World
Pyotr Iskenderov
June 10, 2014
© Photo: Public domain

The military issues prevailed defining the agenda of President Barack Obama’s European tour. The itinerary  included Poland, Belgium and France. He promised to increase the US presence in Central and Eastern Europe and called upon the allies to increase military spending to “deter Russia”.

Benjamin Rhodes,the current 36 year old deputy national security adviser for strategic communication for Barack Obama, is known to exert great influence on the President. According to him, this kind of approach meets the policy of strengthening Transatlantic links, which includes the support of Ukraine, modernization of NATO, energy security, diversification of energy supplies to Europe and giving an impetus to transatlantic cooperation. The latter is of special importance as trade with Europe brings in $4 billion annually, the profit will grow  in case the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Partnership agreement is reached.

The idea of Russia’s isolation has become a kind of idйe fixe for him. The Nobel Prize winner finds it hard to restrain his temper as the events unfold in Ukraine.  According to White House sources, in Warsaw Barack Obama assured Ukrainian President Poroshenko that he would find ways to support him no matter what and the discussion actually proceeded to the issue of including lethal weapons into the aid package.

Does it serve the European interests? The economic crisis coming from overseas hit the European Union hard and it is still very much in effect. It means the military allocations going up will result in cutting anti-crisis programs.  There will be pressure exercised by the United States and NATO on the one hand, and the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank on the other. What will it lead to? Here is the example of Romania. The US exerted pressure on Bucharest. As a result,  U.S. military personnel and cargo headed into and out of Afghanistan by air will transit through Romania rather than Kyrgyzstan. The United States will abandon the Transit Center at Manas, located near the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek, when a lease on the facility expires on July 11, 2014. Instead, the flights will now be routed through the Mihail Kogalniceanu airbase on the Black Sea, near the Black Sea port of Constanta. Known as Forward Operating Site MK, the facility provides garrison support for up to 1,350 rotational forces and is now manned by five military members and 20 contractors. The US is bolstering the size of its Europe-based crisis response force to 675 Marines by sending 175 new troops to a Romanian base near the Black Sea at a time of tensions over Ukraine. The Marines are part of a crisis response team headquartered in Moron, Spain, and primarily meant for operations in Africa, although they can be sent anywhere, as Pentagon said. It all has to be paid for. The Romanian government’s compliance with the International Monetary Fund requirements exacerbated social tensions in the country.

No wonder, there are those who refuse to act on US orders and be always dancing to the Washington’s tune.  The Czech Republic does not need NATO troops on its soil and does not call for increased military presence of the alliance. That’s what Prime Ministerof the Czech Republic   Bohuslav Sobotka said in Poland after the President Obama’s speech.  Czech Minister of Defense Martin Stropnickэ said the same thing. According to polls, his view is supported by 60% of responders who took part in the survey devoted to the issue.

But there are limits to how far the Central and Eastern Europe’s independence can go.  According to US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Romania and Poland have agreed to hike their military spending to 2% of GDP. The decision bolsters the popularity of Eurosceptics. As Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble put it, “What are the lessons of the European elections? Surely not a mindless pursuit of “More Europe”. We need a more intelligent union”. As he further elaborated, “The question 'More or less Europe' – as one alternative or the other- has been posed falsely. On one hand we need a stronger Europe, particularly for the big and overarching questions, that no [one] state can solve alone. And, on the other, we also need a greater willingness to consistently apply the subsidiarity principle”. (1)

In West Point Barack Obama assured the listeners that the US foreign policy is predominantly defined by diplomacy, multilateral actions and economic pressure, not by military force. He called the alleged “Russia’s isolation” a foreign policy achievement. But the United States fails to see the real problems faced by Europe and it puts the European Union in peril.  Europe does not need to be entangled into a new round of US-initiated geopolitical struggle.   According to National Interest, “This new competition is essentially being fought on the terrain of economics and information flows and will eventually be decided by economic factors and popular attitudes. This relates to Ukraine, which faces a dire economic situation. This relates to Russia and its ability to use Western economic sanctions to reinvent itself. The alternatives are the country’s breakdown and a possible breakup, or it becoming China’s economic satellite. This relates to Moscow’s Eurasian Union project, which will rise or fall on economic, not geopolitical grounds. And of course, it relates to the European Union, which faces a conflict between the need for further integration and many people’s reluctance to go for it, as evidenced in the elections to the European Parliament, also held on May 25”.

“How will Americans respond? If the test is once again to be “national interests” narrowly construed, then Americans may find all of this tolerable, or at least preferable to doing something to stop it”, says Robert Kagan, an American historian, author, columnist, and foreign policy commentator at the Brookings Institution. “Could it survive in a world where Russia dominates Eastern Europe, including not only Ukraine but the Baltic states and perhaps even Poland? Of course it could. From the point of view of strict “necessity” and narrow national interest, the United States could survive all of this” he notes. (3)

The question of US readiness to intervene on behalf of Europe would hang in the air if not for Dr. Marcus Papadopoulos, editor of Politics Firstmagazine. He said to Russian Vesti TV channel on June 5 that it’s not important for Obama who will come to power in Kiev and what kind of people will do what he tells them to. They may be murderers and scoundrels, he does not care.  The main thing is that they are against Russia and pro-Western. Meeting  the Washington’s geostrategic interests is the only thing that matters. The US government does not care about hundreds of people who have lost their lives in Lugansk and Slavyansk.

In the 1990s Zbignew Brzezinski, one of America's foremost strategic thinkers who elaborated the US Eurasian policy, clearly defined the anti-Russian vector of Ukraine’s foreign policy. Writing in 1997, Zbigniew Brzezinski predicted that the Ukraine would become a serious candidate for EU and NATO membership sometime between 2005 and 2015. He further predicted that, beyond 2010, the Ukraine could link up with France, Germany and Poland to establish a 'critical core' for Europe's future security and provide an 'Eastern anchor' for 'Atlanticist Europe' (The Grand Chessboard and Foreign Affairs). According to him, Ukraine had no realistic chance of pursuing a 'multi-vector' policy, of facing both East and West. It would either be reintegrated into the CIS, or it would become a de facto Central European state. The latter would enable the Ukraine to become an 'integral part of the Euro-Atlantic community' ('Ukraine's Critical Role in the Post-Soviet Space' Politics and the Times 1997). So Barack Obama is not the first one to see Ukraine as a pro-Western country. But this policy will discredit him in the eyes of Europeans. The US allies will suffer financial and political losses. In its turn it will lead to further rise of Eurosceptics and anti-globalists.
 


Endnotes:

[1] Die Welt, 29.05.2014

[2] http://nationalinterest.org/feature/get-ready-world-the-us-russian-rivalry-back-10545

[3] http://www.newrepublic.com/article/117859/allure-normalcy-what-america-still-owes-world  
 

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.
Who Cares What Kind of People They Are – Just Let Them Be Anti-Russian

The military issues prevailed defining the agenda of President Barack Obama’s European tour. The itinerary  included Poland, Belgium and France. He promised to increase the US presence in Central and Eastern Europe and called upon the allies to increase military spending to “deter Russia”.

Benjamin Rhodes,the current 36 year old deputy national security adviser for strategic communication for Barack Obama, is known to exert great influence on the President. According to him, this kind of approach meets the policy of strengthening Transatlantic links, which includes the support of Ukraine, modernization of NATO, energy security, diversification of energy supplies to Europe and giving an impetus to transatlantic cooperation. The latter is of special importance as trade with Europe brings in $4 billion annually, the profit will grow  in case the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Partnership agreement is reached.

The idea of Russia’s isolation has become a kind of idйe fixe for him. The Nobel Prize winner finds it hard to restrain his temper as the events unfold in Ukraine.  According to White House sources, in Warsaw Barack Obama assured Ukrainian President Poroshenko that he would find ways to support him no matter what and the discussion actually proceeded to the issue of including lethal weapons into the aid package.

Does it serve the European interests? The economic crisis coming from overseas hit the European Union hard and it is still very much in effect. It means the military allocations going up will result in cutting anti-crisis programs.  There will be pressure exercised by the United States and NATO on the one hand, and the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank on the other. What will it lead to? Here is the example of Romania. The US exerted pressure on Bucharest. As a result,  U.S. military personnel and cargo headed into and out of Afghanistan by air will transit through Romania rather than Kyrgyzstan. The United States will abandon the Transit Center at Manas, located near the Kyrgyz capital Bishkek, when a lease on the facility expires on July 11, 2014. Instead, the flights will now be routed through the Mihail Kogalniceanu airbase on the Black Sea, near the Black Sea port of Constanta. Known as Forward Operating Site MK, the facility provides garrison support for up to 1,350 rotational forces and is now manned by five military members and 20 contractors. The US is bolstering the size of its Europe-based crisis response force to 675 Marines by sending 175 new troops to a Romanian base near the Black Sea at a time of tensions over Ukraine. The Marines are part of a crisis response team headquartered in Moron, Spain, and primarily meant for operations in Africa, although they can be sent anywhere, as Pentagon said. It all has to be paid for. The Romanian government’s compliance with the International Monetary Fund requirements exacerbated social tensions in the country.

No wonder, there are those who refuse to act on US orders and be always dancing to the Washington’s tune.  The Czech Republic does not need NATO troops on its soil and does not call for increased military presence of the alliance. That’s what Prime Ministerof the Czech Republic   Bohuslav Sobotka said in Poland after the President Obama’s speech.  Czech Minister of Defense Martin Stropnickэ said the same thing. According to polls, his view is supported by 60% of responders who took part in the survey devoted to the issue.

But there are limits to how far the Central and Eastern Europe’s independence can go.  According to US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, the Czech Republic, Romania and Poland have agreed to hike their military spending to 2% of GDP. The decision bolsters the popularity of Eurosceptics. As Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble put it, “What are the lessons of the European elections? Surely not a mindless pursuit of “More Europe”. We need a more intelligent union”. As he further elaborated, “The question 'More or less Europe' – as one alternative or the other- has been posed falsely. On one hand we need a stronger Europe, particularly for the big and overarching questions, that no [one] state can solve alone. And, on the other, we also need a greater willingness to consistently apply the subsidiarity principle”. (1)

In West Point Barack Obama assured the listeners that the US foreign policy is predominantly defined by diplomacy, multilateral actions and economic pressure, not by military force. He called the alleged “Russia’s isolation” a foreign policy achievement. But the United States fails to see the real problems faced by Europe and it puts the European Union in peril.  Europe does not need to be entangled into a new round of US-initiated geopolitical struggle.   According to National Interest, “This new competition is essentially being fought on the terrain of economics and information flows and will eventually be decided by economic factors and popular attitudes. This relates to Ukraine, which faces a dire economic situation. This relates to Russia and its ability to use Western economic sanctions to reinvent itself. The alternatives are the country’s breakdown and a possible breakup, or it becoming China’s economic satellite. This relates to Moscow’s Eurasian Union project, which will rise or fall on economic, not geopolitical grounds. And of course, it relates to the European Union, which faces a conflict between the need for further integration and many people’s reluctance to go for it, as evidenced in the elections to the European Parliament, also held on May 25”.

“How will Americans respond? If the test is once again to be “national interests” narrowly construed, then Americans may find all of this tolerable, or at least preferable to doing something to stop it”, says Robert Kagan, an American historian, author, columnist, and foreign policy commentator at the Brookings Institution. “Could it survive in a world where Russia dominates Eastern Europe, including not only Ukraine but the Baltic states and perhaps even Poland? Of course it could. From the point of view of strict “necessity” and narrow national interest, the United States could survive all of this” he notes. (3)

The question of US readiness to intervene on behalf of Europe would hang in the air if not for Dr. Marcus Papadopoulos, editor of Politics Firstmagazine. He said to Russian Vesti TV channel on June 5 that it’s not important for Obama who will come to power in Kiev and what kind of people will do what he tells them to. They may be murderers and scoundrels, he does not care.  The main thing is that they are against Russia and pro-Western. Meeting  the Washington’s geostrategic interests is the only thing that matters. The US government does not care about hundreds of people who have lost their lives in Lugansk and Slavyansk.

In the 1990s Zbignew Brzezinski, one of America's foremost strategic thinkers who elaborated the US Eurasian policy, clearly defined the anti-Russian vector of Ukraine’s foreign policy. Writing in 1997, Zbigniew Brzezinski predicted that the Ukraine would become a serious candidate for EU and NATO membership sometime between 2005 and 2015. He further predicted that, beyond 2010, the Ukraine could link up with France, Germany and Poland to establish a 'critical core' for Europe's future security and provide an 'Eastern anchor' for 'Atlanticist Europe' (The Grand Chessboard and Foreign Affairs). According to him, Ukraine had no realistic chance of pursuing a 'multi-vector' policy, of facing both East and West. It would either be reintegrated into the CIS, or it would become a de facto Central European state. The latter would enable the Ukraine to become an 'integral part of the Euro-Atlantic community' ('Ukraine's Critical Role in the Post-Soviet Space' Politics and the Times 1997). So Barack Obama is not the first one to see Ukraine as a pro-Western country. But this policy will discredit him in the eyes of Europeans. The US allies will suffer financial and political losses. In its turn it will lead to further rise of Eurosceptics and anti-globalists.
 


Endnotes:

[1] Die Welt, 29.05.2014

[2] http://nationalinterest.org/feature/get-ready-world-the-us-russian-rivalry-back-10545

[3] http://www.newrepublic.com/article/117859/allure-normalcy-what-america-still-owes-world