The Article 5 World

BERLIN/BRUSSELS |

BERLIN/BRUSSELS (Own report) - NATO's new "Southern Strategy" and further expansion of this war alliance are on the agenda of the NATO Foreign Ministers Conference, which begins today in Brussels. Since some time, Southern European member nations have been pushing for broadening the focus of the alliance's activities beyond the limits of Eastern Europe, to concentrate more on the Arab World, reported Karl-Heinz Kamp, President of the Federal College for Security Studies (BAKS). This is now up for debate. The idea is to reinforce the ties to countries, such as Jordan or Tunisia, as "partners" - and exclusively equip and provide them with training for waging war in the Arab World. The fact that NATO also will propose membership to Montenegro, Kamp explains, is primarily directed at Russia. NATO wants to show Moscow that, in its acceptance of new members, NATO is not willing to take other powers' interests into consideration. As the President of BAKS points out, the accent will now be oriented much stronger toward accepting Finland and Sweden's membership into the war alliance, rather than an eventual Ukrainian membership.

An Ambiguous Picture

Just before the foreign ministers of NATO countries convene, today, Tuesday, the President of the Federal College for Security Studies (BAKS), Karl-Heinz Kamp, has published an assessment of the alliance's current situation. Kamp takes the next NATO Summit, scheduled for July 8 - 9 in Warsaw, as his point of reference. The current foreign ministers' meeting is in preparation of that summit. According to Kamp, NATO currently projects "an ambiguous picture."[1] On the one hand, the new conflict with Russia "has unified the alliance and reactivated its primary function as a defense alliance," ... "being again exposed to the reality of an 'Article 5 world,' in which alliance solidarity, along the lines of Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, has the highest priority." On the other, there is disagreement on NATO's geographical focus. Particularly Southern European NATO members have been dissatisfied with the alliance's current focus on the power struggle with Russia, causing a concentration on Eastern Europe. They are calling for expanding activities into the Arab World.

Arab World Nations of Anchor

Because larger NATO countries are also sympathizing with this recommendation, the western war alliance is, in fact, preparing a new "Southern Strategy." A preliminary report on the question is expected to be presented at the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting, which begins today in Brussels. The western war alliance's Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, expects the strategy to be passed at the July 8 - 9, 2016 NATO Summit in Warsaw. According to current plans, this will not involve developing mission scenarios and providing the necessary means. Above all, it will involve strengthening ties to regional partners - as examples, naming Iraq, Jordan, and Tunisia - and preparing them to wage war. (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[2]) "Partnerships" will be introduced as a new type of instrument. As BAKS President, Karl-Heinz Kamp explains, in the future, NATO "in accordance with its needs," will choose "states - to the extent they are willing - to carry out NATO activities in partnership." "This involves the partners' support, for example in crisis management, in exchange for receiving training or arms assistance, to render them capable of efficiently engaging." These new "partners" would quasi become NATO "nations of anchor," initially mainly, or even exclusively, in the Arab World.

Aggressive to the East

In his summary, Kamp also analyses the most recent aggressive NATO activities in Eastern and Southeastern Europe directed at Russia. "To the surprise of some of the NATO partners, Germany, of all countries, has played a particularly prominent role in building up the defense capabilities in Eastern Europe," wrote the president of BAKS. In fact, the Bundeswehr has assumed a leading role in the creation of NATO's "Spearhead" (Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, VJTF). (german-foreign-policy.com reported.[3]) In the case of an intervention, the VJTF would be led by the Multinational Corps Northeast, in Szczecin, Poland, in which the Bundeswehr provides 100 (of the 400) soldiers, as well as the commander, Lt. Gen. Manfred Hofmann. In the context of the VJTF's creation, NATO has set up so-called NATO Force Integration Units (NFIU) in six Eastern and Southeastern European member countries. NFIUs are small bases, with a permanent presence of around 40 soldiers, which, when necessary, can be used, within the shortest delay, by NATO's "Spearhead" forces. NFIUs are in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania; Poland; Rumania, and Bulgaria, others are planned for Hungary and Slovakia.

Russia in the Crosshairs

The particular significance of the power struggle with Russia is exemplarily mirrored in Kamp's analysis. With their "Snap Exercises," the Russian Armed Forces demonstrated that "within two to three days, they can mobilize and concentrate tens-of-thousands of military personnel," explains BAKS president. "In a serious crisis, the less than 5,000 strong VJTF rapid reaction force, would be no match for them," especially since their true time of reaction "would be, at best, five to seven days." That must be worked on. Aware, however, of its inferiority to NATO, particularly in the field of conventional weapons - Moscow is developing concepts "aimed, in times of conflict, at blocking NATO's reinforcements with 'area denial' measures in regions of Eastern Europe, or aimed at fomenting splits in the alliance with nuclear threats," writes Kamp, and recommends the development of "appropriate counter-concepts."

No Consideration

NATO's current policy of expansion is also directed against Russia. At the meeting, according to reports, NATO's foreign ministers will offer Montenegro membership in the Alliance. In December 2006, only six months after its secession from Serbia, Montenegro joined NATO's "Partnership for Peace" and soon began efforts to join that war alliance. Its participation with 14 soldiers in the Afghanistan mission is only of symbolic significance. The plan to join NATO is very contested inside the country and is currently provoking protests. The western Alliance, however, is expressing interest. "Montenegro's contribution to NATO is extremely small," BAKS President Kamp concedes. But, its accession to NATO would be "a political signal also to Russia" that the Alliance "holds on to its open door policy and does not accept a Russian veto of the principle of a free choice of an alliance." This is also aimed at the debate around Ukraine's eventual NATO membership - although Kamp writes that Berlin is still opposed because "the integration ... of Ukraine, a state paralyzed by political bickering, corruption and poor governance" would be "extremely difficult" - an accurate argument, promoted to a strategic pretext.

NATO's Northern Expansion

Plans to integrate Sweden and Finland - still officially neutral - into NATO, could, in the long run, have more serious consequences. In both countries, membership in the war alliance "has only been considered a very distant option ... in the past," notes Kamp. But this has "radically changed" with the conflict over Ukraine. "The Warsaw Summit will have to deal with the growing debate on NATO membership," BAKS President Kamp recommends, "whenever Helsinki and Stockholm express their wish to join." If both countries should actually join, the last remnants of military neutrality in northern Europe would dissipate and the northern encirclement of Russia would be complete.[4]

[1] Zitate hier und im Folgenden aus: Karl-Heinz Kamp: Die Agenda des NATO-Gipfels von Warschau. Arbeitspapier Sicherheitspolitik Nr. 9/2015.
[2] See NATO's Southern Strategy.
[3] See 21st Century Warfare (I), 21st Century Warfare (II) and Message to the World.
[4] See Die NATO-Norderweiterung.