With Partners Like These

There are few things more ironic, or amusing, than watching Hillary Clinton struggle to start and maintain a process vis-à-vis America’s European “allies” in “NATO” that should have been started twenty years ago – when her husband was President.  Due in no small part to both her gender and her leftist Clinton pedigree, she was able rather easily to sucker three fake macho chauvinists – France’s Nicolas Sarkozy, Britain’s David Cameron and Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi, into taking their own bait.  But tough and smart Angela Merkel of Germany has so far been unimpressed with the choice of Libya as red meat.   Europe’s smaller other states, meanwhile, have positioned themselves somewhere between minimal support behind France and Britain, and zero support behind Germany.  These are ALL members of what is theoretically (or euphemistically) a “military alliance”.

Given the realities of American election politics, only a conservative like Nixon could have opened the door to Communist China, and only a leftist like Obama could have goaded the Europeans into stop hiding behind the American military.  It’s just tragic that President Clinton lacked the spine to do it twenty years earlier and thus passed up one of the greatest opportunities in American history – content to coast into the 21st century on strategic thinking done by our parents for an entirely different world in the last century.

As Libya rose on the public consciousness meter during March 2011, the noises predictably rose in Europe for someone to “DO something”.  This has long been a ploy for Europe to get the dumb Americans to go rushing into various and sundry “crises”, with grandiose promises of European support for the effort – that somehow never got delivered. The tactic effectively gets the US to do all the heavy lifting, paying the lion’s share of money and blood, while ensuring the Europeans a seat at the command table – all to give the illusion of equitable burden sharing between the US and Europe under a military “alliance” that itself is an illusion.  Europe has been playing this slick game for the past thirty years – ever since “right-wing” Greatest Generation President Reagan came out of retirement to show the Baby Boomers how to end the stupid “Cold” War.  Much to the horror of the Europeans, Reagan threatened not only to “set off World War III”, but also threatened to upset the status quo whereby the Europeans were able to get the US to meet most of Europe’s defense costs, which significantly increased funds available to devote to Europe’s vote-buying socialist womb.

A military alliance, by definition, is a formal agreement whereby individual nations unite their military forces equitably under a single command in order to better coordinate and confront what all members perceive as a common threat to all from an external military force.  Absence that common external threat, absence the justification for the alliance.  Worse, the absence of a common external military threat increases the probability that each member will act more and more in accordance with its own national interests rather than in the interests of the alliance.  This is the way military alliances have worked since at least the time of ancient Greece.

“NATO” was a military alliance designed specifically to counter the commonly perceived military threat originally posed to western Europe, and by extension, to the United States, by the Warsaw Pact.  When the Soviet Russian-led Warsaw Pact disintegrated in 1990, “NATO” lost its raison d’être.  At that point the self-interests of all countries in Europe changed very dramatically and were no longer perfectly aligned with those of the United States.  The United States, running as usual on mindless auto-pilot, was the last member to recognize such realities.  Those individual national self-interests have drifted further apart ever since.  The alliance should have been retired with honors when its mission was accomplished around 1992, and, if perceived by rational American analysis as necessary, a totally new alliance, specifically tailored for the 21st century, should have been forged with  new members to meet the challenges of a completely different century.

Instead, the US and the Europeans have continued to try to make “NATO” something it was never intended to be and never will be.  Since a military alliance needs a military threat, the idea is to find (or re-create) some reasonably valid justification to keep the thing going.  One sure way to do that is to keep Russia as the imagined bogyman, a struggling economy on the brink of collapse as somehow a credible military threat to the security of much stronger countries in Europe, primarily because the “old Russia” remains in the popular “NATO” memory.  What could possibly be more perverse after finally ending the 45-year “Cold” War than trying to re-establish it by a different name so our children could repeat the same stupidity?  Yet that has been the “strategy” ever since.  Russia meanwhile has struggled to maintain its own national interests and not be suckered into the petty politics of Europe unless offered no other choice.  But Russia has been effectively undercutting the European ploy by gradually making Europe ever more dependent on Russian oil and gas, thereby reducing the degree to which the Europeans are willing to paint Russia as the requisite bogyman.  All of this, of course, presents an existential “problem” for “NATO”.

Some of George Washington’s wisest advice to his fellow citizens prior to his stepping off stage 200 years earlier was to warn about the dangers of permanent alliances, especially with the incessantly bickering Europeans:  “Why, by interweaving our destiny with that of any part of Europe, entangle our peace and prosperity in the toils of European ambition, rivalship, interest, humor or caprice?   It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances …, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. … I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense.  But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them. Taking care always to keep ourselves by suitable establishments on a respectable defensive posture, we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.”  Not only are permanent alliances that exist beyond their “extraordinary emergency” easily subject to all sorts of political manipulation, they also represent paper tigers that usually prove non-existent when a new true emergency arises.  There is nothing more dangerous than delusional “strength”.

Today, “NATO” is mostly just another European mega-bureaucracy that does far more talking than acting, while most Americans think it’s still the same powerful military thing it was back in 1985.  Since the Europeans are happy to have the US continue to carry the burden of their defense a full twenty years after that became unnecessary, everyone keeps trying to pound square pegs down round “NATO” holes.  It’s all rather silly, especially for the dumb Americans.  As a military force, “NATO” is pretty much a bureaucracy of competing national political interests, but it’s a very important way that the Europeans keep the United States military on their leash.  Old European politicians often even run for office on campaigns that include this very objective, rarely even couched anymore in the familiar old code words (since few Americans anymore, naively believing that “everyone thinks just like me”, bother to familiarize themselves with what is really happening in the rest of the world, even in political Old Europe.)  The largest multi-national commercial defense contractor in Europe, one of the largest in the world – EADS – now has 28 plants and facilities in the US to make and sell military hardware to the dumb Americans that European taxpayers refuse to buy for themselves.  Never the fools, even the Russian government is a major stockholder in EADS, feeding handsomely at the US taxpayer trough.

Afghanistan

The “War On Terrorism” has proven a far less effective “justification” for “NATO” than does Russia – primarily because militarily it involves quite dangerous and long-lasting actual danger.  “NATO” is configured, equipped, staffed and trained as a predominantly conventional military force (as was appropriate for a huge conventional enemy like the Warsaw Pact); it thus is hardly ideal to face an entirely unconventional enemy such as al Qaeda.  The European Union has both a population and an economy larger that the United States, but the Europeans contribute only about a third of what the US contributes to the effort in Afghanistan, even though the US has also been struggling to accomplish much broader objectives almost alone in Iraq and elsewhere around the globe.  The Europeans have never met their original commitments for Afghanistan, and the forces they did commit were subject to all sorts of caveats on their use – making “NATO” in Afghanistan one of the most inept, complicated and ineffective bureaucracies ever to set foot in a war zone.  Most of the forces that Europe does contribute to Afghanistan do not engage in dangerous missions like actual fighting, but rather in “stabilization” and “monitoring” activities in “secure” rear areas of the country under the guise of “peace-keeping”.  This is what used to be done by that part of the US military that we determined could be fired by the many hundreds of thousands in the 1990-period as “no longer needed” – with the exception that such US soldiers actually worked to accomplish positive results like securing areas and strengthening the indigenous ability to resist external threat.

The Regular US military is now configured almost entirely for very powerful, aggressive, forward-leaning projection of strength to very fast and fluid conventional warfare anywhere on Earth.  The individual European national forces are configured mainly for the minimum strength necessary to protect individual domestic borders in backward-leaning static conventional defense, not so very different from our own National Guard, so the original division of mission in Afghanistan between offense and defense, between the US/UK and Europe, would appear logical.  (European contribution to strategic “NATO” missions consists primarily of some conventional “fighter” planes and a few ships – antiseptic push-button warfare.)  But most European countries, like huge Germany, have consistently refused to meet even the force levels or mission objectives they had previously promised to contribute to Afghanistan, out of fear of incurring actual casualties leading to public opposition.  Yet they still enjoy a seat at the command table.  And they all use the broad “NATO” label to imply that American casualties are European casualties.  (See Footnote #1.)

Then there are all the “qualifiers” placed by individual governments on the configuration, size and employment of its military “forces” in any “NATO” effort.   Imagine the extreme complexity of the job of a US commander trying to execute a coordinated war effort with 25 different sub-forces under his command all of different capabilities, different sizes and equipment, different restrictions, different standards; there comes a point when all of that nonsense is simply counter-productive, when such individual “forces” do little more than provide a political cover for the US to just do it alone and get the job done as well as possible, while dragging around all these really irritating European anchors providing national “machismo” and self-worth to the naïve folks back home.

Playing The Game

All sorts of various duplicitous efforts have been undertaken in order to maintain some semblance of artificially manufactured “Cold War-style east-west tension” on the European continent, including the concept of “self-determination” – a precept wherein “NATO” fully supports people who determine they wish to be independent of their ruling governments, but only if that “self-determination” moves toward Europe, such as in Kosovo, but NOT if that “self-determination” moves toward Russia, such as in the Georgia provinces of South Ossetia (right next to war-torn Chechnya) and Abkhazia.  (“Self-determination” obviously also does not include such people as the Basques or those in Northern Ireland.)  In Georgia a totally incompetent but media-savvy administration was nearly able to trick the US into engaging in a war against Russia in one of the most remote places on the planet, all while pretending that potential Caspian Sea oil transit routes played no part in the game.  Then there was the whole absurdity of a US “European missile shield”, ostensibly (and absurdly) intended to protect Europe from a missile attack from Iran or North Korea, but positioned in such a way as to be only intended to defend against a theoretical missile attack from Russia.  (No one ever answered the question as to why Europe, if it actually needed one, could not install its own missile shield.)

In fact, the primary objective of “NATO” for the past twenty years has been to play on long-outdated “Cold” War fears to push the “NATO” military alliance right up to Moscow’s front door step.  How in the world could ANY rational Russian leader NOT view such persistent efforts on the part of a potent military alliance as both aggressive and offensive?  Any Russian leadership would be entirely negligent if they did not react to such moves with alarm and “push-back”.  After all, how would the US feel if Russia decided to place a “missile shield” in Cuba, Mexico and Canada?  Would the US accept the stated rationale that such emplacements were not intended to be threatening?  Of course not.  So why should Russia believe “NATO”?  The whole “NATO strategy” simply defies logic.

The US spends about 4.5% of its GDP on defense.  The 27 countries of the European Union spend about 1.6% of their combined GDP on defense, with only Great Britain and France rising to half the US commitment at 2.3%.  All European spending on defense, of course, has steadily fallen since the start of the Great Recession in 2008, with Great Britain, Germany and France at the forefront of such defense cost-cutting.  “NATO” consists of 21 of these EU countries, none of which has any separate forces devoted to the EU.  (See Footnote #2.)  To confuse matters even further, some members of the current “NATO” were even formerly members of the opposing Warsaw Pact – which no longer exists.

It has been a very long laborious process to get the Europeans to assume a greater share of their own defense, through one long mind-numbing bureaucrat process after another, paid for, of course, by taxpayers.  The most recent “achievement” has been the creation in 2009 of a “Synchronized Armed Forces Europe” (SAFE) as a bureaucratic first step towards a “European military force” – a full quarter of a century overdue.  A careful observer would easily conclude that “defense” in Europe is just one big never-ending bureaucratic scam, a concerted effort by privileged “elitist” talkers to prolong as long as possible keeping the American military working dog on its tight leash and the US taxpayer picking up the lion’s share of the bill.  It’s long been possible for tens of thousands of US and European “diplomats” and bureaucrats to spend entire luxurious careers accomplishing absolutely nothing but endlessly championing some anachronistic absurdity known as “NATO” or “European defense” – all while invoking a “global strategy” created by the Greatest Generation for a world long gone.

Another main US purpose of “NATO” seems to be to provide an excuse for all the weekend warrior reservists and bureaucrats in the Washington region and around the country to get all expense-paid years-long vacations with their families in Europe in and around “NATO” Headquarters in Brussels.  It’s fascinating that the Obama Administration has had a “committee” working with the Europeans for the past year trying yet again to find some actual purpose for the incredibly expensive “NATO” – for the twentieth year and counting. The US “elitist committee” of “expert” bureaucrats is headed by another woman with zero military experience – a women from a privileged background with Czech roots who regards as her greatest achievement, when she served as US Secretary of State, getting President Clinton to send US ground soldiers into war in the former Yugoslavia when none of the cowards in Europe would do anything for years to stop the genocide in their front yard.  Despite the President’s repeated promises that they would not be there as long as a year, those US soldiers are still in both Bosnia and Kosovo – 16 and 12 years later.  (Since military “solutions” such as war are actually the failure of diplomacy, this woman “diplomat” isn’t perceptive enough to realize that her greatest “achievement” was actually a monumental failure.)

To emphasize her “creds” with Europeans, Albright readily identifies herself much more with Czechoslovakia, where she was born, and Great Britain, where she grew up, than with America, i.e., just another of those talking foreign tails wagging the working American dog.  On Albright’s committee is not one US military professional – which should tell you all you need to know about this phony “military alliance”.  How hard is it to sit and talk about the imperial “we” for years while American soldiers do all the hard parts for decades on the US taxpayer’s dime?  How difficult is it to expect easy answers, short cuts and quick fixes of others, while you just sit there at talk ad nauseam year after year?

The Missed Opportunity

It was due in no small part to Albright and similar militarily-ignorant Eurocentric others in the Clinton and Bush Administrations, much better grounded in long-gone history than in forward-looking genius, that the United States missed a truly great opportunity to shape the direction of the 21st century around a more realistic partnership better capable of addressing the very difficult challenges that now face the United States.  By 1995, Russia was on the ropes, a recent global superpower suddenly now sinking fast under the shock of “defeat” and disarray.  Still, as US military officers quickly learned, there was quite considerable mutual respect among both Russian and American military officers – the Americans careful not to appear in any way “superior”, the Russians eager to learn from the Americans.  It was a good and wide-spread basis for a meaningful beginning, and at most places in Russia where US military officers went they were rather warmly received.

But it soon became apparent that civilian authorities took considerable objection to such military relationships.  The State Department took special exception to former US military officers assuming leadership roles in former Soviet bloc countries, some even filling Minister of Defense roles in their birth countries.  (State and the chattering class have also been very careful to avoid mentioning the key role played in Egypt by the US military for over thirty years by training the Egyptian military according to American standards.  Diplomats talk; soldiers do.)  So, rather than exploit these American-Russian military relationships for greater strategic purpose, the US simply unleashed the Wall Street “masters of the universe” on Russia to teach them the workings of capitalism, while western academia sent academics expert in “democracy”.  Eventually almost all departed, chagrined that their theories did not work so well in a nation that did not understand, leaving behind a huge country that was now a basket case in free fall.  Oligarchs seized on the vacuum to further milk Russia of her riches, while idealistic “democrats” were left expecting and promising miracles that didn’t come, primarily because the people, for centuries used to being taken care of by the state, watched everything, including their meager incomes, vanish before their eyes.  The promises of the west were all lies.

What was missing from all these impatient and impetuous western players was a solid understanding of Russia and Russians, the land of tsars, a people with over a thousand years of very powerful central rule, a people whose whole psyche was wrapped up in very powerful emotions of “Mother Russia”, a place where everything happened on grand scales, a great nation made great by powerful leaders.  Such a people needed considerable time to figure out how to rule themselves, to embrace the level of personal responsibility that comes with participation in a growing capitalistic democracy.  As incomes and birthrates fell through the floor and her riches flooded out the door, Russia became a speeding train heading straight for catastrophe.  Into the breach stepped a former KGB man, with considerable understanding of both Russia and the world beyond Russia, who jumped on the train, pulled the hand brake and held it until the train finally slowed down.  If he had not, Russia would have disintegrated.  In the ensuing years, that man has had to contend with a thousand stupid barbs thrown by western idiots while trying to re-instill enough pride in the Russian people to turn around a rapidly and very dangerous declining economy and birth rate, and regaining control over the only thing that could save Russia economically in the short term – its vast oil and gas resources.

Russia is the largest nation on Earth with the world’s largest concentration of natural resource reserves.  But her birth rate remains precipitously low, much less than half that needed to maintain the status quo, so low that the country is in danger of eventually, in this century, reaching a point when the Russian people are insufficient to defend those resources in the face of a rapidly rising China salivating for them.  Unfortunately, Russia, with unrelenting experience with Muslim militant extremism, coupled with an ingrained fear of diluting “Mother Russia”, remains distrustful of Muslims as potential large scale immigrants. And with an economy still on the ropes, a civil system still rife with corruption, not many others from elsewhere are eager to immigrate, or even to return home to Russia.  So the challenge for Russia remains to find the solutions to her challenges within herself, to do whatever it takes to hold the country together until her people are once again able to stand tall on their own.  It’s a slow process, full of pitfalls.

The United States had an option during the 1990s: to regard Russia in a manner similar to both Germany and Japan after the end of World War II and help her gradually rebuild around democratic principles and pre-disposed toward cooperation with the West within a strong meaningful defense partnership, or to leave the task to impetuous others.  Such an investment in Russia would have paid dividends immensely greater than the mega-bucks wasted in Old Europe.  Rather than walk away from a “NATO”, whose 20th century job was finished, and forge a new alliance-in-the making designed for the next century, the US elected to retain the same old “Cold” War mindset, and allow others, including European politicians, to regard both Russia and the US as ripe for exploitation and subterfuge.

So now we have, finally, the prospect of the US turning the tables on European duplicitousness, by joining initial European alarm over French and Italian business interests in, and popular emotional concern over, Libya (plus fears of rampant northern African refugee floods into Europe), but only under a carefully worded UN mandate that severely limited the mission, and only after the US President had clearly stated limited US objectives there.  While any honest broker cannot fault the larger objective of changing the US-European dynamic, that honest broker can fault the choice of Libya as the requisite leverage point.  Libya always has been a “problem” that could not be “solved” with remote control weapons like planes and missiles, but will eventually require the introduction of large numbers of ground forces for a very extended period to maintain stability and help the people form an effective representative government capable of functioning in the 21st century without posing a threat to neighbors.  The US military does not have those ground soldiers available, so, if they come, they can only come from the Europeans.  If they don’t come, then Libya is destined to remain a “failed and divided” state, a “Somalia-on-the-Med”, for a very long time.  And THAT is a problem that screams for US soldiers.  What price will any of the women behind this game ever pay?  As usual, the hard stuff, the responsibility parts, are for “someone else”.  Anyone can scream orders to idiots from the very safe rear.  “I’m from Missouri; SHOW me.”

Germany

Certainly Europe is not likely to make such a commitment.  We need only look at Europe’s largest economy – the linchpin country that, under Merkel, keeps paying huge penalties for running a responsible economy for the past ten years.  Germany has been the main party bailing out “troubled” EU economies like Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Ireland.   The German government has really hated every excruciating step of the grind to get her to fork over the Big Bucks to bail out, for example, Greek bureaucrats who can retire at age fifty on full wages for life.  The Merkel government has most reluctantly caved at each step, knowing that, if Germany does not ante up, the Euro will collapse, and that will spell the end of the EU.

Unfortunately, Germany’s own economy is now on shaky ground, and it may very well be that the Euro and the EU are not the only major institutions that could fall victim to the Great Recession.  Like Great Britain, the German government under Merkel in 2010 announced major government spending reductions designed to cut an additional 80 billion Euros from its budget over the next four years.  Although not as much as what some believe is necessary, these cuts include (1) significant reductions in unemployment benefits, (2) the elimination of 10,000 “public service” (bureaucrat) jobs, AND (3) cutting as many as 100,000 military spaces from its armed forces.

That last item is rather interesting inasmuch as Germany’s total military strength is less than 150,000, so Merkel is planning on cutting the German military by an astounding two-thirds.  (It’s rather easy to cut military forces, of course, but it takes at the very least a full decade to get a modern force back on a track toward where they were before the cuts.)  Germany has another 100,000 conscripts, but many of those conscripts are actually detailed to menial civil service jobs all over the country (because no one wants to take those jobs even at great wages and even when unemployment is well over 14%).  The reduction in unemployment benefits may force a few more German civilians into those nursing home jobs.  Besides, as long as the stupid Americans are STILL carrying most of Europe’s defense burden, Germany can probably make such massive military cuts without real military consequence.  (Germany’s current military strength:  Army: 90,000, Air Force: 42,000, Navy: 16,000,  Total: 148,000.)

Germany’s standing military professional corps is too small to do anything plausible on its own without conscripts, but the Germans also reduced the time that conscripts serve from nine to six months.  Over the last fifteen years, the size of the force was cut about in half, so that only 17 percent of those eligible are actually drafted, and in recent years many more conscripts chose “civil service” over military service.  Since it takes no less than four months to teach anyone to do anything worthwhile in a modern military force, this means that German conscripts are mostly unskilled warm bodies getting paid for standing around taking up space – available primarily to do rote tasks like janitor jobs in elderly care homes.  In 2009, for example, a total of 158,859 young men were drafted.  Of these, 68,304 (43%) went into “military service”, while pathetically 90,555 (57%) served in “civil service” health care facilities, i.e., they performed menial jobs caring for the institutionalized elderly – certainly not a job you would EVER want women doing.   How incredibly stupid German men can still accept a male-only military draft defies reason; those guys are even dumber than American men (who generally are considered the dumbest guys on planet Earth).  To save money Germany is also planning to shift to an all-volunteer military force.  This essentially means that it will copy the US practice of still requiring all males to register for the draft, but not actually drafting anyone unless a real emergency suddenly arises which the professional military is insufficient to address.

It’s a safe bet that none of those “emergencies” will involve difficult missions outside continental Europe, which probably isn’t all that much of a loss to “NATO” anyway.  German forces sent to Afghanistan under “NATO” are prohibited from exposure to dangerous locations or situations and have accomplished nothing toward their non-combat “reconstruction” missions over the past ten years.  This is very similar to all the US government civilian agencies given similar non-combat “nation-building” missions while hunkered down in their “Little America” fortified bunkers.  (See Comment #3.)  These European forces and civilian agencies haven’t even been able to reduce the flow of Afghan heroin into Europe.  German soldiers actually use Leopold tanks to travel from one bunker complex to another to ensure safe transit.  Almost all German casualties to date have been due to accidents, such as those at firing ranges.  US soldiers depend on engaging enemy fighters in combat to hone their accuracy.  What military force engages in such elemental training after arrival in a war zone?  Yet this is typical of almost all “NATO” member contingents in Afghanistan.  (The UK is an exception.)  The vast majority of “NATO” “casualties” are actually accidents, often even self-inflicted.  The rest are due mostly to tripping home-made bombs – NOT to actual combat operations.  All of this is incredibly pathetic for a “military alliance”.  The US Army can easily put together a company of American women that can easily out-perform the entire German contingent in Afghanistan.

So the “surge” of US soldiers in Afghanistan announced by President Obama in 2010 was actually made necessary by the failure of our “allies”.  They are why the US military, after ten years of their partners’ inability to hold up their end on the mission in Afghanistan, had to start all over again from scratch.  And, of course, now every other “NATO partner” is following the German and British examples of cutting defense, and, once again, leaving the US military out there holding the bag.

The Great Recession then, along with Libya, might just accomplish what the Americans were too dumb to accomplish: finally retire that pathetic anachronism still euphemistically called “NATO”, and force the Europeans to step up and defend themselves under their own arrangement independent of the US, while also forcing the US to forge a new alliance actually designed for THIS century with new and better partners.  The record clearly shows that the persisting notion of Old European “allies” is a stupid delusion.  Any actual partnership with most European countries died with the “Cold” War – twenty years ago.  It’s only the Americans who were too dumb to see it.  American soldiers have paid far more than enough to provide self-proclaimed “elitists” their vicarious power and self-worth through their sickening imperial “we”.  America needs Real Military Allies – not “elitists” OR bureaucrats – for THIS century.  America needs to throw away that useless “NATO” absurdity, and start living in today, and tomorrow.  The first and most important partner the US military needs is the UK.  Next is Russia.  Everyone else can fall in line behind them, if they wish, if they are willing to put enough real equity on the table.

Someone please show our caste “elitists” where they can sign up for basic combat training, where they can actually learn something.

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(See also “The Constitution And The Military”, “Conversation With A Young Lady” andJust What We Need: More Advice From Europeans“, posted separately.)

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Footnote #1.   To illustrate the level of phoniness:  Almost 85% of “coalition” casualties (over 90% of deaths) in Afghanistan are American, but according to “NATO” rules, they are never identified as American by either “NATO” or European news sources, which always use the term “NATO” to identify their affiliation.  This “public relations” ploy purposefully creates an illusion among the continental European public that their military forces are sharing equally in the effort in Afghanistan.  Only in each individual country are the casualties, usually due to accidents, identified as being of the individual country’s military forces, and then with considerable fanfare when they return home.

Footnote #2.  The US, Canada, Norway, Iceland, Turkey, Croatia and Albania are in “NATO”, but not the EU.   Ireland, Sweden, Finland, Austria and Cyprus are in the EU, but not in “NATO”.

Footnote #3.  Those European “NATO” countries will now follow China’s example and send in their business sector scouts hoping to sew up fat mining contracts in Afghanistan under perpetual US military protection.  The US Army, after eight years of no results from all the high-paid US civilian bureaucrats in Afghanistan, dusted off some old Russian military studies, added some old US military studies, and then conducted new military research to quickly determine that the country is a huge bonanza of mineral mining potential, including rare metals – which, if properly managed, will enable the country to eventually stand quite well on its own.  And to think it only took nine years of stupid war to get to the conclusion that was right there for all those bureaucrats from the very beginning.

During the Great Peace Dividend, 1988-94, when the strength of the US military was cut nearly by half, agencies like State and USAID were given significant additional spaces and money in order for them to be able to accomplish any “nation-building” duties that might arise in the future.  Obviously, that strategy has not worked.  And the solution?  These agencies are now asking for MORE spaces and MORE money for such tasks.  Nothing succeeds in government better than failure.

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About invincibleprobity

US Regular Army (ret)..... Career military and professional foreign human intelligence operations officer with half century experience in sociology, psychology, foreign affairs, political-military affairs and geo-politics, plus additional developed interests in culture and history, including civil rights, education and similar human societal forces and influences. .....(That’s enough. The rest would just be irrelevant details looking like the boring index of a history book. I know stuff; any questions, just ask. Or better yet, engage me.)
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One Response to With Partners Like These

  1. The following is part of an exchange that took place in a public trans-Atlantic forum between myself and a Belgian official in early July 2011 on the subject of Libya. At one point, he provided a link to a report on Libya which he had helped to craft. That link is below, contained in his comment, and is worth a look-over because it does contain some rather decent descriptions of the situation on the ground in that country.

    +++++

    The “Four Women’s War” (Clinton, Power, Rice, Albright) is the most stupid non-war in the history of warfare, an emotional girly war, being carried out by grown dumb boys playing video games safely in the basement with no intelligent thought to what comes next. It’s all about blowing things up and killing people from a very safe distance and not seeing the blood, the body parts. It’s all about dehumanizing the murder of humans who can’t retaliate. It’s all about “winning the game”, even by changing the objective at will and sneaky cheating on the side.

    The fact that four months of the game using the most advanced high tech arsenal in history has accomplished nothing worthwhile against a tiny Third World country on a flat desert table top with 1100 miles of exposed sea border should tell you all you need to know about these brave geniuses and the ignorant nitwits pushing them from the rear. They’ve all got so much invested in their stupid game that they simply can not bring themselves to be adults and call it quits, to let the Libyans sort out the mess they’ve created. Admitting that their “thinking” was deeply flawed from the very beginning is the hardest thing for bully boneheads to do, especially those determined not to get their pristinely manicured hands dirty.

    As an American soldier, I am thoroughly ashamed to be associated with this colossal stupidity. And wasn’t it just brilliant that we waited until Qaddafi had given up his nukes before we sucker-punched him? Boy, THAT should teach everyone all they need to know about nuclear disarmament! The “West”, with all its pompous asses bloviating nonsense, can’t do ANYTHING without a lot of US and UK soldiers to sacrifice doing the hard stuff in order to pump of the machismo and self-importance of pansy sideline sitters.

    At least we finally revealed what an embarrassing oxymoron is that silly anachronism still calling itself “NATO” twenty years after its mission was completed – the sole positive outcome of this mess. NOW maybe we can finally put that antique to bed and craft an actually relevant alliance designed for THIS century around NEW partners willing to actually DO something, including Russia and China. When are we going to stop relying on our long-gone grandparents to do all our thinking for us in a world that no longer exists? Can’t ANYONE think ahead?

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    Congratulations, finally some common sense. Please read this report from our fact finding mission: http://www.cf2r.org/images/sto… our “emperors” will not survive the next elections

    ++++++

    Your reference has a decent summary, up to a point, but I would have added an actually knowledgeable US global military perspective, from the ground.

    As to the study’s conclusions about motives, they are entirely sophomoric at best. The US “oil” motive is stupid and very old propaganda not based on any actual understanding of global realities. Ditto for the silly AFRICOM “revenge” notion. On the third point: I suppose there are one or two morons in DC who are wary of the Chinese and need such an “opponent” to justify all those toys; wiser people would seek to JOIN the Chinese for mutual objectives, since they are just following the American playbook of the last century. The US has far more important strategic concerns elsewhere in the Arab world; Libya is of little real consequence, regardless on any Chinese involvement, or oil. The main motive of this adventure in Libya, from an American perspective, is to finally put the continental European members of “NATO” to the test, and provide the excuse needed to cut America (and the UK) loose from that useless anchor on dry land. After a century of fighting Europe’s stupid wars and holding her hand, lugging all that “NATO” dead weight around is becoming too much of a senseless burden, a case of the tail wagging the dog for far too long.

    I wouldn’t even begin to speculate on continental European, especially French, objectives in Libya – except as one more opportunity for the Europeans to sucker the Americans into doing their dirty work for them with American soldiers. Thank God President Obama has not fallen for that old bait and has only committed toys to the boys in the very safe basement. It turns out that the smartest leader on the continent is, once again, Angela Merkel – who grew up in Communist East Germany and knows a slick scam when she sees one. Germany’s before-the-fact assessment of the Libya situation was squarely on the money. The UK is pretty much left swinging in the breeze, unable to cut loose as long as France hangs in there. (A case of two macho guys suckered into a situation by four sideline-sitting women and unable to admit they’ve been had.) Whatever France’s objectives are, the French are welcome to them, but NOT with American soldiers. Libya is in France’s front yard, not America’s. Like General Powell said, “You break it, you own it.” It’s all yours, France.

    This Libya thing is also an incredibly childish effort to jump on the train that had already long left the station – “The Arab Spring” – which began, not in Tunisia, but when all those hundreds of thousands of purple fingers were raised before all those cell phone and al Jazeera cameras after THREE successive free elections – in Iraq. It was further aided by 35 long years of the US military training the Egyptian military according to American standards. This is a people’s movement that will play out on its own over the next ten or fifteen years, as it should, by and for Muslims, IF the nitwit “diplomats” in the US and Europe will just get out of the way and stop screwing things up (like they did within just three months of the Iraq mission). Guys like me are really tired of having to clean up colossal messes created by nitwit desk jockeys in the rear bunkers who have no idea what they’re doing. They ALL belong back in the 1970s. They have in Libya, from the very beginning, taken sides in a civil insurrection that evolved, with their help, into a civil war – a war in which BOTH sides were and are killing people.

    From a strategic perspective, Iraq was always a thousand times more important than Afghanistan. It is not possible to defeat a dedicated unconventional enemy like al Qaeda simply by killing those who show up on the battlefield. Such a childish notion is akin to the little boy on the beach trying to empty the sea into his hole in the sand. The only way to defeat such an enemy is to alter its support base, to make it ever less willing to render support, including new recruits, to the effort – by changing the conditions that led to that support. Arab Muslims long had a very legitimate beef – that the “West” was propping up their dictators. Iraq set that change in motion, through the effort mostly of American Army and Marine soldiers (94% of casualties).

    What “NATO” did to Libya was the same thing the Japanese did to Pearl Harbor – 70 years ago. I guess that Pearl Harbor “operation” didn’t signal the start of an actual war, either, since the Japanese didn’t “put boots on the ground”. Who dreams up this idiotic nonsense, anyway? People who make up their own “history”, their own “rules of war”, people who never ever got anywhere near an actual military uniform, nitwits who think it all boils down to a silly “he said, she said” domestic argument? People are dying out there! And soldiers who are doing their duty in and for Libya are also people, too, with families. “My slaughter is better than your slaughter!” Insanity. People who are able to completely discount the number of Libyan loyalist soldiers they have killed with their high-tech remote-control toys are the same arrogant creeps who regard guys like ME as “inconsequential inanimate widgets without brains”. These are spoiled Baby Boomers who learned all about military stuff by sleeping through those chapters in the high school text books.

    The original subterfuge for Libya was girly emotion over something that “might” happen in a sovereign country with an armed rebellion underway, a country that did NOT represent a threat to anyone else. My best guess on the outcome: A divided nation, full of major problems for many years. Just like Angela Merkel predicted.

    ++++++

    You deserve a decent reply. Unluckily I am travelling today and tomorrow. I will reply tomorrow night. Meanwhile look at: mercurymail.blogspot.com this blog was closed to myself, I started it 1st March 2011, and I cannot post on it anymore nor can I comment on it. You can still read all articles. When that first blog was closed to me I started a new one: mercurymail.livejournal.co… that one is still operative. I suggest the first 2 articles on the first blog with my predictions that Gaddafi would never give up.

    ++++++

    I’ll check it out when I get the time. But my experience is that people these days only want THEIR truth, short and simple, not THE truth, in all its ugly and bothersome human complexity, and are unwilling to take the time to better educate themselves to that end. This, of course, makes them sitting ducks for anyone’s simplistic nonsense. I’ve been DOING this stuff for a very long time, and my study is “on the job training”. What I write is my own work, when I have the time, and I put it out there for whoever wants to look it over. Some do, as long as it’s not too long. (My comments to you above are a little beyond that length limit.) So, if all we do is send each other to someone else’s work, all we do is reinforce our own views, and leave everyone else to move on to other matters. What good is that?

    I, too, have a blog, where I post articles on a wide variety of such topics in good English for young readers (smart high school seniors to college undergraduates). I try to make it as easily understandable as possible for normal people with good inquisitive minds. Not interested in fame or money, I don’t have to advance anyone’s self-serving dogma – which is pretty much de rigueur these days. Besides, I’m just a professional soldier (or, in the view of self-inflated pontificators – a mindless “troop”, the type of “equipment” that doesn’t even register in the death counts for Libya). Who cares what I have to say? Literally EVERYONE is far more important than I am; just read their stuff.

    P.S. The continental Europeans (and US civilian agencies) failed totally in their “nation-building” and “peacekeeping” mission is Afghanistan for a decade while American and British soldiers were dying actually battling the enemy. What makes anyone think the Europeans and the bureaucrats will do any better in Libya?

    +++++++

    My background is in scientific education, followed by the life of an independent businessman. I travelled my whole life and visited more than hundred countries. I lived 7 years in New Orleans, 16 years in Pakistan, 3 years in India, 2 years in Hong Kong, 6 months in Caïro, 4 months In Kenya, 6 months in Accra, Ghana and 2 years in Russia.

    The last 10 years I spent minimum 2 months per year, often 3 months, in Libya. I went to Libya on the 1 st of March 2011 and came back end of May, then went back again in June.

    I do understand your cynicism as a professional soldier and your attitude towards everybody has his own truths. I can only defend the truths I see and I believe in.

    I was one of the members of the independent commission which composed the report of which I sent you the link, I am the Belgian member, and I agree that the report is not perfect. As a consensus it was the best which could be achieved after heated discussions between the different members. Since we wanted the report out as quick as possible I agreed to end the discussions and have it published in the form you have in front of you.

    Where you are wrong is in the assessment of the importance of Libya. For the moment the revenue of the terrorists is nearly exclusively from the Afghan drug trade. Once the Benghazi extremists, belonging to a multitude of extremist groups, lay their hands on the Libyan oil revenue the whole of North Africa becomes extremist. You can then expect a chain reaction in Muslim Africa. Personally I think this is a certainty if the Benghazi crowd wins.

    After that they will use those resources in the whole of the Middle East, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    Before the 3 stooges, Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy, started their little war, Libya had a cash and gold hoard of over 1 trillion dollars of which only a quarter was outside Libya.

    And please don’t excuse Obama because he “only” supplied the toys, the US Air Force is still flying refueling missions and rec. missions. They are still using drones and killing civilians with it.

    Special forces are on the ground, mostly in Misurata.

    I have personally seen Belgian and US cartridges and not only from small weapons, also from heavy MG’s.

    For the water project from Central Africa through the Sahel to Libya alone, Libya had reserved 250 billion dollars. This was to be Gaddafi’s masterpiece, the crown on his humanitarian achievements.

    You imagine that kind of resources in the hands of the extremists?

    You are speaking about the necessary education and you are right, but the uneducated populations of the world today only see the “civilized and educated West” attacking innocent populations with the most modern weapons available, so we have no moral grounds whatsoever to tell those people to educate themselves and copy our “morals”.

    You have no idea how great the anger and the anti-Western hatred is amongst the Libyan population and I cannot blame them.

    Our “education” will have to wait a couple of years before those uneducated people have any desire to listen to us again, if ever.

    When I lived in Pakistan I met personally every Afghan warlord you see or saw in the news today, except for Bin Laden, I never met him.

    In 1981 I wrote a report about the situation according to my own opinion and I officially declared the support for the extremist “mujahedeen” to be utterly crazy and I predicted the future we are living now accurately. That was my truth at that time and it is the general truth today.
    ++++++

    I am impressed with your travels, but I think perhaps that my words were misunderstood. Our views don’t differ nearly as much as you think; they just have different perspectives. I make no value judgment about the “rebels”, or about the “loyalists”. My objection is to those engineering the mess. THAT is what shames me as an American, and as an American soldier.

    My own career has closely paralleled that of the late Richard Holbrook, from the very beginning in Saigon to his end in Kabul, and dozens of really ugly stops along the way, so my own global experience unfortunately considerably surpasses yours. Having spent little time in my own country since the 1960s, I always believed that Holbrook would end his career as Secretary of State, and now find it absolutely incredible that I have out-lived him and that he died instead still mired in Afghanistan. While he handled the cocktails I handled the body bags, but at least Holbrook had some real understanding of what was actually required of the US military to execute what everyone else wanted done. Today with much less than 1% of the huge American population and almost none of her leaders with credible military experience, very few civilians in America (or Europe) today understand that military. Most popular views are still somewhere in the distant past.

    I should point out that I am from a family who started out in America as “Famine Irish”, so my long line of Irish-American men have been fighting injustice and oppressive dictate all over the world since Lincoln was President. I was not formally educated as a soldier, and I am the last of my line. With Holbrook’s death, I realize that I have a lot of stuff I’ve kept to myself for the past half century. I have over the years managed reasonably well to hold my tongue, but now at my age I know I don’t have enough time left to get everything off my chest. I despise anything that takes lightly the lives of other humans, anywhere. I have nothing but contempt for “special” people. I don’t deal in self-serving delusions; I deal solely in harsh realities, from the ground up.

    My heroes have always been men like Bill Donovan and Vernon Walters; today they are joined by General Petraeus and, yes, a 19 year old young American lady named Monica Brown, who as a combat medic with the 82nd Airborne Division (with which you as a Belgian should be familiar), was awarded a Silver Star for saving the lives of several of the toughest infantrymen there are – on the battlefield. I also happen to find it shameful that the United States has lost more than twice as many women over the last ten years of the “War On Terrorism” as any country in continental Europe has lost men, even though American women are still barred from combat jobs. I think most people today would be quite shocked by how many truly smart and knowledgeable and articulate men there are in the US Regular military like General Petraeus. This is not your grandfather’s US professional military, but they still do a very good job of keeping their mouths shut. They do not set national policy, or decide which wars to fight or not to fight.

    I stand by everything I wrote in response to this article posted above, so I won’t repeat those words. This “war” was engineered by four “special” American women in high places, none of whom has any understanding of military matters – Hillary Clinton at State, Samantha Power in White House, Susan Rice at UN, and Madeline Albright at “NATO”. It was then supported in Congress by those seeking cheap advantage to inevitably coming Defense budget cuts. It has subsequently been prosecuted under the direction of Cameron and Sarkozy through a European military commander. The Libyan “operation” is a stupid and cowardly way to accomplish such objectives. If the cause in Libya was just and proper, then there was always an entirely intelligent, honorable and militarily correct manner to proceed – AFTER fully gauging the entire situation on the ground, clearly defining military and political objectives, lining up key capable Libyan people in leadership roles, and agreeing on a full plan of what comes next. Instead girly emotionalism prevailed.

    You may not know, for example, that the US military placed a very large contingent of fully equipped Marines on board ships in the Med in just two days, moved all the way from the US, to be prepared to address contingencies there. There are few things that the US military cannot do, but this fact usually ends up being an excuse for everyone else to do nothing, or to play along with tokenism. This has GOT to change. Continental Europe must start living up to its full responsibilities in the world, and not just talk everything to death, and then come in long after-the-fact and presume to judge. In all the conflicts I have witnessed over the past half century all over the globe I cannot think of one that did not have its roots in imperial European colonial arrogance (including Ireland), and “failure to act” is usually just as despicable as the acts being judged.

    I also happen to be a US intelligence officer, and I can tell you that some of your assessment was and remains incorrect. I won‘t go into any specifics here, but you might try to run down, for example, all those weapons and military hardware that France recently dropped in to the “rebels” – which have not shown up on the battlefield. (Ask Mossad.) Remote-control warfare is just idiotic, and most especially when it involves humans you don’t know, even if you do have a few special ops guys on the ground. So drug money is definitely not the only source of revenue for the Libyan ”rebels”. (Still, cleaning up the Afghan narco-economy was one of the non-combat missions supposedly being handled by the continental Europeans and all those various and sundry civilian agencies handed so many billions of taxpayer dollars for the past ten years. Today that drug business is greater than ever.)

    As opposed to land-locked Afghanistan, which presents truly enormous obstacles to any conventional military force engaging an entirely unconventional enemy, Libya has an open sea coast 1100 miles long and vast expanses of open flat desert. I happen to believe that it is time for Arab Muslims to take the initiative on their own, overthrow their dictators any way they wish, in their own fashion, and build something worthwhile themselves, something they can value as their own – just like American colonists did long ago. But if you’re going to interject yourself in someone else’s fight, Libya was and remains, from a US military perspective, a geographically vulnerable state, regardless of who’s running the show, or who’s fighting whom. If the mission in Libya was really about protecting civilians, remote control “warfare” is not the way to do it. Any intelligent US military operation could have been easily executed and quickly concluded – by ground soldiers – even by a lightly armed “peacekeeping” force placed on the ground between the two factions and backed up by a larger force for contingencies. (Everyone knows that any one American soldier placed anywhere is always backed up by enormous force, that wisely will never be used.) Such small American ground forces have been able to keep the peace in dozens of locations around the world ever since the end of World War II – including in Berlin, which was for a long time my own home base.

    When I speak of “toys”, I am referring to anything nifty that does not involve ground soldiers dealing with actual human beings. This includes those jet “fighters”, drones, missiles and all the surveillance technology now available. ALL of those nifty toys are sensibly intended to support deployed ground forces. Conflict and war takes place on the ground, among actual humans; it does not take place in thin air, or on a computer screen far removed from the fight. (There has been for years a small group of nuts who think that warfare can become an “antiseptic” video game – until some “cyber-terrorist” tries to play the same game against them.) If you’re going to do something involving other people, then do it right – but make absolutely certain you know what you’re doing going in, and exactly how and when you will get out. What we have here is a half-hearted sloppy mess being waged on the fly by “special” people who are afraid THEIR soldiers might get hurt if they do what they should do. (I certainly don’t blame the Brits for not committing ground forces; they and the Americans have borne over 90% of combat casualties since 2002.)

    Let’s face it; everyone in Europe was expecting, and waiting, for President Obama to cave and send in AMERICAN soldiers. Very old story. But this President, so far, has kept his promise to the American people. This time, the American role is strictly in support of European objectives, leadership and command (even though the US is still conducting over half the flight missions and picking up three-fourths of the cost) under “NATO” cover. President Clinton (at Albright’s urging), for example, told the American people three times that American soldiers would not be in the former Yugoslavia as long as one year. A dozen years later, we all saw how THAT went. (And Albright still counts the commitment of American soldiers to yet another European problem as her greatest achievement. Talk about “elitist Eurocentrism”! Thankfully the demographics of the United States are changing rapidly, and soon America will finally be able to turn her full attention to the rest of the planet and leave the Europeans to fix their own problems.) If the Europeans were actually committed to their objectives in Libya, and saw that President Obama meant it when he said “no soldiers”, the onus shifted immediately to the Europeans to do what was militarily necessary. They have not stepped up.

    America has so far lost over 6,100 of her very best young people, and another 45,000 of them have been permanently maimed during this “War On Terrorism”. Over $1.15 Trillion of the People’s Money has been spent on the effort – which benefits Europe just as much as America. To avoid firing bureaucrats, those American soldiers are now being quietly fired by the tens of thousands, in an economy where 20,000,000 others are already looking for jobs. Ten years of American suffering and paying is enough, but American and British ground forces should continue to engage those whackos who present themselves on the battlefield in Afghanistan and elsewhere. But the main fight has been won. It was won in Iraq. Iraqis have now picked up the ball. It will just take some time, up to twenty years, to play out completely in Iraq and across the entire Mid-East. The initiative is shifting to the hands of the Arab Muslim people. They have been denied their just share all their lives. It is their just fight now. It will not be pretty. It will not go the way we perhaps would wish. But hopefully most will follow the example of Egypt, which itself benefitted greatly from 35 years of quiet American military commitment and training – just like the people of Eastern Europe finally benefitted from that same American military commitment. (The great thing in 1989 was that some idiot politicians or diplomats did not try to interject themselves and screw everything up. Thankfully America at that time had its most internationally experienced, knowledgeable and astute President ever in office. I view it as the usual difference between the American Greatest Generation and their super-spoiled Baby Boomer kids.) The “West” will not “win” in the Mid-East, but this handwriting has been on the wall for forty years. Seen any Baby Boomer contingency plans?

    The big question for the Libya mess is which European ground forces go in to hold the country together for the next twenty years after Gaddafi steps down. Message to Europe: “You break it; you own it.”

    Guys like me know how to teach, equip, train and lead average people to win wars – their wars – against far superior conventional domestic forces. We are knowledgeable and honorable men and women, in uniform, fully accountable under law to the American citizens who employ us, and those of us who survive the long haul go away quietly when the tough stuff is finished. It usually takes a long time. But there’s a finite number of them available. I’d like to put together such a unit composed entirely of Europeans with the same talents, bravery and commitment. Do you think that’s possible? Do you think they would be allowed to DO anything?

    P.S. While both have incredible talents, there are some very important differences between the US Army Special Forces (SF) and “special operations” forces (SOF), not the least of which is the reason why they exist, one for long missions with indigenous people, the other for brief missions mostly on their own, each for as difficult missions as they come. And, for the record, the original Americans were “extremists” committing “treason” and “terrorism” against the world’s occupying super power. The same labels were applied to the Irish fighting for their own just place in the world. Sometimes I think humanity is divided into two groups – the self-anointed “special” people on top and the average “extremists” below. It all depends on who is telling the story. I am Irish; I have spent my life among the latter. I know what you are talking about, but I have a different perspective. I will die defending my nation, but I am getting tired of fighting everyone else’s fight.

    +++++++

    I agree, we are basically talking the same language but from different perspectives.
    I know quite a few patriotic conservative Americans like yourself with extensive military careers and all became friends. By the way I hope you are military intelligence and not Langley.
    As far as predictions is concerned, if there is going to be a land invasion in Libya it’s going to be messy and bloody and the Europeans don’t have the capability neither do they have the trained human resources. Result, if the Europeans go in for an invasion the US will have to clean up the mess as usual.
    As far as Europe is concerned, the quicker political Europe blows to pieces the better. Europe is a good economic idea with every country using its own strength and tools, as a political unit it’s a complete failure and an undemocratic technocracy, Soviet Style.
    The U.S. has a socialist tendency today but Europe is already Marxist to the core.
    That’s why it will not survive.

    +++++++

    Please understand that I do not belong to or embrace any political party or dogma. I am just an Irish-American soldier who believes in the things outlined in the American Declaration of Independence, and, as a professional soldier, am sworn ONLY to defend the American Constitution.

    It has now become considerably more difficult, but a “peacekeeping” force, introduced by mutual consent of both Libyan factions under a UN mandate is still possible. But that force should be comprised of European and northern African ground personnel – as “honest broker”. America is exhausted, and the future dangers you suspect in Libya are far greater and more difficult to address elsewhere.

    I harbor no ill will towards Europe or its political integration, which I have always held, as did my World War II dad, as highly desirable. I merely think it’s time for the Europeans to get their act together, resolve their differences, and present a unified front to the world, one that addresses ALL member states equitably under one set of simple principles and rules similar to the federation of 50 semi-independent states that is the United States. The beauty of America is in the simplicity of its key guiding documents – a concept that has stood reasonable well for 222 years despite truly great adversity while welcoming hundreds of millions of people from all walks of life from literally every tiny corner on Earth, including Belgium. It certainly isn’t perfect, and was never intended to be perfect, but, as a considered product of thinking humans rather than bureaucrats, it works.

    I realize that the Euro hasn’t worked out so well in times of great stress, primarily because too many false presumptions were made at the beginning, but I think things there will eventually work out well enough (after, as usual, those who exercised the greatest adult responsibility paying the highest price for their responsibility). Another good start would be an actually credible European military force, independent of America, that actually forces Europeans to work together equitably as one, forces them to subordinate national pride to continental pride, in a true military meritocracy under one military command. Few civilians understand what it is to work together on difficult challenges in a disciplined and professional American-style military environment, or what it can eventually accomplish, and that is unfortunate. And few civilians realize that over 80% of young Americans today can’t qualify for membership in that military. Besides, I think a major hurdle for Europe is her dependence on America that has gone on too long, has become a part of the “expected status quo”. (America needs some internal adjustments of this type, too.)

    And America can do the world a far bigger service if she walked away from “NATO” and formed a new alliance designed for the challenges of THIS century – around a US-UK-Russia core. (I do not exclude a Chinese or Indian participation in that alliance.) Both the European and American alliances could cooperate equitably on mutual interests, if desirable. I can’t envision insurmountable differences arising between Europe and America in this century, so such a separation would not be detrimental to either party. It is far better to work with others on difficult common goals than it is to allow animosities, real or imagined, to fester and frustrate. It’s also pretty difficult for allies to wage war on each other. The American Greatest Generation left some valuable lessons for everyone in both Germany and Japan, lessons we failed to consider with Russia.

    But what do I know? I’m just a soldier. And I have to get back to work. Thanks for your time and your views.

    +++

    Footnote: I opted not to comment on the other party’s observation that, “As far as predictions is concerned, if there is going to be a land invasion in Libya it’s going to be messy and bloody and the Europeans don’t have the capability, neither do they have the trained human resources. Result, if the Europeans go in for an invasion the US will have to clean up the mess as usual.”

    I wonder if any non-military people understand what it was for the US military to drive straight into the very heart of the lion’s den – in Iraq. Extreme hatred, fanaticism and explosive opposition throughout the region was always an absolutely guaranteed consequence of that invasion, a very high number of US ground forces deaths always assured, and a lengthy and extremely difficult stay self-evident. But America did it anyway. It was what had to be done, what was required to start the process, to first remove a universally hated and feared dictator and give the Iraqi people a chance to govern themselves, and thereby telegraph to all Arab Muslims what was possible – once you got rid of the ruthless rulers. The American actiuon takes significant guts, principle and commitment. There is no logical resaon why America is the only country willing to make such sacrifices. If Europe doesn’t have the capability or the trained people, then Europeans should just be ashamed of themselves – especially given the agony and suffering their own rulers brought the world for the 500 years from the 16th to the 20th centuries. Besides, what good is an “ally” that doesn’t have the requisite capability? Was he admiting that the Europeans are just freeloaders?

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