Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Future of the NATO Alliance - Jan 24

There are three levels when nation-states decide to integrate themselves. The first level in economic. The second is political and the third (and the most advanced) is military co-operation. It appears that NATO is now at the third stage. What an incredible advancement in Bible prophecy this is! You can be lazy and listen to the stratfor podcast here.

Johnny Cash

Geopolitical Diary: The Future of the NATO Alliance

January 23, 2008 0330 GMT

A summit of NATO heads of state scheduled for April 2-4 in Bucharest, Romania, appears to have gotten its first real jumpstart about 10 days ago with the circulation of a manifesto written by distinguished and well-respected former senior military officers from the United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France and the Netherlands who served at the height of their careers during the early post-Soviet years. The impressive list of names at the end of the paper includes former NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe and former U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. John Shalikashvili, former British Baron Field Marshal and Defense Staff Chief Sir Peter Anthony Inge, and former Inspector General of the German military and NATO Military Committee Chairman Gen. Klaus Naumann.

The EU Observer and the Guardian newspaper released some of the details of the manifesto over the past few days. This document marks the potential culmination of a series of trends that could result in deep structural changes to the alliance.

The manifesto includes:

A more overtly stated nuclear first-strike option than NATO had previously;

A statement of willingness to use nuclear weapons pre-emptively to prevent states from gaining nuclear capabilities;

A shift from unanimous consensus decision-making to majority voting, which effectively ends national vetoes;

The end of national caveats for troops deployed in NATO operations;

The end of decision-making by alliance members that are not participating in the NATO operation in question; and

The ability to use force without the authorization of the U.N. Security Council when “immediate action is needed to protect large numbers of human beings.”

Since the end of the Cold War, NATO has struggled with the demise of its raison d’etre: the Soviet Union. After the fall of the Soviet state, serious questions emerged about whether NATO should even exist. Tensions among member states over Bosnia — and later, Kosovo — (not to mention the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq) further strained the alliance.

But now, a number of trends that were weakening the alliance have been reversed: Russian belligerence is on the rise. Putin has made clear that the waning of Russia is over (long before Russian military Chief of Staff Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky’s Jan. 19 reiteration of Moscow’s nuclear weapons policy). Moreover, NATO now includes Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania — all of which are former Warsaw Pact or Soviet Union states. And the governments of these new member states are extremely concerned about the potential dangers posed by the Russian bear.

In addition, the departure of French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder from the political scene marked the end of strong European opposition to U.S. moves, as well as the end of meaningful discussions about a European defense entity independent of NATO. Nicolas Sarkozy and Angela Merkel’s transitions to power cemented a fundamental shift in the domestic politics and international stance of continental Europe’s two great powerhouses. Paris and Berlin have returned to the NATO camp, and they have recrowned NATO the pre-eminent military tool of European foreign policy.

Such developments would shift the global military balance back toward Europe. And an increasing recognition among NATO members of the benefits of the alliance means that it (along with the United States) ultimately could continue to lead the military trends that shape the world, rather than drifting further away. This is great news if you happen to be in — or a friend of — the alliance, and somewhat terrifying if you are not.

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