Thursday, April 25, 2024

Clive Bibby: Deterrent or Paper Tiger

As the Ukraine war drags on with little show of victories (even small ones) on the Russian Front, and the much needed American replacement armaments package stalled in the US Congress, the question surely needs to be asked of the NATO alliance members - Isn’t the outcome of this war EUROPE’S RESPONSIBILITY?”

Because the current stalemate is looking more and more like a lost cause if the European member states of NATO continue to allow the Americans to do the heavy lifting.

In fact recent comments from the top Ukrainian Field Commander suggests that their ability to defend the front line against the predicted Russian spring offensive is a disaster waiting to happen. They simply can’t compete in areas where the ranks are depleted and their munitions replacements are in such short supply.

And in that context we must ask whether the long term prospects for victory are just a forlorn hope even if the American aid package does arrive in time to avert a massive retreat from a position that has already cost the lives of thousands of Ukraine’s elite troops.

In the meantime, the world has been watching the heroic Ukrainians suffer untold misery as they fight an invader who has unlimited military and human resources and is not bound by the values these brave people place on their freedom.

Sadly, this is not the way it could and should have been.

For too long many European members of NATO have failed to honour their commitment as equal members of the alliance and have been happy to allow the US military power house to cover any shortfall in the cost of maintaining a viable deterrent.

Some would say that it was in the US own interest to allow the freeloaders to under contribute towards a balanced budget. While the Americans valued the trading opportunities that were available in the European market because of their leadership of the Alliance, those member states not paying their dues were able to sleep well at night and spend their money on home comforts.

Unfortunately, that false sense of security was suddenly shattered when Donald Trump, in his first term, told his NATO partners that this cushy arrangement was going to end or it would mean the end of the Alliance.

While Trump’s confrontational approach was decried at the time as being unnecessary (some called it bullying), it certainly had the desired result with most member states increasing their financial contribution significantly.

Fast forward to this last week and NATO’s European Member states’ contribution to Ukraine’s defence is once more in sharp focus.

My guess is that Ukraine’s fate in this current war will inevitably be linked to the European contribution on its own than the hitherto more reliable US support.

But the message is clear. With the real possibility of Trump’s return to the White House in November, Europe will be asked to take ownership of its own security or expect more of its members to slip behind the Iron Curtain.

Nothing else will be enough to keep Putin behind his front gate.

Clive Bibby is a commentator, consultant, farmer and community leader, who lives in Tolaga Bay.


KP said...

What a load of rubbish! Putin has made his views quite plain going back to the last century- NATO must not expand Eastwards and he will happily trade and live with Western Europe. So what happened?? NATO pushed and America subverted and suddenly the Yanks are putting nuclear missiles right on Moscow's doorstep.

You're old enough to remember Khrushchev putting nukes in Cuba and America intercepting the ships, its the same thing.

So Putin invades Eastern Ukraine to stop the AZOV battalion shelling the Russian speakers in the Donbass, and vows to eliminate Ukraine's armed forces, which he is doing. He has no reason to want a run-down corrupt broken country full of Poles and Romanians, all he wants is a neutral buffer zone.

Don't you wish he was NZ's PM, looking at the rubbish in the Beehive for the last two decades and the way they have destroyed the country? There's not a real leader in the whole Western hemisphere, those in power are corrupted by the rich and hated by the people.

Soon Russia will be the only country to display the values so beloved by the West, yet no longer practiced. If I was younger I would go there.

Barend Vlaardingerbroek said...

I largely agree with KP.
The USSR, the threat for which NATO was created, died in 1991. NATO became superfluous to requirements. Because of American war-mongering, especially the desire to have it out with the Russians on someone else's (Europe's) soil, NATO gradually morphed from a defensive to an offensive alliance, to the point where it has become the threatening party.
Russia has always practised a buffer-zone strategy whereby it surrounds itself with nation-states directly under its control, if not pre-existing nations then ones it creates such as Luhansk and Donetsk.
Had there been no NATO encroaching on the Russian sphere of influence, there would have been no Ukraine war.
We Europeans are perfectly capable of dealing with Moscow without being pushed around by the Yanks who use us as pawns in their geopolitical struggle. And we need Moscow on side when facing the real threat to world stability and peace which is Beijing.

Dave Witherow said...

It's amazing that ostensibly intelligent people are still cheering on the pointless slaughter of hundreds of thousands of young Ukrainians and Russians.
Putin spent decades attempting to make peace, join Nato and the EU, and was rebuffed at every turn by the warmongering Americans.
So now we have another losing debacle (and possibly the kick-off for World War Three).
Read some history, Clive Bibby. Start with John Meirsheimer and go on from there.

Clive Bibby said...

Yes, you both raise some interesting points - one of which refers to the lack of understanding by successive US administrations of historical boundaries that were accepted by all nations and served as effective detente.
In my mind Nixon’s Foreign Secretary, Henry Kissinger stands out as the one in the modern era who did understand the need for diplomacy and negotiations in order to avert wars rather than provocation.
It was notable that prior to his death, he talked about sorting out the Ukrainian confrontation that in Putin’’s eyes was a deliberate provocation by NATO trying to establish nuclear armaments on soils that were unacceptably close to Russian sovereign territory - so why are we surprised that Putin should react in the same way Kennedy did when Khrushchev tried the same trick with missiles to Cuba.
It is somewhat ironic that Trump also hinted at a similar understanding of traditional boundaries and no doubt would try to use his persuasive powers as President to get Ukraine, NATO and Russia to reach a settlement that would avoid further escalation.
No doubt there will be a rush of people wanting to call me a Putin lover in response to my humble observation.
I guess they would be the same people who were adamant Kissinger was the Anti Christ when he was doing the rounds settling international disputes. They appear to be popping up all over the place these days with their own preferred candidate for the Devil Incarnate although Henry Kissinger no longer appears to be one of them. However, don’t be surprised if Donald Trump is the latest to be nominated. I’ve already seen it suggested but perhaps that’s just wishful thinking on their part.
Good for a headline though. MSM have almost run out of repugnant names for the former President and are now grasping at anything that will adequately demonstrate their utter contempt.
It won’t work .

Ewan McGregor said...

I find nothing in any of the comments here that I agree with. In fact, some are quite bizarre. How about PK wishing Putin was our P M, and would be emigrating to Russia if he was younger. Surely, he jests.
But in his piece Clive Bibby makes a number of misconceptions.
• The military aid package was stalled in Congress, thanks to the MAGA Republicans opposing it. This is not now the case, and Biden has quickly signed it off.
• Clive asks the question, “Isn’t the outcome of this war EUROPE’S RESPONSIBILITY?” No way. It’s a global responsibility for, quite apart from the catastrophic humanitarian implications, it is unsettling world trade. Look at history! The U S has had a crucial role to play in the outcomes of both World wars. Consider the possibilities if she had not entered them. And then there’s Reagin’s starring down the Soviets with his 600-ship navy. Trump’s stated intention to leave NATO is the cause for great alarm.
• “And in that context, we must ask whether the long-term prospects for victory are just a forlorn hope even if the American aid package does arrive in time to avert a massive retreat from a position that has already cost the lives of thousands of Ukraine’s elite troops.” This is the comment of a defeatist.
• Russia” has unlimited military and human resources”. Unlimited resources? No way. In fact, this war has proved that Russia is no longer a world military power, given that Ukraine, a far smaller country, remains unconquered. In fact, a senior British military officer has expressed relief at this fact having been exposed by this war.
• It is true that Trump’s pressure on other NATO members, while president, had some effect on their contribution, but to refer to them as “freeloaders” and a “cushy arrangement” is just insulting.
• To talk of European counties ‘slipping behind the Iron Curtain’ is nonsense. What Iron Curtain? It once stretched “from Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic” (Churchill’s famous 1946 speech), but fell almost overnight in 1989. Today there is no iron curtain.
The fact is that Ukraine is a sovereign country that has been invaded by an aggressor. This was the result of it indicating that it would apply to join NATO, of which today there are 32 members. These include Estonia and Latvia, which bound Russia, and have been members for 10 years, and now Finland with a 13oo kilometer boarder with Russia. NATO is not treaty-bound to come to Ukraine’s defense, but it has a moral obligation. If and when it becomes a member such an invasion would invoke the full active power of NATO to come to its defense. This is why Putin invaded; to preempt such. But NATO is a defense treaty, and its existence has given Europe the longest period of peace in its history. That is, until Putin’s attack in February, 2022.

NATO is no threat to Russia. This war is a blatant act of aggression and must not be allowed to succeed. Period.

Clive Bibby said...

The only misconception is Ewan McGregor’s deliberate misinterpretation of Trump’s comments about the possibility of the US withdrawing from NATO if it continues to act as an ineffective deterrent to Russian aggression. He has never stated his intention to leave NATO just floated the possibility of a US withdrawal if they don’t contribute their fair share to the annual budget. Even Ewan acknowledges that it took the advent of Trump to get them handing over more of their own cash. And yet they still have the gaul to expect the defence of Ukraine to hinge on the size of the American contribution. Most intelligent people would think describing them as “free loaders” is far too generous in the circumstances.
And it wasn’t only Republicans who were reluctant to support the Ukrainian aid package. A good number of Democrat Congressmen would have preferred it to include a large sum to fix the southern border.
But some people prefer to live in fantasy land. The world’s problems will only be solved if we deal with reality. Sad but true.

John Lekner said...

The security of Russia is not threatened by NATO, a defensive alliance. On the contrary, the security of a free Russia would be enhanced by having democratic neighbours, as would be Russia’s economy.
The security of Putin, an autocrat or worse, who kills or poisons or locks up political rivals, is however threatened by having a democratic country prospering on Russia’s border. Hence his support for the regime in Belarus.
It is a great tragedy that, apart from a fleeting period of the Russian Republic under Kerensky, and of ‘glasnost’ under Gorbachev, Russia has never had a non-autocratic government. Russian science, literature, music, ballet, and art are firmly linked to Europe. A modern Russia led by someone like Navalny (now killed, as so many Russian critics of autocracy and corruption were) for example, could be a very happy state integrated into Europe, with no European country threatening any other. That, after all, is the aim of the European Union. With Russia in the EU, and who knows, in NATO, democracies would prosper.

Ewan McGregor said...

Thankyou John Leckner. Well said. Russia has always turned its back on liberalism and democracy, with the fleeting suggestions you cited. America offered to include the Soviet Union and its puppet eastern European countries in the inspiring and enormously generous 'Marshell Plan' following the ruin of WW2. It spurned the offer.