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Revising The CFE Treaties To Counter ABM Doctrinal Changes

European pacifism presents an even bigger problem for NATO. If neither the people, nor governments, nor armies are ready to go to war, it does not matter how many weapons a particular army has, and of what quality. Photo courtesy AFP.
by Alexander Khramchikhin
Moscow (RIA Novosti) May 9, 2007
U.S. forces in Europe are being rapidly decreased. In the late 1980s there were four divisions, plus one brigade in West Berlin and nine tactical wings of the U.S. Air Force. Now there are two divisions, one brigade and three wings; moreover, both divisions are actually not even in Germany but in Iraq.

The United States has signed agreements on leasing some facilities in Bulgaria, Romania and Poland, where it will deploy only small numbers of technical and auxiliary personnel.

It is possible to deploy rather large contingents at local facilities, but this would take time, so any surprise attack is out of the question. But the main point is that today the United States does not have the potential for conducting operations outside Iraq and Afghanistan. Moreover, the Iraqi syndrome has taken away American society's appetite for armed conflicts, thus depriving the United States of the ability to conduct any more or less serious wars for a long time to come.

European pacifism presents an even bigger problem for NATO. If neither the people, nor governments, nor armies are ready to go to war, it does not matter how many weapons a particular army has, and of what quality. The operation in Afghanistan is a case in point. Continental European countries are sending only symbolic contingents there, and even these units adamantly refuse to fight despite Washington's growing insistence.

All this is readily apparent. The seizure of 15 British sailors is also telling. There is no need to comment on their conduct in captivity.

For these reasons, NATO does not pose any threat to Russia. This does not mean that the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty should be buried. Unilateral withdrawal would not be in Russia's interests because it would help Washington achieve what it wants the most: to unite NATO in the face of a "new threat from the East."

It would be much more sensible for Russia to offer two possibilities for the treaty to be overhauled.

The first option: Instead of being measured against the Warsaw Pact, NATO forces should equal those of the Collective Security Treaty Organization. Members of the latter who are also signatories of the CFE treaty include Russia, Belarus, Armenia and Kazakhstan.

All flank limits should be canceled. Instead, the sides should agree that a change in the membership of an alliance should not alter the total ceiling of armaments that it is allowed to have. Admission of a new country to an alliance or withdrawal from it should be offset by the redistribution of limits between its members, while the total ceiling should remain the same. The existing limits may be preserved for countries that are not members of any bloc -- Ukraine, Moldova, Georgia and Azerbaijan.

Naturally enough, the treaty should include Slovenia and the Baltic countries as well as Croatia, Albania and Macedonia if they join NATO.

The second option is that NATO could be regarded as equivalent to Russia, or since this is not very realistic, the sides could establish a ratio for all types of armaments, for instance 1.5-to-1. They should also accept a ceiling for NATO's weapons, regardless of its expansion.

Since the existing quotas are too high anyway, Russia should propose much lower ones, for itself as well. Such cuts would not run counter to anyone's interests -- the sides would simply get rid of obsolete weapons if they had any. But the signing of a new treaty would substantially build trust and reduce tensions.

(Alexander Khramchikhin heads the analytical department at the Institute of Political and Military Analysis in Moscow. This article is reprinted by permission of RIA Novosti. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's and do not necessarily represent those of RIA Novosti.)

Source: RIA Novosti

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Moscow (RIA Novosti) May 04, 2007
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