Tag Archives: NATO

Did West Lie To Russia?

Russian leaders have been adamant in their opposition to the extension of NATO eastward into nations that border its territory. President Dimitry Medvedev has accused the West of reneging on promises that no such extension of NATO would ever occur. Russian columnists like former Colonel Viktor Baranez argue that NATO “has pushed its way right up to our national borders with its guns.” In so doing, says Baranez, the West broke promises made during the time of German reunification that no such plans were to be pursued. According to President Medvedev in an interview with Der Spiegel, NATO broke its promises to Russia. “None of the things that we were assured, namely that NATO would not expand endlessly eastwards and our interests would be continuously taken into consideration” were ever carried out.

Research carried out by Der Spiegel the conclusion was “there was no doubt that the West did everything it could to give the Soviets the impression that NATO membership was out of the question for countries like Poland, Hungary or Czechoslovakia.” There still remain disagreements among those who participated in the events of 1990. The US Ambassador to Russia, Jack Matlock says assurances were given while his superior former Secretary of State James Baker insists no commitment was made about not extending eastwards.

We will have to leave it to future historians to sort out what happened. However, there is no doubt, Russia has a right to insist they were not given a clear message concerning eastward movement of NATO

HEADLINES FROM THE WORLD PRESS

Each day we offer a sample of headlines that appeared in the world press along with our comments.

Indonesia, Jakarta Post: ‘New Health Minister Faces Credibility Questions”
There are reports he was sick last week.

China, China Daily: “2nd Child Encouraged In China”
Just stay away from a third one.

Oman, Oman Tribune: “Women Hold Loyalty March”
I doubt if their husbands believe it is for them.

Qatar, Gulf Times: “NATO Backs New Afghan Strategy”
After eight years of failed strategies, I guess it is time for a new one.

Singapore, Straits Times: “China Ignores Tiger Trade”
Whew! At least we Americans can take over the tiger trade!

Canada, Toronto Star: “Protection For Nannies”
From the kids or from dad?

UK, The Independent: “Distracted Pilots Overshoot By 150 Miles”
When big issues like the stopped up toilet have to be dealt with, forget Minneapolis.

Australia, Sydney Morning Herald: “It Really Was A Miracle”
Dick Cheney actually pronounced a coherent sentence.

South Africa, Argus: “”Everyone Involved Is A Loser”
I assume this describes the American people during the past year.

UAE, Khaleej Times: “Clean Up The World”
Heck, every time one cleans up a mess another one comes along.

EU And Russia Clash Over Power

The European Union has angered Russia by organizing meetings with former states in the Soviet Union in order to deal with energy issues. A summit meeting on energy will include Belarus, Ukraine, moldova, Armenia, Georgia and Azerbijan. Russia regards these states as falling within their sphere of influence and is concerned the European Union is attempting to forge not merely economic but military relations with nations that surround the territory of Russia. President Medvedev was also concerned at the presence of about one thousand EU and American troops in Georgia where they are conducting military training operations with the Georgia army.

Isn’t is about time that Russia was invited to become a member of NATO in order to end their fears of attack from outside nations? Placing Russian military commanders in key NATO positions would reduce tension and end the Cold War which, most probably, ceased twenty years ago.

US General Blames Russia For Aggression

American General John Craddock blamed Russia for engaging in aggressive actions which have resulted in creating tensions in the world. He noted the world had been moving toward a position that no nation in Europe should engage in aggressive actions in order to achieve its foreign policy goals but Russia by invading Georgia in August, 2008 had violated this basic premise. “Russia seems determined (to) use Euro-Atlantic security institutions weakened and has shown a readiness to use economic leverage and military force to achieve its aims.” Of course, this is a typical George Bush interpretation of what has been going on. However, the evidence is now overwhelming that Georgia initiated the invasion, not Russia, but no mention is made of this event.

America all too often sees the world through its own lens. Was it an aggressive action to inform Russia that missile bases were being built on its border? Was it an aggressive action to incite Georgia to initiate an invasion of South Ossetia? The United States constantly uses economic sanctions against nations like Cuba or Iran, but according to General Craddock that is not an example of aggressive action. When will Americans begin to see the world through the perspective of other nations?

Another Afghanistan Strategy Session

The war in Afghanistan is fast approaching its eighth anniversary with the situation becoming worse rather than better. Eight years ago, President Bush announced the United States was going to wipe out the Taliban and restore peace and democracy to Afghanistan. Richard Holbrooke, the President’s special envoy to Afghanistan is meeting with NATO officials before briefing the ambassadors from 26 nations which have sent aid or troops to Afghanistan. There are rumors of a possible “new” approach which raises the question as to how many new approaches are necessary before something actually works? Obama has admitted the US and its allies are not winning in Afghanistan and insurgent violence is rising. But, isn’t step one in developing any strategy to clearly define what is meant in Afghanistan by “winning?”

President Obama has dispatched 17,000 troops BEFORE a plan is developed. The question is not whether more troops are needed in Afghanistan, but is there a plan which requires 17,000 more troops or 100,000 more troops? Holbrooke now condemns Bush for failing to send more troops and more resources. Has anyone figured out if the problem is “more?”

Step one is developing a plan of action and dealing with the inept and corrupt Afghan leadership. Step two is implementing the plan. For some reason, Obama is jumping to Step two before Step one.

NATO And Russia Seek To Discuss Issues

Events in Georgia and the ill fated push by former President George Bush to install missile bases in Poland have damaged relations between Russia and Western Europe. However, a NATO spokesperson said yesterday there is now a desire to initiate discussions with Russia in order to restore the semblance of harmonious relations. NATO leaders want Russia to assume a more pro-active stance in dealing with terrorism and assist in the war in Afghanistan as well as serve as an intermediary with Iran. Russia’s ambassador to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, said he expected to shortly be contacted and talks to shortly begin.

There are many shared interests between NATO and Russia. There are millions of Muslims in Russia and its government fears terrorists who would stir up agitation and violence. Russia has no desire for a powerful nuclear armed Muslim Iran on its border and would wok with the West to reduce this possibility.

Perhaps, it is time for NATO to officially invite Russia to become a member and to accept the Russian proposal for a joint anti-missile base on its territory.

US-NATO Promise Aid To Halt Gaza Smuggling

The United States and NATO pledged to assist efforts to prevent the smuggling of arms into Gaza and to halt further rocket attacks from the area into Israel. The Israel government said it was pleased at this assurance and indicated this might lead the way to a cease fire in Gaza and an end to the carnage which has cost the lives of over one thousand Gazans. Secretary of State Condi Rice said the United States would provide technical support in order to monitor the border area in order to prevent smuggling.

Hamas insists it is fighting to open the crossings into Gaza. The death of over 1,000 people might have been avoided if Hamas had pursued other means to attain that goal. Children have died because Israel wants to send a message to Hamas and Hamas wants to send a message to Israel. Perhaps, both might have considered sending a message of life to the children who died.

Bush Links With Georgia And Angers Russia

George Bush approaches foreign policy with a mindset that regards what he as an American believes is right rather than having any consideration for how an action impacts other nations. A week before leaving office, President Bush has signed an agreement with Georgia with deals with issues of defense, military cooperation and furthering “democracy” in an effort to bind that nation to US interests. According to Georgian Foreign Minister Grigoi Vashadze, “this is a stepping stone which will bring Georgia to Euro-Atlantic structures, to membership within NATO, and to return to the family of Western and civilized nations.” One assumes he means that Russia is not part of the civilized world.

Secretary of State Rice said the pace of Georgia’s integration within NATO depends on the desires of the Georgian people. The issue of Georgia being part of NATO is one requiring extensive thought since such action will only antagonize Russia and embitter relations between the European Union and the Medvedev government. There is no need at the present moment for Georgia to be part of NATO. Newly elected president Barack Obama should have the freedom to consider a host of factors before deciding to support Georgia membership in NATO.

Russian War Of Words With NATO

The ongoing issue of allowing Georgia to enter NATO continues plaguing relations between Russia and the West. Dimity Rogozin, Russia’s Ambassador to NATO, expressed his nation’s agreement with the NATO decision to hold off on allowing Georgia to enter at this time. “There is an open split within NATO,” said the Russian, “and it will widen if NATO tries to expand further. The schemes of those who adopted a frozen approach to Russia have been destroyed.” He undoubtedly was referring to French President Sarkozy who opposes Georgia’s entry as well seeks to delay the American plan to construct military bases in Poland.

The solution to the current NATO impasse with Russia is simple. Ask Russia to become a member of NATO and, if missile bases really are needed, take up the Russian offer to have them built in Russia. It is time to end Cold War thinking that Russia is preparing to invade Western Europe. That, is a pipe dream.

Georgia Seeks Compromise

The government of Georgia has used it close relationship with George Bush as the basis of making rash decisions such as the recent incursion into South Ossetia. Bush urged NATO to grant membership to Georgia knowing such action would infuriate Russia, and the Saakashvili government went along with this approach. However, after reflection, the Georgian government is urging NATO to rethink the process of entry into the group. According to Saakashvili, “membership is the goal, how to get there is secondary.” He has finally realized some members of NATO are in no mood, given present economic conditions to get into a conflict with Russia.

It makes sense to hold off on membership for Georgia and allow time to run its course. Perhaps, if Obama can restore decent relations with Russia, issues such as Georgia membership in NATO will not be viewed with such hostility.