Thursday, February 25. 2010
Posted by Joerg Wolf in Transatlantic Relations on Thursday, February 25. 2010
Robert Kagan's thesis "Americans are from Mars and Europeans are from Venus" was not based on transatlantic disagreements in the Bush era, but described developments that became already evident during the Clinton administration. The trend continues during the Obama presidency, even though Obama is often described as very "European."
Germany's Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle insists on the removal of America's last remaining nuclear weapons from German territory. At the Munich Security Conference, he called them "a relic of the Cold War. They no longer serve a military purpose." According to Spiegel (in German) he also co-authored with his Norwegian, Dutch, Belgian and Luxembourg counterparts a letter to NATO's Secretary General suggesting that NATO needs to discuss how to come closer to creating a world free of nuclear weapons.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, however, stressed at the NATO Strategic Concept Seminar on Monday that the Alliance needs to "invest in deterrence, nuclear deterrence as well as missile defense" and expressed her concern about the current debate in Europe.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has long described European defense budgets and contributions to NATO as inadequate, without much repercussions in Europe, let alone significant change in policy. On Tuesday his criticism got more intense:
Right now, the alliance faces very serious, long-term, systemic problems. The NATO budgetary crisis is a case in point and a symptom of deeper problems with the way NATO perceives threats, formulates requirements, and prioritizes and allocates resources. (.)NATO's budget limitations do not just reflect a political, but also a "larger cultural trend" in Europe, says Secretary Gates. Professor Andrew J. Bacevich of Boston University agrees with this assessment, but draws a different conclusion. While Gates urges Europe once again to do more for the US led NATO, Bacevich argues in the upcoming issue of Foreign Policy: "Let Europe Be Europe -- Why the United States must withdraw from NATO"
By the dawn of this century, Europeans had long since lost their stomach for battle. The change was not simply political. It was profoundly cultural. The cradle of Western civilization -- and incubator of ambitions that drenched the contemporary age in blood -- had become thoroughly debellicized. (.)What do you make of these statements?
Questions like this have been a recurring theme for the transatlantic partnership for decades. NATO was described as being in crisis even every now and then during the Cold War, and yet the most successful military alliance continues to be more active than ever around the world. Still it is worthwhile to reexamine transatlantic priorities in light of recent developments.
I appreciate your input here and on Atlantic Community - The Open Think Tank on Global Issues, where I published this text first.
(Emphasis in the quotations added. Picture source: U.S. Department of State)
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Pat Patterson - #1 - 2010-02-26 00:38 -
The only part of this argument that seems to have some reality is the demand that the US remove its nuclear weapons from Germany. But even that doesn't make sense because there is no demand to remove the vehicles that can deliver those war heads. In other words we can ship the actual warheads to Britain or even the remorsefule Icelanders and then rearm the missiles if the situation demands it. And, a big and, even with the utter reliance that nuclear powers place on MIRVs, there are thousands fewer nuclear warheads now and which was accomplished bilaterally between the US and Russia without NATO's official involvement and without the EU and Germany. Britain and France were thus freed to tag along because they wanted to reduce the expenses yet still be considered nuclear powers.
Kevin Sampson - #1.1 - 2010-02-26 01:52 -
We have nuclear-capable missiles in Europe? I thought they were all gravity bombs.
Pat Patterson - #1.1.1 - 2010-02-26 05:07 -
Most of the cruise missiles that are still there have tactical nuclear capability. Though I doubt if anyone near when one explodes would notice the difference between tactical and strategic.
Kevin Sampson - #220.127.116.11 - 2010-02-26 05:48 -
Uhh, are you sure about this? The remaining ALCM's are all at Minot with their BUFF's. The Navy never puts to sea without some TLAM's on board, but they can only be launched from shipboard, and are certainly not based in Germany.
Pat Patterson - #18.104.22.168.1 - 2010-02-26 07:03 -
My understanding is that RAF Lakenheath still has cruise missile capability via the advanced Tomahawk which can carry a nuclear warhead. Plus the USN sub base in Scotland have boats capable of both cruise and ICBM launch. And it should be noted that even though warheads have been withdrawn via treaty none of the bases will ever confirm that all the weapons have been removed.
Joerg Wolf - #22.214.171.124.1.1 - 2010-02-26 09:19 -
Why you talking about nuclear "capable" misssile? There are nukes in Germany. US Nukes not Secure in Europe [url]http://atlanticreview.org/archives/1102-US-Nukes-not-Secure-in-Europe.html[/url]
Pat Patterson - #126.96.36.199.1.1.1 - 2010-02-26 11:01 -
I thought I was clear in saying that even if those war heads are removed from Germany there are still nukes in Europe held by the US and not to speak of the French and British. But it seems strictly for internal consumption to demand their removal when its only a matter or miles and that the geographic situation of Germany has not changed a white since 1989.
Kevin Sampson - #188.8.131.52.1.2 - 2010-02-26 14:25 -
Pat Patterson - #184.108.40.206.1.2.1 - 2010-02-26 15:32 -
I was incorrect as the only two USN bases left that have nuclear capability are in Greece and Italy not Scotland. Kevin is right about Lakenheath as it houses British cruise missiles not American. But the missile subs still have there normal complement of missiles.
Kevin Sampson - #2 - 2010-02-26 02:01 -
'Is NATO threatened by diverging priorities of its members? Is the Alliance drifting apart?' Yes and yes, and not a moment too soon. 'Has President Obama already given up on Europe, when he declined the invitation to the EU-US summit?' God, I hope so. 'Should the United States withdraw from NATO, so that Europeans learn to take care of their own security?' Absolutely, YES!
Joerg Wolf - #3 - 2010-02-27 13:03 -
I would appreciate it, if you would add your thoughts over at Atlantic Community as well: [url]http://atlantic-community.org/index.php/articles/view/Is_NATO%27s_Future_Threatened_by_the_Diverging_Priorities_of_its_Members%3F_[/url]
Joerg Wolf - #4 - 2010-03-02 11:55 -
This is is an excellent comment: [url]http://www.atlantic-community.org/index/articles/view/Is_NATO%27s_Future_Threatened_by_the_Diverging_Priorities_of_its_Members%3F_#comment5259[/url]
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