Should we not be re-assessing who we defend and why?

Should we not be re-assessing who we defend and why?

by Jonathan Stanley
article from Friday 27, July, 2018

THERE HAS BEEN considerable mission creep in NATO since the end of the Cold War. It has enlarged far beyond its original borders. It has taken on roles across Asia and is effectively now the military wing of the West, rather than an anti-communist defence pact.

How has this happened? 

The first real expansion of course was Kosovo, where NATO became the air wing of the Kosovo Liberation Army and essentially created Kosovo as a quasi-independent state.

Then Afghanistan, then Iraq, then Libya, then... where will this spread of conflict eventually lead to a real flashpoint?

The blurring of the EU and NATO has been an issue ever since the Warsaw Pact countries started joining both, almost in tandem to their accession to the EU. We now have NATO bordering Russia in EU member states with a significant Russian minority. We have Poland sharing a border with Kaliningrad.

These borders are hardly inactive. There are routine air patrols by NATO air forces in other  NATO member states. This week the RAF has been patrolling the Black Sea. The USAF has been flying over the Baltics. In return, hardly covered in the West, Russia recently carried out a huge paratroop deployment drill within shooting distance of Estonia where hundreds of UK troops are based.

So riddle me this. Would the UK launch a full-blown counter-strike against Russia shooting down RAF jets over Romanian/Russian airspace? If those paratroopers drifted into Estonian territory, would we be expected to open fire?

As we leave the EU we need to do some serious head scratching as to what we offer the Continent and for what reward. Trump is right that Germany and Austria have cushy welfare states while they spend half of what the UK does as a GDP share on defence. Why are we expected to take a bullet for continental allies using Brexit as an excuse to shoot at us?

We cannot have access to a satellite system we paid for but we defend the Baltic border? Ireland is threatening to block our civil aviation using its airspace but we protect Romania's? To quote the late Kim Jong Il...,"Heh--rrro!!"

What on Earth are we playing at, more to the point what is the EU playing at? 

Instead we could remain in Article 5 but withdraw our Trident forces from NATO effectively detargeting British cities from a first strike by Russia. We can remain in NATO and not garrison troops on the front line or patrol the airspace of others while they play out their fantasies of blockading our airspace.

Any nonsense from the EU on not allowing us over open skies when we are willing to continue the arrangement can should be met with NATO supply lines via our airports no longer being reliable. 

What message are we sending out now by tripping over ourselves to help allies in what must be the most unilateral military alliance in history for which we get nothing but an antagonistic relationship with Russia as a reward.

If Moscow launched an aero-naval assault on the east coast of the UK what help could we expect?  Surface to Air Speculoos from Luxembourg?  Environmentally friendly interceptors from Austria made of cardboard and recycled birdseed?  What then if the Russians invaded on a Thursday night or Saturday lunchtime?  The difference between Yes Minister and Brexit is that at least back then the Europeans were not so hostile to the UK as they are now. 

The UK is becoming a diplomatic laughing stock and it takes just one place, just one bullet and we will all be caught with our trousers down.

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