Americans continue to worry that closer defense cooperation in Europe might compromise NATO.
Echoing Madeleine Albright’s “three Ds” — no duplication, no decoupling, no discrimination against non-EU NATO states — Kay Bailey Hutchison, the United States ambassador to NATO, warned on Wednesday that European efforts shouldn’t be “protectionist, duplicative of NATO work or distracting from their alliance responsibilities.”
“In Texas we say, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,'” the former senator added.
But transatlantic solidarity goes two ways. On the same day Hutchison cautioned European allies against weakening NATO, Defense Secretary James Mattis hectored them for failing to meet their defense spending targets.
Their boss, Donald Trump, has in the past declared NATO “obsolete”. Little wonder Europe is making its own plans.
Many of which complement NATO, from improving mobility by creating a “military Schengen” to developing a European infantry fighting vehicle.
Especially after the downing of a Syrian jet by the Americans.
It’s in The Sun, on talk radio and, of course, whispered by the “underground” corners of the Internet. Passive monitoring of geopolitical movements have led far too many to conclude the next world war is right around the corner.
Bashar al-Assad hadn’t had control of his Iraqi frontier for years. It’s a major headache; it’s allowed Sunni rebels to supply themselves from Anbar, a favorable route for Gulf states hoping to keep the war going.
It’s also allowed the Islamic State to slide supplies from its shrinking Iraqi domains to its shrunken Syrian ones.
The Islamic State famously demolished the literal border wall between the two countries. That was right after they blitzed across it to capture Mosul in June 2014.
Tomáš Valášek, the director of Carnegie Europe, argues that European allies cannot assume Donald Trump’s aversion to NATO is an anomaly and the next president will put things right. The United States have been cooling on NATO for years, he writes:
A number of factors — a crisis in Europe that grips Americans’ imagination, an articulate pro-European leader in Washington, a crisis in the United States that the European allies help resolve — could revive America’s flagging interest in the alliance it created nearly seventy years ago. But for now, the passage of time and memories work against NATO.
Valášek is nevertheless uneasy about Europeans exploring a “backup” to the Atlantic alliance, arguing that continental security cooperation cannot come close to what Europe and North America have now.
That is the farewell message of one of the handful of remaining anti-Assad activists in Aleppo. As the Assad regime now triumphs a murderous, four-year-long victory, the question of what comes next must be asked.
Syria is a ruined country. It was a state imposed upon a land not yet a nation and while that state had made progress in building a Syrian nation over the past forty years under the Assad family, at the end of the day the corruption and incompetence of the regime coalesced into an uprising that almost immediately became a civil war.
As early as the summer of 2013, a year into the battle of Aleppo, Bashar al-Assad’s regime had concluded they would have to create a wilderness to manufacture peace. This they have done in several places, emptying out whole villages and neighborhoods and helping create the world’s largest postwar refugee crisis.
Under the barrage of relentless bombing, Russian and barrel, Aleppo, the symbol of the rebellion, has collapsed.
There are some 100,000 troops involved in the conquest (or reconquest, depending on your perspective) of Mosul. On the surface, the battle is meant to restore the Iraqi government to its full writ; a Baghdad-united Shia and Sunni realm, a nation state on the way to functionality. In other words, a normal country.
Careful observation reveals a more wretched future. The Islamic State may be doomed, but that hardly means peace for Iraq. There are too many who want a piece of this particular pie.