“Thanks to Poland, the alliance will defend the Baltics”, reports the Economist:
IN A crunch, would NATO stand by its weakest members—the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania? After five years of dithering, the answer now seems to be yes, with a decision in principle by the alliance to develop formal contingency plans to defend them.
Speaking in Prague in April 2009, President Barack Obama publicly demanded that NATO develop plans for all of its members, which put the Baltic case squarely on the alliance’s agenda. But in the months that followed, inattention and disorganisation in his administration brought no visible follow-up.Instead, snubs and missteps, particularly on the missile defence plans, deepened gloom about how seriously America took the safety concerns of its allies in Europe’s ex-communist east. An open letter by security bigwigs from Poland, the Czech Republic, the Baltic states and other countries publicly bemoaned the decline in transatlantic relations.
Now that seems to have changed. Formal approval is still pending and the countries concerned have been urged to keep it under wraps. But sources close to the talks say the deal is done: the Baltic states will get their plans, probably approved by NATO’s military side rather than its political wing. They will be presented as an annex to existing plans regarding Poland, but with an added regional dimension.
A proposal to create Baltic contingency plans has been shot down before, according to Baltic Reports:
General James Craddock, NATO’s supreme commander at the time, asked the alliance for approval of a contingency plan for the Baltics in October 2008. However Germany and France opposed the measure, fearing it would unnecessarily agitate Russia, and the issue as been debated in secret within the alliance since.
It should be interesting to see how this develops. Formal contingencies established or not, my feeling has always been that if any NATO member is attacked, the Alliance will invoke Article V, the mutual defense clause. Article V is the core foundation of the Alliance -- if NATO failed to defend one of it’s members, that would shatter the Alliance. Perhaps this perspective is too idealistic though?
I agree with Kyle with two caveats. This response better been seen as intially an European initiative and that there is not an overall military head of NATO from the US at that time. Unlike Afghanistan and Iraq Europe will not have the luxury of claiming that they have no strategic interest in danger. That is until a Russian fleet can successfully break out into the Atlantic or close the Hellespont.
Kyle, I love you dearly, you are a good guy.
But you are nuts.
Pat is right. To be effective, NATO cannot be seen to be a defacto implement of U.S. policy. But without the U.S., NATO is utterly harmless.
Besides, according to the French, we're really busy occupying Haiti right now, and as you note, they don't want to 'agitate' Russia, so I guess the Baltic states are on their own.
Have fun. Don't forget to write.
One thing it would do is provide a legal framework for stationing troops at the request of the affected country. Providing money and advice on further integration of commands and most importantly make all bases capable of supporting a sudden NATO deployment. Roads, piers, runways, etc.