US Nuclear Bombs Assigned to Turkish Air Force

July 19, 2016

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Christopher Lee

20 July 2016, London

Forty American nuclear warheads have been assigned to the Turkish Air Force in the event of a nuclear conflict.

Those warheads are already in Turkey today, 20 July 2016.

There are 90 US primary thermonuclear bombs based in Turkey at Incirlik.

The weapons are part of an American nuclear deployment of approximately 200 nuclear bombs in what is called the US Enduring Stockpile retained after the end of the cold war between the West and the USSR in the late 1990s.

The bomb is called the B61.  It has a maximum yield of up to 340 kilotons according to the US Department of Defense and US Department of Energy.

The latest version is called the bunker buster and was once assumed to be a weapon that could be made available to Israel in an offensive against Iranian nuclear weapon manufacturing.

One of the B61 pilot’s targets from Europe would be the Russian wartime bunker beneath 1000 feet of granite at Kosvinsky Kamen in the northern Urals.

The reason for the B61 bombs in Turkey is part of a rarely discussed NATO plan. During a past NATO heads of government meeting it was agreed that under a scheme called Nato Nuclear Sharing Policy, 180 B61 bombs would be deployed in five countries in Europe: Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Turkey.

Ninety B61 bombs were sent to Turkey and stored at Incirlik with an agreement that in time of war that moved towards “nuclear release” 40 of the bombs would be given to the Turkish Air Force.

This single arrangement demonstrates that Turkey is a major military member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

Turkey joined NATO in 1952 just three years after the Alliance was formed on 4 April 1949. It has held a senior position at the table of equals ever since.

During the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, President John F Kennedy agreed to remove US Jupiter ballistic missiles from Turkey in return for Russia’s climb down from the event that took the world close to nuclear war that year.

Today, NATO commands do not downplay the importance of Turkey that maintains the second biggest standing army (after the US) in the Alliance – around 640,000.  Turkey keeps its 8,000-troop high readiness 3rd Armour Corps entirely assigned to NATO. The Alliance Land Command HQ is at Izmir along with major NATO training centres and some 300 Turkish officers are in NATO commands.

Turkey may be the only Muslim state in NATO and may be more Asian to some than European but the country and its leadership however described is in no way fringe NATO – anyone who floats the idea of kicking out Turkey better read the list of its membership credentials, starting with the B61

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Turkey: Now the clampdown. Just what Erdogan wanted

July 16, 2016

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Christopher Lee

16 July 2016, New York. A group of Turkish soldiers attempted to take over Turkey during the past 24 hours. Close on 200 people have been killed.  Others may die of their wounds. More than 1,500 plotters have been arrested.

Doctors in Freedom from Torture were warning of something like this earlier this year. There has been every sign of military rebellion and every indication of the consequence.

Some have suggested that the coup was controlled by government to allow it to sweep the country for other plotters in order to legitimise a new harsh line on political opponents.

The glorious triumph of the President’s return certainly gives an impression that the whole affair was stage managed.  Interesting that unarmed civilian government supporters against armed troops and it was all over in hours.

The severity of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s clampdown is so predictable that some might even think the military played into his hands – or worse.

However, what few understand is the military would claim it their legislated duty to stage a take over.

The Turkish military has the constitutional right to mount a coup – in time of internal tension. It has the right to hold the balance of power until such time that internal unrest is restored.

The Turkish military has history of claiming that right.

In 1960 Adnan Menderes the Prime Minister could not control the country.  The famous “colonels” commanded by Alparslan Turkes staged a coup d’etat Menderes wanted to discard reforms that would Westernise Turkey. The colonels executed the Prime Minister on 17 September 1960 and ruled until the following year.

Ten years later, Turkey under Prime Minister Salesman Demirel was in grave economic difficulties again. A series of moves including martial law under a civilian-military Cabinet and eleven different Prime Ministers failed to restore economic dignity to Turkey nor curb the corruption of the military. Thousands died.

In 1980 the military took over again with no great success other than increased corruption on their part. In 1997, through a threat from the colonels the Islamic Welfare Party-controlled government (now President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan was a member) was shut down.

Just three years ago 300 military were accused of plotting to remove Erdogan.

Could the colonels have even guessed they would be successful? If so, they would have needed bigger support from the rest of the army. There’s another aspect of this.

Just as the Shah of Persia always feared the mysterious figure of the Grand Ayatollah exiled in Paris – and as it turned out, rightly so – President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has long feared the American self-exiled cleric, Fethullah Gulen.  The Turkish president believes Gulen encourages unrest and even rebellion.  Gulen says no.  The Iran/Persian example is too good and too recent not to be paranoid about.

Whatever the conspiracies, it is now certain that the Turkish leader will run a massive security sweep and with it will come as organisation such as Freedom from Torture @freedomfromturture) have a regime of torture and literally, political terror.  That any leader in that country with that history as outline above will fully understand and even reluctantly make happen.

It might be remembered that Turkey is a NATO member.  The practice of political and social government in that country is by and large totally unacceptable within the Alliance. Moreover, because of the regional refugee crisis many European states have suggested that Turkey’s challenge to be admitted as a member of the EU could be speeded up. Watch what happens after what appears to have been this weekend’s fiasco.

The Turkish government response would only advance the case for never allow Turkey even candidate EU membership under its present leadership and way of government.

 

 

Blair: Watch The Eyes

July 11, 2016

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Christopher Lee

11 July 2016, Westminster

If it rains, Tony Blair will be blamed. He knows that. Maybe it is the only comfort he has. When so vilified the farce becomes, as farce is supposed to come, a relief.

On Wednesday and Thursday this week (13th and 14th July) the House of Commons will debate the Chilcot Report on the circumstances of going to war in Iraq, the war in Iraq and the the aftermath in Iraq.

It took seven years for Chilcot to produce his report for public distribution.  It took MPs and most journalists no further than day one of that inquiry to announce that Blair was responsible for the biggest and damned mistake in British foreign policy since Anthony Eden’s Suez venture with France and Israel in 1956.

The Chilcot Report has given politicians, media and those honestly and beyond that privileged insider group of British society to heap blame on Blair and so miss the important factor that others were as guilty.

Intelligence directors, military commanders and politicians failed to publicly say what they knew.  Some, especially generals and Intelligence officers were physically thrilled what was going on.  One director of Intelligence beamed at the thought of an exclusive source even though the source proved a liar.

But this week, none of that matters.  Much of the faults in the system, other than the instincts of many senior military to seek out war, have been corrected. And anyway, one and a half days is no time to debate such a report.

What is left for the mostly Honourable Members of the House (there are few Gallant Members nowadays) is the chance to say the report is not entirely about Blair but of course as far as they are concerned it is.

Some would even accuse the former Prime Minister of Contempt. As many of those accusers are and were Privy Councillors and knew or could have confirmed reports of what was sour about the way to war, including the legal aspect, they too should be paraded in front of the Speaker as guilty men and women by omission if not commission.

And that should be that if it were not for an interview this same week of Tony Blair appearing on Forces Television.

It is not in the Panorama tradition of We Name The Guilty Man.  The interviewer Kate Gerbeau, is far too thoughtful for that easy journalism.  She has tried to “get behind the eyes” as that wise Fleet Street reporter Cyril Ainsley use to say.

Quietly and with remarks rather than long questions Gerbeau nudges Blair to talks in a way we did not see in his two hour Question & Answer session with the media last Wednesday 6 July. This is not cosying up to Blair.  It does not set aside the interviewer’s credo of asking why is this bastard is lying to me? Cleverly, Gerbeau asks the other questions and so the set piece answers are abandoned.

Blair’s first important political achievement was to rid Clause 4 from the doctrine of his Party (including the back of the Membership Card) that promised (threatened) nationalisation of almost everything that sowed a profit. That made Labour electable. His other achievement?  Probably to bring with the Americans and the Irish themselves some agreement to the Northern Ireland “Troubles” – the Good Friday Agreement.

Gerbeau asked him could it be that these two huge achievements could be forgotten because of Iraq. Watch the eyes. Blair hardly shrugs.  That, that is the way it is. What follows is something most do not consider in Blair.

Blair never sets out his stall.  Whatever he has achieved has been achieved.  He asks no medals.  What has soured is all that matters. Only to him? Gerbeau wonders about his family. Fathers might imagine what it must be like to look your son in the eye after a day of being accused of war crimes. Blair? Look at the eyes. It hurts. But that is between them. For Blair it is about the other families – tens of thousands of Iraqis, 179 British.

This interview is not to gather a sympathy vote for Blair. A journalist meets the most illustrious people often in the most humiliating circumstances.  The reverse is true and a follower of TB may think Blair got what was coming.  It is after all something like democracy. Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.  That is what this is.

The only people who do not get this end of inquisitorial democracy are the people Blair is talking to in this interview.  Throughout the whole Chilcot week the one group ignored were the (mainly) soldiers who are serving today. They look at Chilcot and ask what would happen to us in similar circumstances. They hear former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev saying today that NATO is being provocative.  What happens next? Chilcot has the answer on paper.  Today’s Blairs do not do theory. They say Go or Do Not Go.

Blair said Go. In this interview of chemistry and inquisitiveness, watch the eyes as Ainsley would have said.  It is quietly scary because truly, not much has changed.

French Terrorists in London? The view of moderate commentary

July 5, 2016

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Christopher Lee

5 July 2006, Westminster

A highly respected commentator and former BBC World Service editor warned a group of us that French people may not be as innocent of terrorist ambitions as appears.  He said a French passport could hide a Moroccan activist.

His view was that there are too many French in the south east of England.  He warned also that 34 million Turks could get into the south east and at least the same number from Bulgarian. As a consequence he predicted that within a decade the south east would be ruled by Islamic law.

Needless to say that this respected BBC commentator (BBC inasmuch that he regularly appears on BBC news programmes) lives in the south east of England.  He has lived in England for half a century since he arrived from the Middle East. He is a quietly spoken man, a shrewd commentator. He is uncompromising in his opinion and considers his view a warning that sadly will come true.  Indeed, he thinks it may be too late to do anything.

What he says perhaps splits the Brexit view neatly for reality. The immigration debate was not about white Europeans coming to England. It was about something far more sinister.  The English in particular in the south east are against not, in this case the French, but Muslims. Simple as that.  Islam is seen as threatening.

But recently, the verbal attacks on French, German and even Italian (everyone surely love Italians) in London and Bristol have increased. A French academy school gates scene in SW London recently was assaulted with drive-by shouts of Go Home We’re Not Europeans Now.

Staff in a London restaurant say that late home going is dangerous – at least unsettling.

But why should we be surprised? This referendum on Europe like no other national event questioning Britain’s place in continental Europe has shown a not very agreeable fact: the English (forget the others) are not very nice people.  They are small minded. They do not like foreigners – including and increasingly, Scots.

It will all die down as the political and financial situation moves on we are told.  Will it? No it will not. The BBC commentator was adamant. The south east of England is under threat. There will be rape, pillage and worse of literary images and proportions.

Would you send home the French – 2 million in England he said. No, he would not.  But he said the authorities should start weeding them out.  Perhaps we could devise yellow arm bands to tell those lovely middle class southern English which people were not English enough to sleep peacefully in their beds.

It has come to this. It will not go away.

THE UK RAPED – BY THEIR OWN LEADERS

July 3, 2016

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4 July 2016

Westminster

 

On this Westminster morning it is now clear that the United Kingdom is ruled by political crooks from the Prime Minister down.  The roll call is easy to identify and headed by three men who must now disgust the British electorate.

David Cameron had no need to call a referendum.  Only a handful of Tory backbenchers demanded it. To placate them, Cameron promised a referendum. There is no evidence that the electorate wanted a referendum and no evidence that public truly understood the implications nor what was going on.

If Cameron had understood this (or cared) he could have easily got out of the electoral promise on the grounds that having announced he was going then his successor should have called the referendum.

Alternatively, Cameron either wanted out of Europe but said the opposite for political reasons – or is a fool.  Cameron is not up to much, but not a fool.

Boris Johnson is an intellectual without parallel in this affair but switched to the Brexit camp because he saw the chance of becoming PM. He was willing to wreck his Party, get rid of Cameron and split the country he professed to love to achieve his aim. Not an honourable man but that is too much to ask of any of them.

Michael Gove has long been seen as a more than efficient minister but also as an extraordinarily scheming man with no loyalties, spiteful (ever since the days as a columnist and more obviously as a member of the BBC Radio 4 Moral Maze team where he succeeded to Professor Dr David Starkey’s image as the nastiest man in Britain. Starkey carried that crown easily because of his intellect).  Grove is simply offensive, nasty and spiteful in his three images. His position changing, stabbing of his friend Boris and disloyalty to his friend Cameron (he is a godfather of one of the Cameron children) plus the ease with which he does his wife’s political bidding sets him aside as one of the despicable figures in British politics in most living memories.

And of the United Kingdom as a peoples?

The UK is split.  The Euro vote instead of creating a way forward has settled the United Kingdom into a civil war beyond any idea of political dispute.

The Brexit campaign was mostly for the nastiest reasons: not immigration as a political exercise but keeping people out – mostly East Europeans and Muslims. The divide is not entirely political.  Friends and even families are split over the result. The country is angry.

Political but not personally it will all recover. The United Kingdom will be reunited although the friendships destroyed will never repair.

The deepest rift is the most dangerous; on whatever side people voted the actions of Cameron for setting a hare that had no need to run, Gove and Johnson displaying naked ambition and ruthless and spiteful regard for each other and the electorate (they are not interested in people without a vote) has wearied and disgusted those same people of the democratic process and the men and women they vote for.

For the moment the people of Britain find the process of democracy and worse, the people who claim the highest offices a horrid way of this island world. The British have been raped of the pleasure of admiration and pride in their identity. That is why Cameron, Gove and Johnson must never again be believed nor their like – and there are many in their like.

 

Chilcot: Editors order 60pt Bodoni to hang Blair high. Not because of the Iraq War but because he is Tony Blair

June 28, 2016

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Christopher Lee

30 June 2016

The Chilcot Report on why the UK went to an illegal war with Iraq in 2003, who was responsible for such an act before the war, during the war and after the event is due to be published in London 6 July.

Chilcot is one of the most important Whitehall documents thus far the century. It tells us how we went to a war that still rages because the US-led coalition did not know how to fight such a conflict, did not understand what it was fighting and did not make plans to bring the defeated country to peace.

From the UK position, such an event and such a comprehensive study is likely to be reduced to nothing more gutter Press editing that has one purpose: Hang Blair Out To Dry. Blair is the villain say his opponents and is even a war criminal.

It matters not that everything that has been said publicly about Tony Blair has already been said.  Chilcot will not say anything new.  But so badly is Blair’s reputation that the shabby intellectualism that modern Britain has become will simply throw recycled blame on the same figure.

It is certainly true that much of the British public did not want to go to war.  Public opinion was ignored by Blair.  He talked up false information most noticeably that Iraq could deploy weapons of mass destruction against the West inside 45 minutes. This was untrue. But it was crucial false evident that forced the government lawyers to declare that on balance there should be war whereas until that lie – and it was that – the legal view was the war was illegal without a second UN Resolution of authority.

So Britain went to war illegally.  Most in Whitehall knew that.

As for the weapons of mass destruction, they did not exist.  They were weapons of mass disappearance.  There was not a single weapon found.  But still we did not understand.  Blair went to war because he became heady with the aura of power that was Washington, the White House and Crawford and worse, because he believed as he said, Saddam is a nasty man.

But Chilcot is 2.7million words.  Very little is about Blair. It shows the incompetence of British high military command.  The generals got it wrong.  Made bad decisions. MI6 got it wrong.  The Joint Intelligence Committee not only got it wrong but took part in producing a document of lies that was used as evidence of threat and therefore reason for war.  The lawyers got it right then backed down.  The Foreign Office leadership supported the PM instead of the truth.

There remains a terrible reflection of British society at the highest levels: Literally hundred of people were at fault either by omission or commission. But the spotlight of blame lands on Blair. The departments, ambitions and incompetencies and worse still the lies that took the UK into a war – that even George W Bush was not fussed if we went or not – all for the vanity of chance are listed and castigated true enough and thus Chilcot must be praised.

Chilcot will tell the truth about the others but the editors will write GUILTY BLAIR because they have never forgiven him, not for the war, but for being Tony Blair.

 

European Cup v Politics. No Winners

June 13, 2016

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Christopher Lee

Stade Felix Bollaert-Delelis, Lens

14 June 2016

Wales will beat England  2-1 against tomorrow.  Reason? England cannot score goals but with two obvious exceptions, they have better players. Second version: Wales will win 1-0 (Penalty).  Third version: hooligans will get match cancelled.

Whatsoever the result, England will lose because no one likes the English football team – not even the English because they (the team) have a nasty rich image as people. Paid too much.  Never win much when it matters. We are saying that the only nice England players are the former England players.

We are saying also that Prime Minister David Cameron needs by 23 June England FC to be winning this Europe thing and on their way to the 10 July  final because if they do then the national feel good factor will work for him and people will vote Stay.

We are saying also that Boris, Gove Darling et al need England to be winning this Europe thing by 23 June and on their way to the 10 July final because the national feel good factor will mean the union flag is worn with pride and the people will vote Bye Bye.

We are saying that support can turn elections because a national success turns a result by creating a sense of national ecstasy when a trophy is brought home and a below surface glumness when footballers fail.

The British politicians have always made sporting links to whatever game they play at Westminster and now further afield. The post-war Labour Prime Minister Clement Attlee installed a teletext system when he arrived in Downing Street in 1945, not to monitor world events but the latest scores in Victory Test matches between an Australian services eleven and England between May and August 1945.  More modern prime ministers made sure minor decorations were handed out when cricket and rugby teams won international series and bicyclists dot not fall off.

More dramatically, Saddam Hussein’s son Uday had  the Iraqi team tortured when they lost in the Asian Cup in 200o. In 2014 North Korean’s soccer team was arrested and threatened with execution after losing to South Korea. Losing meant the North Korean people – especially the leader – were shamed. If they had won North Korea would have been proved triumphant politically and ideology.

The conclusion is that only sport creates the sense of pride and unity – or destroys it – for a nation state in tender times. From British Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson, to Tory and Liberal leaders David Cameron and Nick Clegg, to French Presidents Mitterrand, Chirac and even Sarkozy all have invoked the names and spirits of their national sporting sides at the height of bi-lateral relations knowing sporting arena results could not be signs of how international politics would fall.

Could be that is why the American always play among themselves for the World Series events, not taking chances of losing against political as well as sporting rivals.

But the other truth is that the sporting effect (other than America’s) does not survive. A Test Match win followed inside three weeks with MBEs all round and flesh-pressing at Downing Street is followed by a whitewashing in Australia and muttering from the Downing Street PR, what was that all about – apart from when John Major was Prime Minister

The true result has to be quickly taken. In 1970 England failed to qualify for the World Cup four days before Labour (who had basked in England’s 1966 success – four months after Moore’s side won the Jules Rimet) was beaten at the general election.

The political victor, Ted Heath, was glad England had lost because he was told it would make the British people fed up with government.  Heath won.  The Labour minister of sport Denis Howell,  declared on the Sunday of defeat “Everything began to go wrong for Labour for the following Thursday.” Wilson blamed the “disgruntled Match of the Day Millions.”

Could it be that if England look bad in the Qualifications, then Cameron will lose the Stay vote?  Or could another day of disgruntlement work for Boris against those “bloody Europeans”?

Feel the pulse in the only thing that really means much to the English nowadays.  The Beautiful Game. It does not really matter if Wales wins or loses.  They will always be gallant fighters.  The English? No one, other than 25,000 fans, cares a toss. Or is that so? The political strategists who believe Howell and Wilson were right?

As a permanent secretary in Whitehall remarked this week. “We have the Referendum, talks on Syria, the NATO summit the week up to the July the Europeans final, talks with Putin’s lot and a shouting match in the EU about an EU Army, which we do not want. If we should win, we go to all these things as champions.’

The thought of Cameron in a white and three lions T-shirt in Vienna Geneva and Warsaw is something to contemplate. All is to play for.  All could easily slip from grasp. After 1-1 with Russia last weekend, anything is possible when own goals decide the political as well as sporting results.

Give UK Reserves a Proper Job-Blue Berets & Putin

June 6, 2016

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Christopher Lee

6 June 2016, London

The Polish government is recruiting a 35,000 paramilitary force because of tensions with Russia.  The force will be a hybrid military operation largely with civilians ready to deploy if Russia does what it did to the Ukraine.

By this time July, Polish plans will be finalised and announced at the Warsaw summit of heads of NATO governments and a further reinforced Alliance battalion attached to what will be a rotation brigade.

That is the very military position and should knock on the head any half-baked ideas for a European army – an unsustainable concept that would be nothing more than NATO less Canada and the US.

The people who should quickly learn from the Polish idea are the British.

Undoubtedly the British have probably the best, certainly one of the most reliable military systems in Europe. There are two weaknesses: manpower and a failure to build a volunteer reserve – the old Royal Navy Reserve (RNR), Territorial Army (TA) and Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve (RAFVR).

The purpose of the new style Polish militia is something needed by the British and a concept that would work.  The concept would be simple:

Any military set-up needs above everything else, an identifiable purpose.  The modern post-Afghanistan war volunteer reserve lacks vision and purpose. Recruiting is no where near the figures that the generals said would be there to reinforce the regular forces, especially the army. Reason? The generals got it wrong living as they do in an utterly outdated belief that if they blow the bugle then well-motivated young people will step forward to the colours.

Two reasons for low numbers: fuller civilian employment and greater employer demands plus the army in particular while not back to the days of driving trucks up and down the M11 as regular and only training has no single and believable purpose.

What would simply work is this: the  reserves need to identify an enemy and have an attractive and not an uncertain role.  Modern young men and women are used to priorities rather than general ideas.

The reserves should be formed in two groups: vocational (medical, engineering etc) and militia.  The militia should be tasked to learn everything there is to know about the Russian operation in Ukraine (as an example), identify and learn off by heart the structure of the Russia militia and regular combinations with weapons systems used, recruiting units, tactics and terms of reference.  In other words go live to identify and get in the mind, the strength and weakness of a potential enemy. The British reserves would become walking encyclopaedias of the potential aggressor. Imagine the senses of achievement and purpose that would bring people in civilian jobs.

There is another but not a lesser role: train the whole of the British army volunteer reserve as UN peacekeepers. Have them identify the job, pre-plan for every country a UN operation is or is likely to occur.  British troops are being sent to South Sudan as UN peacekeepers. No reason why trained reservists should not go.

Neither of the above is to lift the load of the regular forces, although it would have a limited spin-off in that direction. These are major jobs that would give great purpose to the reserves and would have recruits in line down the street.

The main achievement would purpose and identity – something missing in civilian and parts of the military in Britain today where the theme is disestablishment and devolution instead of understood identity of purpose.

 

 

 

Trump Says NATO’s A Dump. Best Listen to Him

May 20, 2016

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Christopher Lee

21 May 2016

Brussels

In this city there are more bureaucrats on every street than Qin Shi Huang had cast in Terracotta. Donald Trump seems to think they have about the same value: objects of curiosity and most people asking What For?

Nowhere does the modern conundrum of the first emperor of China come to mind than a short 620 bus ride out from Brussels North station. In no time at all (maybe 30 minutes but that is no time considering what will unfold) the bus drops you along Boulevard Leopold III just across from the headquarters of the biggest multinational military and political organisation in the world, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

NATO was very much the brainchild of the Norwegians and the British and had 12 member states when founded on 4 April 1949.  Today there are 28 members and if the United States were not a member and did not supply the Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) then NATO would count for nothing. At best, it would turn into an Euro Defence Force.

What Donald Trump has been told and whoever did so was right is pretty simple stuff. Four or five NATO states are in a position to treat NATO membership seriously and as Trump’s people point out, keep increasing their defence spending by 2% of there national Gross Domestic Products. Trump is wrong when he says the US bankrolls NATO. The UK for example makes the 2% GDP increase in annual defence spending albeit only after some cute double entry book keeping where assets=liabilities + owners equity.

Sir Adam Thomson, the UK’s permrep at NATO (an ambassador rating) is reported as saying that Donal Trump has got it right on one thing “Europeans do need to start pulling their weight when it comes to investing in defence.”

Trump dumps on NATO in a big way.  He say America is carrying the whole alliance or as he puts “we are getting ripped off by every country in NATO.  We are paying most of the costs. When he sees that the Belgians here, the Czechs,Hungarians, Italians, Luxembourgers, Slovenes and Spanish each pay less than 1% then you can see why Trump’s bad-mouthing is hard to dismiss as the rantings of a red neck Republican looking for headlines.

There is a side of this that he has yet to get on. NATO is as important as a political-military  alliance as it was at its formation when Stalin was closing the Iron Curtain around his “near abroad” of client states that with the USSR became on 14 May 1955 the Warsaw Pact -Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Hungry, Poland and Romania. Many of the states are now members of NATO.

That makes Putin’s Russia nervous – as it would the USA if former NATO states had joined  Russia. Equally there is little to be said against the idea that Putin’s policy on Crimea, Ukraine and thus far in Syria rings alarms along Boulevard Leopold III. In short, Europe feels unsafe – and that is without throwing ISIS into the Threat Assessment delivered every weekday morning at NATO.

Trump is right to biff NATO.

It is remember an Alliance of political formation.  Generals do not take decisions in NATO.  Politicians in national capitals do and then they come to Ministerial meetings or as they will in July this year in Warsaw, in a gathering of heads of government.   The greater truth is that these ministers are governed by the state of their separate economies, their political persuasion with the third imponderable how a crisis may or may not develop.There are three elements of NATO decision making: real polltik, economy and the impossible analysis of the relationship between strategic capability, ambition and intention.  The people who hold the secrets, even the masterhands  to all three but rarely know when to fold live in the Alliance bureaucracy.

The NATO bureaucracy is home to some brilliant people who never quite make it or have made nothing much. Machiavelli thought the permanent bureaucracy’s single mission was to change nothing, probably because they are neither conservative nor liberal thus they are canny, shrewd, ruthless and conspiratorial. They adore the principle of the status quo.

Trump may know all of this and more. He may too have grasped that the bureaucracy has its time. It may be now. Forget the 2 % GDP thing. Defense economics is about what you spend on rather than what you spend. In short, instead of shutting down NATO or re-jigging it as I heard Trump remark, the analysts’ bench needs to be freed up to tell the likes of Trump and whomsoever the Democrats throw up what NATO is, what it should be, what it needs to be as a minimum and fundamentally what the true threat is and from whence it comes. He will be surprised especially as it would begin with the legend Start By Seeing How Putin Sees It.  A lesson from 1991 still not learned.

 

 

Arms to Libya? But who gets the guns?

May 17, 2016

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Christopher Lee

17 May 2016, London

The papyrus of Manetho tells us that when, 5,000 or so years ago Menes-Namer was anointed the first of the Pharaohs then the land we call Libya had no divine rule and the coming of its age was the appearance of a great general.

Egyptians leaders would still vote for that idea.

This week the solemn convocation of Western leaders of the United Kingdom (a paradoxon called 23 June), the United States (disunity their watchword) and various United Nations leaders (comfortable in their moral indecisions) announced that they are sending guns to Tripoli so that the “government” of Fayez al-Sarraj can take on ISIS in Libya.

For good measure, the Western leaders promised to send soldiers who will show the Libyans how to use the arms shipments. No this is not military deployment.  These are advisers – just as they were at the start of Vietnam and Afghanistan.

Sounds efficient use of diplomacy and military assets. The West can run the war without getting into its front line. But that does not take into account the modern Menes-Namer.

Since July 2013 Egypt’s Pharaoh has been President Abdel Fattah Saeed Hussein Khalil el-Sisi. Sisi is not keen on soft diplomacy and neighbours, run by civilians.  He does not trust civilians even though this former general commanding Egypt’s forces goes about disguised as a well tailored and shod civilian.

Just as Menes-Namer looked with despair on the sub-Saharan tribes that ruled the hinterlands of modern Libya, so Sisi cannot trust the make-believe government of the desperately neutral al-Sarraj.   Sisi too wants rid of ISIS in very oil-rich Libya.  But like all generals who say peace cannot be secured by military means alone, Sisi believes it can and so sees al-Sarraj with his head full of democracy with suspicion.  Sisi has his own man in mind for the role of Pharaoh of Libya: General Khalifa Haftar.

Haftar has his army in Tobruk. Like Sisi he has no time for al-Sarraj.  It is hardly the politics of the leader of the government of National Accord in Tripoli.  It is simply the military reality.

Not since King Idris has Libya been ruled by peaceful means (and then hardly). Pharaoh Sisi believes there is no way that a civilian government in Saharan Africa can rule for long in these times.  Certainly Sisi and General Heftier can make a good case that al-Sarraj can never placate the disparate groups of militia sprawling across Libya each of which has a grouse. Each of which has too much to lose, including the day job.

So, as the papyrus of Manetho reminds us the “divine pharaohs who came from elsewhere” (aka the British, the Americans and UN hangers on) may have believed their plan for the desert lands was the only one with principle. The Western gods and heroes in Vienna this past week have harder tasks than who can beat ISIS into submission.

Most importantly, the Western governments have to accept that Sisi ruthlessly controls Egypt and that Egypt has been since the first Pharaoh the centre of the Arab world and that one quarter of the Arab world is Egypt.

The Pharaoh still rules and the USA that gives more overseas aid to Egypt than it does to any other nation other than Israel has to accept that. Moreover, there is not a single Middle East state going through the misery and dangers of transition today that does not ask (albeit in camera) what does Sisi think about this?

Most Middle East nations do not do democracy. Five thousand years of history since the great papyrus tell us that the motives have not changed – all of which are thousands of years older than those who now demand that they should change to Western rules of government and human rights.

If the United Kingdom and the United States believe that by sending arms to Libya they will fix the problem then they may find it surprising that the Pharaoh Sisi will agree.  The difference is that Sisi believes they are sending the guns to the wrong man. Al-Sarraj is a good man. Hafter is a good general. Sisi would bring them together but Haftar would rule. Pharaohs always trusted the man with the spear.

Mind you, 6 October 1981 is always a silent anniversary: the day of Anwar Sadat’s assassination, at a military parade in Cairo.