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Halicki o Patriotach: nie przesadzajmy z ich potencjałem

- Nie przesadzajmy z potencjałem tego miejsca - w ten sposób do rosyjskich zastrzeżeń w sprawie umieszczenia w Morągu rakiet Patriot odniósł się w czwartek szef sejmowej komisji spraw zagranicznych Andrzej Halicki (PO).

Kryzys Europy, Niemcy i Rosja, scenariusz "po"? Dodaj do ulubionych


By George Friedman

Discussions about Europe currently are focused on the Greek financial crisis and
its potential effect on the future of the European Union. Discussions these days
involving military matters and Europe appear insignificant and even
anachronistic. Certainly, we would agree that the future of the European Union
towers over all other considerations at the moment, but we would argue that
scenarios for the future of the European Union exist in which military matters
are far from archaic.
Russia and the Polish Patriots

For example, the Polish government recently announced that the United States
would deploy a battery of Patriot missiles to Poland. The missiles arrived this
week. When the United States canceled its land-based ballistic missile defense
system under intense Russian pressure, the Obama administration appeared
surprised at Poland’s intense displeasure with the decision. Washington
responded by promising the Patriots instead, the technology the Poles had wanted
all along. While the Patriot does not enhance America’s ability to protect
itself against long-range ballistic missiles from, for example, Iran, it does
give Poland some defense against shorter-ranged ballistic missiles and
substantial defense against conventional air attack.

Russia is the only country capable of such attacks on Poland with even the most
distant potential interest in doing so, and at this point, this is truly an
abstract threat. In removing a system that was really not a threat to Russian
interests — U.S. ballistic missile defense at most can handle only a score of
missiles, meaning it would have a negligible impact on the Russian nuclear
deterrent — the United States ironically has installed a system that could
affect Russia. Under the current circumstances, this is not really significant.
While much is being made of having a few U.S. boots on the ground east of
Germany within 40 kilometers (about 25 miles) of the Russian Baltic exclave of
Kaliningrad, a few hundred technicians and guards are simply not an offensive
threat.

Still, the Russians — with a long history of seeing improbable threats turning
into very real ones — tend to take hypothetical limits on their power seriously.
They also tend to take gestures seriously, knowing that gestures often germinate
into strategic intent. The Russians obviously oppose this deployment, as the
Patriots would allow Poland in league with NATO — and perhaps even by itself —
to achieve local air superiority. There are many crosscurrents in Russian
policy, however.

For the moment, the Russians are interested in encouraging better economic
relations with the West, as they could use technology and investment that would
make them more than a commodity exporter. Moreover, with the Europeans
preoccupied with their economic crisis and the United States still bogged down
in the Middle East and needing Russian support on Iran, Moscow has found little
outside resistance to its efforts to increase its influence in the former Soviet
Union. Moscow is not unhappy about the European crisis and wouldn’t want to do
anything that might engender greater European solidarity. After all, a solid
economic bloc turning into an increasingly powerful and integrated state would
pose challenges to Russia in the long run that Moscow is happy to do without.
The Patriot deployment is a current irritation and a hypothetical military
problem, but the Russians are not inclined to create a crisis with Europe over
it — though this doesn’t mean Moscow won’t make countermoves on the margins when
it senses opportunities.

For its part, the Obama administration is not focused on Poland at present. It
is obsessed with internal matters, South Asia and the Middle East. The Patriots
were shipped based on a promise made months ago to calm Central European nerves
over the Obama administration’s perceived lack of commitment to the region. In
the U.S. State and Defense department sections charged with shipping Patriots to
Poland, the delivery process was almost an afterthought; repeated delays in
deploying the system highlighted Washington’s lack of strategic intent.

It is therefore tempting to dismiss the Patriots as of little importance, as
merely the combination of a hangover from a Cold War mentality and a minor Obama
administration misstep. Indeed, even a sophisticated observer of the
international system might barely note it. But we would argue that it is more
important than it appears precisely because of everything else going on.
Existential Crisis in the EU

The European Union is experiencing an existential crisis. This crisis is not
about Greece, but rather, what it is that members of the European Union owe each
other and what controls the European Union has over its members. The European
Union did well during a generation of prosperity. As financial crisis struck,
better-off members were called on to help worse-off members. Again, this is not
just about Greece — the 2008 credit crisis in Central Europe was about the same
thing. The wealthier countries, Germany in particular, are not happy at the
prospect of spending taxpayer money to assist countries dealing with popped
credit bubbles.

They really don’t want to do that, and if they do, they really want to have
controls over the ways these other countries spend their money so this
circumstance doesn’t arise again. Needless to say, Greece — and countries that
might wind up like Greece — do not want foreign control over their finances.

If there are no mutual obligations among EU member nations, and the German and
Greek publics don’t want to bail out or submit, respectively, then the profound
question is raised of what Europe is going to be — beyond a mere free trade zone
— after this crisis. This is not simply a question of the euro surviving,
although that is no trivial matter.

The euro and the European Union will probably survive this crisis — although
their mutual failure is not nearly as unthinkable as the Europeans would have
thought even a few months ago — but this is not the only crisis Europe will
experience. Something always will be going wrong, and Europe does not have
institutions that could handle these problems. Events in the past few weeks
indicate that European countries are not inclined to create such institutions,
and that public opinion will limit European governments’ ability to create or
participate in these institutions. Remember, building a super state requires one
of two things: a war to determine who is in charge or political unanimity to
forge a treaty. Europe is — vividly — demonstrating the limitations on the
second strategy.

Whatever happens in the short run, it is difficult to envision any further
integration of European institutions. And it is very easy to see how the
European Union will devolve from its ambitious vision into an alliance of
convenience built around economic benefits negotiated and renegotiated among the
partners. It would thus devolve from a union to a treaty, with no interest
beyond self-interest.
The German Question Revisited

We return to the question that has defined Europe since 1871, namely, the status
of Germany in Europe. As we have seen during the current crisis, Germany is
clearly the economic center of gravity in Europe, and this crisis has shown that
the economic and the political issues are very much one and the same. Unless
Germany agrees, nothing can be done, and if Germany so wishes, something will be
done. Germany has tremendous power in Europe, even if it is confined largely to
economic matters. But just as Germany is the blocker and enabler of Europe, over
time that makes Germany the central problem of Europe.

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