The Myth of NATO and the Ghost of SEATO

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Operation Disclosure | By David Lifschultz, Contributing Writer

Submitted on May 19, 2021

THE MYTH OF NATO AND THE GHOST OF SEATO

Compliments of the Lifschultz Organization founded in 1899

The key issue that destroyed the Asian alliances was that the US was more concerned about their own skin during the negotiations with North Korea and not the skin of their allies. The US threatened war with North Korean where their nuclear missiles only could only wipe out Japan and South Korea and leave the US untouched as North Korea did not have an ICBM. South Korea and Japan did not appreciate being used as nuclear cannon fodder. That basically ended the ghost of SEATO forever. See footnote two.

Japan and South Korea no matter which party there is in power knows that the US is using them and so there really is no alliance. The reason it does not visibly break up is that Japan and South Korea do not want to lose the US market for their sales. Japan, South Korea and Germany basically bankrupted the US auto makers rigging their currencies and they do not want to lose that. Their exports based on rigged currencies helped to make half the US industry into a rust belt. This reflects a super power guilty of unlimited stupidity.

Robert Rubin Correspondence – David Lifschultz

Germany is basically following Bismarck in their Nord Stream Two that Biden just backed down on as it would have lost us Germany. We lost them as we can’t keep the Straits of Hormuz open and Germany needs oil and especially natural gas until it can shift to renewables. As much as Germany loved to destroy our industries through currency rigging they could not put themselves in a position that Russia would cut off their oil with Iran if trouble mounted.

NATO is a myth that Germany stays in just to keep the US happy but not too happy as they won’t even spend 2% of their budget on their army which is a wreck as half of their weapons are in shop the last time I checked. The joke is they call it the broomstick army full of transgenders. This is not the Prussian Army of World War Two that held off half the world which had a consolidated GDP of the allies twice that of the Axis Powers. See footnote one.

WorldViews

Footnote One:

Afraid of a major conflict? The German military is currently unavailable.

Jan. 24, 2018 at 4:07 p.m. GMT+1

BERLIN — Three years ago, Germany’s military made headlines when it used broomsticks instead of machine guns during a NATO exercise because of a shortage of equipment. The lack of real weapons in the European Union’s most populous nation was seen as symptomatic of how underfunded its military has long been.

One Russian annexation later, if anything, the state of affairs has only gotten worse, according to the parliamentary commissioner for the country’s armed forces.

He has now reached the conclusion that the German military is virtually “not deployable for collective defense.” Independent commissioner Hans-Peter Bartels also indicated in an interview that Germany was unprepared for the possibility of a larger conflict even though smaller operations abroad may still be possible.

In October, reports emerged that not a single German military submarine was operational — at a time when Russian submarine operations in the Baltic Sea were raising new concerns. Bundeswehr pilots are using choppers owned by a private automobile club to practice because so many of their own helicopters are in need of repair. And about half of all Leopard 2s — the tank which is most common in the Bundeswehr — were out of order as recently as November, which left the country with only 95 tanks of that type. By comparison, Russia is believed to have over 20,000 combat tanks, even though it is not known how many of them are operational.

Defense experts caution that Germany has much higher standards than other countries and may declare a tank nonoperational over minor defects such as a broken blinker. In case of war, they believe, Germany would still be able to mobilize much of its equipment within a short time frame. But Germany’s parliamentary military commissioner, who acts as a political advocate for the armed forces, said that measurements of defense capability should not be based on wishful thinking.

“The hard currency, which should be used to measure the success of the minister, is the Bundeswehr’s readiness for action,” said Bartels, a Social Democrat. “And this readiness has not improved over the last four years but has only gotten worse.”

Bartels was referring to the performance of German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen, a Christian Democrat. Even though von der Leyen has backed increases in military spending and expansion during her term, the repercussions of decades of funding shortages are only fully becoming apparent now as much-needed repairs are mounting, and the purchase of additional equipment is proving difficult.

In 2011, Germany decided to reduce its equipment to save costs and focus on vehicles and weapons needed for the asymmetrical warfare it has encountered in countries like Afghanistan, rather than on more Cold War-reminiscent submarines and tanks. But within four years, German officials had to revise their decision amid concerns over Russian military operations in Ukraine and elsewhere and new fears of a more conventional war in Europe. “By that time, however, a lot of the equipment was already sold. Now, it has to be bought back,” said Gustav Gressel, a senior policy fellow at the European Council on Foreign Relations.

Germany is also still in the process of transitioning from a conscription-based model to a more professional military that relies exclusively on volunteers. Conscription was only abolished here about seven years ago, at a time when other E.U. countries were considering reintroducing it. But the Bundeswehr has so far been unable to fully fill its ranks with volunteers, and critics fear that equipment shortages could deter even more from joining.

In a history-burdened nation that has been among the most war-weary since reunification in 1990, the military is still viewed with more skepticism than elsewhere. Britain and France have filled the void as Europe’s strongest military forces, even though cost-cutting has led to consolidation and layoffs in both countries, as well.

Elsewhere, however, there is a rising awareness that decades of cost-cutting and relying on the U.S. military have damaged Europe’s own defense mechanisms. Sweden, for instance, has reversed its passive military approach and redeployed soldiers to strategically important bases.

Low military spending in Europe has long raised concerns in the White House, with President Trump taking to Twitter in March to publicly accuse Germany of owing the United States “vast sums of money” for NATO. At the time, Berlin rejected his claim while also questioning his understanding of NATO finances. Germany has long demanded that other investments, such as development aid, should also be included in defense expenditure calculations because they may help to make the world safer, too.

“What we want is a fair burden-sharing, and in order to achieve that, we need a modern understanding of security,” von der Leyen said in March. But her critics fear that such calculations mostly hide the extent to which Germany’s military is, literally, out of service.

Footnote two:

May 19, 2021

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The US and South Korea’s Shaky Alliance

Strategic divides and domestic troubles on both sides won’t make their reconciliation easy.

By: Phillip Orchard

South Korean President Moon Jae-in will arrive in Washington for a state visit this week with the U.S.-South Korean alliance appearing to have regained its footing. South Korea is playing nice with Japan, relatively speaking, for the sake of furthering U.S. multilateral aims in the region. Seoul is even hinting at a willingness to cooperate with the Quad (India, Japan, the U.S. and Australia) in some areas, despite its extreme reluctance to antagonize Beijing and its enduring suspicion of Tokyo. It’s also pledged to cooperate more closely with Washington on addressing supply chain vulnerabilities exposed by the pandemic, particularly with regard to semiconductors. For its part, the U.S. has stopped threatening to withdraw from the Korean Peninsula if Seoul doesn’t pay more for the pleasure of keeping U.S. troops there. And its recently concluded North Korea policy review, though short on detail, appears to adopt aspects of Seoul’s preferred approach to managing its tempestuous northern cousin.

The apparent recovery in bilateral ties after a stormy few years – ones that cast unprecedented doubt on the longevity of the alliance – speaks to its resilience. There’s a brief window of opportunity to fortify the partnership around an expanding set of mutual interests. But deep strategic divides and domestic troubles on both sides won’t make it easy.

What Went Wrong

U.S.-South Korean relations under Moon were bound to be strained almost from the start. He took office in May 2017, just as the “fire and fury” era of the U.S.-North Korea standoff was peaking. His top priority, naturally, was heading off a war in which South Korea would almost certainly bear the bulk of Pyongyang’s wrath. His fledgling administration pursued this in several ways, including by publicly signaling an unwillingness to cooperate with the U.S. in a major assault against the North. Either in spite of or because of these efforts, the immediate threat of war subsided. And he then set about attempting to redirect the Trump administration’s attention toward the possibility of some sort of grand bargain with North Korea, particularly once Kim Jong Un himself began signaling a willingness to talk.

Moon did this, in part, to try to put the threat of a U.S.-North Korea war to rest for good and to try to establish a new basis for relations with the North that accounted for, implicitly or otherwise, the fact that it had become a nuclear state. He also did it because North-South reconciliation is a strategic imperative for both Seoul and Pyongyang. And he did it because, having replaced a corruption-plagued conservative as president, he had a lot of political capital to spend on reviving the pro-engagement “sunshine” policy his predecessor had discarded.

The Trump administration saw the political and strategic merit in following Seoul’s lead. Neither “maximum pressure” nor the Obama-era “strategic patience” policies had achieved much, and it was worth exploring the possibility of bringing North Korea in from the cold and, crucially, potentially out of Beijing’s orbit.

But coaxing North Korea out of its shell by dangling, say, promises of economic cooperation would have to be a slow process at best – certainly not one that fit the timelines of U.S. political calendars. Moreover, it would have to be accompanied by concessions on the U.S. and South Korean defense postures on the peninsula. It would require tremendous understanding that the North’s biggest constraints on reconciliation are often opaque power struggles at home. And it would require no small amount of tolerance for setbacks, a willingness even to be extorted at times by a mercurial Pyongyang famous for backsliding with its hand out.

However possible a reconciliation process with Pyongyang really is, it’s hard to see much progress ever being made without the U.S. and the South marching to the same beat. And as setbacks piled up, it became clear that the Moon and Trump administrations weren’t. South Korea, for example, needed movement on sanctions relief for some of its cross-DMZ initiatives to proceed. The U.S., having reached a tacit agreement with Pyongyang on suspending intercontinental ballistic missile tests (essentially keeping the U.S. mainland secure while keeping Seoul and Tokyo at risk), had lost much of its urgency to get a broader deal done. So it balked on sanctions relief while maintaining its nonstarter demand for “complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization.” Seeing itself in an unprecedented position of strength courtesy of successful tests conducted in 2017, Pyongyang shrugged its shoulders and focused on its efforts to drive a wedge between the U.S. and its northeast Asian allies.

(click to enlarge)

Other strains in the U.S.-South Korean alliance made the environment ripe for outside meddling. Most prominent were the U.S. threats to abandon South Korea over stalled burden-sharing negotiations. This contributed to the resurgence of historical South Korean-Japanese tensions (which tend to accompany doubts about U.S. commitments to the region), resulting in a brief trade war and a near-collapse of a trilateral intelligence-sharing pact that the U.S. had spent a decade trying to forge. There were also signs of emerging strategic divergence between Washington and Seoul over China – not to mention what Seoul saw as a lack of support when Beijing took aim at its economy over the installation of a U.S. missile defense system in the South.

What Might Go Wrong

The bottom line is that South Korea had good reasons to fear being abandoned by the U.S. and being entangled by the U.S. in a war it didn’t want to fight. Fears of one or the other are common in any alliance, but fearing both at once is rare because the weaker ally is likely to feel extorted and look for a way out before the partnership turns into a politically unsustainable vassalage.

But the atmospherics, at least, have indeed shifted markedly in recent months. Much of the improvement will probably turn out to be low-hanging fruit: The U.S., which is vulnerable to becoming militarily overstretched, has a growing interest in discouraging allies, particularly prosperous ones with growing military budgets, from free-riding on U.S. security guarantees. But then again, backing off demands that mostly just made capitulation politically impossible for Seoul was easy enough.

And it’s no surprise that the Biden administration’s core focus on strengthening a multilateral architecture in the Indo-Pacific has contributed to a modest improvement between Tokyo and Seoul. Despite their historical issues and Seoul’s long-term suspicion about Japan’s remilitarization, there are a variety of areas – cybersecurity, supply chain resilience, countering Chinese economic coercion and market distortion, North Korea’s shorter-range missiles, sea-lane security – where the two sides would be better off cooperating.

This applies to the U.S.-South Korean alliance as well. A major lesson of the past year for governments everywhere is that a definition of national security that focuses solely on physical threats – and ignores things like economic coercion, critical supply chains, epidemiology, environmental degradation, cybersecurity, emerging technologies, misinformation, transnational corruption and so forth – is too narrow. Moon and U.S. President Joe Biden would have plenty to talk about even if contentious military matters were off the table.

But there’s no ignoring deeper bilateral issues altogether – at least, not for Moon. That’s partly because Seoul is perpetually concerned about seeing its interests ignored in U.S. regional strategies. It’s also because Moon, whose popularity has plummeted over mostly unrelated issues heading into his final year in office, is running out of time and political capital to spend on setting the alliance on what Seoul feels is a sustainable course.

With China, it’s mostly a matter of reaching a common understanding of what Seoul can stomach in countering China’s various coercion efforts. The South is heavily dependent on the Chinese economy and exceedingly reluctant to poke the dragon. The U.S. doesn’t need South Korea to play as large a military role in the region as it does Japan. But given the extent of U.S. investment in the South, as well as the South’s rapidly expanding technological chops, it’s reasonable enough for the U.S. to expect tangible cooperation on at least some aspects of core U.S. concerns with China.

North Korea, as always, is trickier because there simply isn’t much low-hanging fruit to pick. The U.S. hasn’t publicly released its policy review yet, but there were a few noteworthy bits in the White House’s description of its conclusions. For example, the U.S. has adopted Seoul and Pyongyang’s phrasing of the ultimate goal as “denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula,” rather than merely denuclearizing the North. The U.S. is rejecting both strategic patience and maximum pressure while seeking a “calibrated practical approach that is open to and will explore diplomacy” with Pyongyang and making “practical progress” without putting U.S. security at risk. At the risk of reading too much into bureaucratic argle-bargle here, there are two possible interpretations. Either the U.S. is signaling its willingness to pursue the path of engagement envisioned if not yet fully taken by Moon, or, given the paucity of details, it’s signaling an unwillingness to commit to any particular path forward with the North, given that most of them inevitably fail.

It’s safe to assume that the U.S. is keen mainly to keep its options open. The dirty little secret, though, is that the U.S. isn’t inclined to spend much time or energy on North Korea at all. This is why maximum pressure had effectively morphed into strategic patience by President Donald Trump’s last year in office. From the U.S. perspective, success with Pyongyang is too fleeting, and there are many bigger fish to fry at home and elsewhere in Northeast Asia to get bogged down with. From the South Korean perspective, though, keeping the North at bay in the short term while forging a viable long-term road to reconciliation with the North is everything. Eventually, it will need more than just rhetorical assurances from the U.S.; it’ll need concessions on the North the U.S. is none too eager to give. And North Korea, which desperately needs sanctions relief and is still keen to find out just how much leverage its arsenals give it, is really good at making sure it can’t be ignored.

David Lifschultz
THE LIFSCHULTZ ORGANIZATION
DAVID@LIFSCHULTZORGANIZATION.COM

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