Monday, 3 March 2014

How many divisions has NATO?

Not enough to scare Russia.

At this link you will find the text of the 9 July 1997 Charter on a Distinctive Partnership between the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Ukraine. It's worth a bit of quoting - after the break. And for good measure I've thrown in some 1930s comparisons too.

The Charters includes some quaint wording of historical interest:

  1. NATO Allies will continue to support Ukrainian sovereignty and independence, territorial integrity, democratic development, economic prosperity and its status as a non-nuclear weapon state, and the principle of inviolability of frontiers, as key factors of stability and security in Central and Eastern Europe and in the continent as a whole.
  2. NATO and Ukraine will develop a crisis consultative mechanism to consult together whenever Ukraine perceives a direct threat to its territorial integrity, political independence, or security.
  3. NATO welcomes and supports the fact that Ukraine received security assurances from all five nuclear-weapon states parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) as a non-nuclear weapon state party to the NPT, and recalls the commitments undertaken by the United States and the United Kingdom, together with Russia, and by France unilaterally, which took the historic decision in Budapest in 1994 to provide Ukraine with security assurances as a non-nuclear weapon state party to the NPT.
Ukraine's landmark decision to renounce nuclear weapons and to accede to the NPT as a non-nuclear weapon state greatly contributed to the strengthening of security and stability in Europe and has earned Ukraine special stature in the world community. NATO welcomes Ukraine's decision to support the indefinite extension of the NPT and its contribution to the withdrawal and dismantlement of nuclear weapons which were based on its territory.
Ukraine's strengthened cooperation with NATO will enhance and deepen the political dialogue between Ukraine and the members of the Alliance on a broad range of security matters, including on nuclear issues. This will contribute to the improvement of the overall security environment in Europe.
  1. NATO and Ukraine note the entry into force of the CFE Flank Document on 15 May 1997. NATO and Ukraine will continue to cooperate on issues of mutual interest such as CFE adaptation. NATO and Ukraine intend to improve the operation of the CFE treaty in a changing environment and, through that, the security of each state party, irrespective of whether it belongs to a political-military alliance. They share the view that the presence of foreign troops on the territory of a participating state must be in conformity with international law, the freely expressed consent of the host state or a relevant decision of the United Nations Security Council.

Of course, one might say, there was never any thought that NATO could really have guaranteed the territorial integrity of Ukraine against Russia. Of course, of course. But Britain could never have really guaranteed the territorial integrity of Poland in the 1939: Germany had a land border and a lot more troops nearby. But a guarantee is not just a promise that something won't happen, it is also a promise to pay the price if it does happen.

There are some more 'of course's. For one thing, of course, "support" for territorial integrity and "security assurances" are not the same thing as what Britain offered Poland in 1939. The latter, as I understand it, was a pact which included promises of mutual military assistance in the event either was attacked by a "European country". (Although note that, even here, in a secret protocol of the pact, the United Kingdom offered assistance in the case of an attack on Poland specifically by Germany, but in the case of attack by other countries the parties were only required to "consult together on measures to be taken in common". So what Britain offered Poland against attack by the Soviet Union was pretty much the same as that offered by clause 15 of the Charter set out above.)

For another, of course, the context is and was quite different. No one makes statements in the House of Commons like this any more.

But, as Tyler Cowen asks, "What are they thinking in Latvia? Taiwan? Japan? How about the Israelis negotiating with John Kerry?" Would you be asking for the modern equivalent of statements in the House of Commons from the American President? Of course you would. And would you get it?

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