Posted by: Dr Pano Kroko Churchill | September 2, 2014

Casus belli – NATO & Energy Security for Europe

Casus Belli…

The fighting in Ukraine, which Vladimir Putin further escalated this week by sending fresh well armed Russian forces over the border, provides a sombre backdrop to the upcoming NATO summit in Wales.

But in a way it’s good for NATO because it ensures that the meeting on September 4th will not have to spend time agonising over what the 65-year-old alliance is for…

The timing of the NATO meeting, was originally meant to scale down and to coincide with the nearing end of the Alliance’s combat operations in Afghanistan in January 2015.

At that time all forces will leave Afghanistan, but about 14,000 American and NATO troops may remain in the country to “train, advise and assist” Afghan security forces for a while longer. But now the NATO summit’s main task, thanks to Mr Putin, is a return to NATO’s old business: Ensuring Europe’s Border Defences and assuring members [New & Old] that when it pledges to defend its members, it can do so, adequately and winningly.

At first the alliance was hesitant to speak — let alone act — when Russia forcibly annexed Crimea in March of this year 2014. Yet it took a few modest steps to reassure the new members closest to Russia that NATO stood by its obligation under Article 5: an attack on one is an attack on all.

But despite the energetic leadership of the outgoing secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, from Denmark, some members, notably the Germans, the Italians and the Dutch [thinking Gas] were loath to be “provocative” towards the Russians… and they let the whole thing slide in a shameful show of appeasement.

Therefore, fear amongst the Alliance’s members increased for those closest to the beligerent and combative Russia, and subsequently a Polish request for 10,000 troops, including a sizeable American contingent, to be permanently based in that country arrived from Warsaw.

After minimal deliberation, this reasonable request was sadly rejected, because it was deemed to be too close to Russia’s borders, and the appeasers, feared that the “Bear” would get aggravated.

Thankfully, the constant appeasement of Mr Putin’s beligerence is finished. After Russia’s invasion of Eastern Ukraine and the threats of Mr Putin that he can have Kiev in a week’s time — Euro-appeasement is no longer in the cards. Russia’s orchestration of the civil war in east Ukraine and the shooting down of MH17, with 193 Dutch nationals on board, by Russian Ukraine separatists, recklessly armed by the Kremlin, have hardened European opinion and NATO’s resolve to tackle the matter forcefully if need be.

It is clear that the alliance must prepare to deal with an antagonistic and newly combative Russia flexing her well armed and Vodka fortified muscles for a long time to come.

Yet, even now, in the face of aggression, the risk is that NATO will react far too slowly and do too little, to stop the slow erosion of European Sovereignty, across the black earth plains of Ukraine.

The NATO summit is of course likely to back a “readiness action plan” aimed at strengthening deterrence. But that is paper work…

It is a good start but not a good enough effort.

It would be far better if a new high-readiness brigade should be formed, armed, trained, and ready to be deployed within hours. We need heavy weapons and anti aircraft and anti missile shields to be positioned in Poland now. We need these assets in place so that they could be used later by “follow-on” airlifted NATO forces, and we need a new Forward Central Europe Command Centre to be established right away.

Still if all that is adopted, NATO would have send a stronger signal to Russia if it had followed the Polish suggestion and had set up a forward Polish base for 10,000 combat troops there.

Which it still might… if the Europeans exhibit steely resolve, because that is how you stop aggressive bullies. Punch them in the nose decisively. Or at least flex your knuckles within an inch of their snout.

Of course, this would contravene the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act, which was intended to end the mutual suspicions of the cold war and pave the way for partnership between the alliance and Russia. However, given that Mr Putin has never treated NATO as anything but an enemy — this treaty is null and void. So NATO members have no need to feel bound by a document that is not honoured by the other side.

NATO’s European members should show their serious intent in another way, too. Fiscal austerity and a false sense of security have resulted in years of defence-budget cuts, whereas Russia has doubled its military spending (in nominal terms) since 2007. The complacent assumption in European capitals has always been that America would fill any capability gaps. Mr Rasmussen says that Mr Putin’s “wake-up call” has jolted half of NATO’s members into promising not to cut further, but that is not enough. In 2006 all member countries pledged to spend 2% of their GDP on defence. In Europe only Britain, France, Greece and Estonia come even close to this budgetary requirement for NATO members. Now thanks to Mr Putin, Poland is getting there too and others will soon follow.

But today what NATO needs above all is more deployable and better-equipped forces in cooperative footing ready for war. An intra European force too that is willing and able to fight for all of Europe’s borders and we need European leaders knowing Geography and remembering that Kiev and Ukraine are exactly placed in the centre of Europe.

And they should know enough of strategy to recognize that holding the centre is vital enough to sacrifice the stupid gas that Russia supplies to us.

And they should know full well that Europe can easily replace the Russian Gas supply, with Renewable and Sustainable Energy resources almost overnight.

We are in a war footing folks, Get on with it. A war economy does not rely on supplies from the enemy…

Got it?

Energy Security is Energy Independence.

That’s what Europe should do and that’s the bet that will send Mr Putin crawling back under whatever rock he came from.

Yours,
Pano

PS:

In the final analysis our parent’s NATO this is not. Times have changed and the cold war is over.

Everything has changed and everything is all the same again.

Yet for our times, if we want to cherish our Freedom and Peace, we should best wield a long stick and know how to use it well enough to trounce Mr Putin’s head, and give him some better ideas than invading a peaceful neighbour.

And that means we should have our own Energy totally owned.

That should about do it.


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