re: "Movement on the European Defense Front"
"French President Sarkozy's proposal to create an intervention force among the EU's six biggest members:
Sarkozy wants to boost European defence during his country’s presidency of the EU in the second half of this year and create what he describes as a “European pillar” within NATO. He is planning to use an offer to reintegrate France fully into NATO command in 2009 to leverage support from European allies for new initiatives on European defence.
"US Defense Secretary Robert Gates' warning about the dangers of a "two-tier" alliance: "His warning comes too late. The two-tier arrangement already exists, with the great majority of member states content to occupy the lower tier." As for "political clubs," Europe, the countries of the former Soviet Union, and the United States all share membership in the Vienna-headquartered OSCE (the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which, according to its website, is "the world's largest regional security organization whose 56 participating States span the geographical area from Vancouver to Vladivostok.") The OSCE should be the primary discussion forum - no need for NATO to duplicate the "talking shop."
Sarkozy's proposal - especially if embraced by Great Britian, France's partner in the ten-year old St. Malo Declaration - could mark the beginning of a reversal of the downward slide. After the long hiatus of post-Soviet drift, Russia under Putin has flexed its economic muscles, and Europe takes notice each time the gas pipeline nozzles are tightened. Within NATO, Europe can only assert its interests if backed up by credible military assets."