"No Action, Talk Only" is how NATO is known to many who have served at its Brussels headquarters. The low opinion of NATO held by many of our professional military appeared unjustified after 9-11. On 12 September 01, for the first time in its history, NATO's leadership invoked Article 5 of its charter. Article 5 says that every ally will come to the aid of one that has been attacked by taking action it "deems necessary," including armed force, to "restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area." Until 9-11, all that meant in practical terms was that America would drive the next round of invaders out of France. But now, NATO's biggest enemy is not al-Qaeda or Saddam. It's an arrogant bureaucracy located right in NATO's hometown. It's called the European Union, and it is at war with NATO.
When the EU was created, its mandate was economic cooperation. By eliminating tariffs and moving Europe toward a single currency, the theory was that an economic power would be created that would rival the United States. But to combine the economies, as its proponents knew, much more had to be done. Now the EU sits atop a bureaucratic colossus, with regulatory powers over everything from taxes to the color of cheese. (It's one of the great ironies of Europe that Ireland -- which is an EU member, but has not surrendered its tax authority to Brussels -- has both the lowest tax rates and the highest growth and productivity there.) No bureaucracy is satisfied with the power it has. It always wants more.
A couple of years ago, the EU wanted to set up its own "fast reaction" force to settle conflicts such as the Bosnia mess. On the surface, it seemed a good idea because we have always wanted the Europeans to take more responsibility for crises such as that one. More importantly, it gave some credence to the idea that Europe -- which for decades had neglected its military to a positively Clintonian degree -- might actually invest in rebuilding its defenses. But then reality started happening. First, the EUnuchs made it clear that no spending increases would be coming, and then they said that their private army would be independent of NATO -- i.e., independent of American command or influence. The wheels fell off their tricycle when about a dozen British and French retired generals and admirals pointed out that such a force couldn't possibly work. As they warned in a letter to a London newspaper, paper tigers burn.
Having failed to create its own army, the EU now wants to interfere with NATO's ability to function as a military alliance. The EU has decided to do it in the most dishonorable and underhanded way. If it succeeds, it may interfere with the coming war against Saddam's regime.
Turkey, our most under-appreciated of allies, has been jumping through EU hoops for years in order to gain admission. Turkey's inexpensive labor is seen (by France and others) as a threat to their own overfed workers, who regard a thirty-six hour workweek as virtual slavery. Turkey's economy, however, is not strong and has been suffering from inflation and bad investment. The EUnuchs continue to hold out the carrot of membership to Turkey, promising all the benefits of free trade, if only one more condition is met. When one is met, another one is added. The most recent is the most dangerous.
President Bush has formally rejected the Rome Treaty creating the International Criminal Court. That court is supposed to have jurisdiction over all war crimes, but its mandate doesn't require adherence to the Geneva Conventions or what we understand to be fairness in criminal trials. In short, it's a politicized tool of those who would interfere with American policy by hauling our generals and politicians into court on charges such as "environmental damage," which it includes in the definition of war crimes. The U.S. asked the U.N. for a resolution granting Americans immunity from ICC prosecution when on U.N. "peacekeeping" missions. The EU opposed that resolution, and President Bush settled for a partial immunity.
At the same time, we have asked many of our allies to sign non-extradition agreements with us which say that Americans on the territory of the allied nation cannot be extradited for an ICC prosecution. Israel -- the other obvious ICC target -- signed such an agreement very readily. Romania -- also applying for EU membership -- did, and got a severe scolding from the EU. Turkey wanted to. But the EUnuchs told Turkey that if it signs such an agreement with us, it can't be an EU member. That's blackmail, and a direct interference in Turkey's ability to perform its obligations as a NATO member. It's also a direct attack on our ability to fight Saddam.
Turkey is Saddam's northern neighbor. Its bases, troops, and diplomacy are all an important -- and available -- part of our strategy to rid the world of Saddam's threat. The EU thinks the ICC is more important than that threat, and that we will concede the issue because Turkey is essential to our plans.
We should counter the EU's ploy with all the tools at hand. First, we should offer Turkey a NAFTA-like free trade agreement with us, which would benefit it more than EU membership. Let's tell the ICC and the EU that no matter when or where they try to haul an American before their court, we will not allow them to compel him to submit, with or without a non-extradition agreement. The pressure on the EU should be enormous. EU members can, if they want, control the EU's arrogance. If they do not, EU members may soon have to choose between NATO membership and EU membership. If they are so unwise as to allow that choice to become imminent, we should do nothing to relieve the pressures we create.
The EU -- and others, such as Russia and China -- are positioning themselves to make money on Saddam's demise. We should be telling them that their shopkeepers will be unwelcome where their troops have not gone. There is no reason for us to topple Saddam merely to fatten the coffers of the EUnuchs. Saddam delenda est.
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