Wednesday, April 11, 2012

NATO potpourri: Consider Me Confused

Just a fun day to be thinking about NATO.  Actually, every day is a fun day to be thinking about NATO as I start to reach the end of the Dave and Steve book.

Anyhow, just a couple of stories today:
  • The former Hungarian Ambassador, Andras Simonyi, addressed the future of NATO as the Chicago summit is on the horizon.  He blasted those countries that did not share the burden adequately and admired partners (Sweden in his Libya example) that did more than members.  This comparison is not surprising except that it comes from an Hungarian official. 
    •  Hungary was such a lightweight in Afghanistan that the New Zealanders in the neighboring province would send patrols into the Hungarian sector to find out what was going on since the Hungarians were heavily restricted.  Oh, and the real punchline--the Kiwis had 220 or so troops, so sending a patrol into the Hungarian area of responsibility was not a minor task even if the NZ sector was one of the easiest in Afghanistan (remote, ethnically distinct from Pashtuns, bad past experiences with Taliban. 
    • So, the real question is what is Simonyi doing?  Attacking his own country for not doing much in Afghanistan besides showing up?  For not showing up at all during the Libyan campaign?  
    • I am seriously confused.  It would be like a Bush administration official snarking at another country for acting unilaterally.  
  • The second story is that Turkey's Prime Minister Erdogan spoke about the threat of war with Syria.  Refugee flows and possible attacks across the border are causing Turkey to become more assertive.  This has raised the idea of Turkey invoking Article V of the NATO Treaty--an attack upon is an attack upon all.  Of course, asking and getting are two different things:
    • Invoking the article is a political act requiring a decision of the members of the alliance--not just one member saying it was attacked.  Only time A-5 was invoked was after 9/11.  Getting the rest of NATO to agree or enough to agree and the rest to stay silent is mighty hard.
    • Indeed, France would likely oppose A-5 for Turkey as the two countries have heaps of tensions over a variety of issues.  Greece, of course, would oppose anything Turkey wants.  Other countries in NATO would likely side with France as they would not want to appear to be obligated to help Turkey while being financially constrained at home.
    • Which gets to the second part of A-5: an attack upon one is equal to an attack upon all, and each country responds as it deems necessary.  That A-5 has a huge opt out clause that one can drive a country through [this is where caveats are inherent in NATO].  Some countries did not join in A-5 associated efforts in 2001-2002, such as participating in NATO AWACS planes flying over major American cities/events.
    • So, what is Turkey up to, knowing that asking for A-5 is likely to split NATO?  Perhaps pushing NATO to act in a way that would not prompt the same kind of crisis that a debate about Turkey and A-5 might?  
So, today, we have two puzzling cases of actors asking for stuff that they cannot get and the mere asking is pretty controversial.  I don't quite understand.  Do you?

1 comment:

Alfonso said...

The Article 5 rhetoric could be for regime soldiers ears more than NATO members' consideration. As in anxiety about the regime provoking a NATO member could be useful to undermine the army, encourage soldiers on the ground to question what they're doing and who's asking them to do it. Defections within the army or a putsch might be what cracks the situation.