Monday, April 18, 2016

The NATO Panel Script

Today, I attended an event at Carleton on NATO and the upcoming Warsaw Summit.  It was
organized in part by Poland's embassy, as they are hosting the summit.  The Q&A was almost a ritual dance (kabuki?) with the usual folks playing the usual parts.  Before I get to the script, I do want to highlight what David Perry, CGAI frontman and successful PhD student at CU's poli sci, had to say:
that NATO is clearly not a major priority for this government. That he had to look far and wide to find anything about Canada's stance on the Warsaw Summit, and that the various pressures on defence spending suggest that if Canada puts more resources into peacekeeping (the middle level enlisted officers as well as staff officers), there will be less of those folks to "capacity" build in either Iraq or Ukraine.  Since he was the first to say less with less in terms of the Canadian defence budget, he has got some credibility on this.
Elinor Sloan repped Carleton well on the panel by criticizing the NATO Russia Founding Act although not being quite as blunt as myself.  Robert Kupiecki was the Polish rep, who has been organizing the summit, and did a nice job of juxtaposing the "southern front" facing NATO--IS and refugees--and the existential threat in the "eastern front." 

Anyhow, the script of the Q&A for any NATO panel in Canada:
  • Russian diplomatic representative: NATO promised not to expand and it did; US/NATO did Kosovo, Iraq, Libya so they are the bad guys; US spends more money on defence than everyone else (true); Russia is not aggressive. [I kind of feel sorry for these guys for having to issue the same talking points, but I guess they get a better reception in Europe.  In Canada? Mostly scoffing]
  • Canadian former defence policy guy: US needs to lead more, whatever that means.
  • random retired academic: Russia good, NATO bad. [This one added extra flavor--that Qaadafi was a force for good in Africa, and that we disrupted his effort to build an EU of Africa.  Sure]
  • random random guy: sometimes talks about Mexican threat to North America, other times comes up with another conspiracy theory that has little to do with the topic du jour.
  • oh, and me: Article V is not automatic blah blah blah tripwire yada yada yada.
It was interesting to get the freshest perspective from Europe--that there might be some movement on doing more serious stuff on NATO defence but not to expect permanent basing even as some/many NATO members do more stuff in the East. 

Highlight: I mentioned my concern about temporary basing possibly creating opportunities for a fait accompli if sequestration or austerity created opportunity for Putin to aggress on a weekend with no NATO forces in the Baltics, and Kupiecki mentioned that some mystery country x had to send its forces home after its troops worked more than 40 hours a week during a NATO exercise and had to either get overtime pay or vacation leave.  He did not mention that it was Germany, but it was, indeed, Germany.

1 comment:

R. William Ayres said...

Anybody complaining about the politically biased use of the term "secessionist"?