I did a 15 minute radio interview today on KURV Radio in the southern Rio Grande valley of Texas. The reporter, Fred Cruz, was concerned that the French-German-Belgian military alliance announced this week was going to lead to the unraveling of the Atlantic alliance. I argued that America’s alliance system was holding together alot better than the headlines would indicate.
First, the Germans had been very cooperative during the Iraq war at the tactical level, allowing full use of American bases, hospitals, and so forth on German soil. The French had allowed overflight rights for B-52 missions, and numerous other European countries had given significant, early support to the American war effort. Indeed, NATO was about to take over the entire Afghanistan operation, with Germany playing a major role in that effort.
The reporter asked why the French are doing what they are doing, and I said they see their power slipping away in three areas: 1) Outside Europe, where America is expanding it’s global military, economic, and political presence; 2) Inside Europe, where France is about to become isolated in the European Parliament by the largely pro-American bloc of newly liberated east European countries; and, 3) In Iraq, where they had deep commercial and political relations with the erstwhile Hussein regime. I recommended a magnanimous approach to the French, in the hopes they would recognize that a change in policy and attitudes would be in their own interest. I noted, however, that the bitterness towards France at the highest levels of the U.S. government was not likely to go away soon.
Finally, I said that the potential military capabilities of this new “Old Europe” alliance were not going to be very impressive compared with U.S., U.K., and NATO power projection and precision strike assets. Those countries were not spending enough on defense, or technological upgrades, to have a big impact on the global stage.
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