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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

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

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

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

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

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

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

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

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

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

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

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

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 ]

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