Tag: NATO (Page 1 of 2)

Trump doesn’t know what he’s talking about on NATO

Trump’s May 30 statement via Twitter on Germany pretty much sums of his ignorance about NATO and military spending:

“We have a MASSIVE trade deficit with Germany, plus they pay FAR LESS than they should on NATO & military. Very bad for U.S. This will change”

Put aside the fact that, while visiting Brussels, he attacked Germany car companies for selling many cars in the U.S., even though many are produced in the U.S., or the fact that trade provides Americans with products at more affordable prices and is generally good for the economy.

Forget that America has a population 4 times that of Germany, and a larger GDP per capita, and thus would be expected to purchase more products from Germany than Germans purchase from the U.S. (Four people with more money can afford more than one person.)

What is notable about this tweet is that Trump doesn’t seem to know how NATO funding works.

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Few Recent Essays by yours truly

A lot changed in one year. Almost a pole switched, and the global order reversed, since September 2015 to Trump’s inauguration. A lot happened in between, questioning out essential assumptions about everything we know.

How did we get here? What changed? What went wrong, and how to explain the change?

From February 2017, I am starting to teach a course called “M11006 Problems in Global Politics” and I will be quite busy. But I took some time off, to write a few long essays about issues around us.

I like to see myself as a chronicler of time; a political realist, equally hated from the right and the left, and that gives me immense pleasure. True neutrality is something to be cherished, and strive for constantly. From the ashes of our civilisation, sometime in distant future, maybe there will remain some iconoclastic viewpoints, a few of them mine hopefully.

In that spirit, here are a few selected long essays from last couple of weeks. 

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Baby pics and appeal to emotions

The photo of Omran Daqneesh, the five year old boy pulled out of rubble in Aleppo in Syria, was on the front page of every newspaper in Europe. The baffled look of a child, who was just bombed by people he never would even know, instantly symbolizing the story of every child who is suffering under this brutal Russian bombardment, in this animalistic Syrian civil war, currently in its fifth year. The last time a photo had a similar effect was when Aylan Kurdi was drowned while fleeing to Europe from Turkey with people smugglers and the reaction this time was also similar. It was similar when the French kid with her baby doll was murdered by a rampaging terrorist truck driver in Nice. The reactions to these photos are always predictable, cries for solidarity, donations to charity and calls to “do something”.

Photographs are intensely powerful medium of message. Devoid of broader context and compartmentalized in a visual frame, it gives power and meaning and substance, and simplifies the most complex situations in a binary of good or bad. It also changes meaning, sometimes imposing one where none exists. Perhaps most importantly, it can portray a strong appeal to the highly emotive limbic system of the brain. It clouds rationality.

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Trump ally Gingrich says maybe U.S. shouldn’t even defend NATO allies that hit military spending target

Former Republican Speaker of the House and shortlist finalist for Donald Trump’s VP selection Newt Gingrich said on CBS News this week that NATO allies “ought to worry about our [U.S.] commitment.”

This came after Trump said he would consider only defending a NATO ally from Russian incursion “if they fulfill their obligations to us.” Trump has often accused American allies of not paying their fair share. In many cases, he has used made-up numbers to make his argument. For example, he said of South Korea, “They don’t pay us.”

In this case, Trump didn’t set out specifics about NATO, but many NATO countries have come under criticism for spending well below the target of 2% of GDP on defense. Only five of the 28 members meet the goal. Those countries are the U.S., Greece, the UK, Estonia and (since 2015) Poland.

Asked specifically about whether the U.S. would defend Estonia, which borders Russia, from an attack, Gingrich said,

“Estonia is in the suburbs of St. Petersburg. The Russians aren’t gonna necessarily come across the border militarily. The Russians are gonna do what they did in Ukraine. I’m not sure I would risk a nuclear war over some place which is the suburbs of St. Petersburg. I think we have to think about what does this stuff mean.”

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Brussels Attacks: 2 posts you need to read, regardless of your political ideology

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Slavoj Zizek: In the Wake of Paris Attacks the Left Must Embrace Its Radical Western Roots (Nov, 2015) – Read the full piece here

”  It is a fact that most of the refugees come from a culture that is incompatible with Western European notions of human rights. Tolerance as a solution (mutual respect of each other’s sensitivities) obviously doesn’t work: fundamentalist Muslims find it impossible to bear our blasphemous images and reckless humor, which we consider a part of our freedoms. Western liberals, likewise, find it impossible to bear many practices of Muslim culture…

Did we already forget that the entire idea of Communist emancipation as envisaged by Marx is a thoroughly “Eurocentric” one?

In a gloomy prophecy made before his death, Col. Muammar Gaddafi said: “Now listen you, people of NATO. You’re bombing a wall, which stood in the way of African migration to Europe and in the way of al Qaeda terrorists. This wall was Libya. You’re breaking it. You’re idiots, and you will burn in Hell for thousands of migrants from Africa.” Was he not stating the obvious? “

CeKikDxWIAAjUFoTom Nichols: Terrorists Kill Because They Hate Themselves For Loving The West (Jan, 2016) – Read the full piece here

” Even if we wanted to surrender completely, there’d be no way to do it. Insofar as their demand is to convert to their religion, we can’t meet that demand because, on any given day, they can’t meet it. If the way European jihadis live day to day is “Islam,” and the terrorists want me to convert to that, then all I can say is that I’ll have to stick to Christianity because I’m too old for that much partying.

These young men are fueled by the most intense kind of hatred there is: self-hatred. There is no accommodation with self-hatred. Would-be jihadis lash out at Western society not because they hate it so much, but because they love it so much. They hate us for who we are, and hate themselves for their addiction to a culture and all of its pleasures—sex, drugs, music—they’ve been told are the basest of sins. Too weak to resist the temptations of life among us, they hope that by destroying the source of the sins that tempt them, they will find redemption. “

Je suis Bruxelles

 

 

New Paper : “Was Putin Ever Friendly to the West?” March, 2016.

“Was Putin Ever Friendly to the West?” : An Expository Study
Of the First Two Terms of President Vladimir Putin, In
Light of the Theories of Realism

(Journal of International Relations. 2016, Vol XIV, Issue 1, Pgs 58–92.)

Download the whole paper HERE.

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“New Cold War” and policies to confront Russia

Joint editorial by Mitchell Blatt and Sumantra Maitra, editors of Bombs and Dollars


 

For those who make a career out of observing and analyzing international relations, the Munich security conference is a surreal experience. A lot changed since the passive aggressive rupture in 2007 by Vladimir Putin, in front of a stunned and a little dismissive European audience, and the world has come a long way since then. Russia pummeled Georgia, annexed Crimea, divided Ukraine, and intervened in Syria. Europe faces a migration crisis unlike ever before in history, of an exceptional magnitude and character. Migration and jihadism are used as weapons of blackmail not just by an adversarial Russia but a supposed ally in Turkey, and partners in East Europe. The liberal world order has crashed, and history has returned with a vengeance. Not everything has changed, of course… Stop the War, Code Pink and Global Research Canada still blames Western imperialism. Ed Snowden and Glenn Greenwald still think intelligence-gathering and espionage in times of war are totally outdated and provocative policies, a view shared (rhetorically, at least) by Ted Cruz, for some reason. Donald Trump proudly touts his support from Putin and pledges to buddy up to him in return, while Trump’s supporters comment on Facebook that at least they think an autocratic tyrant who is behind the deaths of dissidents is better than President Obama. Trump defended him, on the grounds that, “the U.S. kills people, too,” and “there’s no evidence” he has killed a journalist, but it doesn’t matter, because even if he did start shooting people on Fifth Avenue, they would still support him. Mitt Romney was mocked in 2012 for stating that Russia was America’s“biggest enemy.” Obama painted him as an out-of-touch old hawk who didn’t know the Cold War ended decades ago. Just this February, Russian PM Dimitry Medvedevsaid, “We are in a new Cold War.” 291150701-e1409886026827

So are we or are we not in a new cold war? And if we are, how big is Putin’s Russia a threat to the West, and how to deal with it?

Well…the question itself is complicated, and the key is in the wording. While news outlets that printed Medvedev’s quote used capital letters for “Cold War,” as if it were a proper noun, it is indisputable that we are in a cold war—not like the one between America and Russia, but a geo-political battle of a different scale. No matter how much German foreign minister tries to Germansplain Medvedev’s remarks, there is no questioning that is true. Russia is a shadow of the former Soviet self and simply lacks the capability for global political, military, economic and ideological confrontation. However, that doesn’t make it any less important, because unlike last time, the West is not united. Many in Western Europe and the U.S. and Canada are complacent and accommodating this time around. But for the Baltic countries and Ukraine, they are in big trouble, and they know it.

To deal with this new development, we need to understand and more importantly accept that we’re in a geo-political conflict. Here’s how. 

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Munich Security Conference 2016 and the foreign policy implications for China

Munich Security Conference focused attention and solidified the notion of something which was already implicitly known in the policy circles. The return of Russia as a Great power and the echoes of a new Cold war resonated in the Teutonic halls as one after the other major players thundered around the shady truce on Syria, which was immediately broken by Russian bombing in Aleppo. Not since the turbo charged ballistic 2007 speech by Vladimir Putin has this conference been so emotionally charged where Cold war era rhetoric of power politics were so blatantly used. What was intended to be a conference on an appraisal of the security situation of the world in general, turned out to be a conference about Russia and NATO with both sides blatantly taking sides in a highly partisan debate. It was a conference which as usual, didn’t involve the majority of the world’s big players, nor did it highlight their opinions, as the fate of chunks of humanity was decided. Powers like China and India, majority of Africa, situations in Asia, and Latin America was hardly discussed. Even Ukraine took a backseat as the whole focus was on Middle east, and by proxy, a rhetorical war between Russia and NATO.

To summarise the main events, Russian Prime Minister Dimitry Medvedev was clear about the fact that the World is infact, sliding in to a new Cold war, as he pondered whether it seems more similar to 1962 that 2016. The situation looks grim, and if Kremlin decided it is a Cold war, it will possibly be one regardless of what anyone wants or not. Russia and the West are now involved in two proxy wars in Ukraine and Syria, with many more operational conflicts building up in different spheres, like Arctic buildup, and cyber and neo space race. NATO chairman of the military committee was pretty cynical in his outlook when he stated that the aim of the alliance is not containment of Russia anymore, but outright deterrence; a claim echoed by majority of East European countries, including most forcibly and vocally by the Foreign Minister of Poland. US Senator John McCain lamented powerfully, that the World order that US created is under threat, from “every corners”, a strong hint at China and Russia, and the erosion of US hard power as well as the decline of Western policy makers in global governance and the bickering within the Trans-Atlantic community.

Now, the important questions are these,

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Munich Security Conference 2016 and the foreign policy implications

Listen here:

 

Key points:

  1. If the Kremlin decides it’s a cold war, it is a cold war…regardless of what US/West wants. “The enemy gets a vote”…as Gen MadDog Mattis said. One cannot walk away, if a conflict is thrust on them by adversarial powers…and sooner or later, the West needs to come in terms to that.
  2. Major implications for China, if US-Russia bogged down in proxy conflicts in Europe and Middle East, China can develop economically more, with free hand in Africa, and Lat-Am and also in the finance sectors in UK and Germany.
  3. Russia is not the Soviet Union. The intention is there, but not the capability and global reach. Any proxy conflict will be localised in mainly East Europe an Middle East.
  4. However, if US leaves the ME to Russia and other regional powers to balance, and focuses attention to Asia, it will be interesting to see in the next few years. Just a word of caution, any conflict in Europe and Middle East, will pale in comparison to a Great Power war in Asia.

“The Russians Are Coming!”

Relax…Russians are not invading the Baltic states anytime soon. As you know, BBC docu and the recent RAND Corp report both states Russia will win a war with NATO, without mentioning why on Earth would Russia want to even fight a war with NATO…so I read the report, so that you don’t have to.

Here’s my response, from a Neo-Realist perspective.

You’re welcome.

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