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Thread: NATO Lisbon Summit - general matters and policy

  1. #251

    Commentary - War is Boring

    Penny Wise, Pound Foolish: Trump’s Misguided Views of European Defense Spending

    Richard Sokolsky and Gordon Adams

    March 7, 2017

    The Trump administration has worked itself into a frenzy as to how much (or how little) our NATO allies spend on defense and whether the alliance is, as a result, a “good deal” for the United States. President Donald Trump himself (and former President Barack Obama) have hectored the Europeans about their free-riding—and Trump extravagantly claimed in his February 28 speech before Congress that his efforts were responsible for allied money “pouring in.”

    Even Secretary of Defense James Mattis, widely regarded as a stabilizing and moderating force on Trump’s national security team, warned NATO defense ministers and those gathered at the recent Munich Security Conference that the U.S. security commitment hung in the balance, declaring:

    Americans cannot care more for your children’s future security than you do…If your nations do not want to see America moderate its commitment to this alliance, each of your capitals needs to show support for our common defense.
    American officials from both Republican and Democratic administrations have been gnashing their teeth for years over what some see as insufficient European defense spending. Before he left the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Bob Gates thundered in a speech in Brussels that the alliance faced “a dark and dismal future if allies did not do more on defense.” Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright during Senate hearings on NATO enlargement insisted our allies share NATO’s defense burden more fairly. The alliance guideline that every member should spend at least 2 percent of its GDP on defense has been around since the 1970s. Allies have routinely paid lip service to this pledge and most have not met that target. And now, for the first time, an American president and his secretary of defense have threatened to make the U.S. security commitment to Europe contingent on the Europeans ponying up.

    It is certainly true that the U.S. defense budget far outweighs the budgets in the rest of NATO, by a factor of more than two to one. And it is equally true that the United States spent 3.6% of its GDP on defense in 2016, while only Greece, the United Kingdom, Estonia, and Poland met or exceeded the 2 percent target, according to NATO data. But the one-size-fits-all 2 percent benchmark is a flawed measurement for national defense efforts. While these raw numbers suggest free-riding, they are in fact a side show and far less relevant to alliance cohesion and defense capabilities than the administration has suggested. Here are six reasons why the burden-sharing argument is not nearly as black and white as the White House has portrayed.

    First, and most important, measuring what the allies spend on defense as a share of their economies tells us nothing about the capabilities they are buying. For example, when the bottom fell out of Greece’s GDP , even cuts in defense spending meant that its percentage of GDP stayed above 2 percent. China seems to do pretty well spending only 1.3% of its GDP on defense. This metric only tells us the burden of the defense dollar on the economy. America’s NATO allies spent roughly $260 billion on defense, compared with over $600 billion for the United States. But we should look at the capabilities members of the alliance buy with their defense expenditures, whether they are spending these funds effectively and efficiently, and whether NATO is valuable to the security of its partners.* Less, the same, or more alliance defense spending is not a good bargain for the United States if members are not buying the right capabilities for the defense of Europe and the deterrence of aggression against allied territory.

    The European problem is not only about how much they spend, but also, more importantly, whether they are spending smartly. For example, the personnel investments of some allies are still too large, making technology investments fiscally difficult. And even on the technology side, there continues to be considerable and costly national duplication in European procurement of military equipment. The French buy French tanks, not German. The Germans buy German short-range missiles, not French. The British build their own aircraft carriers, but struggle to do one jointly with France.

    At least until very recently, the European Union has been impervious to calls to rationalize both national military capabilities and defense industries. This could be accomplished through joint force development and greater efforts at specialization and joint research, development and equipment acquisition. (Some uneven progress has been made with respect to missiles and transport aircraft.) If the Europeans streamlined their forces with each other and reduced defense industrial duplication across nations, they could produce the capable forces the alliance needs for the same or even less money regardless of how much they spend or the share of GDP that spending consumes.* At an EU summit late last year, members agreed to put more funds toward joint research and development, but progress here is unpredictable.

    Second, spending comparisons between the United States and its NATO allies are misleading and a matter of apples and oranges. The missions for those forces differ significantly. Regardless of the share of GDP or the absolute level of defense spending, the United States and its European allies do not always define the “burden” the same way. Only some defense missions are commonly shared.* The United States spends as much as it does on defense because U.S. government policy has for years defined its defense missions in global terms: forces that can deploy, sail and fly everywhere, using the world’s only global military logistics, basing infrastructure, transportation, communications, and intelligence. The rest of NATO does not have such ambitions. Naturally, European military needs cost less for a more restrained set of missions.

    Third, NATO has been a hugely valuable asset to the United States, making some American costs unnecessary.* European allies have for the most part done everything Washington has asked them to do over the past two decades, particularly when it comes to expanding the NATO mission outside European territory. Most of them sat out the Iraq War, but they have been with America in Afghanistan even though the costs in blood and treasure were more than they bargained for; they also were out front in the military campaign to overthrow Qaddafi.

    Washington’s European allies have also taken on military and stabilization missions that protect American interests but that the U.S. military does not want to perform.* From 2002 to 2014, the European Union or individual EU members deployed military and civilian assets for numerous peacekeeping, policing, monitoring, and capacity building missions.* These operations took place in Europe, Africa and Asia—from the Balkans, Georgia, Sudan, and the Sahel to the Gaza strip, Indonesia, and the waters of the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean. *The Europeans dedicate more forces than the United States to Balkan peacekeeping—a job American forces would prefer not perform.* If Europe (and especially the French, for example) were not operating in Africa (e.g. Mali), a greater burden would fall on the United States and common Western security could be undermined.

    Fourth, the United States gets real fiscal advantages out of the NATO security architecture. *It saves the United States taxpayer money to base roughly 85,000 military personnel in Europe which might otherwise have to be deployed in the United States. They help to defray a large part of the tab for stationing U.S. forces in Europe – a bill the American taxpayer would otherwise have to pay. In Germany, where many of the largest U.S. bases in Europe are located, the government provides tax waivers and rent-free use of facilities to American forces. Germany also builds roads and other infrastructure to support American installations. And the Germans, along with other allies, make a substantial contribution to the NATO Infrastructure Program, the alliance’s commonly funded military construction that has built critical facilities (e.g. airfields, shelters, common communications, and air defense installations) throughout its territory.

    Fifth, there are major logistical and deployment advantages to the United States having forces in Europe, especially for the missions the military has undertaken over the past 25 years.* It is much quicker to deploy American forces from their European “lilypads” to the Middle East and Southwest Asia than it is to deploy from the United States, whether or not the Europeans join in those missions.

    Sixth, military forces —as America’s European allies have repeatedly reminded successive U.S. administrations —are not the only contribution Europe makes to transatlantic security. As the German Minister of Defense noted recently at the Munich Security Conference, America’s allies make significant non-military contributions to the defense of common interests.* Trump might not like foreign aid.* And he seems to care little about improving governance, education and human rights abroad.* But when other nations fall apart, what happens inside those countries does not stay there.* Our European allies have connected these dots and have a panoply of tools in their kit that the U.S. government has under-resourced for years. Their assistance for improving governance in weak and failed states is comparable to America’s and, in many areas, more effective.

    The debate over burden-sharing is about as old as the alliance itself, as are the exhortations of American officials and security experts for the allies to ramp up their defense spending.* And until recently the boundaries of this debate have not changed since the creation of NATO.* Washington’s bottom-line must be unavoidable: The defense of Europe is a vital American interest because a secure and prosperous Europe — and preventing a hostile power from establishing its hegemony over the continent — are good for America and for the world.

    Increasing European defense budgets to an arbitrary 2 percent share of GDP by all allies is politically unrealistic.* A number of countries have fiscal issues that would be made worse by rapid defense spending growth, others are absorbing a large refugee flow, and there is not a great deal of public or parliamentary support for such an increase.* Even then, in the last few years our NATO allies have begun to improve their forces, and more recently a number have increased their defense spending. Greater efficiencies in equipment procurement and less duplication in force structure, however, could reduce the need for defense spending increases.

    Spending more for the sake of spending more is not the answer — more targeted and smarter spending is. Specific increases in spending will fill serious gaps in allied defense requirements, and allies can acquire these capabilities without increases in defense spending by reordering priorities, investing more wisely and deepening defense cooperation with each other.
    All this said, a green eye shade focus on the amount allies spend on defense — and whether they meet the arbitrary and unrealistic 2 percent guideline — rather than on how the alliance spends money misses the big picture. The real issue is not money; it is capabilities.

    A one-size-fits-all blunt instrument like the GDP goal, that does not and will not work, is an endless hamster wheel approach — rather than produce results, it will just irritate both sides. The transatlantic relationship is already, to use one of President Trump’s favorite words, a “fantastic” deal for America — strategically, militarily and financially. However, the larger issue the Trump administration needs to face is that NATO at its core is not about dollars or GDP shares; rather, it is about trust and solidarity.

    These are the equities the administration is putting at risk by linking America’s continued commitment to European security to allied defense spending, missing the clear advantages of NATO to the United States, and hyperventilating about free-riding.

    Richard Sokolsky recently retired after 37 years in the State Department. From 2005-2015 he was a member of the Secretary of State’s Office of Policy Planning. He is currently a non-resident senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

    Gordon Adams is Professor Emeritus at American University, Distinguished Fellow at the Stimson Center, and co-author of Transforming European Militaries: Coalition Operations and the Technology Gap (Routledge 2006). From 1993-1997 he was the senior White House national security budget official.

  2. #252


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  4. #254
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  5. #255

    IF this stupid VB system would stop adding in stuff from earlier posts I wouldn't have to!

  6. #256
    Supreme Overlord ARH v.4.0's Avatar
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    It's just the software's version of creative input.

    The darkest hour of Humanity is upon us. The world
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    new dark age. Repent your sins, for the apocalypse,
    and the end, is extremely f@#king nigh!

  7. #257

    Report warns that Dutch armed forces are 'seriously neglected'

    By: The Associated Press, March 10, 2017

    THE HAGUE, Netherlands — An influential government advisory council is warning that the Dutch armed forces are "seriously neglected" at a time when threats from Russia and elsewhere are increasing.

    The report published Friday is aimed at influencing defense policy of the next Dutch coalition government, which will be formed after parliamentary elections next Wednesday.

    "While the security situation has seriously deteriorated in recent years as a result of threats from Russia, the Middle East and North Africa, the operational readiness of the armed forces has been further hollowed out" over the past four years, said Joris Voorhoeve, a member of the Advisory Council on International Affairs.

    The report says Dutch defense spending is well below the 2 percent of gross domestic product that NATO urges from its members.

  8. #258

    Secretary General: NATO Adapting to New Security Environment

    (Source: US Department of Defense; issued March 14, 2017)

    An American M1A2 Abrams tank moves into firing position during a live-fire training exercise in Poland. American forces arrived in Poland in January to begin a nine-month "heel-to-toe" rotation to bolster ties with NATO allies. (US Army photo)

    WASHINGTON --- The North Atlantic Treaty Organization has turned a corner and more nations are increasing defense spending, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said yesterday in Brussels.

    Stoltenberg spoke at the rollout of his annual report on the alliance.

    Five nations -- the United States, Estonia, the United Kingdom, Poland and Greece -- have met the NATO goal of spending two percent of gross domestic product on defense, he said. Romania is set to hit that mark this year and Latvia and Lithuania are on track to hit it next year.

    Overall, NATO members have dedicated $10 billion more to defense as they put in place budgets to meet the goal they agreed to at the Warsaw Summit, Stoltenberg said.

    New Security Environment

    NATO is changing and adapting to the new security environment, the secretary general said. Threats from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria must be addressed and Russian actions must be countered, he said.

    "This is what NATO is responding to, but for me it's very hard to compare different threats and challenges," Stoltenberg said. "[ISIS] is a terrorist organization; a brutal organization responsible for terrorist attacks and a brutality we have hardly seen before.

    "Russia is a neighbor, Russia is there to stay and we are striving for a more constructive relationship with Russia and therefore I also welcome the fact that we have been able to reactivate the political dialogue with Russia in 2016 with three meetings of the NATO Russia Council," he said.

    NATO must remain strong in the face of these changing and continuing threats, and the alliance is doing so, the secretary general said.

    Stoltenberg noted specifically alliance commitment to countering Russia in Northeast Europe. "These are the four multinational battlegroups we agreed to deploy -- to Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia and Poland," he said. "They are arriving as I speak. At least 17 different allied countries will contribute troops to these four battlegroups and we are on track to have all four battlegroups in place by June."

    Addressing Cyber Threats

    NATO is also addressing other threats, Stoltenberg said. "Cyberattacks are a growing threat and NATO is making good progress on cyber defense," he said. In 2016, NATO experts dealt with an average of 500 cyber incidents per month, a 60 percent increase on the previous year. We have recognized cyber as an operational domain, alongside land, sea and air, and allies have committed to improve their national cyber defenses."

    NATO is also helping build stability in areas far from Europe. NATO is still involved in training local forces in Afghanistan with 13,000 service members dedicated to the mission. These forces come from 39 NATO and partner nations. "They are training Afghan forces to help secure their country and deny safe haven to international terrorists," Stoltenberg said. "We have also started training Iraqi forces. Because training local forces is one of the best tools we have."

    Supporting the Counter-ISIS Coalition

    The alliance has sent training teams to Egypt, Jordan, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia. NATO airborne early warning and control aircraft are supporting the global coalition against ISIS, including providing support to NATO member Turkey. Turkey, the secretary general said, is on the front line of the fight against ISIS, and the alliance will continue to augment Turkey's air defenses.

    The alliance is strengthening forces in the Mediterranean Sea and is working closely with Persian Gulf nations, the secretary general said. One important change is establishing an intelligence division at NATO headquarters to more easily collect and share information among allies and partners.

    "These are all essential steps, but we need to do more," Stoltenberg said. "To expand our efforts to make our neighborhood more stable and I expect that to be an important focus when NATO leaders meet here in Brussels in May."

    The secretary general also stressed the discussions the alliance has had with the European Union -- to which many of the NATO nations belong.

    "We agreed on 42 different measures to improve cooperation, including on countering hybrid threats, cyber defense and maritime security," he said.


  9. #259

    A New Kind of War Demands New Defensive Alliances

    By Toomas Hendrik Ilves
    Former President of Estonia

    Mindaugas Kulbis/AP

    The former president of Estonia proposes a collective-security organization based not on geography but on a shared dedication to democracy.

    There is no need to wage a kinetic war or even to use debilitating cyber attacks on critical infrastructure if you can sway an election to elect a candidate or a party friendly to your interests, or to defeat one you don’t like. So what do we call Russia’s actions against a broad swath of the liberal democracies of the West?

    The U.S. intelligence services say Moscow was behind the email breaches of the Democratic National Committee and John Podesta. The Dutch are so worried about electoral disruption that they are going back to paper ballots. German intelligence agencies*have been uncharacteristically blunt, saying that the hacking group APT 28, run by Russian military intelligence, has hacked into the Bundestag and the servers of some political parties.

    British officials have said they believe Russia had a hand in the Brexit referendum; I have been told the same by Italians about the referendum called by Prime Minister Renzi on government reform last December. And just five weeks ago, the French media reported that France’s Directorate-General for External Security believes a disinformation campaign coordinated by the Kremlin threatens to undermine the country’s upcoming presidential election.

    As I will tell U.S. lawmakers today, all of this seems to have one goal: to weaken the NATO alliance, to weaken the European Union and European cohesion. Against a united NATO or EU, Russia is dwarfed. Against a divided Europe of individual states, or a defunct NATO, Russia dwarfs in population and in military might even the largest of countries across the Atlantic.

    We are facing something that is clearly a policy. It is a policy of the Russian Federation to use military intelligence units to run hacking groups such as APT28 or APT29. The first one is also known as “Fancy Bear,” the other “Cozy Bear.” Both are GRU hacking units whose footprint has been found across the globe.

    If we return to Clausewitz’s definition of war as the continuation of policy by other means, then what we are seeing is clearly the continuation of policy by other means. And then we must think not just about critical infrastructure attacks as war, but attacks on democratic elections in the same light.

    The conundrum that Europe will face in the coming year is whether or not to use illiberal methods to safeguard the liberal democratic state under external attack. Social media is responding, albeit slowly. Facebook has announced a system to flag fake news; Twitter and Google are looking at the issue. This may not be enough.

    In Germany, a country that for obvious historical reasons is far more attuned than most to the dangers of demagogy, populism, and extremist nationalism, lawmakers have already proposed measures against fake news. Yesterday, 14 March, the Minister of Justice introduced a bill that would fine social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook up to 50 million Euros ($53 million) if they do not quickly take down illegal content. This includes hate speech or defamatory fake news as well anti-Semitic material. Other Europeans may follow suit.

    Democracies stand on several key pillars: Free and fair elections, human rights, the rule of law and a free untrammeled media.

    Until 2016, an open media was seen as a resilient democratic pillar that supported the others. Yet, because of hacks, doxing and fake news, we can already imagine the problem all democratic societies will face in future elections: how to limit lies when they threaten democracy? How to keep parliaments and parties free of hacking? How to respond when mainstream parties or politicians are hacked and embarrassing e-mails is published by Wikileaks in the effort to influence the election, while parties and politicians friendly to Russia are not hacked or doxed?

    But we in the West have asymmetrical advantages as well. Adversaries want to vacation here; park their laundered money in safe, rule-of-law countries; buy real estate that an authoritarian leader cannot confiscate. We can investigate money laundering, especially in the countries favored by the adversaries, and take appropriate action. We can make it hard for the children of the regime to study in the West or to live here on stolen riches.

    Security cooperation evolves to meet shared threats. In the past, these tended to be organized by geography, due the the physical nature and contraints of kinetic threats. We need a new form of defense organization, based not on geography but on a shared and true dedication to democracy.

    In different contexts, both McCain and Madeleine Albright have proposed a community or league of democracies. Neither proposal went far at the time. But the threats then were minor. Could such an organization help face this new threat? Five years ago, on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, I proposed that we consider a cyber defense and security pact for the genuine democracies of the world. After all, Australia, Japan, and Chile, all rated as free democracies by Freedom House, are just as vulnerable as NATO allies such as the United States, Germany or my own country.

    It will take much hard work to create such a pact, but those who would undermine our democracies are already hard at work.

  10. #260

    March 20 2017 - 7:01AM

    Germany hits back at Donald Trump over NATO funding claims

    Melissa Eddy

    Berlin:*A strong relationship with the United States is a bedrock of German foreign policy, so when Chancellor Angela Merkel met President Donald Trump on Friday, German journalists and analysts scrutinised their body language and the tone of their remarks for clues about how they might work together.

    "Not warm, but not distant," wrote the left-leaning newspaper Sueddeutsche Zeitung in its online edition Saturday.

    In an awkward exchange, the US president appears to snub the German Chancellor's request for a handshake during a photo op.

    "It could have been a lot worse," Germany's mass-circulation daily, Bild, wrote of the relationship that is the cornerstone of the NATO alliance and vital to global security.

    The initial reaction from Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, emphasised the positives. Seibert welcomed Trump's support of efforts to resolve the crisis in Ukraine and the president's confirmation of the importance of NATO.

    Seibert also reaffirmed Germany's commitment to contribute 2 per cent of its gross domestic product to the alliance by 2024, as pledged during last year's NATO summit meeting.

    But that did not seem to be enough for Trump, who insisted on Twitter early Saturday that Germany owed the alliance "vast sums of money".

    "Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel," he wrote. "Nevertheless, Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO & the United States must be paid more for the powerful, and very expensive, defense it provides to Germany!"

    According to figures released by the alliance, Germany contributed 1.2 per cent of its gross domestic product in 2016, compared with 3.6 for the United States, but as security experts have pointed out, contributions to the alliance do not automatically translate into more money being sent to Washington.

    The style of making one point and swiftly changing direction reminded some foreign policy experts of the way Trump acted on the campaign trail, when his position on certain issues could veer wildly from one day to the next.

    "Once again, we've seen Dr*Jekyll and Mr*Hyde," said Sylke Tempel, the editor-in-chief of Internationale Politik, published by the German Council on Foreign Relations, remarking on the approach that Trump took during the leaders' joint news conference on Friday.

    "He was Mr*Jekyll while reading his statement, saying nice things about economic ties, his commitment to Ukraine, common friendship; all the niceties," Tempel said. "Then, in the question-and-answer session, he's his old self: disparaging the media, criticising the British."

    Although memories of Merkel's warm relationship with former president Barack Obama remain fresh in the minds of many Germans, it took repeated meetings over several years before the chancellor reached that level with Obama. During a joint news conference in Dresden in June 2009, she displayed stiff body language and a chilly formality, months after she had denied Obama permission to speak in front of the Brandenburg Gate during the 2008 presidential campaign.

    In 2006, Obama's predecessor, George W. Bush, sought to win her over with a playful shoulder rub, a move abruptly rebuffed by the pragmatic chancellor. One year later, however, at the summit meeting of the Group of 8 industrialised nations, she coaxed Bush to voice support for her vision of a global plan to combat climate change.

    Yet both of Trump's most recent predecessors followed diplomatic conventions and worked within the institutions established after World War II to foster communication and cooperation among nations.

    Trump's "America First" approach and his disparagement of global trade agreements have caused uncertainty among German politicians and industry leaders. Asked by a German journalist about this approach, the president insisted that while he was not against trade, the United States had been treated unfairly in global trade agreements. "But I am not an isolationist," he said.

    Less than 24 hours later, however, Trump's government refused to back a pledge to fully oppose trade protectionism at a meeting in Baden-Baden, Germany, of the finance ministers of the Group of 20, which comprises industrial and emerging-market countries as well as the European Union. Participants last year had agreed to resist "all forms" of protectionism.

    Germans have been both fascinated and horrified by Trump's willingness to ignore the strictures of diplomacy when dealing with foreign leaders. For example, he has castigated Merkel for allowing refugees to flow into Germany in 2015, and he has called into question post-World War II alliances, including NATO and the European Union. Germans have not been entirely sure what to make of him.

    "One thing we can depend upon, that we saw yesterday: Donald Trump says what he wants," Nikolaus Blome, deputy editor of Bild, wrote in its online edition. "He has predictable political interests. What he doesn't have is a predictable way to pursue them."

    German Defence Minister*questioning the US president's*understanding of NATO finances.

    Ursula von der*Leyen*on Sunday called the criticism "inaccurate," without mentioning the president by name.

    "NATO does not have a debt account," Ms Von der*Leyen*said in a statement released by her ministry.

    In reality, NATO has only a small logistical budget, which relies on funding by all member states. The vast majority of NATO members' total resources are managed domestically.

    Ms Von der Leyen's response to Mr Trump's tweets, made less than 24 hours after a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, echoed other experts, including former US*ambassador to NATO Ivo*Daalder.

    "Trump's comments misrepresent the way NATO functions," Mr Daalder told The Washington Post.

    "The president keeps saying that we need to be paid by the Europeans for the fact that we have troops in Europe or provide defence there, but that's not how it works."

    Ms Von der Leyen also indirectly criticised Mr Trump's plan to reduce funding for UN peacekeeping missions.

    German defence expenditure was not exclusively dedicated to NATO missions, she emphasised, and additional German funding would be used for UN peacekeeping missions.

    "What we want is a fair burden-sharing, and in order to achieve that we need a modern understanding of security," she said.

    The rather unusual rebuke of Mr Trump by a German defence minister indicates growing concerns in Berlin over trans-Atlantic relations.

    Tempel, of the German Council on Foreign Relations, said simply: "If this [meeting] was really about getting a first impression, you got your first impression."

    New York Times, Washington Post

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