time, temporary bases, black sites, and bases manned by close allies or Corporate contractors.

Do you know what the 700 figure is based on?

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 09:49:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of the top of my head I can think of several that aren't included in the list they are generally listed as  bases for local military services, but staffed by US forces. Locals only providing security and Liason.

Secret Bases Part 1 - WWW.SECRET-BASES.CO.UK - © 2009

RAF Croughton near Brackley in Northamptonshire is an old USAF airbase, but no runways have been apparent for many years. The base appears as a significant cluster of aerial symbols. That's because RAF Croughton is the focal point for the US military's communications within Europe.....

Croughton has a transmitter annexe at RAF Barford St. John near Banbury in Oxfordshire. This "disused airfield" is said to provide secure communications facilities for CIA agents and US Diplomatic personnel. The 1:25000 OS map reveals another good old "Wireless Station" label.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 10:29:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It includes things like military attaches in embassies and consulates IIRC.
by MarekNYC on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 12:19:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That is from Chalmers Johnson, taken from the Department of Defense annual "Base Structure Report".

"+" because the Base Structure Report is clearly incomplete, in terms of not listing any bases for countries where we know that US forces are based, and also in terms of only listing a central base in locations with multiple bases ... for example, in the 2003 report, Okinawa has one Marine Corps base listed, where there are as many as 10 Marine Corps bases on the island.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 02:19:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Does the report state how many of the 700+ are outside the USA, and in how many different countries?  I read a report (a while ago - can't find) which stated that the US had a presence in 100 countries - a figure which seemed remarkably high to me.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 02:50:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Those are the foreign bases listed in the report ... the bases in the US and US territory number in the thousands.

100 countries sounds reasonable to me ... there has never been a foreign base closure commission like the US base closure commission a while back, and the MIC is a pack-rat when it comes to overseas bases ... for one thing, remember that Kitchen Patrol and Toilet Duty are now largely relegated to contractors, which means that most bases are a supply of ongoing contracts for base support operations.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 11:29:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is a claim that requires elaboration. There is no clear way that support for NATO is pro-European integration or pro better EU-Russian relations,

Pro-European integration - being viewed as acting against countries' most important strategic interests would do bad things for European integration. On the latter point, I'm not saying it helps, but rather that trying to eliminate it would hurt.

by MarekNYC on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 12:23:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So what's Declan Ganley with his US defence establishment colleagues up to?

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 12:30:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As it happens his Polish allies have traditionally been deeply anti-NATO and anti-US.
by MarekNYC on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 12:41:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Be interesting to see whether they undergo a miraculous conversion to pro Nato views...

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 02:09:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
... it ... whether it is, say, France and Germany trying to eliminate it, or whether it is the US trying to eliminate it ...

... but even more importantly, actively working to eliminate it and actively working to reinforce it is a false dichotomy. There are actions short of actively working to eliminate it that would accelerate the decline resulting from its obsolescence ... for instance, removing participation in actions outside of NATO borders from the NATO structure would be a big step in the right direction.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 02:29:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For all the triumphalist BS you'll hear out of American mouths, nobody here is claiming that any "Pax Americana" ever existed. Cross-border conflict is way down to be sure, but the number of casualties in the various civil wars that have and are still going on around the world meets or exceeds those of both world wars put together.

Here's a factoid I've borne in mind a lot these last few years: when the 20th century opened, civilian casualties accounted for about 10% of all casualties in conflict. By the century's close that ratio had reversed - about 90% of all casualties of conflict are civilian casualties. Likely it's military technologies and the assymetric tactical doctrine account for much of this, other reasons might be deliberate civilian targeting (genocide, ethnic cleasning) and what I'll call disorganized military formations that forage off, recruit from, and pass disease among the noncombattants they live among.

Conflict is one of the reasons foreign affiars in general has gotten its hooks into me.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 06:35:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
papicek:
Here's a factoid I've borne in mind a lot these last few years: when the 20th century opened, civilian casualties accounted for about 10% of all casualties in conflict. By the century's close that ratio had reversed - about 90% of all casualties of conflict are civilian casualties.

I doubt this factoid is true if you do not (as they did at the time) constrain the definition of war to the conflicts between european powers. When dealing with people without machineguns (Congo, Tasmania and the list goes on) attempted genocide was common. WW2 saw these practices spread to europe, hence the horror.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 06:59:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A good point. I hop around books and white papers so much I forget where I've read things...so I cannot speak to the authority of that assertion, but I can say this: when I read it, I immediately absorbed it as if it were true, so I was in general agreement with the author's premise.

Damn, I thought I had that one down, and now I'll have to go back and check it.

Grrrrrrrrrr!

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 07:21:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"as they did at the time"

This is a current author. He'd have to be to be speaking to what happened at the end of the 20th century, wouldn't he?

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 07:24:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, but I assume he uses the start of the 20th century definition of conflict and casualties for those. However, I doubt that the sum of military casualties in 19th century wars matched the sum of killed civilians in the Congo alone.

It is a fairly common mistake, similar to using start of 20th century definitions of democracy. My guess would be that the author is primarily concerned with the atrocities of the 20th century and uses the earlier episode as backdrop for contrast. Am I right?

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 09:38:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... when its a trademark, its doesn't have to be true, like Fox News, or Fair and Balanced, or Free Trade Agreement, or Conservative Movement.

Pointing out that Pax Americana means no wars America did not start except in trivial countries which are mostly important as sources of raw materials ... does not contradict the absence of Great Power Armed Conflict, it just underlines the limitations of Great Power Armed Conflict as a framing for violence against people around the world.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 01:06:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I tend to always use the term in an ironic sense but am aware - when writing for a more general audience - that many don't get the irony.  However those are just the people I don't want to get into an argument with about whether the USA is the fount of freedom throughout the world - and thus I am happy to let the irony deficit stand.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 01:24:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Russian public relations policy towards constant reassurance and apology for the past.

This kind of comment is likely to draw us into a debate about the relative evil inflicted by empires from East to West. Do you really want to go there?

by vladimir on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 06:54:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think Marek is speaking about what would be required to placate Poles and so on without necessarily commenting on how justifiable their beliefs are in the current situation.

It seems that there is a strong thread of "Run, run, the Russkies are coming!" in the border states and that judgement  is unaffected by the belief that the Russians have better things to do and bigger problems to deal with than invading Poland.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 07:08:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Poles, Czechs, Serbs, Slavs in general were systematically exterminated during WWII by the German - Austrian killing machine.

The Germans are not only coming... in fact, they're already back (albeit in a somewhat different outfit) to many of the places they left back in 1945.

Is anyone advocating that the Germans - Austrians repeatedly communicate regret and apology to these nations... Is that because the 'people' of central Europe have no fear or is it because the local media and governing 'elites' are supportive of renewed German economic and political influence in their countries?

by vladimir on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 07:51:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not saying it's justified, sane or fair. Just saying that it's there. I agree it's a problem.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 08:02:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
After the German atrocities came the Red Army invasion and the installation of Communist regimes, political repression and things like the invasion of Hungary and the Prague Spring.

Very roughly, if you're 30 years old you remember "shock therapy". If you're 60 years old you remember the Soviet satellite regimes. You have to be 90 years old to remember the Nazis. Of course, the Polish Twins were happy to annoy both Germany and Russia, and in the Czech Republic apart from a President whose only political message is "<insert thing Klaus dislikes> is like Communism" they have an ongoing controversy over the Beneš decrees which are perceived to be a symbolic bulwark against the German "return" you talk about.

In addition, Germany did engage in a fair amount of soul-searching in the 1960's. Perestroika might have led to Russia doing the same about now, except that the result of Perestroika was that the USSR imploded instead, followed by "shock therapy" and a nationalistic backlash.

So while I think the Russian bogeyman is ridiculous, I can understand where the sentiment comes from and how sociologically Marek may well be totally correct that a more cooperative relationship between the enlarged EU and Russia "simply isn't going to happen" "in the short term".

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 08:41:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Read Marek's comment again.
(NATO's triple purpose: Keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.)

The reason the EU can't replace the NATO is exactly the point that people in eastern Europe fear a dominance of Germany, if the biggest ally in their military alliance would be Germany.

Der Amerikaner ist die Orchidee unter den Menschen
Volker Pispers

by Martin (weiser.mensch(at)googlemail.com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 11:40:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Polish nationalists could react to good EU-Russia relations by raising the spectre of the Partition of Poland (among Germany, Austria-Hungary and Russia) to great effect.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 11:45:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Molotov-Ribbentrop might be more relevant in living memory. Yalta even more so.

I doubt anyone in Poland seriously considers partition a possibility. But a certain lack of consistency from the Allies during WWII might still rankle among those old enough to remember the aftermath.

Not that the UK and US were ever likely to declare war on Russia immediately after. It was considered as an option, but rejected for obvious reasons.

But there's a case to be made for mismanagement of the invasion in 1944, which added another 6-12 months to the war and allowed the Soviet incursion into Europe to push far to the West of where it might have reached otherwise.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 01:17:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Poles, Czechs, Serbs, Slavs in general were systematically exterminated during WWII by the German - Austrian killing machine.

And the Poles by the Soviet one.

Is anyone advocating that the Germans - Austrians repeatedly communicate regret and apology to these nations

The Germans do, and have been doing so for a good several decades now. And guess what, it's worked.

by MarekNYC on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 12:19:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yet at the same time they're back to their old mischief. Arming and financing Croatian (extreme right... not to say fascist or Nazi) nationalists, arming and financing Bosnian extremists (ex Handzar Division SS Allies), arming and financing Albanian extremists in Kosovo (ex Nazi Allies).

Financing Ukrainian extremist nationalists? Anyone?

But at least they're repentant. I am much relieved.

by vladimir on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 12:37:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That should be  "It seems to me that there is a strong thread"
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 08:01:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What does Russia have to apologize for?

I mean, we can play at this game for a long time; would not then the US also have a whole hell of a lot to apologize for? Or the UK? Or any other number of countries?

The list will be long, and include many current offenders.

by redstar on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 09:36:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
For having oppressed Eastern Europe after the Germans did. The most recent oppressor is the one that gets the most bad blood.

Plus, the Germans already apologised in the 1960's.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 09:38:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think people forget that not only did Russia really suffer from WWII; but also, WWI. The origins of the Revolution saw large swathes occupied by foreign armies, not just Poland but also Belarus, much of the Ukraine and a large and fertile portion of Russia proper. Upon acension to power, they proposed a peace treaty to all other belligerents, were strongly rebuffed by the Western allies and pretty much forced into signing Brest-Litovsk, which stripped away upward of three-quarters of Russia's industrial production, massive amounts of farmland, at the flash of a pen.

I don't think one could imagine such an experience would be forgotten by the early revolutionaries, certainly not Stalin, and what followed should be seen in this light, also, I think.    

by redstar on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 10:13:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
As long as you keep looking for the original Sin, the other side can always point to an earlier grievance.

The goal here would be for Germany and Russia to work with their "buffer states" to get to a point where they can all live side by side.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 10:19:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The role of the USSR in the defeat of Nazism has almost been written out of popular "Western" history, as has the very real and justifiable Russian fear of invasion by the West after WW2 - much more real than the threat of Soviet Nuclear attack subsequently.  But history is written by the victors, and aren't we all capitalists now - eh - well perhaps for a short time until recently.  Where did I hear the phrase to socialise the commanding heights of the economy first?

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 10:27:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One can always educate oneself... Oh, wait!

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 10:52:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
role of the USSR in the defeat of Nazism has almost been written out of popular "Western" history
 

Of course.  It had to be.  Because the strategy on the Atlantic side of the Alliance was precisely to let the Soviet Union to do as much of the fighting as possible, and only come in swinging at the end.  

That is not the sort of thing you can include in patriotic history texts.  

very real and justifiable Russian fear of invasion by the West after WW2
 

Really?  The very real, but always-overruled proposal in policy circles was to fake a provocation and follow with nuclear attack, while the US enjoyed its nuclear monopoly.  This policy proposal lost ground as monopoly was reduced to mere superiority.  

Or is that what you were refering to?  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 05:35:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought about this:

George S. Patton - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

After the surrender of May 8, 1945 eliminated the threat of Nazi Germany, Patton was quick to assert the Soviet Union would cease to be an ally of the United States. He was concerned that some 25,000 American POWs had been liberated from POW camps by the Soviets, but were never returned to the US. In fact, he urged his superiors to evict the Soviets from central and eastern Europe. Patton thought that the Red Army was weak, under-supplied, and vulnerable, and the United States should act on these weaknesses before the Soviets could consolidate their position. In this regard, he told then-Undersecretary of War Robert P. Patterson that the "point system" being used to demobilize Third Army troops was destroying it and creating a vacuum that the Soviets would exploit. "Mr. Secretary, for God's sake, when you go home, stop this point system; stop breaking up these armies," pleaded the general. "Let's keep our boots polished, bayonets sharpened, and present a picture of force and strength to these people, the Soviets. This is the only language they understand." Asked by Patterson -- who would become Secretary of War a few months later -- what he would do, Patton replied: "I would have you tell the Red Army where their border is, and give them a limited time to get back across. Warn them that if they fail to do so, we will push them back across it."

Or as I heard it summarised elsewhere "Now, lets continue to Moscow!"

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 06:39:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Molotov-Ribbentrop and the incredibly brutal occupation that followed. The Soviet occupation of 1939-41 was just as bad for ethnic Poles as the German one, adjusted for time and population. And then the the long postwar occupation. You also forgot reassurance; rather than mourning the loss of empire, you'd need them saying what a good thing it was - over, and over again.
by MarekNYC on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 12:16:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm no expert on this, as you are, and no doubt occupation of any sort is horrible, as it certainly must have been in Russia in the various occupations following the revolution, mostly (but not only) German.

But it seems to me that, when the civil war was raging, all the while the Germans had the Russians by the balls (and Lenin recognised this, see Luxemburg on the subject), a few of those Polish battalions who'd been fighting alongside the Tsar's Russian troops prior to the revolution, went over to the other side of the civil war.

Maybe this is just a legend, but I don't think it is. In any event, the people (well, person really) who ran the Soviet Union after things settled out of that civil war had a long memory in addition to being a homicidal paranoid maniac.

Long story short, unless the popular will of the people say otherwise, talking spit about history and assigning blame is the province of the various elite who have too much time on their hands, like me today...

 

by redstar on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 12:28:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Long story short, unless the popular will of the people say otherwise, talking spit about history and assigning blame is the province of the various elite who have too much time on their hands, like me today...

But that's what we're talking about. What could be done to reassure Polish public opinion. Now, it is true that the elites are even more Atlanticist than the population, in the sense that among the former only the extreme right is opposed (and in recent years even they have been somewhat muzzled by their alliance with the twins), still, there is a deep paranoia about Russia, and a resulting support for alliance with the US among the population as well. This really isn't that hard to understand. Two centuries of colonial rule, occasionally a very brutal one, leave their mark.

by MarekNYC on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 12:40:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
redstar:

But it seems to me that, when the civil war was raging, all the while the Germans had the Russians by the balls (and Lenin recognised this, see Luxemburg on the subject), a few of those Polish battalions who'd been fighting alongside the Tsar's Russian troops prior to the revolution, went over to the other side of the civil war.

Maybe this is just a legend, but I don't think it is. In any event, the people (well, person really) who ran the Soviet Union after things settled out of that civil war had a long memory in addition to being a homicidal paranoid maniac.

Looks like it could be / should be at least truish. During world war one Germany set up a puppet state, Kingdom of Poland. When tsarist russia collapsed, the polish troops probably did not feel themselves obliged to serve a new russian government and might have either fought under a white general or joined (or attempted to join) the puppet state. It would at least fit the general pattern in that war zone at the time.

While checking around to see if there was a polish equivalent of the Czech Legion I found this sobering quote:

A total of 2 million Polish troops fought with the armies of the three occupying powers, and 450,000 died. Several hundred thousand Polish civilians were moved to labour camps in Germany. The scorched-earth retreat strategies of both sides left much of the war zone uninhabitable.


A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!
by A swedish kind of death on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 04:34:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree, some changes will take eons - everybody know NATO is more dead than alive but nobody will hurry organizing its funeral. The organization will try to do one thing, then another ridiculous thing, then some members will object to (let's say patrolling Somali coast or drug trafficking or illegal immigration) because these are not NATO concerns and in the end it will be paralysis. maybe Afghanistan mission will be the end of glorious history of alliance as the last mission.
by FarEasterner on Sun Mar 1st, 2009 at 10:45:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Traditionally neutral since the end of WWII in an accommodation with neighbour the Soviet Union (AKA Finlandization), joining NATO has never been on the table in mainstream Finnish politics - until the last couple of years.

Missteps by the Social Democrats brought the right-leaning Center Party to power as the leader of the usual coalition government. More recent gains have seen the more rightist National Coalition party - a coalition member - gaining support. Not to mention gains by the petty nationalists called the True Finns!

And thus joining NATO has been raised as a mainstream issue. The rich Russia of a year or so ago made it easier to promote scare stories. But the NATO promoters look out of synch now that Russia is facing internal problems, and the debate seems to have dropped off the front pages.

Finland, imo, is refocusing on the Nordic Union and the European Union as partnership endeavours to which it has been increasingly   committed since the mid-80s. And I would guess that most of the younger generation (under 40s), if they care at all, support those directions.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 03:26:05 AM EST
^
"perfidious Albion" ( as Britain is sometimes called)

Sometimes?  

by redstar on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 09:49:18 AM EST
This diary is written with the Thinkaboutit crowd in mind - many of whom are not particularly political or aware of the niceties (or otherwise) of British Irish relations.  It was written to explain that not all of Europe is enthusiastic about NATO and has already provoked a much more highly rated Why NATO is still relevant counter diary there - as I suspected it would.  The eastern European bloggers seem to be a lot more active on that site.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 10:18:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think I'd be safe there.
by redstar on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 11:43:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You'll be fine so long as you don't compare them all unfavourably to Charleston slave traders...:-)

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 12:24:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why? are they? ;-)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 01:12:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It seems to me that the continued existence of NATO is largely a reflection of the incomplete consolidation of the E.U. Since "Europe" is still only a loose collection of a couple of dozen countries, each with an independent foreign policy and defense policy, it's wide open for NATO to provide a unifying structure--one that happens to be mostly controlled by the U.S.

The weird thing is that the U.S. has more economic ties to the Pacific region now than it does Europe. http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/statistics/highlights/top/top0812yr.html
So there is probably not a really strong underlying reason for the U.S. to keep NATO going. We would be better off spending our energy working with China and Japan to get our relationships in that direction under control, and let Europe worry about Europe. But since there's no big push from Europe to develop an alternative, NATO continues...

A quiet and passive thrall is the best type to have.

by asdf on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 10:17:22 AM EST
There's certainly an element of institutional inertia and a lack of a push to a clear alternative, although Lisbon contains some very tentative steps in that direction.  NATO perhaps also allows Europe to keep defence expenditure lower and there would probably be a big push to end  NATO if the US insisted European countries pay the full economic cost of the US presence here.

There is also the soft option card being played.  It is very easy for Ireland to be anti-NATO when there is no prospect of  a Russian invasion or attack on Ireland, and very easy to be anti a strong EU defence policy if that means Ireland doesn't have to pay any part of the costs and the real cost of European security is borne by NATO or the major EU states.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 10:34:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm wondering.

Are there significant political parties advocating withdrawing from Nato? I know I'd vote for them.

A 'centrist' is someone who's neither on the left, nor on the left.

by nicta (nico&#65312;altiva&#8228;fr) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 10:58:12 AM EST
In which countries is NATO membership high enough in the mind of the voters for parties to bother having, let alone touting, a position?

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 11:00:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I believe that most Finnish parties have published positions on NATO - at least from a  glance at the websites. But there's a lot of hedging being stated.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 11:17:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At least one party in Norway (SV) has a clearly stated anti NATO position. My impression is that NATO membership is also being questioned by other parties as well, particularly post Iraq and Afghanistan.  

I find it interesting that Nordic defence co-operation seems to be high on the agenda these days.

 A Report

by Thorvald Stoltenberg (a former Prime Minister and father of the current one...) on the matter was discussed in Iceland a few days ago, and seems to have been well received.

   

by Solveig (link2ageataol.com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 12:57:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What happened to Russerfrykt?

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 12:58:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Never heard of it...
by Solveig (link2ageataol.com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 01:02:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
you could google it...

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 01:13:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I googled.  

I grew up in post-war Norway, as you know.  We were betwixt and between, but fear of Russia is not something I remember as an issue when I grew up, at least not in my family.

Still...I remember the front page of Aftenposten when Stalin died - his face filled the front page.  I was just a girl, but glad that he was dead, I remember.  So I must have been told that he was 'not a nice man':-).

by Solveig (link2ageataol.com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 02:01:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Could you explain for the benefit of those of us without your encyclopaedic knowledge?

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 02:06:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
russerfrykt is Norwegian for "Russian Fright". See here.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 02:35:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is that like Rysskrack?

"Talking nonsense is the sole privilege mankind possesses over the other organisms." -Dostoevsky
by poemless on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 02:40:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, rysskräck would be Swedish for "Russian Scare".

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 02:42:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Though if the norwegian value of the words match the swedish ones skräck (skrekk) is quite a bit stronger then frykt (fruktan). Also skräck carries more tones of panic, closer (imho) to the english 'horror' then 'fear'.

This also seem to match the intensity of the respective feelings. Russia is in Norway (according to Gjermund) a powerful neighbour that might be dangerous, in Sweden it is a traditional enemy (the other one being Denmark, but that is water under the Öresund-bridge now) that ended the last war by chewing up half the core territory (that would be Finland). Russia has been the main foe in all swedish war planning the last 200 years or so.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 05:01:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why has Sweden never feared Germany or any of the other Great Powers pre ww1 and ww2?

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 05:04:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Norway is a buffer against the UK (and besides, the UK would have to cross a mountain range to get to Sweden - the UK may be a lot of things, but "good at land war in harsh topology, against enemies that shoot back" isn't one of them). Denmark is a buffer against Germany. Germany is a buffer against everything else. And besides, with Russia the main competitor for naval dominance over the Baltic, Swedish-German relations have usually been reasonably good. So Russia is the only major power they don't have a buffer state or two against.

Well, that and the fact that Russia usurped their status as the big fish in the Baltic pond in the 18th and 19th century.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 05:47:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would add that in the 1871-1914 period it also clearly was not in Germanys interest to attack Sweden as that would benefit Russia. Also Sweden leaned pro-german (german being the dominating second language, lots of intermarriage in the upper classes of Sweden and Germany) and was in 1914 fairly close to joining the war on the German side (against Russia).

Pre 1871 Prussia was one of the competing powers in the region but was weak enough not to be a threath considering its position at the middle of the board. And pre Prussia hegemony (now we are before the Napoleonic wars) Germany was simply to fractured to pose a threath.

Last time (pre wwI) there was a serious german threath was when there was some attempts to re-structure the Holy German Empire and get it under a centralised power. That coupled with plans for a naval base at the baltic prompted some actions from the swedish state that played some quite some part in the subsequent fracturing.

But lets move to the case of the french great power and its relation to the swedish state during history. France is to far away to pose a serious military threath. Yeah, that's it.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 06:29:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Puts our flame wars into perspective...

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 07:13:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, we did.

German invasion was called Krigsfall I ("war case I") and was considered the most likely one during WWII. All contingency planning for Krigsfall I was dropped around 1950 and all planning was focused on Krigsfall II (Soviet invasion).

Krigsfall III was the WWII planning against the very real risk of British invasion, and post-war this was redefined as an invasion by Britain/US, US/Britain or NATO. Almost no planning was done until the last 80's, when some low prioritized planning was done on Krigsfall III which was then seen as an invasion from Norway (by either NATO or the Warsaw Pact).

Or maybe by the nasty Norwegians themselves... ;)

One important reason so much focus was on Russia pre WW1 was that they were not only the last ones we had lost a war against, but before that war we had fought a number of wars against the Russians during the 18th century, including the Great Nordic War.

We also, very importantly, shared a land border, while ze Germans would have had to defeat our Navy before they could invade, something which would have been a bit challenging before Germany was united in 1871. Another important reason was that Sweden and Germany where very close culturally; if we would have had MTV in Sweden 100 years ago, they would have sung in German, not English.

That was further strengthened by the common perception of Russia as the Threat.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 07:52:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You are a mine of the most arcane information and seem to have your synapses directly wired to previous ET Treads - Is there a direct ET interface gizmo I can install to improve my memory?  I can't remember a row I had 6 months ago.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 02:58:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Google is your friend (append 'site:eurotrib.com' to your query). But you have to provide the keywords.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 03:10:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Unfortunately Google can't (yet) search by gangrenous ganglia

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 03:26:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's a list of French signatories to this 'No to NATO' call. It seems to include all parties left of the PS :  Les Verts, the Parti de Gauche, the PCF, the NPA... I think the problem is determining the significant ones.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 12:37:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Haha! As usual. PS out of the loop, again.
by redstar on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 02:56:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They're "serious". Or a "part of the cozy consensus".

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 03:11:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, they're just 'riddled' by CIA agents. An old story financing 'moderate' left wing movements in Europe. Look at Bernard KOUCHNER, BHL, & all the self proclaimed 'intellectuals' - all pro NATO war mongers.
by vladimir on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 03:29:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's a strong claim, that France's Foreign Minister is A CIA agent.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 03:36:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No data to back that up. I just can't explain how 'progressive' values can be aligned with agressive imperialistic policies...
by vladimir on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 03:39:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
But you can google CIA financing of socialists... and you'll get a handfull.
by vladimir on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 03:57:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He was in favor of colonization. SFIO = French Section of the Workers' International

(Mendès-France (Radical, supposedly, at the time, more to the right) opposed it.)


A 'centrist' is someone who's neither on the left, nor on the left.

by nicta (nico&#65312;altiva&#8228;fr) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 05:33:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This isn't the first time the question of NATO's future and role, if any, has come up. I remember seeing it in the 1990's. I don't recall hearing a compelling reason for NATO's continuance.

That being said, then, as now, the feeling is that for all its faults (and there are plenty - NATO cooperation in Afghanistan is miserable, and a blessing as well) nobody quite had the feeling that the world had changed enough to discard an agreement that might be almost impossible to reinstate in future. And in the 90's, uncertainty ruled.

Nobody then would have predicted that the face of conflict in the 21st century would be overwhelmingly intra-state rather than inter-state, but it is. Nobody would have predicted that there would have been a genocide, then another ethnic cleansing in Europe, but there was. And it was NATO who stepped up, not without missteps, when Operation Horseshoe was initiated. I remember at the time the Clinton administration saying that Balkan unrest was a European problem, and that the threat to European peace and security (and the threat was real) was something Europeans should step up and deal with. European leaders insisted on American involvement, perhaps reading better the mood in Moscow than did Washington.

In the end, for the US, the Russian proposal for a EU-Russian security agreement is likely seen as an attempt by Moscow to isolate the US. It's my feeling that the Bush/Cheney administration's disdain for multilateral agreements and penchant for going it alone is an anomaly, and for all our recent misdeeds, please bear in mind that since 1990, no other nation has sent troops over its borders as often as Russia, and linking EU security to successive siloviki regimes in Moscow in lieu of maintaining the existing link with Washington, seems to me to be a poor bargain.

Andrea Merkel is correct in stating that the future of European security lies in building agreements with Moscow, but basing your security on a relationship with a massively corrupt, opaque regime whose government rests on a foundation of iron control of the elements of civil society (the police, courts and press), whose current backstory is how Russia shall go it alone and yet emerge triumphant, is dangerous in so many ways. At best, I think, it would have a futile effort. At worst, it could have leant diplomatic weight to Russian adventures all along its southern and western borders.

Moscow has a long way to go yet and seemingly is oblivious to this fact. Putin speaking of the effects of the economic crisis at Davos:

"Let us be frank. Provoking military-political instability and upper regional conflicts is also a convenient way of deflecting people's attention from mounting social and economic problems. Regrettably, further attempts of this kind cannot be ruled out."

--quoted by Niall Ferguson in a statement to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee.



"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire
by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 10:11:29 PM EST
The chronology of the Kosova crisis is somewhat fuzzy around the edges. Precisely when the actual ethnic cleansing started remains in dispute - what is evident is that 1) far more people were displaced during the bombardments than before (600 thousand during vs. 250 thousand before according to Wikipedia), and that NATO strikes against Serbia proper had - shall we say - questionable military justification. Bluntly put, there was no war going on in Belgrade until NATO started bombing it. In my book, that makes it a clear-cut case of terror bombing, not so very different from Coventry or the Blitz of London. Except of course that the people getting bombed were furriners from far-off places who speak funny. Then it's apparently not a war crime.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 01:55:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Everyone, even Wesley Clark, acknowledges that bombing was not the best solution. Current thinking on  R2P enforcement is that no good military solution exists.

Then the constraints placed on the intervention weren't placed there by the military, but by their respective home governments. The biggest one being that nobody wanted to put troops on the ground in there. A lot was said during the campaign...how there weren't enough casualties to make it a genocide. That there was no proof that the 11,000 NATO estimated killed by the Serbs actually were (eventually this number was later shown to be pretty much spot on). Many feel that the military option makes matters worse. Starting April 6, I'm planning a diary (or a series) about the Responsibility to Protect, probably in way too much detail, but suffice it to say that the current sub rosa debate going on in the foreign policy community is very mindful of this.

But this is getting away from the issue of NATO. As for the bombing campaign in Kosovo, targetting a regime which had already committed one genocide and gotten away with it, NATO was awfully handy. I won't say European governments dragged the US in. It wasn't that, it was ultimately the very public outcry in the press that dragged everybody in. Kosovo was CNN's genocide moment in a way that Rwanda never managed to become.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 06:14:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
targetting a regime which had already committed one genocide and gotten away with it, NATO was awfully handy

Here we go again :(

Can you please substantiate your allegation that there was genocide committed by the elected government of rump Yugoslavia against Muslim Bosnians?

That's the official line pushed by Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Wessley Clark, Madeleine Albright and all the other Western heroes that most on ET would like to send to the Hague.

It's the official line pushed by CNN, the NYT the BBC, ...  the very same MSM that ET-ers love to hate.

Besides, from a factual perspective may I remind you that on 26 February 2007 the ICJ ruled that THERE WAS NO GENOCIDE in Bosnia. It was a civil war in which all ethnic sides suffered casualties.

by vladimir on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 08:52:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Surely, however, you're not arguing that you start a war with another country to punish them for soemthing they did 4 years earlier.

Kosovo as a low-level counter-insurgency prior to NATO getting involved. Not an ethnic cleansing or genocide at all. In fact, one of the worst massacres (at Racak) was recently uncovered as a fraud when the head of the UN Forensics Team, Helen Ranta, came clean.

You can't start a war with someone for something they did five years prior.

The Serbs were involved in a crackdown on the KLA. In this fighting, the KLA had killed Serb civilians and the Serbs had killed Kosovo Albanians. About 1,000-1,500 had been killed in equal numbers in the years leading up to the first dropping of NATO bombs.

The American team negotiating the terms of peace was horrid. Jamie Rubin, Wesley Clark, Madeliene Albright, all had a peace agreement at Rambouillet. The Serbs agreed to total withdrawal. The KLA, Hasim Thaci, did not go along, and the Americans were forced to create a sham of an agreement (Appendix B) which everyone knew was a no-go for the Serbs. They had peace at Rambouillet, and the Americans chose war instead. It was a cowardly choice which mimicked what had been done in Bosnia in 1991-1992 when Cyrus Vance and David Owen had the three leaders agree to a plan that, in the end, looked very much like Dayton. This was BEFORE 100,000 had died in Bosnia.

The ethnic cleansing campaign by the Serbs post-bombing became a matter of controversy when it was revealed that the publicized campaign, Operation Horseshoe, was concocted by German intelligence as propaganda.

The whole war was a farce from start to finish, playing games with people's lives, and in the end accomplishing absolutely nothing.

When the true history of 1990s ex-Yugo is written, it will only be seen as a colossal debacle of diplomacy, and a cowardly war conducted by ALL sides against innocent civilians.

by Upstate NY on Sun Mar 1st, 2009 at 09:44:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Upstate NY! I missed you :)

In fact, when the true history of 1990s ex-Yugo is written, it will show the beginning of a new German Euro-imperial revival...

Interesting to note that the the map of the Balkans is looking strikingly similar to what is was during the 3rd Reich.

I see the Germans working on two further objectives in the region:
> destroying Republika Srpska - and giving full political power to their WWII allies - the Croats and the Bosnian Muslims
> detaching Vojvodina from Serbia (Habsburg wet dream) and in the process spoiling Russia's South Stream projects in the Balkans.

by vladimir on Mon Mar 2nd, 2009 at 07:17:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why would Germany want to destroy the south stream project?

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 2nd, 2009 at 08:01:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
First: because the more export routes Russia has... and the more direct access it has to client states, the less leverage Europe has when it negotiates with Russia. Imagine the EU's (or Ukraine's) bargaining position if the Russians had gas export pipelines to China.

Second: Because South Stream is a direct competitor to Nabucco, where German interests are greater.

Third: Russian infrastructure on Serb territory will increase Serbia's political power. It's not as easy bombing Russian gas storage facilities as it is bombing Serbia's (which, by the way was the case in Novi Sad during NATO's 78 day bombing campaign of civilian infrastructure)

I'm sure Jerome (who certainly has more knowledge of the energy & infrastructure situation than I do) could add a couple of remarks on this one.

by vladimir on Mon Mar 2nd, 2009 at 08:19:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yea - Jerome is certainly the expert on that here.  I had understood that his view was that Nabucco would not happen, and that anything which reduces Europe's dependency on one pipeline route (to Europe) is to be welcomed by Europe as it reduces the leverage of transit states to block imports.

Obviously pipelines to China are a different matter - they improve Russia's leverage vis a vis Europe - although I don't think that China is regarded as a serious price competitor to Europe.

Finally I don't understand why, ultimately, the EU should be any more favourably disposed to Croatia or Bosnia than it is to Serbia - but then I don't understand the geo-politics of the region.  

Any armed conflict is anathema to the EU, but if a peaceful modus vivendi can be found, I would have thought that the EU strategy would be all about creating greater economic, political, social and structural interdependencies in the region.

If that is not the strategy, then the EU has some questions to answer in the forthcoming EP elections...

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Mar 2nd, 2009 at 08:45:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If South Stream falls through, Nabucco's business case will be considerably strengthened. Nabucco shareholders: RWE (Germany), OMV (Austria), MOL (Hungary), Transgaz (Romania), Bulgargaz (Bulgaria), BOTAS (Turkey).
by vladimir on Mon Mar 2nd, 2009 at 08:56:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not if there is no gas to put in Nabucco, which I gather is Jerome's contention.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Mar 3rd, 2009 at 05:10:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I read here all the time, my teaching/writing is on overload right now, so I have difficulty posting. But I couldn't let this one go.

I am interested in the South Stream and North Stream discussion, and do see them as competing with Nabucco. But one thing to note about South Stream: the size of the pipes is very very small.

At capacity, it can't do what either North Stream or Nabucco can do. It's good maybe for some East and Central Euro countries, and Greece and Italy. But not much gas, relatively, will be moving through those pipes to make enough of a difference. Small potatoes. At least, this is what I've read. And if this is true, then Nabucco is even deader than we thought since it too is vying for a similar route where gas is not all that plentiful.

by Upstate NY on Mon Mar 2nd, 2009 at 11:13:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, I didn't reply to the point earlier about the chronology. Actually, it's not fuzzy anymore. The NATO action in Kosovo accelerated the ethnic cleansing which was already taking place. It was estimated that 11,000 men of military age had been killed or detained by the Serbs by the time the NATO response was initiated. Though this figure was disputed at the time, it was later shown to be accurate.

It was calculated by, among other things, estimating the number of military age men who should have been showing up at the Albanian border with the women and children, but weren't.

It remains a good question whether the NATO action did more harm than good, however. The fact that the Serbs were already known to have gotten away with a genocide was, I think, the determining factor. And is a slow(er) ethnic cleansing (I'm wondering about the settlements on the West Bank at the moment) any better than a fast one?

Another question entirely to ponder.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 07:14:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I seem to remember reading a leaked MI6 memo that dates the start of the outright ethnic cleansing to after the opening of the war.

Then there's the fact that various Western(TM) powers were arming the KLA. And that Milosevic's proposals for a resolution that would have granted some measure of autonomy to Kosova without compromising Yugoslavian territorial integrity (such as it was and what remained of it at the time...).

For that matter, if intervention was necessary, it should have been possible to get Russian approval by granting them concessions elsewhere - they had a laundry list of legitimate grievances with The West(TM) at the time (and still have, although it's gotten markedly shorter since Putin started pruning back some of Yeltsin's most obvious mistakes).

So I don't entirely buy the notion that it was Very Urgently Necessary to intervene over the head of the lawful UN bureaucracy.

And as for the CNN's war... the CNN publishes precisely what it's told to publish. Independent and investigative reporting isn't a part of the CNN concept. Nor, for that matter, is basic fact-checking.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 07:49:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You may have information that I lack...however, from wikipedia:

"In 1998, the U.S. State Department listed the KLA as a terrorist organization, indicating that it was financing its operations with money from the international heroin trade and loans from Islamic countries and individuals"

If you know something I don't, please share. I'm off to work now though. Take your time.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 08:03:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It wasn't an MI6 memo that said that the massacres were a justification applied post-hoc. It was a quote from an unnamed Blair administration insider cited in the book Blair's Wars, by John Kampfner (on p. 59 of the 2004 paperback edition). Unfortunately, that book is rather vague on attributions and references.

W.r.t. arming the KLA, I got that wrong: The weapons they got from Albanian criminals who raided Albanian military stockpiles during a period of anarchy in Albania, caused by collapsing pyramid scams [IMF alert].

What they got from the CIA was training and advisers (via).

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 01:01:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ET has covered Yugoslavia rather heavily on a couple of occasions, so there's a lot of research that's already been done and is accessible simply by googling "site:eurotrib.com kla" and reading the comment threads.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 01:04:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And what did they get from the Germans?
by vladimir on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 05:47:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As far as I recall, the images of Albanians at the Macedonian and Albanian border crossings only started showing up once NATO's illegal bombing campaign started.

The KLA was armed to the teeth in 1999 (by Germany and the US) and had NATO air support. Just how many Serb troops would be required to expulse 800 000 people from their homes (while at the same time engaging in a systematic campaign of rape and torture of Albanian girls - young and old...). I say Serb troops because their heavy weapons were out of commission given the NATO air campaign.

Any military experts willing to give estimates?

by vladimir on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 09:02:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Actually, to go by Blair's Wars again, Serbia's heavy weapons were essentially unharmed by the bombing campaign.

But I'm not sure that matters as far as ethnic cleansing is concerned - if the guy you're shooting at hasn't got a gun, it doesn't matter that you don't have a tank. And presumably, during an ethnic cleansing, most of the "cleansed" population would not have guns (otherwise it'd presumably be a "civil war").

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 01:18:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm always leery of claims that the US is arming anyone to the teeth. The last time I had occasion to deal with this kind of fallacy was last August, after the Georgian-Russian mess.

I forget where, but the blanket claim that the US and NATO had armed Georgia had been made, and it simply wan't true. The NATO recommendation, supported by the US, contains one guidline that a military budget shouldn't run more then 2% GDP. This is a NATO requirement. Pre-NATO, Georgian armed forces numbered about 34,000 men. NATO recommended a maximum force size of between 13,000 and 15,000 men, less than half the existing size of the Georgian military. Following these recommendations, Georgia was well on it's way to meeting this goal, with a force size down to about 17,000-18,000. Sometime around 1994, Georgia decided, on its own, to increase it's manpower. Gains in the Georgian economy allowed it to do so without going beyond the NATO 2% rule. Georgia, however went further, and basically rebuilt it's force back to the 34,000 troop level. This was partly due to the Georgian military having nationalized it's National Guard force, which operated as a semi-private militia and is responsible for many of the atrocities committed by the Georgian side in its sad history.

Almost all Georgian military hardware did, in fact, come fron NATO countries, though. Georgia equipped its military on the cheap, from old Warsaw Pact cast-offs.

Georgia launched it's idiotic attack on South Ossetia with Grad rockets (used illegally on civilian targets, and yes, that's a war crime) and T-53 tanks. In the past 10 years, US sales of military materiel consisted of a few helicopters (my understanding is that the number is no more than 6), computers, and communications gear. All in line with the NATO requirements, and intended mostly to enable the Georgian Iraq contingent to evacuate casualties and coordinate its activity with other coalition forces in Iraq.

If the West armed Georgia at all, it was a consequence (perhaps intended) of the modernization of forces of NATO countries that had been equipped with Warsaw Pact materiel.

I don't know enough about the KLA - yet - to speak about how they were armed.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire

by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 01:48:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for this factual analysis.  You seem to have read up quite comprehensively on the Georgian situation.  Of course a lot of the arms industry operates outside strict public policy channels, and there is undoubtedly also clandestine stuff going on.  But the onus is on those who make sweeping charges of "arming to the teeth" to provide some official, local on the ground, or at the very least anecdotal evidence to support it.

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sun Mar 1st, 2009 at 10:32:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Does it give you any pause whatsoever that you cited an Operation, Operation Horseshoe, that was a clear and blatant attempt by NATO's intelligence wing to propagandize?

I don't mean to be, well mean. I truly don't. But frankly, I can't believe you're citing Operation Horseshoe to make your point. If this is what NATO is all about, deliberately lying to European citizens, then how is this organization worthy?

by Upstate NY on Sun Mar 1st, 2009 at 09:47:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When there is a British brigade in Estonia, a French brigade in Latvia and a German brigade in Lithuania, with the Poles ready to rush in as backup.

Until then, EU security guarantees will not be considered credible, and as long as that is the case, NATO will still be relevant.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 06:33:40 AM EST
Well, there's another nice argument. I've heard it said that European NATO defence budgets will, for all intents and purposes, zero out as a result of the current financial mess. Isn't it nice to have the only power left with a global reach guaranteeing your security?

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire
by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 06:59:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
to turn Frank around on this, hehe.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire
by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 07:00:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not a defence expert and my diary was polemical and simplistic and designed to provoke some discussion on the thinkaboutit site - which has been a bit dead as far as discussion is concerned.  I'm surprised I haven't been eaten alive here because I thought that I was dipping my toe in waters I don't know enough about.  Many thanks for your informed contributions.  It's you who should be writing the NATO diaries around here - along with a few other Defence experts here.

I suppose I would summarise my views as follows:  The post WW2 US security guarantee to western Europe was invaluable in creating a secure space in which western Europe could recover from the war and also facilitated the development of the fore-runners to the EU.

Increasingly, however, the benefits of that guarantee began to be outweighed by the costs in the form of needlessly exacerbated Cold War and arms race tensions, then Vietnam, and the requirement to be subservient to an increasingly arrogant and imperialist USA throughout the world.

A negotiated end to the Cold War - as opposed to a Soviet implosion - would have included a negotiated end to both NATO and the Warsaw Pact but instead we effectively had a western takeover.  Again, this was mostly to be welcomed, but a western capitalism, untrammelled by any fear of socialism, also resulted in a widespread defeat of social democracy and the dominance of Reagan/Thatcher style robber baron capitalism so ably chronicled here as the Anglo disease.

So in some ways the one sided defeat of Communism has also resulted in the one-sided excesses of Capitalism which we are seeing imploding at the moment.  My hope is that we will see a more united, cohesive, and assertive Europe emerging from the debris determined to have good relations with both the USA and Russia and pursuing a more sustainable and equitable model of economic, social and economic development.

Smaller nations have no option but to club together to compete with their larger neighbours in a globalising economy and to create a shared security space.  However our interests are not always identical and so it is very important that we have a strong and democratic EU where those differences can be thrashed out.

A strong EU needs to promote not just economic and political cooperation, but also military and security policies to ensure they are aligned with their member's interests.  So I do see the EU gradually supplanting NATO as the primary guarantor of security in Europe but I appreciate we live in a dangerous world and provided the USA and Russia can continue to behave well and get on with each other I don't have a problem with also having close Treaty relationships with both the US and Russia.

What we don't want, however, is to be caught in the middle if hard-liners in either the US or Russia, or elements in their defence establishment who benefit from increased tensions between them manage to take over again.  That is why we need our own independent European defence, security and foreign policy capability to enable us to stand on our own two feet in the world - and not as a dependent subservient partner to any outside power.

notes from no w here

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 10:22:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Because the history of Irish neutrality reminded me of some lyrics from an old Pogues song

As I was walking down the road
A feeling fine and larky-oh
A recruit'en sergeant came up-a-ta me
Says he, you'd look fine in khaki-oh
For the King he is in need of men
Come read this proclamation-oh
A life in Flanders for you then
Would be a fine vacation-oh

That may be so says I to him
But tella me sergeant dearie-oh
If I had a pack stuck upon me back
Would I look fine and cheerie-oh
For they'd have you train and drill until
They had you one of the Frenchies-oh
It may be warm in Flanders
But it's draughty in the trenches-oh

The sergeant smiled and winked his eye
His smile was most provoking-oh
He twiddled and twirled his wee mustache
Says he, I know you're only joking-oh
For the sandbags are so warm and high
The wind you won't feel blowing-oh
Well I winked at a cailin passing by
Says I, what if it's snowing-oh

Come rain or hail or wind or snow
I'm not going out to Flanders-oh
There's fighting in Dublin to be done
Let your sergeants and your commanders go
Let Englishmen fight English wars
It's nearly time they started-oh
I saluted the sergeant a very good night
And there and then we parted-oh

Back in the mid-eighties I took 30 days leave before I transferred from the 82nd Airborne Division to John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and Schools Special Forces Qualification Course.  I had no idea what to do on leave but seeing a movie, "The Eye of The Needle" filmed in Britain prompted me to take an Airforce transport to RAF Lakenheath and tour Britain with a backpack.

I first went to Aldershot and partied with some Paras, being an American para cousin myself.  I almost got into a brawl that I didn't really understand and the closest I came to being called a Feinian Bastard as I am Catholic and I really didn't understand how or why that question came up in conversation.

It came up from a Para from Northern Ireland, who then asked me if I was a member of NORAID.  I replied, in soldier bravado, "Hell no, those are Air Force weenies".  He then got incensed.

The problem came from my misunderstanding of his accent; I thought he meant NORAD, the Air Force missile tracking unit under Colorado Mountain that tracks missile launches from the old Soviet Union, an air-conditioned office job.

Luckily, the situation was diffused by an English Para who went on about hospitality and foreigners.

The rest of the leave was most memorable.  I ended up as a guest at the Prince Charles Barracks in Aberdeen Scotland courtesy of the 22nd Para (Territorial) through a RSM in Aldershot.  All I had to pay for was booze and food, they put me up.  Which was a good thing because my booze bill pretty much broke my savings, I mean, after all, I WAS in the pubs with Paras.

"Schiller sprach zu Goethe, Steck in dem Arsch die Flöte! Goethe sagte zu Schiller, Mein Arsch ist kein Triller!"

by Jeffersonian Democrat (rzg6f@virginia.edu) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 05:58:22 PM EST
And you get subsidised booze in the British Army!

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 07:38:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Interestingly enough, I participated with 22 Para in a road race of four mountain peaks in the Cairn Gorms of the highlands.  It wasn't until the end until I was informed that it was a charity event for the 1984 British Olympic teams.  I used every vernacular curse word with my British colleagues as in you "c*nts and bastards" as I should have worked for the US team.  Of course they laughed.

We didn't win.  The SAS team was already at the end point with a cooking fire and tea brewing and sarcastically ask us why we were not faster and that they had tea ready for us.  The Sandhurst cadets were still 4 hours behind us, but you have to give them credit for trying.

The tea was refreshing, but I still called the SAS guys out for being assholes about it

"Schiller sprach zu Goethe, Steck in dem Arsch die Flöte! Goethe sagte zu Schiller, Mein Arsch ist kein Triller!"

by Jeffersonian Democrat (rzg6f@virginia.edu) on Fri Feb 27th, 2009 at 08:43:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
SAS = specialised asshole shit stirrers?

notes from no w here
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Feb 28th, 2009 at 05:40:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]


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