Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Oh man, OTAN!

In a recent turn,French President Nicky Sark wants to make France a full fledged member of NATO.

The Obama Administration is expressing support for full French NATO membership and for a joint European Defense scheme. This is a break from the past. And of course, the Administration will appreciate French . . . ah hummm . . . "help" in Afghanistan. And since the French are pulling troops out of Africa, there will be some ready to go.

The US has had an ambivalent attitude toward joint European defense schemes for three main reasons: 1)Getting all of the EU members to agree to a defense policy seems to be a long shot (no pun intended). 2)Also, Europeans haven't proven themselves terribly effective when they have tried joint efforts. (The former Yugoslavia comes to mind.) 3) America likes dominating NATO and doesn't want the nuisance of French competition.

To prove his dedication to joint European defense, Sarkozy is allowing a German troops to be stationed in Eastern France. Stop and think about that for just a little while. German troops in Alsace! How far we have come!

The Socialists in the National Assembly have demanded a debate and vote on this issue. They are hostile toward full NATO membership claiming that it would undermine joint European defense.

In the long run, a joint European Defense might be more helpful to NATO than harmful. It may well turn out that a joint European Defense Command would be the perfect sister/brother to NATO.

As an amusing side note: Sarko expects to declare his policy change in April when NATO members meet for organization's the 60th anniversary and he expects to be seated right next to the Secretary General. He said that if he couldn't sit next to Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, he wouldn't come, whaaaaaaaaa! So now they will let him sit where he wants for photos and then everyone will take their normal seats when the cameras leave the room. I'm sure the Russians are loving all of this!


The Law Talking Guy said...

Does this mean France would really start acting like a NATO country or not? I ask because I'm not too familiar on the nuances of NATO membership levels. Is there an article to link to?

The Law Talking Guy said...

Here's from last week's WSJ:
"In exchange for its return to the command structure, France could be awarded the leadership of two NATO units, people familiar with the matter said: a regional command center in Oeiras, Portugal, and the Allied Command Transformation headquarters in Norfolk, Virginia -- a body in charge of rethinking the alliance's structure and missions."

Norfolk is wonderfully close to Yorktown, where Franco-American cooperation was at its finest. Although I am curious what the French will make of Chick-fil-A.

USWest said...

NATO has a political structure and a military structure. The North Atlantic Council is the political structure that governs the inner workings of NATO. The Military Committee is comprised of member military representatives. France, until 1995 participate only in the Council and not the Military committee. In 1995, France rejoined the Military Committee, but did not integrate its military command into NATO. So basically, it has a vote in the political decisions of NATO, but doesn't provide troops.

France was one of the original members of NATO. But it was also one of the most contentious members. It resented the US dominance of the organization as well as the "special relationship" with the UK. DeGualle was pissed that NATO refused to extend its reach to help out in North Africa. So starting in 1958, he started pulling back from NATO. In 1966, Charles De Gualle pulled French troops out of the integrated military command of NATO, but remained a member. This meant that French troops would not participate in NATO operations unless the French government choose to allow it. It also meant the closing of the NATO HQ in Paris and the removal of all foreign troops from French soil. That is why we don't have military bases in France, but we do in other parts of Europe.

What Sarkozy is proposing is to fully reintegrate France into NATO. As proof, he is allowing German troops to be stationed on French soil.

Raised By Republicans said...

I wouldn't hold my breath about the European Defense thing. As US West points out the prospect of getting 27 EU member states to go along with a common defense policy is slim.

There are at least two major stumbling blocs, both involving France. The first is that French governments have long proposed a common EU defense policy as an alternative to NATO rather than compliment to it. That kept the British, Danes and other pro-US EU member states from taking the negotiations seriously. By fully rejoining NATO, Nicky Sark (great nick name) seems to have moved to soften that position.

The other problem is also something US West mentioned. France's habitual militarism in Africa. This is something a lot of Europeans gloss over when focussing on America-bashing until that is the French ask them to join in their little games. None of the other EU member state governments (except for maybe Belgium) are comfortable supporting France's fantasies about continuing empire in Africa. As bad as the consequences of American interventions in places like Iraq have been, France's adventures have arguably been as bad or worse...Rwanda and the fallout in Congo(Zaire) comes immediately to mind. The last thing the Dutch or the Poles or the Danes want is to be dragged into Chad or Congo or Rwanda or Ivory Coast every 10 years or so to satisfy French egos.

USwest said...

RBR, explaina bit more your take on France in Rwanda and Ivory Coast. I sort of had the impression that they French waited on the sidelines in those conflicts, and finally went in to stop the killing when no one else would. But I haven't followed those stories extensively.

USWest said...

RBR is right that a common European defense policy is a long shot, which is why the US has been supportive, but not too concerned. On one hand, it would be nice if Europeans would take up their own defense and save us a little money. But on the other hand, we like having the influence and the Europeans like spending less on military and more on social programs.

One of the other things that I didn't mention here was the French "force de frappe", or its nuclear force. De Gaulle was miffed that the US shared nuclear secrets with the UK, but not with France. The US didn't fully trust France because it had communists in its post-war government. Looking back, it seems like a silly concern since a French communist is something of an oxymoron. And the French had to have communists in part because they were the only ones left after the war and because they were key to the Resistance. They were usually the first ones sent to be killed when the Nazis required a human sacrifice for resistance activities. But at the time, it was a big concern given the international climate.

Once France had developed its own "bomb", it didn't think it needed the NATO umbrella to protect it.

I am careful about making too much fun of the French and their "imperial pretentions." We aren't much better, you know.

The Law Talking Guy said...

I think that the French role of provocateur has been helpful in one sense. They have played that role in part so that the rest of Europe doesn't have to. They are like the loyal opposition in a US-led NATO. If the French are going to shed that role, the role won't disappear. It will devolve elsewhere into less predictable places. I think we will end up missing the days when we could bemoan Gallic "non" - with which we have all learned to live - if that is replaced by Teutonic or Slavic neins and nyets.

Raised By Republicans said...

The French military supported the Hutu regime in their war against the Tutsi RPF rebels. Then when the Rwandan president was assassinated and the genocide started, the RPF attacked in force to defeat the Hutu lead militia and army. The French military shielded the Hutu militia and army units as they retreated (continuing the killings as they pulled back).

The French army also set up a "safe zone" that covered a fifth of the country. The Hutu militias simply moved their radio stations into that zone and continued to direct the genocide without interference from the French army even though it was well known that the French allies from the collapsing Hutu government were doing it.

I would say that is as bad or worse than anything the US has done in Iraq. I'm not trying to say that US foreign policy is a march of saints or something. But it is equally true that a French led European foreign policy would be just as militarized and just as interventionist just with different allies in different parts of the world. There is no French claim to moral high ground on this one.

Raised By Republicans said...

I forgot about Ivory Coast. No genocide there but the French military intervened in a civil war with ethnic over tones (again on the side of the government). The French switched to a more neutral peacekeeping role later. But their initial role was one of military support for the Government side in the war.

Raised By Republicans said...

LTG, the problem with French foreign policy leadership is not their "non." Which we so often ignore anyway. Rather it is their "oui."

I'm also bothered by the rather blatant hypocrisy of the French "non" about US led interventions in places like Iraq when France is not above doing as bad or worse in Chad, Ivory Coast, or Rwanda. Regime change and playing "god" with other countries politics is just as much a French pass time as it is an American one. Indeed, one could argue that the US is better at it.

I would much prefer a Teutonic "Nein" or a non-Russian Slavic "Nyet" since there is context now of German or Polish soldiers effectively protecting Croatian killing squads in Bosnia or something.

Raised By Republicans said...

clarification: I meant to say that there is NO context now of German or Polish soldiers protecting Croatian killing squads etc...

USwest said...

Thanks for that RBR. I just learned something new, yet again!

The Law Talking Guy said...

The French were on the ground in Rwanda in a way the Americans were not. I know the French made questionable decisions, but I think the evidence is that they were aware of and were trying to mitigate the problems they were seeing. Through the walls of my glass house, I am not about to complain.

The Law Talking Guy said...

Interesting, RBR. Then this sounds like a good thing. Surely greater French involvement in NATO will likely act as a damper on what you perceive as excessive independent militarism by the French.

Raised By Republicans said...

Yes LTG, I suppose you are right. If France and the US veto EACH OTHER'S most ridiculous military adventures it would be a good thing.

I'm not so willing to let the French off the hook on Rwanda though. I think it is fairly clear that their attitude towards the Hutu atrocities was "don't ask, don't do anything about it." It was the RPF victory that finally stopped the killing not French intervention. Indeed, there is a lot of evidence that had the French not been there at all, the genocide would have ended much sooner because of a quicker RPF victory.

At the very least the French should have shut down the radio station instead of providing it with a safe area from which to direct the genocide.