Thursday, April 03, 2008

George Bush's last hurrah

It was surprising to discover that the hull of the giant sea-based X band radar, which is so symbolic of US missile defense, was actually built in Vyborg, Russia. What are the Kremlin's attitudes towards its own missile defense against threats from Iran? And consequently how will President Bush's NATO meeting and summit with Putin fare? I look at some of those issues at Pajamas Media.

Although I wrote the article 24 hours ago, the anticipated result of the NATO summit was exactly as the diplomats had foretold. No outright rejection of the Ukraine and Georgia. At the Pajamas Media article, I wrote:

Perhaps because France and Germany are unlikely to categorically block a membership application supported by the US, Britain, Canada and a number of Eastern European members. Joining NATO requires the lengthy completion of a Membership Action Plan (MAP), and it has been predicted that France and Germany will simply insist on studying the matter further rather than rejecting it outright. The Associated Press reports that “NATO diplomats said they expected the summit would produce a compromise stressing that NATO’s door would remain open to Ukraine and Georgia, encouraging them to continue political and military reforms to prepare for joining, but delaying the opening of the formal membership process.” Radio Free Europe had a detailed description of how the Ukraine and Georgia applications might be handled. “Some observers are suggesting that if Ukraine and Georgia fail to receive a MAP this week in Bucharest, they may not have to wait an entire year before their bid is reviewed again. The NATO alliance can technically grant a MAP at any time in the year — and may simply be waiting for outgoing President Putin to step down in May before they make the move.”

And this is almost exactly what happened. The Times Online reported that consideration of the MAP has been pushed down the road. And now we'll have to wait to see whether the second prediction in the Pajamas article, US-Russian cooperation on missile defense, will come to pass.

Stalled by Germany and France, in particular - although Gordon Brown did not fully back the American plan either - President Bush did succeed in including robust language in the summit's communique which included a pledge that Ukraine and Georgia would become members of the alliance at some time in the future.




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24 Comments:

Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

There are some tiny details in the news (Thanks, Wretchard) that give some encouragement that Europe is not entirely ready to capitulate.

Gates of Vienna has a post reporting a growing protest against the Treaty of Lisbon, which is an "end-run around" the requirement that would otherwise apply to the imposition of the European Union Constitution on Austria.

I've been wondering how the folks in the U.K. feel about Gordon Brown's back-door betrayal.

4/03/2008 08:46:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

You can always count on the chief Euro-weenies to kowtow to the bully de jour. I have reservations about the usefulness of NATO itself but, for goodness sake, if we're going to stick with NATO then let's do everything we can to promote liberty by speeding the inclusion of Ukraine and Georgia.

Putin will get over it.

4/03/2008 08:51:00 AM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

Putin will get over it. And my guess is that Ukraine and Georgia will enter the MAP, just not in a manner that is humiliating to Russia. Putin gets the public acknowledgment of importance. But as predicted, the membership application was deferred.

With regards missile defense, my guess is that Russia wants in. For legacy political reasons most nations will presume they want out. But they all want in.

The US has built the technological infrastructure to handle the targeting. The coverage and number of interceptors have now become a variable. It's like GPS in that way. Once the targeting and sensor system is up, everyone in the end will hook into it.

Missile defense has this property. While a rogue nation might detonate a few smuggled weapons in the West, they will be denied the ballistic missile option. Which means that any rogue state deployment will be slow, hard to control and incapable of rapid retargeting.

On the other hand the superpowers (including Russia) will retain the option to use WMDs by the thousand in extremis. This means that even if countries like Pakistan or Saudi Arabia fall into al-Qaeda hands they will ultimately only be able to land wounding blows. But the riposte will be absolutely lethal.

Score one for the Gipper.

4/03/2008 09:08:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Sadly, NATO has demonstrated that it is just a way of getting a free ride on the US defense umbrella.

Certainly, a fixed requirement for entering any military alliance should be a certain minimum level of armed forces and a certain minimum level of defense spending.

None of the current members, other than America, would pass this criteria.

Argentina just declared recently that they think they still own the Falklands. Without Margaret Thatcher, the Brits don't have the guts or the military power to do more than recall their ambassador an issue a Strongly Worded Memo.

Mugabe lost the election in Zimbabwe, but nobody knows if he will step down or just declare victory and shoot everyone who disagrees.

4/03/2008 09:13:00 AM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

From Nile Gardiner in the Weekly Standard:
Germany and France combined have around 4,700 troops serving as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), but they are based away from the main battlefields in the south and rarely see combat. German forces, like those of many European countries, are protected by a series of "caveats" aimed at keeping them out of harm's way, and are reportedly banned by their political chiefs from traveling more than two hours away from a major medical facility or from flying at night.

Sarkozy has indicated that Paris may offer an extra 1,000 troops for the Afghan mission at the Bucharest summit, but it is unlikely they would be sent to the war zone and probably would not make a significant difference to the war effort. In addition, the French president's demand that this offer be linked to U.S. and British support for an independent EU defense identity within NATO is likely to be rejected, killing the deal. There is also the not insignificant matter of strong French public and parliamentary opposition to sending more troops abroad, which could bar Sarkozy from even enacting his offer.

http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/014/932bkxzu.asp

4/03/2008 12:18:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I think the two newbies should pledge to end at least ten more soldiers than France and Germany have in Afghanistan within one month of their application being approved. AND specify that they won't be working behind the lines as cooks.

Forget tweaking Putin (although that will be fun, too). I want to see France and Germany squirm when they're spotlighted as being cowardly, cheap lightweights.

4/03/2008 02:05:00 PM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

I believe that the Ukrainians and Georgians have had troops in Iraq, and maybe also in Afghanistan, since close to the beginning.

Eastern Europe is a memory hole in the West. These folks have been fighting Islam a very, very long time.

4/03/2008 02:32:00 PM  
Blogger ricpic said...

What purpose does NATO have, other than to tie the U.S. down in Europe? Enlighten me, please.

Doesn't expanding NATO to Russia's borders guarantee a perenially agitated Russia? This is not a defense of Russia. But does it really make sense to stick a finger in its eye?

4/03/2008 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Circa 1992, at the Pentagon I participated in a meeting on the subject of how the U.S. and the new Federal Republic of Russia could cooperate on missile defense. And by “cooperate” this meant not only Russian acquiescence in the concept but active participation in the effort, contributing not only possibly technology but also providing sensor information. In other words, Russian radars and telemetry sites would contribute to the data SDI would use.

It was a remarkable time. The Communist Party had been outlawed in Russia. USAF C-5’s flew loads of relief supplies into Russian airfields. Not much later than that Bear bombers and B-52’s made goodwill trips to bases that would have been among their targets had the balloon ever gone up. The Moscow Police ordered Ford Crown Vics and Bell helicopters. A friend of mine from the Smithsonian went to Poland and was shown a field covered with Migs, “Any one you want, pick it out for $5000 American.” Poland and the rest of the Warsaw Pact wanted F-16’s.

But the Russians expected too much. They seemed to think that we would sweep into their country and lift it up, just like we did in Germany and Japan. They did not seem to understand that the people in those countries did most of the lifting themselves – or that what we did was largely to prevent them from falling into Soviet hands.

Bill Clinton’s pointless military adventurism was the final blow to that new attitude – sad – and ironic given his peacenik background. Probably was inevitable anyway. George W. Bush’s determination may well turn things around, at least to a degree.

4/03/2008 04:18:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

They seemed to think that we would sweep into their country and lift it up, just like we did in Germany and Japan.

Russians have also never been able to wrap their minds around the concept of private ownership. The times Americans (and others) HAVE swept into Russia, thrown money at a problem and turn it around into a success, then the government immediately steps in and takes ownership back, leaving outside investors turning slowly in a very poor wind.

They even do it to themselves, so that there are many Russian ex-millionaires in jail with Putin's government having taken their businesses away from them.

I have no sympathy left for Russia. Let them starve and freeze and drink themselves to death. They would rather allow themselves to be exploded by terrorists than to work with us in killing terrorists, so nuts to them. There is no reason to be afraid of them, and no reason to ask them to be allies or even friends.

Just let them twist slowly in their own Arctic winds guzzling vodka, which is what they've essentially been doing any way since they beheaded their Tsar.

4/03/2008 04:36:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Wretchard said,
"On the other hand the superpowers (including Russia) will retain the option to use WMDs by the thousand in extremis. "
---
Does anyone really believe this would be the case for the USA after 8 years of Obama with a Democrat Congress?

4/03/2008 05:35:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Photo ushering in the New Millennium of Whirreled Peas:
Hanoi Jane, Slim Picken's Style,
Astride the Last US Nuke,
as President Obama gives the order for technicians to begin the dismantling process.

4/03/2008 05:46:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Great Minds:
Slim shared VDH's hometown:
"Pickens was born Louis Burton Lindley, Jr. in Kingsburg, California. "

4/03/2008 05:52:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Nahncee: I really thought it summed things up very well, when in 1992, a Russian official said “The world owes Russia a debt for proving that communism does not work.”

Okay, so you promote a philosophy that says “Some of what you have is ours. From each to his ability and to each according to his need. And, oh boy, do you have ability and do we have needs.”

And when that doesn’t work you say “Some of what you have should be ours – because we believed in from each according to his ability and to each according to his needs – and that did not work, so we really got needs, now, big time.”

Communism died but the attitudes it engendered - and that engendered it – have not.

4/03/2008 06:28:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

4/03/2008 07:28:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

Thank you, RWE, for articulating the problem I've been mulling over for years, which is William Jefferson Clinton's decision to help the Serbs in the disintegration of Yugoslavia.

Your succinct post suggests a second look back at Clinton's justification for sending U.S. forces into harm's way might be useful in this election cycle. Especially considering that The Dowager Empress Hillary has based her campaign on her claim that she has already served 8 years as the Co-President, fully engaged in all significant decisions domestic and international.

My impression is that both sides in the conflict had terrorist groups slaughtering their opponents, and I've never been aware of the process or information Clinton used in deciding which side to support and which to attack.

On reflection, it is interesting that we sided with the Islamic community, which as far as Russia has to view things, places us inevitably on the side of all the restive Islamic communities and former Soviet republics. Russia is acutely sensitive to the separatist yearnings seething among its former dependencies, and may have much reason to feel betrayed or at least undermined by other nations who encourage or aid Islamic separatist factions.

Like Chechnya.

CHECHENS --- let's remember --- are the folks with whom Russia has been engaged for a decade and more in a vicious war. They want an independent Islamic state. Russia wants them to remain a part of The Federal Russian Republic.

Chechen Muslim women wearing explosive vests destroyed several Russian domestic airliners in the 1990's. Chechen Muslims made up the group of terrorists that took hostage a theater filled with Muscovites, many of whom died in the attempted rescue. And it was Chechen terrorists that were responsible for the deaths of 334 schoolchildren, their parents, and teachers in Beslan.

Is it even remotely possible that Clinton chose to support the Islamic community mainly to curry favor with the wider international Muslim population?

Even if it was not for such an incredibly stupid calculation, it sure seems like a vast blunder, by any measure.

4/03/2008 08:42:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

(Private to Doug)

Is this going to be on the FINAL?

Seriously, are you steering me toward the entirety of Wretchard's Post AND all the comments, or just some section of it?

I have sorta skimmed all that already, but evidently you think I need to review something with a little more attention...

4/03/2008 08:56:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Sorry,
I just realized I put it on the WRONG THREAD!

It is
"Is Barack Obama the Messiah?"
...and the next post
----
On THIS Thread

(This time I'll check the link myself, to avoid further shame and humiliation.)

4/04/2008 01:51:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

...after your sterling review of the Rolling Stone Piece, I was hoping for more 1st Rate Entertainment.

4/04/2008 01:52:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Mad Fiddler: It’s a lot worse than that. If you look at what was happening and why related to Bosnia and Kosovo and how we handled it the picture is such an outrage that if anyone put all it down in another anti-Clinton book the results would be violent.

To sum it up: For Bosnia, Bill Clinton was looking for both a war to fight (WWII nostalgia was all the rage in the 90’s) and a promise he could keep (he having failed to keep all the other campaign pledges within 30 days of entering office).

For Kosovo, Hillary was looking for photo ops and a way to exercise her power. And then Monica cropped up and Bill said “If I go help Kosovo then will you start talking to me again?” (this was documented in a book that was actually favorable to the Clintons).

The result: The Seinfeld War – the War About Nothing.

4/04/2008 06:21:00 AM  
Blogger Tony said...

RWE, thanks for your POV:

a field covered with Migs, “Any one you want, pick it out for $5000 American.”

I just saw the Star Wars Tour at the Franklin Institute.
Luke’s LandSpeeder - -- ----
was like a Mig, in the shape of a cool 'vette.

Hmmmm, a Mig for $5K or an AK for $50, so hard to pick. OK - can I put the Mig on my Amex?

Could somebody give me a quick walkthrough on the controls and dials and all?

4/04/2008 07:36:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Clinton overthrew Serbia (of the Former Yugoslavia) with air war including hundreds of Cruise missiles, our strategic B-2 stealth bombers, and every other asset in the air arsenal.

This was during those golden years of "peace and prosperity" - the '90's, the Auld Lang Syne Clinton Years.

Clinton called in the B-2 Bombers on Serbia ----

4/04/2008 08:33:00 PM  
Blogger Zenster said...

Wretchard: While a rogue nation might detonate a few smuggled weapons in the West, they will be denied the ballistic missile option.

Although quite realistic, this simply is not good enough. There is absolutely no justifiable reason why the West should leave itself vulnerable to terrorist nuclear attacks. With modern orbital reconnaissance plus seismic and other monitoring technologies, it is fairly easy to detect when a country is attempting to develop nuclear technology.

Iran is the posterboy for this entire concept. Until further notice, ALL Muslim majority nations should be denied access to nuclear technology, be it through military intervention or economic boycott. If there is some way of securely determining lack of dual-use technology for those who wish to generate electrical power (e.g., thorium reactors), that is well and fine. All uranium and plutonium technology must be verboten.

Personally, I could give a rat's patootie about increased greenhouse gas production (a myth) or holding back the advancement of third world countries (tough sugar). So long as these violent loons seek to do us harm, they can all suck 19th century hind tit and like it.

Wretchard: This means that even if countries like Pakistan or Saudi Arabia fall into al-Qaeda hands they will ultimately only be able to land wounding blows. But the riposte will be absolutely lethal.

Again, this presupposes that MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) is functional against death-obsessed Muslim regimes.

Need I mention Ayatollah Khomeini's words at Qom?

We do not worship Iran, we worship Allah. For patriotism is another name for paganism. I say let this land [Iran] burn. I say let this land go up in smoke, provided Islam emerges triumphant in the rest of the world.

All we need are just a few of these suicidal theocratic regimes that are hell-bent on inflicting greivous harm upon the West and we stand to lose—not just major cities full of people—but the troves of artistic, architectural and technological legacy residing therein. Are we to let the Library of Congress, the Louvre and other such priceless repositories of Western culture stand at risk solely because we refuse to quash rogue regimes that are already in desperate need of quashing?

Peter Grynch: an independent EU defense identity within NATO

Isn't that just code language for the plan those retired NATO generals have about commandeering American nuclear devices in Europe and preempting terrorist regimes with them?

ricpic: This is not a defense of Russia. But does it really make sense to stick a finger in its eye?

Yes, it does. As Whiskey_199 has noted about the Mohammed cartoons' usefulness in getting various Muslim entities out in the open and declaring sides, so too would it useful to make Russia drop the charade of peaceful aspiring superpower and expose itself as the rebranded Soviet war machine that is seems to be.

Europe must be made to understand how they face the same Red danger that they always have. Accomplishing this task has historically required rubbing their collective snout in the blindingly obvious. I give you the threat of Islamic colonization—and the EU's vigorous denial of it—as a prime example.

RWE: Okay, so you promote a philosophy that says “Some of what you have is ours. From each to his ability and to each according to his need. And, oh boy, do you have ability and do we have needs.”

Old personals joke:

Communist with knife and fork seeks capitalist with steak and lobster dinner.

Mad Fiddler: Chechen Muslim women wearing explosive vests destroyed several Russian domestic airliners in the 1990's. Chechen Muslims made up the group of terrorists that took hostage a theater filled with Muscovites, many of whom died in the attempted rescue. And it was Chechen terrorists that were responsible for the deaths of 334 schoolchildren, their parents, and teachers in Beslan.

And yet Putin still has no problem with Iran's terrorist regime getting its hands on nuclear weapons. I hope the first Iranian nuke goes off in Moscow as payment for Putin's perfidy. Sadly, the West is a far more likely recipient. All the more reason to cripple Iran's nascent nuclear weapons R&D program and that of any other Muslim country.

4/05/2008 10:18:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

Tony: About 15 miles from where I am sitting there is a Mig-17P on an airfield. It was purchased by a group of college kids who thought it would be neat to have their own jet. Then reality sunk in on what it would require to operate it and they donated to a museum. It is kinda extra cool in that they got not just a stock dayfighter Mig-17 but the radar-equipped version.

At Santa Barbara Airport in the late 80’s there was a guy who bought a Polish Mig-15. It was not one of the Chinese ones that were coming into the country then; he wanted a real Soviet Mig. I was fortunate to arrive there one day, camera in hand, and someone explained to me that they had just tried to start it up and ended up with jet fuel all over the place. So they hosed it down with water and all went to lunch, leaving me alone to crawl all over the jet taking pictures of everything. They had stuck little pieces of tape with the English words for the various controls. I would guess they finally got it flying, some time.

In the late 90’s we got word that there would be a practice Open Skies mission that would come over Patrick AFB. Russians would be on board the aircraft, which was provided by the USAF. We went outside to see if we could watch it fly over and the lady who handled such matters for us asked “Oh, is that it?” and pointed behind me. It was a Mig-17, taking off from our base! There was an airshow that weekend and the Air Force had booked a Mig versus F-86 display. I have often wished that we had gotten that Mig-17 to intercept that WC-135 with those Russians aboard….

4/05/2008 05:16:00 PM  

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