March 14, 2012

Smart Defense

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2012/03/12 BERLIN (Own report) - NATO has come under strong criticism from the Konrad Adenauer Foundation, which is closely affiliated with Germany's governing CDU party. The criticism is focused on NATO General Secretary's Anders Fogh Rasmussen's recently announced "Smart Defense" concept. This concept envisages reducing national military budgets by a reduction of personnel, the consolidation of the alliance's facilities and a redistribution of missions among alliance members. The Adenauer Foundation describes such a project as an utter "illusion." It is not only "doomed to failure from the outset," but it even reinforces the "tendency of a creeping disarmament" caused by national austerity policies. According to the foundation, the motto "Smart Defense" is also inappropriate for this year's NATO Summit in Chicago in May. The motto "lacks media and political appeal" and merely gives the impression of an additional voice to "the choir singing the alleged demise of the West and the USA." There are also differences over the war on Afghanistan and NATO's relations to Russia. The Adenauer Foundation openly speaks of a NATO "defeat" in the war at the Hindu Kush. Contrary to the alliance's official pronouncements, it is also considered a "mistake" to "treat Russia as an equal."

Money Shortage
Prior to the scheduled May 20 - 21 NATO Summit in Chicago, the CDU-affiliated Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) is exercising strong criticism of this western military alliance. A shadow of serious problems has been cast over the meeting of national and government leaders of NATO member countries, according to the foundation. The fundamental question is "how could NATO guarantee the security of its member countries in the future, in times of money shortage and dwindling readiness to intervene."[1]

Consolidate Forces
NATO General Secretary, Anders Fogh Rasmussen's attempts to compensate the crisis-induced cutbacks in national military budgets by a "modernization" of the military alliance have led to the KAS criticism. Rasmussen explains in his "Annual Report 2011 that the aim is to make better use of the financial means earmarked for armament ('more value for money')." This is to be achieved through a drastic reduction in the number of NATO facilities and their personnel, from which Rasmussen hopes to save up to 20 percent. Under the motto "Smart Defense," NATO's General Secretary seeks also to urge the alliance member countries to enter into closer cooperation on the level of armament policy and to consolidate their necessary national combat capacities and resources ("pooling and sharing").[2]

Creeping Disarmament
The Adenauer Foundation describes the "Smart Defense" project favored by Rasmussen as "illusionary" and "far from reality." Faced with "vehement cuts" in national defense budgets, the NATO General Secretary's proposals are "doomed to failure from the outset," according to the Foundation's recent publication. The Foundation accuses Rasmussen of underestimating the "fundamental nature" of the planned cuts and the resulting "tendency of a creeping disarmament" of the military alliance. Instead of "strongly opposing this tendency and exposing its dangerous consequences," the NATO General Secretary is pleading the case of an equally "dangerous self-restraint" of military capacity. "The primary task of a responsible security policy" however is "the defense of imperative flexibility in face of financial masters, spin doctors and lobbyists," according to the Foundation. In any case, concludes the CDU affiliated organization, the "Smart Defense" project has absolutely no "media or political appeal," but sounds more like a "choir singing the alleged demise of the US and the West."[3]

Defeat in Afghanistan
The Adenauer Foundation is not only rejecting the "Smart Defense" project, it is also warning against an "honest analysis of the (lack of) success of NATO's mission in Afghanistan." The recent "series of international conferences on Afghanistan" have "hardly produced concrete results, but rather have taken on the character of farewell ceremonies." This is why one "cannot expect" a "solution to the three basic problems of the situation" at the Hindu Kush: "The reconciliation of the civil war parties is uncertain, the transfer of responsibility to the weak and questionable Karzai government is risky and the economic development of the country is still in the initial stage."[4]

A Declining Power
The NATO leadership is also being sharply criticized for its officially propagated "security partnership" with Russia. As the Adenauer Foundation recently proclaimed at one of its conferences, NATO must "make it clear that Russia is a declining power." The "way to handle Moscow" must take into account that the illusions "that Moscow can be transformed through cooperation with NATO" as well as "that Russia - particularly since Obama's presidency - will be treated as an equal" must be dispelled.[5]

[1] Patrick Keller: Nach den Operationen: Ausblick auf den NATO-Gipfel in Chicago. Analysen und Argumente der Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Ausgabe 100, Februar 2012
[2] NATO Public Diplomacy Division (Hg.): The Secretary General’s Annual Report 2011. Bruxelles 2012
[3], [4] Patrick Keller: Nach den Operationen: Ausblick auf den NATO-Gipfel in Chicago. Analysen und Argumente der Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung, Ausgabe 100, Februar 2012
[5] Gemeinsame Herausforderungen mit Blick auf den NATO-Gipfel in Chicago; www.kas.de 16.02.2012

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