Examination of Witnesses (Questions 80-99)
DR DANA ALLIN, MR CHARLES GRANT AND PROFESSOR BEATRICE HEUSER
WEDNESDAY 12 JUNE 2002
80. Even though we admitted Portugal?
(Professor Heuser) Quite; exactly. I think this is very important because it means that the efficiency currency of NATO is quite likely to be undercut to some extent, or rather I think specifically the business analysis approach to NATO will show that the organisation as a whole is going to go into a bad period of policy making structures and processes because it will be transformed into something which will be one step further towards the OSCE in its own functioning. I think that is where the great problem lies, not in whether you can shape up an army or task force for a particular task. It is basically irrelevant whether you include five Slovak medical officers or not because it is not going to change the quality of what NATO has to offer at the moment. It could just add something which will be irrelevant or will be put into a task force for political reasons. The crucial thing, and this was your question about the effects of enlargement on NATO, is going to be how the whole decision-making process in NATO is going to develop and what that is going to look like. That is most likely to go through a phase at least of something that will be quite pear-shaped.
81. We would like to pick that up later on. That is really helpful. Dr Allin, is there anything else you would like to say just on the enlargement process?
(Dr Allin) Going back to an earlier question, the question about possible disagreements within current NATO members, to make the point as someone who was initially not very enthusiastic about NATO enlargement, it seems to me that the time for disagreement was with the first round and I think there was a lot of disagreement. I was somewhat puzzled at the time by the reluctance of some important European countries to voice their scepticism or to insist on it, but it seems to me that the decision in principle has been taken and furthermore you are not going to make much of an argument any more about the Baltic States. There is no point being holier than the Pope, I guess, and if Russia is not going to object, and there does not seem to be a great objection at this point, I do not think there is much of a disagreement in principle.
82. Maybe I misinterpreted the logic of your argument, but once you get past eight, nine, ten, 15, 20, 25, it does not really matter, as long as certain standards are adhered to. Would you agree with that?
(Dr Allin) I think it probably does matter actually but it matters less and it matters less anyway for the reasons that we were alluding to earlier.
Chairman: We will be giving ample opportunity to enlarge on the future of NATO.
83. On NATO's role and missions, how has that role changed over the last decade and, probably far more important, how do you think it will change over the next decade?
(Professor Heuser) I think there has always been an element in NATO's role of it being the solution to solving a problem that was either out there or had to be found. During the 1990s I think it was quite embarrassing to see, particularly as we were coming up to the 50th anniversary of NATO's foundation, that one got the impression that NATO was in search of a role and a mission and Yugoslavia had to be the problem to which NATO was the answer so that the organisation could continue to withstand market forces and did not simply fall out of the picture because the Cold War was over. At the same time there is an inertia of the organisation to embrace new missions and this leads us straight to the question of NATO's role after 11 September. I remember running a conference in 1990 about the future of NATO in transatlantic relations in which I asked the question to the then Head of Political Affairs in NATO, Henning Wegener, and said, "Why are we not dealing with terrorism because surely that is going to be one of the big issues of the future?", and he then just said, "NATO cannot do everything". Consistently, because of their own Kurdish problems, the Turks have been insisting that NATO includes the word "terrorism" in their whole shopping list of concerns whenever they have a ministerial meeting. For the moment there is no section to properly tackle this. The question is, however, that at some stage if you have market forces operating the organisation may simply transform itself out of the market because the brand name will no longer be recognisably that one mission of providing security in Europe. It may just be that this organisation will become so amorphous and so ill-defined that it will be useless for anybody, that in future it will only have an alliance with the coalitions of the willing and able or else that the organisation is going to be perceived by somebody as the incarnation of the western threat to the world at large or globalisation or whatever, that it then becomes something that is more or less useless in terms of providing security for Europe, which is how it was conceived in the first place. There are those two possibilities: either it will become pointless because it will be too largely formulated and people will not buy it any longer because they cannot identify the product, or else it will be demonised as the great tool of evil and everybody in it will become involved in conflicts wherever they are in the world because it symbolises western imperialism etc.
(Mr Grant) I do think that NATO will have and should have a military role in the future. It is obvious that it is becoming more political, that enlargement, taking in countries that have got ineffective armed forces, makes it more of a political organisation and I think the deal with Russia reinforces that, that Article 5 has been invoked and shown to be a paper tiger. For all these reasons it is becoming more political but I would like to stress, perhaps in contrast to some of the things I was writing six months ago, that I think the military side is very important and will remain important for four reasons. One is that if America is going to respect NATO it has to be a serious military organisation. Of course there are many different views in Washington about the future of NATO and Dana is, I am sure, very well aware of them, more than I am, but certainly if NATO becomes purely political it will be consigned by many American thinkers and policy makers to being a third or second order organisation. That is why it is important to keep up the military side, to keep America engaged in NATO so that America takes NATO seriously, because I think it is good to have America engaged in Europe and if NATO is a way of getting it to think about Europe that is good. The second reason why I think it should keep a military side to it is actually for the Russian involvement. The Russians too will respect NATO more, take more interest in it, if it is a military organisation. Maybe in the long run, when military reform in Russia has moved further than it has to date, which is nowhere at all, then NATO might help bring the Russian armed forces into the 21st century, or even the 22nd. It can help there. Thirdly, I think for the east European countries and central European countries it is very important to have the military side to NATO to help modernise the armed forces of these countries. You have been travelling round. I am sure you have learned that maybe the Czech armed forces are not the best in NATO and do not perhaps contribute a huge amount of alliance security, but NATO is helping to lift them forward, to modernise them, introducing more professional standards and that is important to promote interoperability so that NATO forces can be deployed effectively together on peacekeeping missions, because that is a very important role. Perhaps there is a fourth point, and I know that we are not here to talk about the EU, but the EU's ESDP is still rather small and weak and fragile and in Kosovo, let us say, we need NATO to keep the peace and it is very useful to have NATO as a peacekeeping organisation. That requires interoperability which requires a military organisation. A final reason for maintaining a military structure is European defence. It is not often noticed but I believe it to be absolutely true that NATO and the ESDP will sink or swim together, that ESDP is not about creating something against NATO. The Europeans do not have nearly enough money to duplicate the SHAPE planning facilities, for example, and therefore ESDP depends on NATO to lend it its assets and capabilities and to support it on those occasions when the Americans do not want to be involved. I think the military side of NATO is very important for the EU's role in defence. Those are some of the reasons why I think NATO should keep up a military role in the future, though quite what it does with that military we can perhaps come back to.
(Dr Allin) Clearly the most important mission for NATO is to provide security in Europe. Of course, that was what it was always for but at a time when threat to security in Europe was a central strategic issue of the world really. It is of course a less demanding mission now, less demanding arguably even than it was in 1999, although if one tries to pursue scenarios I suppose it is not always very useful to imagine scenarios of things going wrong, but it strikes me as not implausible that something of the order of the Kosovo war could be a problem that Europe could face in the next ten or 20 years and I think NATO would need to be in good shape to deal with something like that again. Even short of that kind of scenario there are all the things that Charles was referring to in terms of helping to bring former Communist countries into the western military culture and particularly the Balkans, so when I speak of it as being an organisation devoted to security in Europe, obviously I am talking about the Balkans in the first place. A second mission for NATO is that it obviously provides the framework, the habits, the training, the institution for shaping and regularising (if you will pardon that word) the relationship between the United States and its allies. From the United States' point of view this is the most relevant, is most of interest, I think, in terms of its relations with certain key allies, not Europe per se, as maybe in the past. Once I say that one can immediately say that there is at least one key ally, the United Kingdom, that has a strategic relationship with the United States that in many ways is as outside NATO as inside it. Of course it alsoand I am looping back to my first suggestionshapes military relations among European NATO allies which is critically important for challenges such as Charles was referring to. There is a lot of demand for peacekeeping in the world right now. NATO is probably the best organisation to provide the framework for that. They may not always be the institutional choice to go to but I think it probably should be. What NATO is not going to be is the central organising institution of the transatlantic security relationships such as it was during the Cold War.
Chairman: We will come on to that, but we do have a few questions on decision making in NATO and what you said last, Mr Allin, will be pursued by David Crausby.
84. The North Atlantic Council agrees action on the basis of unanimity and common accord, no votes, no majority decisions. Can this continue in modern circumstances? Can NATO and in particular the North Atlantic Council continue to operate on the basis of consensus, given the politically sensitive and potentially divisive decisions that will have to be made in crisis situations, particularly in the event of NATO becoming involved in pre-emptive actions?
(Professor Heuser) On this particular point I have a little model which I call the Christmas tree model or the pine tree model. As a pine tree grows and its branches widen at the bottom it develops further, smaller branches at the top, which means that the larger a decision making body gets the more likely there is to be a second smaller decision making body that in fact is where the centre of power lies, which will informally or formally determine how the large body decides. You can show this development in governments. I think it is very clearly what has happened in NATO even during the Cold War, leading up to the formation of the informal body of the Quadthe United States, Britain, France and Germanywhich is on many important points a small group of ambassadors meeting over lunch on Tuesdays when the NAC meets on Wednesdays and is determining what the main line position is going to be, and then the four ambassadors go away and badger all the other members of the NAC to fall into line with them. The larger the NAC is going to become the more important it is going to be for the Quad to work in this way. This is of course something that all the other powers in the Quad are resenting and which in itself creates friction, but always provides the possibility of an alliance of the willing breaking away from NATO and simply using certain NATO mechanisms if they are made available for their work but acting on the whole qua states rather than qua members of NATO and representing NATO as a whole. I think this decision making process is almost invariably going to become one which will be more state centred and where consensus is going to be more difficult to achieve, with the possibility of individual groups of countries breaking away from NATO and acting as state actors.
85. Is there merit in the Quad or something larger than the Quad? We are advised that it is referred to as the directoire, for want of a better word, and maybe it would include something extra than the four countries that you mention, and we understand that it is favoured by some UK officials. Would you agree with that?
(Professor Heuser) We can already say that in particular situations the Quad has been transformed to be something else with, for example, the Contact Group for the former Yugoslavia, so there are constellations where ad hoc countries that are interested and important are put together, not in the framework of NATO, not in the framework of the European Union, not in the framework of the UN, but just ad hoc for particular problems. I think that is something that will we will see more of it in the future. We cannot legally justify, there is no moral justification for, for example, excluding Italy. Given that in theory all these members of the Alliance are supposed to be equals there is no moral justification for this process but it is simply a process that is a typical outcome of the enlargement of a group of decision makers.
86. How much difference do you think it will make as the Christmas tree gets larger and indeed what about 26 countries? Will it make any difference?
(Professor Heuser) I think it will make a vast difference and I think there will be much more action by smaller groups, sub groups of NATO that cannot act on behalf of NATO but will somehow seek a mandate from something like the OSCE or from any other grouping.
87. And the alternative is majority voting being introduced?
(Professor Heuser) Impossible, I think.
(Mr Grant) The parallels between the EU's institutional arguments and those in NATO are very striking. Of course the EU does have majority voting on most areas of decision making now, which allows it to function more or less all right with an ever-broadening membership. This is a real problem for NATO. As Beatrice said, the Quad as far as I know works quite well. It is of course totally informal and as soon as you try and formalise such arrangements, and there has been discussion this year on a directoire in the EU context, the small countries get so angry that they stop it or block it. If the Quad is to continue to be the sort of inner cabinet of NATO it must remain very informal but it will be harder to maintain it when you have the east Europeans in who are, most of them, small countries, with the exception of Poland. It may be that there will be pressure for some sort of UN Security Council model where there is rotation and the smaller countries get their six months of glory. Then of course the whole thing becomes formal and therefore less effective. I assume that Beatrice is right in saying that qualified majority voting simply will not work in NATO because we are talking about sovereignty and military things. Of course, the EU itself is not proposing QMV in matters of foreign defence policy, not on big decisions anyway, so I assume she is right about that, but then how will decisions be taken? One thing that perhaps would be worth looking at is the idea of constructive abstention which is a decision making feature in the EU whereby the country that does not agree with the decision of all the others but does not want to go as far as vetoing it but just constructively abstains. It is allowed to disown the decision in public and let the others go ahead. It sounds quite a good idea to me but it has either never been used in the history of the EU or has been used possibly once, but some system such as that seems to me perhaps worth looking at.
(Professor Heuser) De facto of course NATO countries have been playing this game for a long time. De facto the NATO countries have invited certain countries to join, not Romania in the last enlargement process, and then France came up and said, "We wanted Romania in, and we are not happy about this decision to leave Romania out, but we had to fall into line during the Madrid summit meeting and admit only the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary". So de facto countries have been disowning the majority decision. In a way this constructive abstention has been the de facto voting pattern within NATO. If there is a minority of one that minority of one country would have to concede the point to the rest of the other NATO members except if they were the United States and then except if they were France during certain periods and then during the Yugoslav wars except for Greece, which meant that these countries were not particularly popular at times.
(Mr Grant) I agree that that works as Beatrice describes because all the countries understand the rules of the game and it is possible that some new members do not know that they are not supposed to come and veto decisions. Just a final point on this decision making. As others have said, one way forward in a much wider NATO is for sub groups to operate. Those countries involved in particular military missions will be the ones that take the decisions for those missions. There will be an inner core involved in, say, a mission to Afghanistan or a mission to Africa or whatever, but it will probably a shifting coalition; it will not always be the same countries acting together, but one can speculate that some of the smaller countries will not be involved in any of these avant garde groups that act within NATO. Whether that needs to be formalised in the decision making rules or whether today's rules allow that to happen I am not sure. You will need to ask the institution, I suppose.
(Dr Allin) In formal terms I cannot imagine NATO moving beyond consensus except maybe in some of the highly creative ways that have been discussed, but of course there is consensus and there is consensus. The Kosovo war was fought on the basis of a consensus of sorts but in some cases it would have to be said it was a pressured consensus and the really important meeting of national minds was in the Quad. Italy's position was maybe somewhat complicated, but did it even extend to Italy is an interesting question. I do not think I have too much to add. Certainly on matters of war and peace, on matters of going to war, the idea that any nation state is going to basically accept in advance that it might be outvoted on this isI suppose it could happen but it strikes me as implausible. The example Charles gave was of course an example of institutional enlargement, this constructive abstention; I never thought of France as constructive abstention, but that was not on a matter of war and peace. When you bring up, sir, the possibility of the most powerful state in this alliance developing new norms and new doctrines that include pre-emptive strikes, that strikes me as some place that all NATO members are simply not going to go.
88. So it is not possible, is it, to reach consensus agreement in the event of pre-emptive strikes? Could you imagine that?
(Dr Allin) I cannot imagine it for the entire NATO membership, no.
89. So then we should not be surprised if the US continually ignores NATO. Does that mean that in the event of not going beyond consensus the role of NATO will diminish in these new circumstances?
(Professor Heuser) I think this is phrasing slightly wrongly to say that America will ignore NATO because after all NATO is an instrument and has been created for a particular purpose. If you have a completely different situation it should not come as a big surprise that one does not necessarily use that instrument. What is crucial about NATO, and that is something Dana said, is that it is the only formalised forum of Euro-American co-operation and consultation and that gives it a special quality that in theory, according also to the North Atlantic Treaty itself, could be transferable to all sorts of other issues and other areas. You are also aware, I am sure, that for years and years, particularly countries like Canada have been coming forward and saying that we do need more formal links between North America and Europe on a host of issues that are not covered in NATO, or rather, that in theory are covered by the treaty but are not in fact covered by the institutions. For example, if you are now going to look at things like terrorism and states supporting terrorism and how to deal with them, an area which is not at all covered by NATO, the organisation, you need the co-operation between police forces, Interpol, things like that. Of course there was a lot of co-operation growing there within the European Union under Pillar 3, so there you could see a much more constructive co-operation on that kind of level which would be completely outside the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation because there are no intelligence inputs into the Organisation from the police side or anything like that. This is an area that is really distinct from NATO. Question: how do you create transatlantic co-operation in this area? Would you tack it on to NATO or would you create it separately?
(Dr Allin) When you suggest that the United States is consistently ignoring NATO, first of all I agree that that is an overstatement. Secondly, I think we need to distinguish between two things that have more or less coincided but they are really perhaps quite distinct. The first thing is that there is less interest in NATO in Washington now than there was. It has something to do with the new administration, it has a lot to do with the circumstances after September 11, it has something to do with continuing to store up the trends in terms of disparities of power. This is a long term process. It is something that is going to have to be adjusted to and maybe it requires a degree of honesty on both sides. There was also something very specific of course, which is that NATO invoked Article 5. The European allies were ready to help. It might be going too far to say that they signed a blank cheque but it certainly looked like one, and they waited for the United States to get back to them. In the specific case of the war in Afghanistan the United States was not interested in using the NATO command structure or NATO structures in general to fight that war. I do not think that is particularly surprising. I do not think it quite would have made sense to imagine it being conducted by NATO. Having said that, there was a kind of attitude in Washington at the same time, there was an attitude in the Pentagon that derived from some of the long term factors I am talking about and then from a very one-sided interpretation of the lessons again of the Kosovo war, but this is NATO's experience really, that there was this view in the Pentagon that this was war by committee, "and, by God, we never want to do this again". At the same time that they were, for very rational and sound reasons not even really considering using NATO as the command structure to fight this war, they were saying nasty things about it. The coincidence of these two things I think may have left a sour taste with some people, but they are not quite the same.
90. This Committee produced a very critical report on NATO and Kosovo, so we do not approach the subject naively, but is there any discussion of the problems that the United States caused? I have read some of Wes Clark's autobiography and that book on civilian/military relations published by Halberstrom. It seems to me there was as much of a crisis generated on the United States side as there was generated on the European side, the backstabbing, the confusion. Here am I uncharacteristically standing up for the European side. Why should we take all the blame for failures in Kosovo when the United States partly contributed to the confusion and not to the failure but the long time it took? It was not all our fault. Do people talk about it more fairly than you might have said initially?
(Dr Allin) First of all, I agree with you entirely. Wes Clark agrees with you entirely, judging by his book. The committee that bothered him was not in Brussels.
91. The Pentagon.
(Dr Allin) The Pentagon never wanted to fight this war and was dragging its feet and doing various things to undermine General Clark. Is this discussed in these terms in the United States? In the analytical community I think it is but not so much in the Pentagon.
92. You have talked about the difficulties of decision making and consensus. We have talked about enlargement. I am not persuaded really that there is that much difference between that and the difficulties of 19 or 26, shall we say. Do you think there is a cap on how far we can go? Do you think that there is real will to streamline the decision making and make some very difficult decisions in order to make it happen, or is NATO therefore just petering out into a way of achieving stability and a bit of dialogue with the United States and that is about all it will enact?
(Professor Heuser) I think there is a difference because I think during the time of the Kosovo campaign NATO was technically still functioning as 16, not 19, because the three new members were slightly overawed and they had been told in no uncertain terms that they were not to veto things, and they were standing back and being very careful and so they were very keen to show that they were good partners and would support everybody who had helped them to get in. I do think from that point of view that the size is going to matter because it is going to be a larger crowd and there will be far more competition among the newcomers for American attention, etc. One of the things that has been very clear over the past couple of years is to what extent the newcomers really do see this institution as a way to get access to America or to American co-operation in some way, that it is almost a means of having a permanent dialogue with America. I think that will lead to competition among them. To go back to the numbers, again this is very simple business psychology. It is surprising how very much it applies to committee work that if you cannot see everybody around the tableand the NATO tables are not nicely horseshoe-shaped; they are all long,it literally matters that you cannot catch the eye of people who are in the same row as you, and that was very different when NATO was still 12 or 13. There are very simple rules about how large a committee can be to function properly and to allow an exchange rather than a tour de table which is completely pointless, where everybody says that they are so happy to be here and they thank the President or whatever. You can see that already in the-Euro-Atlantic Council working, how the small east European countries are just wasting time by feeling that they have to say something because everybody has to say something, and then you get to 26 and it will be so different from how it worked in the Cold War. I am not talking about the difference between 19 and 16 because the 19 was a false 19 at the time of Kosovo, but I think from the Cold War model where there were problems galore, leadership crises galore, lack of solidarity galore and problems of consensus galore, let us not kid ourselves, but that will be noticeably different.
93. But is there the will for individual states to make a compromise to make it work?
(Professor Heuser) I think so.
(Mr Grant) A lot depends on US leadership. NATO has been able to take decisions despite unanimity because everybody has understood informally, even the French, that if America really wants something we have to give in and let it have it, which is why the French gave in on the last occasion that NATO enlarged.
94. They gave in.
(Mr Grant) That is right. If America remains seriously committed to NATO and the Europeans think that America cares about NATO, then I thinkespecially since the east European countries coming in tend to be very pro-America anyway; there are extraordinarily good links already with the United StatesI am quite optimistic about NATO's ability to take decisions even with 25-odd members. But if of course some of the people in the Pentagon win the arguments in Washington and they really do relegate NATO to a second order organisation so that America is putting less energy into the organisation, then you do not have that glue which comes from American leadership and then the 25 country scenario gets much more difficult and you will get all sorts of shifting coalitions and maybe institutional paralysis. A lot depends on America.
95. The implication of what you are saying about the ability of NATO to make decisions is that it will make decisions as long as they are the ones America wants it to make.
(Mr Grant) Yes, and I do not think NATO has ever made a decision that America did not want.
96. So as long as we continue to say yes everything will be fine?
(Professor Heuser) NATO has made some very interesting compromise decisions.
97. And to the extent of what those decisions are, if the destiny is that the US deals with the axis of evil and NATO deals with co-ordinating the police forces, is that what you are saying?
(Professor Heuser) Can I just come back on what you said precisely about America ignoring NATO and back to the image rather of saying that it is a tool and America uses it when it is useful to America and that there are other tools that America will turn to if that particular tool is not appropriate? That in itself is very value-neutral. For example, I am a specialist in nuclear strategy. Nobody needs nuclear strategy today. But that is a good thing. I may have little market value these days but this is good for our safety. Similarly, it is a good thing if NATO does not get that amount of attention from America because perhaps peace in Europe does not need that amount of attention. The problem, however, is that NATO is the only organisation for transatlantic consultation. What we are saying is that if America does not give this particular organisation attention there is no concerted forum in which the United States can be together with its old close allies. There is only the OSCE which is huge, even huger than NATO will be after the next round of enlargement, so there is simply no forum for a consultation that in the past has been useful and sometimes has stretched to other areas. That is the problem of that particular organisation becoming less important.
(Mr Grant) If I could just answer Jim's point, does NATO exist simply to do America's will, it is a little bit more subtle than that, I hope. European defence is a good example. We do have a very complex series of agreements worked out now which will link the European defence organisation to NATO although Greece is currently vetoing the implementation of this. The Americans left to themselves will probably quite happily not have this European defence thing which the Chairman of the Committee knows well, but it is there. They did listen to the Europeans. The British said to the Americans, "Look: actually it is not a bad idea, it is not against NATO, it could strengthen NATO", and they listened, so I think there are historical examples of the Americans listening to European initiatives, European ideas, and as long as the Americans think those initiatives are not harmful to their interests they will go along with them and there are a number of examples where they have done that.
98. You cannot expect subtlety from an Arsenal supporter. I must remind you of that.
(Dr Allin) I just wanted to basically agree with both of my colleagues here and observe maybe one implication of what they are saying, which in a way is almost banal but, if one thinks about it, fairly important to say, that this is a new NATO. We do not know what it is going to become on two levels. First of all, as Professor Heuser said, and I think very importantly, that of course it was 16 and then 19 members and that is already big enough, but they were familiar to each other. There were patterns, it was an old marriage. In trying to come to a consensus about what to do in the Balkans they knew who they were dealing with. They knew who the Turks and the Greeks were and what the issues there were. That is no longer arguably going to be the case. I defer to Professor Heuser in terms of management theory and what she says sounds very plausible to me: the size of the table matters. But not only do we not know the new members and what kind of new dynamic that adds. We really do not know the most important old member. Really there is a real change in the United States. It is important to try to be clear and to add value to discussions like this but I really hate to be categorical at a time like this because we really are, I think, at a moment of historical discontinuity and it has to do with how the United States responds to what has happened to it, which further has cast a very stark light on the new position the United States was already in after the Cold War but it now has to come to grips with, and will the United States remain interested in NATO to the degree that Charles says is important for the institution to work, and I think that is what he was implying. I do not know. I know it is not going to be as interested in NATO. Will it be interested enough? That is the question.
99. It seems to me as somebody who is a devotee of NATO so appalling that an institution that has served us so well, that many countries want to see work well in the futureI remember the debates in the 1980s on out-of-area where you could not get any country in NATO, apart from the UK, even prepared to contemplate NATO operating outside its narrow confines. Then, when we went to Kabul we were falling over countries who one would never in a million years have imagined would be therethe French, the Germans, the Finns (all right, not in NATO), the Brits in large numbers. When you have at large so many countries prepared to co-operate, prepared to try to make NATO work, when you see the rug being potentially pulled from under it, it is really galling to people like me and many others who are NATO supporters who have sacrificed a great deal in the light of people who were not NATO supporters. I am immensely irritated and draw the analogy with the Treaty of Versailles and American indifference, with catastrophic consequences for European security. Do people give any thought to the consequences of this fairly cavalier attitude in the shaking of the head and saying, "It does not matter. We can manage"? Do people give it that kind of thought or is not anyone making decisions?
(Dr Allin) By "people" you mean Americans?