Janet Camus writes from Brussels: NATO’s Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has called the Russian Foreign Minister, Sergei Lavrov, on Friday to explain to him that should the Patriot missiles be deployed in Turkey they would not constitute a threat to Moscow or anyone else apart from Syria. As AFR explained, they would be used to take out Syrian missiles in case they happen to fly into Turkish erritory. Mr Lavrov in turn pointed out that the more weapons there are in the area, the greater the risk that they will be used. To which AFR replied that NATO will do whatever it takes to defend its ally, Turkey.
Frankly, who cares a crap-in-the-hat what Russia thinks, as the great LBJ used to say in his rare idle moments in the Rose Garden. And, equally frankly, who cares a suck-on-a-raw-egg what NATO thinks as the great Vitaly Evgenievich Lui used to say in his rare idle moments at Bakovka?
The hard metal story is that last Wednesday NATO got a formal request from Turkey to deploy Patriot anti-missile systems along its 560 mile border with Syria. No big deal some say, pointing out that the same thing happened during the Gulf Wars in 1991 and 2003. Then the Dutch handed over some of theirs for the joint cause. Germany and the US are the other NATO nations with Patriots to go. Rasmussen, NATO’s mouthpiece, said if the missiles were put in then they would ‘augment Turkey’s air-defence capabilities.’ Who would have thought it?
Russia has to go through the motions. It wants to block American’s ambition to deploy longer range anti-ballistic missiles in Europe. The Americans say it’s to protect everyone, if Iran takes a pop at Europe. Maybe. Moscow says it sucks (as Lui might have bothered to say). Rasmussen says it’s a great idea – but then he would, wouldn’t he? He believes it too. He’s a Jutlander and he was Prime Minister in a coalition government. So he knows.
Down the road from Rasmussen’s office, the EU is doing its best to make itself look incompetent – so far a triumph worthy of Caius’s donkey groom who thought the world was perhaps round but impossibly so. In his lecture at the venerable University of Zürich, Rasmussen wondered about Churchill’s vision thing delivered in that same place when the cordite of World War could still be sniffed. Churchill had seen the need for a Europe united like a United States of Europe. That was not a federal union, but a consensus of ambitions. The three events are linked.
NATO in 1949, was the first ambition realised to save Europe from its tendency to internecine nastiness. The European Union extended what was a perfectly reasonable ambition born of an iron and coal community but Rome fluxed that into a notion that union meant federalism. With the fall of the USSR in 1991 the template for a stable Europe was drawn with only energy supplies as the unresolved puzzle of the continent’s security.
But now we arrive at the next stage of the great Churchillian dream beloved by most European members as long as they can individually hang on to most of their independence and get lashings of subsidies at the same time. They want an elected President. Someone to call in an emergency as Kissinger almost said.
Most of the EU ordinary candidates are rubbish. Tony Blair desperately wants the job as long as it includes a sun-bed. But backroomers here in Europe’s capital are having other ideas. For the past couple of years, NATO has been in the thick of every European, North African and West Asian crisis. Hardly anyone has noticed. Maybe they have not noticed because as Lui (or Victor Louis as he later called himself) wondered aloud as he polished his collection of classic European cars, who cares what NATO thought? But they do. They can afford to because the whole affair is quietly managed. That’s why the back rooms have a Dane in mind for the first stalking horse for the biggest job in the world. President Rasmussen? A Jutlander? Why not? Churchill would have voted for that – so would Lavrov.