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European Love for the US and American Isolationism

"America badly needs to improve its global image," says The Economist in a special survey on "American and the world." The magazine is pretty optimistic regarding the next US president's chances to win back Europe's "love with America" (HT: Atlantic Community):
Many Europeans are ambivalent about America: prone to sounding off about Yankee imperialism but nevertheless infatuated with American culture. Many of them were furious with the Bush administration precisely because of its refusal to live up to the American ideals that had served the country so well during the second world war. Given a little wooing, they might be willing to fall back in love with America.

Was Europe ever truly "in love with America"? Is "just a little wooing" enough? I doubt it.

Related: Le Figaro says that Europe has to get prepared for rising US isolationism and fill the void (See Top Press Commentary in the Atlantic Community.) Europe won't do that either, I believe.

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Álvaro Degives-Más on :

With all due respect to the intent of sharing articles that highlight the state of and dynamics within trans-Atlantic relations, I can't recall a less worthy candidate for broader consideration beyond the Comedy Bar than this product of an unadulterated clumsy hack. There are plenty of economic angles of interest to be considered, especially by an [i]economy[/i] oriented magazine, yet this article doesn't feature the partial string "econo" in any part of its body. I have seriously toyed with the idea of going through this article line by line, and paragraph by paragraph, highlighting the myriad of plainly absurd generalizations, projections and other fallacious tricks applied to bolster the writer's apparent desire to see improved trans-Atlantic relations. Sadly, that effort would be several magnitudes above that spent on scribbling this platitude and hogwash-rife piece of editorial waste. So, I'll just take a few examples to illustrate the point. It opens with the peculiar assertion that in spite of "all their differences" the current three contenders in the US presidential contest "agree on one thing": that the US "needs to make a big effort to improve its global image". (I'll casually drop an old grievance of mine here, concerning the idiotically presumptuous claim of two entire continents in reference to just one country located in one of them). Amazingly, this suggests that the candidates [i]disagree[/i] on other objective like the need to improve the state of the national economy, national security (ye olde GWOT), the cost and the effective reach of health care, or the financing of social security system, dependency on foreign oil imports, the massive trade deficit... To name but a few issues on which, at least according to my observation, all three agree they should be engaged; of course, the method differs, but not the goal. I won't exactly deny that international relations are important, but that oversimplified suggestion of exclusivity bodes ill for the rest of the article. And indeed: the very next sentence spells out the writer's perhaps LSD-induced take on what those candidates "offer" toward improving said relations. In the case of Obama, the writer seems to suggest that Obama speculates on the leverage of citizens abroad with a peculiar affinity toward Kenya, Kansas and the name Hussein. Well done, well done. In the case of Clinton, she's seemingly dangling the succulent carrot of a visit by her husband as her proposal to glue the globe together again. Seriously, that's what the writer suggests. And McCain? Well, according to the writer, he's offering the healing prospect of disagreeing with his predecessor. If that isn't a convincing proposition, I honestly don't know what is. And that's just how the misery of reading that article starts. In spite of the Pew Research Center's care to distinguish perception abroad of [i]the country[/i] that is the US from views on [i]its government,[/i] that Economist hack does away with such silly distinctions, and states in the subsequent second paragraph: "America has seen an unprecedented deterioration of its global image in the Bush years." It goes downhill in acceleration from there. PArticularly amusing is this gem: [quote]British theatre is sustained by plays such as “The Madness of George Dubya”, “Guantánamo Baywatch” and “Stuff Happens”.[/quote] Yes, British theater is truly sustained by those plays. Even more idiotic is this oversimplification: [quote]Popular resentment has caused trouble for pro-American politicians such as Britain's Tony Blair and Australia's John Howard, both of whom are now out of office.[/quote] Not to mention that voters in the UK and Australia (not to mention Spain and Italy) truly had better things to do than to consider their sovereign elections for government an opinion poll on some country on another continent. Not to mention that the constellation of factors that drove them one way or another out of office share a profound dislike for their [i]policies.[/i] It would be far more interesting to contrast the changes in government of Bush's erstwhile allies with his reelection in 2004, but no: it's not the 95% of the world population that which matters, it's the seemingly amazing circumstance that there are places where bad governors are ousted, and it's "America-hating" that which explains it. On and on and on... For the life of me I can't figure out why that piece of nonsense was considered of interest: it's a pathetic caricature of presumed "anti-Americanism" (never mind specific policies of specific government leaders!) and, oh goodie: those pesky Europeans' insipid, tepid and generally lackluster appetite for "stepping up". Pity not even half an argument is provided by that half-baked and half-witted writer to make that proposition anywhere near justified. For more apt discussion of caricatures, I suggest revisiting the way in which the general elections in Spain on March 14, 2004 were treated by [i]some[/i] commentators in the US as any combination of "caving in" to the terrorists who murdered 192 people in and near Madrid, or a sign of displeasure toward the US government (I actually heard both ludicrous statements on the night of elections, uttered by people who still have their job as either TV commentator or TV anchor). Only if we move past idiotic platitudes, careless characterizations, stupid generalizations and pointless oversimplifications can we reach a platform where a leveled, reasoned and informed discussion brings us together. Certainly [i]not[/i] archetypal beaten wife excuses: [i]"But I luuuuuurve him!"[/i] Once more: it's not the intended discussion as a result of that article in The Economist that which is the object of my ire here. It's seeing sloppy, mindless and in fact damaging screeds, such as that contemptible bird cage filler, brought up to foment discussion, not on the woeful trouble with journalism, but of the reality that those miscreants fail to accurately portray, whether willingly or incompetently.

John in Michigan, USA on :

Álvaro, Outstanding points.

Pamela on :

Marry me.

franchie on :

Well, "isolationism" is what I have heard for a few years by persons like A Adler. It also that word that depicted the US while I was in High School a few decades ago. I think they need to reconcentrate their energy, leave the Bush's chimeres of reshaping the world, (ie the great Middle-East) remove their actual lobbies in Washington DC that are oriented by a messianic vision, and wars goals, let Israel assume herself her defense, (he, we might see then some windows for discussions with her neighbours ; already Pakistan has said that he won't make the war for the war against the Talibans, but also discussions). Effectively this administration gives the impression that war is the only solution to any different in the world, it makes the nations feel dizzy, cause making systematically war isn't anymore the solution ; the ennemies have changed their tacticts ; in the "global" world they use internet to recruit their fighters, that are already in our countries. So, the war will be more "virtual", more of renseignements, more with local guerillas, that don't need a heavy and expensive structure, but well trained forces and technologies. So, in that way, I don't believe in the supposed future isolationism of the US, they 'll need to share the infos with the obliged (forced) allies in Europe, of the same original culture.

Nanne on :

Another question for Europe is: what is 'the void'?

Álvaro Degives-Más on :

Dunno... It seems to be one of those visual effect things that appear to be visible only from the Northwestern shores of the Atlantic.

Joerg - Atlantic Review on :

I think I remember plenty of German newspaper editorials in the early 90s complaining about the lack of US leadership in the Balkans. Although that was when I was in high school, I am quite sure about those editorials. That was the void back then. Could happen again. Pakistan is the most dangerous country these days, but Europe has no Pakistan policy: [url]http://atlanticreview.org/archives/952-Europe-has-no-Pakistan-Policy,-US-has-a-Bad-One.html[/url] Europe just sits back and let's the US try its best. Europe does not show much initiative at all to solve any conflict in the Middle East: Lebanon, Israel/Palestine, Syria/Turkey, etc. Or Darfur... US foreign policy is often flawed. And maybe the excuse for Europe was that it was hoping the US would do it better next time. But if the US is reducing its international engagement, then this excuse does not work.

Álvaro Degives-Más on :

Actually, [i]capability[/i] is the key missing piece of the puzzle. Without adequate control, command and communication capability you're going to nowhere really fast. I've mentioned the enormous significance of macro-technological (and industrial) development in Europe before, but it bears repetition: until and unless there's a sufficient, adequate and well-prepared skeletal military/logistical/intel structure in place, there's no place for wishful thinking. NATO is hardly able to offer a unifying interface; what's really needed is a fully integrated EDF, something which - sadly - meets veto after veto west of the Channel. There's simply nothing at present, and I mean: [i]nothing[/i] that would enable a realistic statement toward European self-reliance to engage something of the dimensions of Rwanda, Darfur or the FYR on their own. Nothing. So, until and unless Europeans buck and/or silence the whiny British anti-European defense force trend, there's little realism to be vested in hopes of "stepping up". Very little.

Zyme on :

We are not making progress by continually accusing the British. They still cling to their "Britannia rule the world" idea - and cannot imagine to be incorporated into a common defense with the majority coming from the continent. So instead of putting pressure on them, we should lure them (and with "them" I mean their political leaders) with personal benefits. The British progress made about the ratification of the Lisbon Treaty is astonishing - given the totally sceptical British public. But EU colleagues have managed to more or less win the leadership of all major parties in Britain. Not the least I think because those leaders hope to be awarded with positions in Brussels. If the same way was established for the development of the common defense structure, we would get along a lot quicker. For example, British generals could be promised a leading position in the common defence for the first decade. I am sure that would make the entire process a lot more tempting for the Brits.

Don S on :

"We are not making progress by continually accusing the British." Yes, The term 'poodle' in reference to a certain retired British statesman should have long-sice retired. Most particularly since he was not anyone's 'poodle'. 'They still cling to their "Britannia rule the world" idea - and cannot imagine to be incorporated into a common defense with the majority coming from the continent.' The problem is that the Brits visualize their force as being 'nationalised by the EU. Still financed and manned by the UK taxpayer but controlled completely from Bruxelles. The only (in the British view) way this can possibly work is for other major EU powers to bring funding and training up to UK standards. France, Italy, Spain, Germany, etc....). How likely is this to happen? "So instead of putting pressure on them, we should lure them (and with "them" I mean their political leaders) with personal benefits." Very smart. A good step would be to drop the poodle gibes and give Tony Blair his heart's desire - one of the Eu presidencies.

Álvaro Degives-Más on :

I have this stubborn idea that the start of progress is to acknowledge that one's stuck in the present. And to move on from there, working with what's within one's [i]own[/i] realm of possibilities. I agree: there's no point in trying to make substantial British objection to a more capable and above all effective EU budge. But instead of pinning hopes on more or less sophisticated bribery offers, perhaps in the understanding that won't exactly have the supposed effect, I suggest looking in the opposite direction: move on and forward without the British. It's time to move ahead with the two-speed EU idea, and to erect a European Pentagon, angled on France, Germany, Poland, Italy, Spain. Sadly, De Gaulle is tremendously underrated; he had the right idea five decades ago. It's time to make up for the lost opportunities, and create that trans-Atlantic counterpoint which benefits the US most. I'd set out forth two nimble conditions: stop pushing Turkey into the non-fit in the EU, and two, reassure the Brits that when they grow up they can play too. Other than that, as far as I'm concerned: play ball.

Zyme on :

Oh god, not the Polish! With them this whole process is doomed from the beginning. As relieable partners I would consider France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Finland. If a Europe of two speeds is needed, than I would start with these.

franchie on :

LMAO

Don S on :

"As relieable partners I would consider France, Belgium, Netherlands, Germany, Austria and Finland." Ah, but would they consider YOU a reliable partner?!!! France, likely. Nederlands yes. Belgium, not sure but they don't pass gas without asking the French and Germans, so probably yes if Germany and France said yes. Austria? Don't know enough to judge. Finland? I don't think so. Their geographical position as the chigger on the hide of the Bear has compelled them to follow Bear-friendly policies for a long time. That brings us to Germany. Is Germany a 'reliable' partner from a defense perspective? I'#d say their recent history wars with the longer term perspective on this point. The Germans held up their end pretty well between 1955 and 1985, then cut their defense budget radically after 1985. If judged under the former criteria they could be termed reliable. Judging based upon the period 1985-2005 Germany would have to be considered unreliable.

Zyme on :

You have a pretty bad conception of our country huh? We are very reliable, at least as long as the others agree with us :D Seriously, the countries I named have societies not unlike ours. Together we are considered to be the heart of traditional Europe and the EU. These peoples have similar attitudes towards going to war, and governmental policies to deceive and appease their public will not be totally different from each other. In other words: Those countries are predestined to have a common army to pursue common goals. I named Finland because they are determined to keep the Russians at bay - and because it is the country we traditionally have the best relations with from all scandinavian countries.

Don S on :

You are utterly reliable as long as 1) you are protected, 2) you are able to pursue a policy of complete neutrality between your allies (I won't presume to say friends) and those who are potential threats, and 3) All your allies always behave with complete adherence to the principals of complete pacifism as formulated in Germany. Then you are reliable, otherwise pretty much absolutely unreliable. Unfortunately several things in that list contradict themselves in the real world. In good times when no stresses are put on the contradictions Germans are the most reliable of allies. In harsher times when the contradictions come to light and stresses are made Germans are among the least reliable.... What I think matters not at all, correct?

Zyme on :

Well this is just a product of the 1968er generation. This cowardice will vanish when those have left their positions of responsibility in our society. Among the younger, who actually minds using our army, as long it is in our interest? 20 Years ago hundreds of thousands would have moved at Easter to demonstrate against our army being deployed abroad - not to imagine the effect of combat troops being sent to counter insurgents. Slowly but steadily this is changing - and already much has changed. What I fail to understand is why anglo-saxons always have to put pressure on this development, always try to even increase this speed. Sure, at first you expect to gain more men for combat missions. But isn´t this policy very short-sighted? When on one day we have re-established the amount of belligerence you want us to have - or even exceed it - don´t you think that you might easily start regretting this policy?

Don S on :

"Well this is just a product of the 1968er generation. This cowardice will vanish when those have left their positions of responsibility in our society. Among the younger, who actually minds using our army, as long it is in our interest?" Two problems here. The 68ers still run Germany and seem likely to stay on top for at least another decade. The relationship between the 'contributing' members of NATO and Germany is already extremely stressed - do you really believe the aslliance can hold up under another decade of Anglo/US/Canadian impatience reacting with with German sanctimony and complacency? The second problem is one of experience. Among the world's major powers only Germany and Japan completely lack combat experience in the present generation, for similar reasons I think. But Japan has advantages that Germany lacks; Japan is a mountainous island - not an easy terrain for an invader. Japan need only upgrade it's navy to be safe, and Japan has not angered it's most effective allies. Germany lacks war-fighting experience and has shrunk the resources going to it's armed forces to derisory levels. As has been pointed out something similar occurred betwee WWI and 1933 - but then Germany had an entire generation of brilliant young officers and blooded NCO's who had plenty of experience - they only lacked the hardware. Now you lack hardware AND experience. You may be able to get the hardware but where do you get the experience? "20 Years ago hundreds of thousands would have moved at Easter to demonstrate against our army being deployed abroad - not to imagine the effect of combat troops being sent to counter insurgents. Slowly but steadily this is changing - and already much has changed." And 20 years ago you began to radically cut your defense budget. I believe the Schroeder government accelerated the process. The cuts may have halted in 2003 or 2004, but the increase has been very slow. If the rate of increase does not increase it could take 20 years or more for it to grow to the level it needs to be. Meanwhile the US continues to make up the shortfall while taking abuse from your pacifist politicians and journalist for our supposed 'militarism'. Why should we bear this nonsense? 4-5 years perhaps? 20 years? You are out of your minds to ask that! "What I fail to understand is why anglo-saxons always have to put pressure on this development, always try to even increase this speed. Sure, at first you expect to gain more men for combat missions. But isn´t this policy very short-sighted? When on one day we have re-established the amount of belligerence you want us to have - or even exceed it - don´t you think that you might easily start regretting this policy?" Cutting defense expenditures into the bone was not 'very short-sighted'? Putting Germany's defense almost entirely into the hands of other countries - was this not incredibly short-sighted? The verbally and legally abusing these despised 'mercenaries - was this not incredibly 'short-sighted'?

Zyme on :

It is difficult to justiy big defense budgets when there is no enemy in your neighbourhood. We don´t have any - the only real threat is that our sea trade lanes might be interrupted by international conflicts. Thus the majority of our spending goes into naval hardware. Also from the defense budget we spend much more percent into hardware than we did before 1990, as the number of soldiers has been decreased a lot (so salaries don´t make up such a high proportion any more). Experience is indeed something we lack today, but you might argue that we already did 20 years ago. Which WW2 soldiers actually were in the army in the late 1980s? None I can tell you, as back then everybody was released into retirement at an age of mid 50. But we have a great opportunity to gain experience: medium-scale operations in the world - exactly the kind of operations we maintain now. They do not threaten our borders - so we can test new equipment without much risk. 13 Contingents have already been in Afghanistan, tens of thousands of soldiers in foreign countries. Do you really think they are just trained to be a well armed policemen? "Two problems here. The 68ers still run Germany and seem likely to stay on top for at least another decade." This might be true. But really - what can we do about it? It isn´t the fault of my generation - we will have to live with that burden for as long as they are in their positions. Again this isn´t so depressing as you make it up: They have lost a lot of influence already. Would you think anybody would have dared to propose sending soldiers around the world if they were still dominating in politics? "The relationship between the 'contributing' members of NATO and Germany is already extremely stressed - do you really believe the aslliance can hold up under another decade of Anglo/US/Canadian impatience reacting with with German sanctimony and complacency?" I don´t know enough about american feelings to judge that. But be warned - among the younger there are no less that wish our country to oppose american influence. The US here have the smell of a country that has domineered us long enough. We made peace with the French and the Brits, we got rid of the Russians - now the US are next. Think about it. It is the reason our politicians receive public cheer whenever they thwart american plans like taking Ukraine and Georgia into Nato.

Zyme on :

Besides I forgot one point: Which country do you think has less reasons to go to any war, than the country that exports more goods than any other one? Losing this position to another country because of that country´s agressive foreign policy will sure reduce the amount of "pacifism" here ;)

Don S on :

"But be warned - among the younger there are no less that wish our country to oppose american influence. " You think I haven't seen that the past 10 years? Of course I have! Problem is that asking the US to continue defending you while you do a glacially small buildup - and taking every opportunity to slit Uncle Sam's Achilles tendon while we remain somehow obligated to continue defending you - simply is not going to work. We cannot 'domineer' Germany into doing anything. That is not completely a bad thing even for the US. But the German form of not being dominated seems to be saying 'no' to everything, and that will not work. The US CAN force Germany to contribute to it's own defense, but only by breaking the NATOP alliance even more than Germany has already done. I think the German view tends to be that the only legitimnate role of NATO and the US armed forces is defending Europe. The American view is that limiting NATO to that role benefits Germany greatly and the US very little. Tell me, why should the US continue to heavily subsidize the defense of trading rivals? "The US here have the smell of a country that has domineered us long enough. We made peace with the French and the Brits, we got rid of the Russians - now the US are next." Do you mean 'make peace' with the US? Or 'get rid of'? Actually I think we are in agreement here. You wish to 'get rid of' the US and I wish to get out of NATO - at least the parts of NATO who palpably wish to benefit from the US contribution without giving anything substantial in return. "Think about it. It is the reason our politicians receive public cheer whenever they thwart american plans like taking Ukraine and Georgia into Nato." Yes, I knew that. But you make an unwarranted assumption here - that I support Bush on expanding NATO when the opposite is true. The US needs to pull resources out of NATO and permit the Germans the freedom you yearn for. Perhaps then the countries can be friends again, although not for many years, because both Germans and the US feel betrayed by each other now. Or rahter the US already does and Germany will do when we remove the German birthright - getting defended without cost or sacrifice.

Zyme on :

"Tell me, why should the US continue to heavily subsidize the defense of trading rivals?" At first glance there are no reasons for defending trading rivals. At the second glance one might think about the old arguments that Nato does not primarily defend Europe - but instead prevents Russia from gaining more influence. Since Russia is not the Soviet Union this is nonsense as well of course. At the third glance though Nato is one of the last leverages over Europe for the US that remained from the Cold War. Now you might say why you need this and can´t just discharge this expensive alliance? I don´t think the american government altruistically spends so much without an equal amount of interest. My guess is: Nato is one of the US´ best tools to undermine the process of European Integration. Within all the new european cooperations, the US has little say. Within Nato though, the US is king and has a solid basis for creating whatever dissent among the European member states. Discharging Nato would strip the Americans of a good deal of influence over Europe so to speak. Europeans would become ever more threatening trading rivals (and maybe more than trading rivals) the more they "integrate" (= melt into one EU-empire). This is why Washington swallows all the hard feelings and the little support which return from european capitals. "But you make an unwarranted assumption here - that I support Bush on expanding NATO when the opposite is true." I just cited this one as a recent example for my point above. It was not intended to reflect your point of view.

Anonymous on :

At the second glance one might think about the old arguments that Nato does not primarily defend Europe - but instead prevents Russia from gaining more influence. Since Russia is not the Soviet Union this is nonsense as well of course. I think the Baltic States and the Visegrad-4 might not agree with you on that point. Perhaps you mean that Russia's expanding influence is not a problem for Germany which is correct. However such an attitude, perceiving the slav nations as an economically provinical hinterland to be exploited for Germany's greater benefit, is one of the reasons that the central and eastern Europeans dont trust Germany for their continued existence.

Kevin Sampson on :

'Discharging Nato would strip the Americans of a good deal of influence over Europe so to speak.' The reverse is also true, so the question is, is it a net asset or liability? The latter, IMO.

Zyme on :

Why is the reverse also true?

Kevin Sampson on :

You don't think NATO provides Europe influence over the US? What happened to the Pershing 2 and GLCM? Or are you saying that Europe has other means of influencing the US and doesn’t need NATO? Such as?

Zyme on :

World bank and IMF?

Pat Patterson on :

The World Bank, which is primarily concerned with providing loans and technical assistance to developing nations, is led by an American. While the US does indeed have the largest individual vote, arrived at by how much money the US has loaned the IMF, it is not a majority but that is really not tha important as most actions the IMF takes are by consensus. The only organization that could truly counter some US actions in the world would by ndirect means be the WTO. If all economic decisions were seen as having political consequences then many issues could go against the US.

SC on :

Do you think that the US would be less willing, or as willing, to maintain, or even extend, security guarantees to Europe in the absence of NATO?

Zyme on :

Less willing of course - but who needs security garantuees here today? We are in the process of uniting the continent. Russia has become a valuable partner instead of a feared opponent.

Don S on :

True, at this time Russia is no threat to Germany. And in fact at times Germans seem to value the Russian partnership more highly than that with the US. But I think Heisenberg's Uncertainty theorum may apply to politics as well as physics. The fact is that Russia has no hope of military victory over NATO - while the US remains part of NATO. If the US were to withdraw from NATO and remove the security guarantee the situation would fundamentally change, although I won't predict how it will change. I suspect Russia would become much more assertive in that circumstance. Germany and Germans have been undervaluing the security guarantee the US has provided for at least a generation. This will lead in time to an earthquake in trans-Atlantic relations - and a new world. That split may occur in 5 years or 20 years. Or if Europeans actually try to address the problems the US is talking about) it may not happen at all. But I'm not betting on the latter. I think sooner or later you will treat a Democratic President as roughly as you treated Bush - and alienate your very last remaining friends in the US body politic.

SC on :

Ok. You believe that security guarantees are valueless. But is that a view widely shared among governments and governing classes? Arguably, I think not. So, in the absence of NATO, countries on either side of the Atlantic most likely would seek out bilateral or multilateral security arrangements and guarantees. The question is, what would either side get in the exchange? Don has argued for some time that NATO is becoming, or already is, a bad deal for the US. And yet, successive US administrations, including the present one, have not only been committed to NATO but want to expand its size and scope. Why? Joerg entitled his post "European Love for the US and American Isolationism". If American security guarantees are of such little value - to either side of the bargain - then why isn't traditional American isolationism a stronger force in US politics? There was at least one Republican candidate for the Presidency for which this traditional form lay close to the surface, and he didn't get very far. This most traditional of American foreign policies dominated for 165 years, surviving intact a number of conflicts including one world war in the early part of the 20th century. It was a period during which the country grew from a rural, and largely coastal, agrarian society to an industrial society spanning a continent that already was a world power in trade and industry without perceived need, much less desire, for security arrangements - particularly with European countries - before the turning point in the 1940's. Where do you suppose all the isolationists have gone?

Don S on :

"Don has argued for some time that NATO is becoming, or already is, a bad deal for the US. And yet, successive US administrations, including the present one, have not only been committed to NATO but want to expand its size and scope. Why?" I think there are two things going on, SC. I think it's obvious to almost everyone that NATO in it's traditional form is pretty much 'mission accomplished'. No more USSR and most of the former Warsaw Pact has been absorbed into the western alliance. The older European members of the alliance have radically cut their defense budgets and become significantly more pacifist as their proximity to the remaining threat recedes. This tendency extended across the the entire alliance (not excluding the US) but Germany is by far the most extreme example of this shift to pacifism. The US, UK, and possibly France much less so. So NATO needs to change or go the way of the Holy Roman Empire and be recognized as defunct. One obvious way to make NATO relevant again is to expand the alliance to cover countries which are physically closer to the remaining threat - Russia. This has already been done by NATO expansion. This has several effects - it removes traditional western Europe further from the threat and thus reinforces the pacifistic and busy-body tendencies of the older European members. They can cut their contribution to NATO while raising the profile of their demands upon NATO policymaking and even insist upon a controlling influence upon US policy outside of NATO upon the grounds that the US is a member of NATO and therefore everything the US does must be controlled by NATO. There is no substantial cost to behaving this way; the Bear is now a very long way from Germany/France/Italy and is no threat at all to these countries - as long as the US and UK maintain the 'security guarantee. What's not to like from the POV of Germany? Extremely low defense expenditure - historically the lowest ever, I believe - coupled with strengthened influence over the immensely powerful US military which will be available as needed and which can be condemned at all other times to raise the public image of Germany - at the expense of the US' image. The Bush proposal to further expand NATO to Ukraine and Georgia make no military sense - one has to consider the politics to see the logic. Public opinion in Ukraine is fundamentally divided between pro-NATO and pro-Russian camps - Ukraine should not be admitted until that is resolved. Georgia has the public support but is a long way from the strategic center of NATO - so that doesn't make strategic sense either - unless one believes that NATO should expand to be a global alliance as Rudy Guliani proposed. But expansion would have several political effects. It would dilute the relative influence of the 'pacifist' members. It will be popular in Eastern Europe. And it will make NATO more relevant. To statesmen of the Bush generation (I include McCain and HRC in that statement) NATO is an invariant - it is assumed to be needed and must be patched and repaired through all the stresses that it has experienced in recent years. The Bush expanison plan can be seen as a desperate effort to preserve NATO and make it worthwhile for the US to participate. Such desperate meausres rarely succeed. I ask a more fundamental question. The late Peter Drucker wrote that every organisation needs to ask itself a fundamental question about all of it;s operations each year: "If we had to build this from scratch today - would it make sense to do so?". If the answer is 'no' then the organisation needs to start winding down that operation. Until the fall of the Berlin Wall NATO was definately needed and the answer was yes. Since 1989 the answer to the question has been increasingly obviously 'no', measured by how much the members have been willing to give up to preserve it. Watch Germany - Germany is the canary in the coal mine. Germany is the closest traditional NATO member to the Bear - and Germany is the least-willing to sacrifice anything to preserve NATO. There is your answer - say No to NATO. What is needed is for a generation of politicians to see the situation with fresh eyes, which is the primary reason why I am supporting Obama for President this year. He is the most likely to do this and he is very sharp and principled. McCain is cold-war generation and will see NATO in that light. HRC is transitional and (I think) completely expedient; I don't see her doing anything not driven by opinion polls. Obama is the best bet to look to the future interests of the US.

Zyme on :

"I ask a more fundamental question. The late Peter Drucker wrote that every organisation needs to ask itself a fundamental question about all of it;s operations each year: "If we had to build this from scratch today - would it make sense to do so?". If the answer is 'no' then the organisation needs to start winding down that operation." Very well said. This question is the bottom line of every alliance, it reveals its current state - and your answer is also correct.

Don S on :

Yes. NATO is in a curious situation. If an extraterrestial were to analyze NATO given no more information than that one member was spending 3.7% of GDP to defense and another nation only 1.3% of it's GDP, and asked which country was spending the higher figure and which the lower, I think 'ET' would reply that it is obvious that the US is expending 1.3% and Germany 3.7%! The US has no strategic threats worth mentioning - and Germany does. Potentially at least. To it's trade partners if not to German national territory - although the threat is more real than people understand I think. Some significant part of the US 3.7% is effectively neutralizing the threat from Russia to Europe - and has done so for two generations. Both Europe and the US have lost sight of that fact, Europe more than the US I think. For Europe this is now considered part of it's 'birthright', I think. Not something which has to be paid for in any way. I don't think people in the US would agree, and the more obvious Europe makes it that they think this way the less people in the US will agree. A widening fissure.

Zyme on :

Don - the people here don´t think Russia is peaceful just because they havn´t witnessed war in more than half a century. A major war in Europe has become equally unimaginable among all european peoples, including the Russians. At the times when Europe was full of wars, this was totally different. Today, in times of democracy, you can only start wars when there is a significant hatred and distrust among your populations - and this does not exist. Now you may say that you don´t consider Russia to have a democracy any more. Well even if Russia one day decided to take action, it would have to dramatically increase its own spending for the military to overhaul its outdated hardware. And then take a look here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_military_expenditures So Russia is expected to spend around 40 billion $ in 2007. Combined EU spends around 304 billion - TODAY, in times of peace and harmony. Nothing would contribute more to the creation of a common european defense force than a foreign threat. Russia starting offensive steps towards Europe would be quite surprising for us in the first moment - and then they would have to face an enourmous opponent. In other words, it would be like waking a sleeping lion. And should the Treaty of Lisbon be enacted they wouldn`t even have to wake it. Then all EU members are bound to a common military policy and have to defend each other the way only Nato-alliance was supposed to be yet. Do you really think the Russians would ever get the idea of a fight with such a perspective - not neglecting the fact that roughly half their foreign trade (import as well as export) is conducted with the EU? Oh and btw, currently there are 142 million Russians remaining on this planet. Sure they will advance quickly over 500 million west-europeans. I bet their fifth column is already waiting to sabotage our air bases :D Don, really - this is ridiculous.

Don S on :

Umm, yes. Citing the totals begs the question of effectiveness. Italy spends about 33 billion euros and Russia spends 40 billion - that means the Italian military is 80% as effective as Russia's, no? Not (say) 10% or 20%. Ummm, right. And Europeans call US Yank's 'materialists'! I think it's realistic to judge the Russian military as about equivalent as those of Germany, France, Italy, and Spain combined, perhaps better because of the tradit6ion and the experience factor. More and sometimes better equipment and a MUCH better idea how to use the equipment! Remember the early days of the Russian campaign in WWII. Russia had a considerable material advantage both in quality and quantity over Germany, so who was threatening whose capital in December 1941? Hint: It wasn't Berlin. Just to posiit a hypothetical situation: Suppose the US were to withdraw the Security guarantee (and really mean it) and Russia were to take the opportunity to grab for it's traditional prize - the Dardanelles. Going through whomever they need to to get that. Who in the remaining NATO states could effectively respond to that (apart from Turkey itself)? France, perhaps. The UK - if it wished to. But Turkey is a long way from London - almost as far as Afghanistan is from Berlin. So say the Brits opt out - "too involved in Afghanistan, old man"! Who stops them, tell me? Italy, Germany, Spain? Don't make me laugh! Greece? Ummm, right. Greece would be providing covert aid but not to the Turks. France? Is France going to take Russia on nearly alone? I don't think so, France simply doesn't have the mass. Neither does the UK for that matter, not practically. France AND the UK - possible. You depend upon the US (and the UK) for all kinds of capabilities - and you routinely abuse us for being wretched militarists. And you do your best not to help - not even to maintain the capability to help - to do so would be 'immoral', and the actions of 'war criminals'.

franchie on :

UK and France were already once on Turkey's side against Russia : Crimea war ; but that was during the Ottoman Empire. Seems that countries that have coasts on international waters are more concerned by international conflicts, especially if one country wants to control a pass that is obviously very busy with ships, so are the Dardanelles. [url=http://mars.wnec.edu/~grempel/courses/russia/lectures/19crimeanwar.html]Crimea war[/url]

Zyme on :

You almost sound like those believing that islamists are about to implement sharia in Europe. With the russian fleet rotting in its harbours, its nuclear propulsions being recovered with EU financing, they sure must be at our throat sometime soon. I am speechless.

Don S on :

Such scorn, Zyme. My point is not the imminence of a Russian attack against against a NATO member but to to remind people that one of the lessons of history is that what appears to be a stable state - isn't. In 1970 everyone thought the Russians were a superpower in every sense of the word, fully capable of conquering Western Germany and imposing their own 'Pax USSR' without massive intervention by the US military on the side of West Germany. Today the conventional wisdom is the opposite - Russia is weak as water and will remain so forever. What I'm saying is that the conventional wisdom tends to be wrong in the long term. In the span of 15 years Germany between 1930 and 1945 Germany went from weak as water to unconquerable to crushed. The inflection points of history can be much sharper than we realize, and the more complacent we are the more likely those sharp points are to rip us open. Europe strikes me as complacent as it has ever been in the current age. That is dangerous; things may not be as you complacently assume. Many things....

Zyme on :

I was somewhat outraged at your former response, yes. Sometimes my anger gets the better of me :D. So I hope you didn`t feel offended. Oki now I understood your point about "conventional wisdom". From a russian perspective I consider partnership with Europe the only option though - due to the enourmous trade relations and the perspective of melting Europe together by posing a threat. In a way Russia would be for Europe then what France used to be for the Unification of Germany in 1871. I don´t think they desire this. Our societies are made for trade - lack of energy ressources on the onde side and lack of money on the other. Also there are too many cooperations in space and research that potential foes would conduct. Why should both sides become shareholders of each other´s military aircraft manufacturers and develop new models together? Why should the Russians transport german espionage satellites to orbit? These points do hint at something though - probably more about changing german-american relations than russian feelings.

Don S on :

Trade relations - a compelling argument to be sure. Except for one awkward fact - the genesis of WWI. In 1914 the volume of world trade was comparable to that today. Trade between Germany and the UK, Germany and France, Germany and the Russian Empire - very high, at least as high (on a comparable basis) as today. I personally find the 'balance of forces' argument you previously cited as more convincing than the 'volumn of trade' argument made here. It's not completely convincing either - but stronger.

Zyme on :

Oki but in 1914 there still was the deep hatred and mistrust I spoke about above. This surely helped in the creation of offensive alliances, created provocations and countermeasures - a vicious circle so to speak. And like I pointed out, none of the opposing countries in WW1 would have gotten the idea of researching technology with each other. They all insisted on keeping an independent chain of development - to be ready for war and able to surprise foes. Both decisive elements for WW1 have gone.

Don S on :

Again I'm not sure about that, Zyme. Obviously the pre-WWI 'deep mistrust' between France and Germany is 99% gone - but there was not a lot of 'deep mistrust' between Kaiserine Germany and Imperial Russia, I think. They had been allies up until about 1890 I believe. Germany had not fought a war with Russia since Crimea, and that was actually Prussia. Today I'd have to say that there is conclusive evidence of 'deep mistrust' on the part of Putinesque Russia. Mostly aimed at the US to be sure, but the events since 1985 all appear as one vast conspiracy from the POV of many Russians - including the most powerful Russians I think. From their POV they have 'lost' territory to NATO - the entire former Eastern Bloc, the Baltic states, Ukraine, and much more. From Putin's POV it probably makes the French loss of Alsace and Lorraine appear a bagatelle by comparison! Lets not forget that the scenario we're discussing is that a disillusioned/disinterested US has withdrawn from NATO and no longer stands in Russia's way. That will not make them friendly to the US - not for a long time. But they are not going to fight the US in the Bering Sea in order to reconquer their national territories in Europe, are they? No, they may pursue a strategy not dissimular to the one Germany pursued in the 1930's - regaining the territories one at a time. Would Germany/France/Italy/Spain fight for the Ukraine or Georgia? No - it will be Neville Chamberlain all over again. 'Peace in Our Day'. It may never happen. Russia may never recover to the point where it feels able to take the gamble. Putin won't do it - he is more of a Ludendorf or Hindenberg figure than The Little Corporal. But I think he'd very much like to - as would his successors.

franchie on :

"Would Germany/France/Italy/Spain fight for the Ukraine or Georgia? No - it will be Neville Chamberlain all over again. 'Peace in Our Day" why should we ? they were/aren't in our sphere influence ; only if the Dardanelles are controlled by an awful Ivan again

Don S on :

Perhaps not, and perhaps quite rightly also, franchie. But will Germany/France/Italy/Spain fight for Poland or the Baltic countries? Hungary? Slovakia, Czech Republic? The question here is where is the 'fighting line'?

franchie on :

likely not, they dream of your "Marshall plan", not of ours ; though money has no colors (and no smells), they also appreciate our money subventions

Zyme on :

The Eastern Europeans would be well advised to rely on the EU and integrate into its structure voluntarily. It is after all the main reason they can count on France and Germany as allies. We all know how much sympathy there is from Moscow to the buffer states. Without the EU the same wind might start to blow from Berlin. It is thus in their vital interest to support further EU integration.

SC on :

Don, I wonder if your take on NATO is a wee-bit tainted by cold war calculus too, or at least some of the received wisdom. Pointing to the political aspects to understand continued US support for NATO certainly is the way to look at it. It always has been. While European material and political support has been and will always be greatly appreciated, I suspect that lack of opposition – very broadly speaking - when needed, makes NATO, or arrangements like it, a good investment in the eyes of many. Joerg, over the course of many posts has made the too obvious point that the US has been a beneficiary of NATO as much Western European nations. Too obvious because it often comes on the heels of some assertion, direct or indirect, of US generosity in guaranteeing Western European freedoms and independence in the face of a Soviet threat to both – a threat, in the present form of Russia, much less reduced to be sure. Its obviousness obscures, the greater benefit clear to those of an earlier generation: NATO has served to protect the US from Europe – not just Eastern Europe. Doubt that? Take a look at the 20th century through the eyes of those who lived most of it and those most responsible for the NATO and similar organizations around the world. These were mostly politicians and generals much closer to the 19th century than the 21st, inheritors of that 165 year old tradition of isolationism, I noted earlier. My reference to isolationism was not a throwaway line. Isolationism was dominant because it was well-reasoned and very appropriate for cultural and, most importantly, for security reasons: In a world dominated by greater powers, neutrality and isolation made a smaller target of the country. And so it held, even through the great crisis of the Civil War when European countries came within a hair of intervening. But the first half of the 20th century saw all the nightmares envisioned by earlier generations come to pass despite the lack of foreign entanglements. The old isolationists didn’t just sulk away to various caves and die. If there was one thing shared by almost all the American political and military leadership after 1945, it was this: Europe, in particular, and to the extent possible, the rest of the world, would not be left to its own devices. So it has held, and so it will continue to hold, whether it is McCain, Clinton, or even Obama as President. Strip away all the obvious expressions of generosity and “good will toward mankind” apparent in various actions undertaken by Americans worldwide and you’ll be left with what has always been there for anyone who cared to look hard enough: a hard-headed distrust of much and probably most of the world: not xenophobia, "merely" a lack of faith and trust. And those who think that the end of NATO will see the US any less active politically and, yes, militarily on the Continent than in previous years, are fooling themselves to think so. So, when I read Zyme and others apparently from the Continent asserting in various forms that the new generations will get things right and there will be no catastrophes like war or anything else for that matter – this time – and don’t you worry, thank you very much – it brings a smile to my face: no doubt they’re first to ever assert such a thing. Surely they realize that a millennium of history would provide ample fodder for skeptics much harder headed - and hearted - than me, I muse.

Don S on :

SC, sorry for the delay in replying to this. First a 'chip-shot' about your phrasing. Tainted? That's a rather nasty word - be careful, your air of detachment may be slipping! ;) 'Influenced', maybe even 'overly influenced' I could buy. But 'tainted'? I'm neither suffering from food poisoning nor gangrene at the present moment! The rest of your argument is an interesting one, but I don't think I can do it justice in the context of this topic. I think it gets into the questions of 'first intentions' about the basis of the NATO alliance and how these appear to be evolving in different directions in different parts of the alliance. One thing which has become very clear to me is that the US is not the only country with just grievances about NATO in it's current state; the central European countries have a much different POV, the newest members have a still different POV, and even Russia has valid questions about how NATO is evolving - they see it as a threat even though the intention is not to be threatening to Russia, I think. But I think this belongs on another topic. I am thinking of submitting a 'first intentions' or 'purposes of NATO' guest post sometime. Or perhaps you may wish to begin this?

SC on :

Glad to read that parts of you aren’t dropping off, Don! My apologies for a less than delicate implication. And, I do try hard to maintain my airs. :) You’ve made excellent points about the changing nature of NATO and similar organizations, as well as the apparent clash of expectations of the US and others for these organizations. I have a suspicion, as already noted, that in-kind appreciation for “services rendered”, while welcome, may be less important to the US than many might think. It’s just possible there are deeper currents at work, ones that have been flowing since the earliest days of the Republic. For example, there’s whole notion of isolationism and the US. This concept and the US have had a most curious linkage: Switzerland we’ve never been – ever. You’ll find few, south of our border – or north for that matter - to disagree! And yet, there it is: a movement recognizable over time - if not very well defined. To keep this brief – and I’ll defer to you to expand or explore if you like, probably like you, I’ve rather full plate at the moment – the notion of isolationism in US history up until the 1941 for me appears as a signifier of a fault line separating those who’ve advocated for expansionist policies domestic and foreign, often driven by idealistic impulses, together with the expanded national government necessary to carry off those visions and those, often equal in their idealism, who’ve opposed it: Jefferson vs. Hamilton; Monroe vs. Jackson; T.R and Wilson vs. Cleveland; Truman vs. Taft. Pick any era and you’ll find these competing views playing out in foreign policy as well as domestic policy. The argument was always fiercely fought over whether large national governments were a threat to liberty or a guarantee of its protection. You need look no further to than to the curious fact that before 1941 national armies mobilized by the US for war were largely disbanded after their use. Nevertheless, you would be hard-pressed to find any, at any time, who placed much faith or trust in the good will, much less in the protection of other nations for the safety and well-being o f the Republic. But the one thing common to all sides in all eras was a striving for the day when America would _fully_ command her own destiny. And that’s with the leaders. What do you think the view has been with the less than “cosmopolitan” over all this time? I can recall the views expressed by some from grandparent’s generation born in the first decade of the20th century and of hearing of those expressed by their parents and grandparents. That puts in _my_ ears the words of people who lived in the 19th century. I can tell you that I’ve heard echoes of their sentiments among some of my contemporaries in the less cosmopolitan regions of my little corner of the heartland – and not just among those creatures of Continental nightmares but among some who’ve traveled a bit: Fort Leonard Wood is just down the road apiece. All this and more was the milieu surrounding the Americans who worked to create NATO and all the postwar institutions now familiar. Above all, crushed in the wake of unrestricted submarine warfare, the Zimmerman telegram, Black Tom, the Great Depression, Pearl Harbor, to name just a few, was assertion that safety was guaranteed by a national government smaller than anything we would now recognize, no standing army, and an indifference to the machinations of other nations. There’s little doubt in my mind that the hardheaded American architects of the postwar world were determined to deny others, beginning with Europe, the ability to create a catastrophe by intent or stupidity with existential implications for the US. Structures like NATO give the US a seat at the table of governance and voice in the governing councils. Washington, no matter the administration, is unlikely to just walk away from any of this as long as it is politically useful; all other accounting aside.

SC on :

Whoa! Sometimes ideas are just in the air! You should take a look at this article I just found by Robert Kagan, http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/Spring-2008/full-neocon.html. Embedded in it area some of the same points I made in my post above, in particular note how he describes the aims of FDR, Truman and Acheson, etc. His quotes of my home state Senator (from the 50's, of course) Robert Taft are not to be missed.

franchie on :

a few years ago I read that Ms Merkel had talk of an EU army, that is precisely what also wants Sarko ; I remember a meeting with the brit Blair and Chirac in Dinard (don't remember the exact year) who also agreed, at least, for a cooperation in specific technologies and interventions ; Germans and Frenchs are already cooperating as far as police, renseignements, and a few expeditions in Africa, don't forget they also cooperate (also Italy) in former Yougoslavia, Lebanon and Afghanistan ; they alternate thedirection of the different forces ; Spain, Portugal, despite their latin America involvement are cooperating as far as police is concerned, renseignements, hunting illegal immigration... They all are members of the Airbus consortium, Space industry, Eads... The smaller states seem a bit more "cold" on EU goals ; may-be, for them, EU is more an opportunity to make businesses than a global will for identic policies and defenses ; they still look towards their big "son" at the western diving sun ; in any case, if Nato structures change into an EU formation, these smaller countries will still desagree with the EU bigger states, cause they'll can't be a "real" voice that counts for the decisions. In 2009, the Nato summit will be the decisive summit : we'll definitly know who should be in there, who pays what, who share what.... what are Nato goals.

Zyme on :

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Union_Battlegroups#Contributions From this page you can see all the nations that will take part in the EU-Battlegroups. Only two member states don´t take part yet - Malta and Denmark. Norway and Turkey on the other hand do, while not being EU members. Aside from this there is also one interesting conclusion one can see behind the words in that list: The german tendency to hide future engagements behind a "european disguise" (probably due to historical antagonism around the world). While France, Italy, Spain, Sweden and the UK will provide each an own battlegroup additionally to participating in others, Berlin only wants to act in cooperation with others. "The smaller states seem a bit more "cold" on EU goals ; may-be, for them, EU is more an opportunity to make businesses than a global will for identic policies and defenses" Of course they are often cold to this development - when entering the Union, they had not expected to lose so much political control over the economy, let alone the military! Sometimes I get the impression that they entered the Union with a naive faith in the altruism of the old members - that they expected us to pay for them without any equivalent. Some smaller countries are in the process of realizing a possible miscalculation on their side - but it is a bit late now.

franchie on :

wwe do have cpmmun projects with the Brits : [url]http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_generic.jsp?channel=dti&id=news/dtCAR0207.xml[/url]

Joe Noory on :

The French are soliciting a French carrier. It seems the only kind of defense posture they find acceptable is the another pan-euro subsidy boondoggle.

John in Michigan, USA on :

Álvaro, "Actually, capability is the key missing piece of the puzzle." Agreed! "a fully integrated EDF, something which - sadly - meets veto after veto west of the Channel" But can you really blame them for the vetos? Absent a credible commitment [i]east[/i] of the Channel to build a real military capability, an integrated EDF would simply mean placing the cherished British armed services at the disposal of the EU, while the the rest of (Western) Europe's armed services continue their present role as (for the most part) employment and patronage programs. Why on earth would any country do that? The British would have to be offered something pretty compelling, its hard to imagine what. Perhaps a permanent veto over EU foreign policy? Possibly if British doctrine and technology (in addition to their generals and admirals!) were adapted as the EDF standard, the windfall to British prestige and arms manufacturing would be enough to make the deal work. But, I doubt that France and Germany could swallow that. Even if they did, the EDF would miss out on the synergy of culling the best-of-breed systems and practices from all across Europe. (EDF = the new EUFOR, correct?)

Álvaro Degives-Más on :

I'm not sure I see any reason to assign "blame" for the British vetoes; they're just what they are. The Western European Union is one such intriguing cases. The defense-to-GDP ratio argument is popular in Westminster, I know. But that argument doesn't speak to what otherwise would be inexplicable vetoes, such as to the WEU. Because the WEU had stepping stones in spending in sight. Yet it was adamantly axed down, under especially vehement British insistence that NATO should never have a parallel. No, those vetoes have in my opinion a more strategic background; the desire to keep the "special relationship" with the US alive, with the UK acting as the pivotal hinge, which necessarily implies knocking European aspirations down wherever those might somehow threaten to create parallel, hence rivaling structures next to NATO (and where the UK might very well hold a less pivotal, "special relationship" trump card). But that doesn't mean there's no way out of that stalemate: that's why I suggest to triangulate the British Exception out of the equation, and move on to greener pastures. One inspiring example of where some pushing can bear fruit with the British even reconsidering / reversing, is the birth of dual-use Galileo. Few things feed my optimism about a future EDF more than the sight of those going up, over the next years.

Álvaro Degives-Más on :

Sorry - I hadn't replied to your question... I use EDF ("European Defense Force") as a term referring to a [i]future[/i] military body. By comparison, EUFOR is more of an ad hoc mission type organization; [url=http://www.eurocorps.org]EUROCORPS[/url] comes a lot closer as a much more permanent structure.

Nanne on :

Good answer. Europe has no real foreign policy anywhere. The countries still follow their own.

Álvaro Degives-Más on :

I suppose that "real" is a matter of [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CFSP]definition[/url]. In so far as that it has a limited scope, I submit the British Exception (in a more broad, non-rebate related sense) as a major factor. Then there's the issue of the misused referendums in France and the Netherlands, preceded by the Nice Treaty referendum in Ireland. The more clearly the EU is laid out internally, the more strongly it'll stand outwardly.

Nanne on :

The general reaction I get with regard to the EU is that no one understands it. Some of that is overblown (few people really understand their own parliamentary procedures). But we do need to think deep about the architecture of the EU.

franchie on :

I found that in the "void" : [url=http://www.globalfirepower.com/list_mil_exp.asp]the black hole[/url]

Joe Noory on :

Like most statistics compiled for a specific intent, it's rigged up to make numbers look dramatic. How is it that the EU can be proudly called a unified economic and philisophical entity, but be allowed to appear not as one entry in the statistics you reference, but as several? Why isnt it accompanied by per-capita expenditures that would put Lebanon on par with the US?

Don S on :

"British theatre is sustained by plays such as “The Madness of George Dubya”, “Guantánamo Baywatch” and “Stuff Happens”. "Yes, British theater is truly sustained by those plays." Excellent point, Álvaro. I live in London and attend the 'British theatre' once or twice a month, which almost certainly makes me AR's leading authority on the subject. And it's utterly silly to claim that Anti-Dubya plays are anything but the emphermal froth on the wave of British theatre. The true mainstream are the classic drama beginning but not ending with Shakespeare. Most of the profit is probably made by long-running musicals - which are not known for making political statements. I attended 'Fiddler on the Roof' and 'Porgy and Bess' last year, both of which are as political as musicals get. Both are very mild. Occasionally the National Theater runs a play with a contemporary political point - occasionly I attend of the price is right, but have noticed over the years that the dramatic worth of most plays has an inverse relationship with the polemic fervor of the playwrite. Even the most political play I have seen (Miller's 'The Crucible') profited from a degree of subtley and indirection in that the plot was about the Salem witch trials of 1712 while the political point was to decry Senator McCarthy - but with subtley.

joe on :

Good so the "core" of the EU is going to go off and provide for its own protection. Maybe at some point taking on security missions outside the land mass of Europe. I hope this means the unwinding of NATO.

Joe Noory on :

The US is jockeying Russia into a state of inclusion into the western alliance as the 3rd leg of a stool, and tacitly handing the EU-3 the role as the middleman. And the idiots don't want it. They're being handed the biggest force multiplier they've ever gotten at nearly no risk or cost, and they were resisitng it up until now. Now they finally get the jist that they shouldn't anticipate more fear of threats from Russia than Russia is actually dispensing. By backing off on Ukraine and Georgeia thay ere actually giving them a zone that will enourage an empirial realm mentaility as opposed to relating to other powers orbitting within the boundaries of a larger alliance. Idiots. This one exchange could elimiante all the potential antagonism and risk Europe has coming from Russia, and they resisted it.

Pat Patterson on :

Plus there still seems to be a disconnect between those who merely experienced Soviet subversion and those who were actually occupied. Poland is a good example in that to suggest that their fear of Russia is misplaced since the Soviet Union is no more conveniently ignores the centuries of Russian attempts to dominate the Polish plains. To either serve as a corridor to the West and also to block such an invasion route from the West. There are certain geogrphic realities at work in regards to Russian fears and intents that have absolutely nothing to do with that country as a semi-democracy commodity state or its former status as a revolutionary internationalist state. Just as Egypt would like to control invasion routes through that coastal strip known as Gaza, the US and Europe needing to control the shipping lanes around Iceland and the Russians will continue to see their geogrphic need to dominate Poland and thus have a strategic advantage over Germany.

Jill on :

I'm sick of hearing what THEY think. Their stupidity empowers socialism in the USA, and Americans are now craving the blood of anybody who helps socialists in the USA. They should probably worry about what we think of them because it isn't very good.

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