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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Common sense over fear mongering

Britain and Germany: Calls for End of NATO Expansion and Dialogue with Russia

As NATO cranks up the rhetoric against Russia and deploys troops on Russia’s border, ever more insistent calls for dialogue get made
Alexander Mercouris
The French, Italian, Bulgarian and Greek leaderships have all distanced themselves from the rhetoric coming out of the NATO summit in Warsaw, with all of them saying that they consider Russia a partner rather than an enemy. Germany appears split with Merkel predictably taking a hardline but her SPD and CSU coalition partners making it quite clear they disagree with her. 
The clearest view of SPD thinking is set out in a lengthy article that recently appeared in Der Spiegel.  As has to be the case in Europe today the author of the article, Wolfgang Ischinger, has felt obliged to fill the article with lengthy denunciations of Russian policy and absurdly exaggerated claims of Russian weakness.  Whilst these ritual comments doubtless cause great offense in Russia, they should be seen for what they are: an affirmation of loyalty by the writer to the Western Alliance without which he would have no hope of being heard.  Russian writers who lived through the Soviet period will be familiar with this device.
The key point about the Der Spiegel article is that it attacks both NATO enlargement and strategic missile defense. The key paragraphs – written in highly elliptical language which all but confirms that the article forms part of a high level discussion within the German government, are these:
“One of two key pillars of NATO’s policy from the 1990s, developing the relationship with Russia, has not been successful. The two pillars — NATO enlargement on the one hand, and a new quality of NATO-Russia relations on the other — were supposed to be equally important. That was the understanding reached in Madrid in 1997. Unfortunately, we failed to develop the second pillar as planned, while further enlargement rounds were prepared and successfully implemented. When US President George W. Bush tried to advance Ukraine’s and Georgia’s NATO membership prospects in 2008 against stiff Russian opposition, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy finally pulled the emergency brake. But by that time, the relationship with Russia was already seriously damaged, as President Putin pointed out in Munich in 2007.

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