The Dutch retreat - The Globe and Mail: "A military alliance without a clear common enemy, or a clear goal, becomes almost impossible to maintain. NATO is still dominated by the U.S., and European allies still fall in line, if only just to keep the alliance going – and in the hope of exerting some influence on the only remaining superpower. This means Europeans participate in U.S.-initiated military adventures, even though national or European interests in doing so are far from clear"
Well, this thoughtful suggestion from Ian Buruma is probably on many a European mind. Spiegel ONLINE today provides a possible development for NATO. Some influential defence people argue for letting Russia join NATO. Today is also the day Sweden has begun having bilateral meetings with Russia. Something makes me think that the article in question is rather about a possible bilateral defence union for Russia and Germany.
With their energy needs, Germany has been approaching Russia for some time now. When former chancellors engage in Gasprom, people tend to get the general idea. Russia has been talking about a new security arrangement for Europe which the US recently described as unnecessary waste of time. However, the experts tries to motivate Russia with the notion that it needs defence against up and coming Asian powers.
The German experts brings up the problem of Russia needing to conform to NATO values. I guess it is possible to ask if Turkey has conformed or deviated during its time in NATO as a possible comparison. Carl Bildt reports from Russia today on his blog and is pleased with what he saw. The situation from the devious Georgian invasion has healed remarkably fast. Georgia has become a small problem and getting Sochi ready for the next Winter Olympics is probably more important.
The large question is of course, and I have discussed it before, is for Russia to decide whether they are European or Asian. There is a border in Yekatherineburg and the question is if Russia wants to have one foot in each door. As it has been relayed in the available press during the last years, it appears that Germany is more willing to accommodate Russia than the US. There are obvious benefits of solving the political problems of the Eastern European states that were former parts of the Soviet Union at the same time. Russia remains wary of the recent NATO advancement as long as they would not be members themselves.
However, as much as a federal politically united Europe would be a good thing if it worked, a Russia joined with Europe with its fundamental differences is for me a fairytale. A Russia joined with a Republican US is of course an impossibility. It is therefore my initial feeling was that the German experts in their article rather wants to feel out the European interest for a German-Russian axis. Who knows, France might also be interested since they have begun sales of weapons to Russia.