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"Proud to be Ineffectual"

Nicolas Sarkozy is so proud of what the EU at the behest and through FRANCE has achieved in Georgia:

At the behest of the French presidency, Europe put itself on the front lines from the outset of hostilities to resolve this conflict -- the third on European soil since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Throughout the first phase of this latest crisis, Europe's commitment was decisive: It was the European Union, through France, that created a space for diplomacy

¡No Pasarán! comments on Super-Sarko: "Proud to be Ineffectual."

German Parliamentarians Criticized for US Trip

The Guardian

A German diplomat has criticised a group of Bundestag MPs over their behaviour on a recent visit to San Francisco, accusing them of using a racial slur and of choosing sightseeing and shopping above meetings with US counterparts. Rolf Schütte, the German consul general in San Francisco, wrote to the foreign ministry in Berlin to express his outrage. His confidential letter, which is furious and frank in tone, has been leaked to the German press and created a public debate about the legitimacy of publicly funded foreign political trips and whether they should be more tightly controlled.

One of several articles in the German press: Die Welt: USA-Dienstreise wird für Politiker zur Blamage

Correction of the Guardian article: Not a member of parliament, but a parliamentary staffer is accused of the racial slur.

German and US Media Coverage of Georgia War is Biased! What a Surprise!

"Georgia crisis sparks Anti-American sentiment in Germany," declares Dialog International:

I know George W. Bush is unpopular in Germany (as he is in the US) but I was unprepared for some of the pro-Putin opinions that have been expressed in the German media and especially in the German blogosphere. There was considerable Schadenfreude on many German fronts that Russia's invasion of Georgian territory was a blow to the foreign policy of the US, and the conflict in Georgia is viewed by some as a proxy war between Russia and the US, with jubilation that Putin has been victorious on all fronts.

Is the German media really supportive of Putin?

Compared to US media that might indeed be the case, because large parts of the US media tend to support poor little Georgia -- one of the first Christian nations, as McCain reminds us -- against the big Russian bear, who ran the communist, evil empire. Okay, the US media is a bit more sophisticated, but many media reports painted a picture of good guys and bad guys:

Continue reading "German and US Media Coverage of Georgia War is Biased! What a Surprise!"

Responding to Resurgent Russia: Should US Troops Go East or Go West?

Wess Mitchell, director of research at The Center for European Policy Analysis, writes that the EU's largest states are more interested in avoiding a rupture with Moscow than in protecting the vital interests of the Union's eastern members. Therefore, the United States should announce its intention to transfer the entire Europe-based American military establishment to new locations in Central Europe. Read his Op-Ed for the Atlantic Community: "How America Should Respond to Resurgent Russia

One familiar commenter suggested:

We are in agreement about the need for the US to redeploy its forces in Europe. We are in disagreement as to the direction. You want them moved eastward and I want them to move west, as in to the United States. The US should withdraw from Europe until such time as the Europeans take their security seriously. They don't and have not for a long time. I am sure the members of the chocolate summit can devise a treaty which will make the Central European nations feel secure.

Here's part of Wess Mitchell's response:

Continue reading "Responding to Resurgent Russia: Should US Troops Go East or Go West?"

United States and Poland Agree on Missile Defense Deal

From the New York Times:
The United States and Poland reached a long-stalled deal on Thursday to place an American missile defense base on Polish territory, in the strongest reaction so far to Russia’s military operation in Georgia.

Russia reacted angrily, saying that the move would worsen relations with the United States that have already been strained severely in the week since Russian troops entered separatist enclaves in Georgia, a close American ally.
I wonder how far Russia-West relations will spiral?  We may continue to see a tit-for-tat exchange that has real consequences on the institutions and defense postures that govern these delicate relations.  From EU Observer:
The US missile deal had an instant impact on already fragile Polish-Russian relations, with Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, cancelling a scheduled trip to Warsaw in September as soon as media reported the initialling ceremony would take place.

"It is this kind of agreement, not the differences between the US and Russia over South Ossetia, which could lead to a real rise in the tension in Russian-American relations," the Russian parliament's foreign affairs committee chairman, Konstantin Kosachev, told Interfax.

The US-Russia deal "cannot go unpunished" Russian general, Anatoly Nogovitsyn, said. "Poland, by deploying [the missiles] is exposing itself to a strike - 100 percent."
See also from Atlantic Review:
* Georgia Conflict Gives Boost to European Missile Defense Talks
*
Euro-Missile Talks Are Back, Leaving "New Europe" Behind

Russian Interests

On the Cato at Liberty blog, Benjamin H. Friedman notes that many commentators fatally misunderstand Russian foreign policy, due to an excessive focus on the intentions of the current government:

Commentators of all stripes seem to assume that Russia’s move into Georgia was driven by its increasingly autocratic nature. [...] It is worth considering whether this is a misperception. A powerful body of political science argues that states’ foreign policy actions are driven mostly by their circumstance and interests, not their regime type or the personality of the leaders. Regime type and personality affect how states interpret their circumstances, but maybe not as much as we tend to think. The United States is not particularly tolerant of seemingly hostile states in its near abroad either, whether they are democracies or not.

Continue reading "Russian Interests"

Germany Saves the United States

The United States has done so much for Germany in the 20th century. I thought we had to be eternally grateful. Nope, not anymore. Germany has saved Americans from themselves. Now we are even. Yeah! ;-) Read what Justin Logan, the associate director of foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute, has to say:

Recall that President Bush made a full-court press to get Georgia (and Ukraine) onto Membership Action Plans at the recent NATO summit in Bucharest. In a heroic move, the Germans spiked the deal, saving us from ourselves. But both Barack Obama and John McCain favor Georgian accession into NATO - and with it, a full-on security commitments as Article V of the NATO charter makes clear.

Let's hope that even more Americans will realize Germany's opposition to NATO membership action plans for Georgia was a "heroic move" rather than appeasement of Russia. Seriously: While I do think that Justin Logan exaggerates quite bit, I agree with his basic point.

Endnote: The CATO blog is pretty cool. Benjamin Friedman, for instance, warns about China Rising by linking to a Defense News report that notes: "China has banned its air force pilots from drinking alcohol at lunchtime." We better watch out. The West's real threats come from the Far East, not from Eastern Europe. Russia + Vodka = Yoga! ;-)

Georgia Conflict Gives Boost to European Missile Defense Talks

A poll by Opinion Research Corporation finds a strong majority of Americans support missile defense, as reported by Market Watch:
A national poll released today revealed that 87 percent of the American Public believes that the United States should have a missile defense system. The public survey showed that 58% of the American Public thinks that there is a real threat from missiles carrying weapons of mass destruction and that missile defense is the preferred option over pre-emptive military action or diplomatic efforts for dealing with the proliferation of missiles and weapons of mass destruction by nation states.
This is an astonishingly high number considering the broad opposition to missile defense in Europe, and the reluctance to embrace it by several leading Democrats, including Barack Obama.

It will be interesting to see if Russia’s intervention into Georgia will increase or decrease European support for US systems.  Initial reports suggest Russia’s actions have provoked a renewed sense of urgency into recently stagnant negotiations between Poland and the United States.  According to the Financial Times:
Talks on building part of a US missile defence shield on Polish soil restarted on Wednesday, with Polish officials sending much more positive signals than recently, in part because of fears awakened by the Russian attack on Georgia.

The fighting between Russia and Georgia appears to have made the benefits of having a permanent US troop presence on Polish soil more apparent to Warsaw. US negotiators are also interested in strengthening security ties with Poland.
Talks stalled over Polish demands that the US beef up Polish domestic defenses, including with expensive Patriot interceptors, in order to place US missile defense systems on Polish territory.  However, Polish political leaders argue that Russia’s intervention against Georgia has provided substance to its demands, as reported by the Associated Press:
Prime Minister Donald Tusk said Tuesday the attacks in Georgia justified Poland's demand for additional security guarantees if it accepts a U.S. installation.

"The increase in international tension that we are dealing with now, but which we had not expected, makes the security guarantees ... an issue even more important than before," [Polish Foreign Minister] Sikorski said.
Russia has strongly opposed US missile defense systems based in Poland and the Czech Republic, which it sees as a security threat.  It is interesting that Russia's incursion into Georgia has emboldened Poland and the United States to push forward with missile defense plans, rather than making them “think twice” before moving ahead with the controversial project.