I continue the presentation and analysis of the experts’ report on the future NATO strategic concept, an endeavor which I have began in May, with the section dedicated to the future missions and military affairs. The final section of the experts’ report deals with NATO’s future missions and the development of future military capabilities required to fulfill them. Section five of the report provides an analysis of the current needs and capabilities and makes recommendations on what missions and capabilities should be provided in the future strategic concept of the Alliance.
The last week’s visit to France of Russian president Dmitry Medvedev has further strengthen Franco-Russian relations, while at the same time endangering European security. During this visit France and Russia concluded a series of economic agreements concerning the energy market (GDF Suez wil participate in the Nord Stream pipeline project), a partnership between the French rail company Alstom and its Russian counterpart TMH and opened exclusive talks on buying four Mistral class amphibious assault ships (LHD). Although France has not yet decided to sell the ships, this military deal seems almost certain and the bilateral talks between France’s president Nicolas Sarkozy and his Russian counterpart, Dmitry Medvedev seem to confirm that few details remain to be settled before the green light is given.
It is said that when asked about what he thought of the French Revolution, the Chinese foreign minister Zhu Enlai replied that it is too early to say. This famous quip about the French Revolution can be applied also to the consequences of World War II. This article is the final installment in a series of articles which dealt with the greatest conflict ever to have been fought and provides a short-list of the far reaching consequences of this event. The list of consequences should not be viewed by the readers as being definitive and I strongly urge them to add more or comment on them.
Few events have had such a deep impact on world history as the conflict that griped the international system seventy years ago. As all great power wars in the last five hundred years it started in Europe, with a bid a for hegemony made by a Germany, the second in twenty-five years, but it soon spread to North Africa, the Pacific and the Atlantic oceans. World War II was a total war, the second in less than a generation, and as such it involved attacks on civilians and genocide. From a military and strategic point of view it was a total war, as the aim of the war was the re-ordering of the entire international system and the destruction of some of its members; its scope was not limited to the European continent, it saw an unprecedented level of societal mobilization for the war effort in every country involved and it was prosecuted with every means available, culminating in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has declared today after the informal EU summit called by the current Czech Presidency of the European Union and the Presidency of the European Commission in concern with the effects of the economic crisis and possible remedies, that Germany is against any public funding for the Nabucco project. This means that any hopes for EU funds to help develop this alternative energy route have been dashed. Without German support it is doubtful than any funding will be released in order to give the go ahead for this long delayed pipeline that would have circumvented the Russian monopoly on gas deliveries to Europe.
After the debacle of the Soviet Union in 1991 and its dissolution, the loss of its sphere of influence in Central an Eastern Europe, the economic and political woes of the 1990’s as well as lowed failures in its foreign and security policies (the 1999 NATO intervention in Kosovo and the First Chechen War), Russia has begun quite forcefully to assert itself again as a great power in the international system. It has become evident that Russia under the leadership of President Vladimir Putin is no longer the sick man of Europe, but on the contrary we are now dealing with a different Russia, one that has managed to put an end to its internal instability, has become quite prosperous and has an active foreign policy that befits a great power.
The announced deployment of parts of the American missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic soured relations with Russia’s, many annalists arguing that bilateral relations between the former rivals have reached their lowest point since the end of the Cold War. Besides the spat over the deployment ABM shield in Central Europe there are many other issues that have lead to the increase in tensions between Russia and the United States: American deployment of forward bases in Romania and Bulgaria, US involvement in the former Soviet space (Ukraine, Georgia, the Caucasus and Central Asia) as well as public criticism regarding Russia’s internal politics and finally the gross imbalance of power between the United States and the rest of the members of the international system. All in all Russia has many reasons to feel threatened by the United States and from its point of view the recent strategic developments in Europe are worrying.
A new divisive issue between Russia and NATO has come to the fore: the deployment and development of ballistic missile defenses in Europe by the United States in Central Europe.
The debate regarding missile defense is not new. It dates back to the Cold War when the United States used the Strategic Defense Initiative, colloquially known as Star Wars to bankrupt the Soviet Union. Today however ballistic defenses have returned as an issue of international politics when the United States decided to retreat from ABM treaty signed in 1972 and develop this type of strategic defense in order to protect itself from countries like Iran and North Korea – the infamous “rogue states” from the “axis of evil”.