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Increased international transparency in military spending is possible

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Authors: Dr Nan Tian and Pieter D. Wezeman

On 20 October the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly will discuss the annual report by the UN Secretary-General containing military expenditure data submitted by UN member states. In keeping with the trend seen in recent years, the number of UN member states participating in the reporting process for 2017 is comparatively low.

However, analysis by SIPRI indicates that many non-participating member states, including countries in sub-Saharan Africa, now release much of the relevant data into the public domain. Thus, the challenge for the First Committee is to encourage member states to submit this data directly to the UN.

Low reporting levels

The UN Secretary-General’s annual report has been published since 1981. The reporting mechanism was created after an agreement between member states that sharing information on military spending would be a useful confidence-building measure, which would increase the predictability of military activities, reduce the risk of military conflict and raise public awareness of disarmament matters.

However, low participation levels have been a long-standing problem—a problem that has worsened in recent years. Participation in the reporting process has declined from annual levels of participation of an average of 40 per cent of UN member states in 2002–2008 to 25 per cent in 2012–16. A total of 49 of the 193 member states submitted reports in 2016. In 2017 the UN Secretariat received reports from 41 governments in time to be included in the 2017 report. As in previous years, it is expected that a few other states will report later in the year.

The functioning of the reporting mechanism has been the subject of discussions by a UN Group of Governmental Experts (GGE), which convened for a total of three weeks in 2016–17. The GGE noted that the causes of the low level of participation in the reporting mechanism should be established through an empirical study. Nonetheless, the GGE suggested a number of possible causes, including the following:

  • reporting fatigue among government officials involved in international confidence-building-related instruments;
  • lack of confidence in the information submitted to the report;
  • lack of perceived benefit, in particular when the government information is made available elsewhere in the public domain; and
  • lingering concerns about the sensitivity of the data.

The low level of participation is all the more remarkable considering that SIPRI based its military spending figures for 2016 on government documents for 148 countries, most of which are available in the public domain.

The case of sub-Saharan Africa

Published UN records show that, as of September 2017, no sub-Saharan African country had submitted an annual report on its military expenditure to the UN; it was a similar story in 2016. However, while they do not participate in reporting at the international level, many sub-Saharan African countries do make a substantial number of their budgetary reports available at the national level. SIPRI monitors these reports and has found considerable improvements in transparency in recent years, specifically in terms of availability, accuracy, reliability, ease of access and level of disaggregation.

Availability

Only five of the sub-Saharan African countries in the SIPRI Military Expenditure Database had no military spending information for the calendar year 2016 (47 of the 49 countries in sub-Saharan Africa are currently included in the database). This is a far cry from the complete absence of submissions to the UN military expenditure report for that year. Of the countries that reported military expenditure budgets, 6 also published ‘revised budgets and actual spending’ documents, while an additional 12 published ‘revised budgets’.

SIPRI’s research shows that for the period 2012–16, only two countries (Ethiopia and Equatorial Guinea) did not provide official government budgetary documents. Most countries publish documents annually with some releasing them biannually and quarterly. Long delays in publication are rare. Only two countries now seem to delay the release of budget documents by a year (Gambia and Guinea-Bissau).

Ease of access

Ease of access to the relevant budgetary information is essential for true transparency in military expenditure. Of the 49 sub-Saharan African countries, 34 have official budget documents published on their Ministry of Finance (MOF) websites, while 8 countries have no information on their respective government (MOF or other) websites and 7 do not have an official MOF website.

The MOF websites of the 34 sub-Saharan African countries where budgetary information is published are generally easy to navigate, follow a logical order of access to information and do not place restrictions on downloading of budget documents. Problems, however, arise in the case of countries with no information on their MOF website. In most of these countries issues such as poor website design (ease of navigation) and low levels of internet technology capacity (e.g. broken links or poorly maintained websites) all hamper public accessibility. There are numerous examples where governments have announced the release of budget documents but due to website or internet capacity problems the documents are inaccessible (e.g. Botswana and Gambia).

Disaggregation

Information disaggregation breaks down military expenditure into different and more detailed elements offering a more precise picture of the resource allocations within the military sector. Indications that spending is not in line with policy can be the first warning of possible resource mismanagement or corruption. By contrast, spending that is aligned with defence policy is a clear sign of confidence building at the national and regional levels.

At the time of writing, of the countries in sub-Saharan Africa for which military spending information is available for the period 2012–16, a total of 31 have provided disaggregated budgets. Whereas, 16 have provided no disaggregation of their military budget.

Insights from sub-Saharan Africa

The sub-Saharan African example shows that international transparency in military spending is possible. A substantial amount of relevant information exists in publicly available national reports. SIPRI has observed vast improvements in military sector transparency in the past five years. The number of public defence policy documents or white papers continues to grow and useful budgetary information is now also becoming more readily available. Countries such as the Central African Republic (CAR), the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia, which previously provided almost no military spending data, now publish disaggregated military budgets and, in the case of CAR, even actual outlays. Others have in recent years constructed public websites where documents can be found.

It is to be hoped that the existence of extensive and relevant budgetary information in the public domain will be highlighted during the First Committee discussions. The challenge for the First Committee is to encourage member states to submit this data to the UN. What is clear from SIPRI’s analysis is that the lack of participation by member states in the reporting process is unrelated to the availability or sensitivity of the information. Since states already report such information nationally, in some cases in a detailed manner, incentives must be offered for these member states to also report to the UN.

The advantages of transparency in the military sector are well known; thus, the discussions on poor participation must focus on the issues of reporting fatigue, the perceived lack of relevance and the required resources (human and capital) in a way that demonstrates that the benefits of collective transparency outweigh the small effort needed to submit already available information. 

For more detail on the issues discussed in this Backgrounder see SIPRI’s forthcoming (early 2018) report ‘Transparency in Military Expenditure: the case of sub-Saharan Africa’. First published in SIPRI.org

(*) Pieter D. Wezeman is a Senior Researcher with the SIPRI Arms and Military Expenditure Programme (SIPRI).

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Rostec State Corporation Promoting Development, Manufacturing and Exporting Military High-Tech Products

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During the gala event dedicated to the 15th anniversary of the Rostec State Corporation. Russian President Vladimir Putin With Rostec CEO Sergei Chemezov.

The Rostec State Corporation was established 15 years ago. Workers and foremen, researchers, engineers, designers and test operators, and all personnel of Rostec enterprises, on this important occasion.

There are thousands of people – highly qualified, unique specialists, some of them are one of a kind, of very different profiles who give their efforts, energy and talent to contribute to the industrial progress of our country and are directly engaged in resolving crucial state tasks in a number of priority high-tech areas.

These include aircraft building, automobile industry, radio electronics, engineering, chemistry, medicine, new materials and, of course, strengthening Russia’s defence capabilities since a significant share of the state defence order goes to Rostec enterprises, the largest corporation in the military-industrial sector.

The tangible results it achieves must continue to be among the corporation’s unquestionable priorities. It was established for this reason and generally to ensure, consolidate, preserve and thus guarantee the development of our technological, industrial and innovative potential.

The days when the corporation was being established and the way it proceeded underscore today that the decision of forming such an industrial powerhouse, a flagship of the Russian economy, and concentration of financial and managerial resources have fully justified themselves.

Yet we must keep moving forward, set new tasks and give proper responses to the most complicated challenges in defence and security, and global technological competition.

The key priority today, the number one task is to do everything possible to meet the needs of our Armed Forces, and crucially, the units and detachments engaged in the special military operation.

Production must be stepped up as well as deliveries of all required products; the state target tasks must be executed precisely, with high quality, and strictly on schedule. We spoke about this repeatedly, including yesterday at a meeting of the Russian Government Coordination Council.

Let me reiterate, we will promptly take any decisions to support our enterprises. Meanwhile, there are not doubtful about the people working there. Plants in Moscow, St Petersburg, the Urals, Siberia, the Far East and in dozens of the country’s regions are operating at maximum capacity working in several shifts. 

Incidentally, under the current conditions, this definitely gives an unparalleled boost to the development of high-tech production, not just in the defence industry but also in related civilian sectors. Indeed, the people are working at full tilt following the example of our ancestors and great traditions of our gun-makers who proved with their work that Russian weapons are the weapons of victory.

The labour teams for this work, for such dedication, for their patriotic commitment to do everything for the defence of Russia, for enhancing its sovereignty so that our heroes, who are now fighting on the frontlines or are being trained in training camps, get all they need.

The heads of the enterprises must take additional measures of social support for the personnel and their families. This concerns, among other things, special incentives and bonus payments to the best specialists and workers.

The experience we have been getting during the special operation and countering modern Western weapons is very valuable and should be used to raise the quality, reliability and military characteristics of some of our weapons and Russian military goods.

In this context, close interaction of Rostec and all respective enterprises, design bureaus, corporations and scientific centres with Defence Ministry specialists is also important.

In addition, internal competition should be organised and encouraged – the domestic Russian competition between enterprises. Serial production must be launched of the best kinds of military equipment based on those which are now being used in the hostilities, which work and confirm their specifications.

Since its inception, Rostec was responsible for the design, production and export of high-tech products, both military and non-military. The work in major promising areas which ensure Russia’s technological sovereignty, must not only be continued but also intensified.

We obviously expect notable breakthrough results from Rostec in such areas as microelectronics and electronic components, aircraft building, equipment for 5G communication networks, and overall, in selecting, implementing and promoting Russian high-tech solutions in all areas which matter to our economy, determine modern living standards and remove dependency on imports.

We have everything in our hands for that: excellent, unique world-class scientific schools, innovative and ambitious groups of researchers and inventors, a powerful industrial base, qualified workers and a talented, strong and well-motivated youth.

A hefty part of this huge intellectual and manufacturing potential of the country is concentrated within the Rostec State Corporation management system. I firmly believe your results and new achievement will match the colossal scale of the strategic tasks for the country’s development.

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America Produces Biological Weapons; Does Russia? Does China?

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Terrorism

On November 26th, Russia’s RT News bannered “US ‘military biological activities’ a threat to the world – Russia”, and reported that the U.S. Threat Reduction Agency (an Orwellian name for an American threat-increasing agency) has issued its “DEFENSE THREAT REDUCTION AGENCY STRATEGY FISCAL YEAR 2022 – 2027”, and says that the DTRA document 

openly identifies expanding the US’ ability to “identify, characterize and exploit adversary WMD vulnerabilities” as one of its goals. Another of its aims is to recognize “potential WMD warfighting obstacles” and find “solutions” to help the US and its allies “win during the conflict.”

Washington’s stated intention of strengthening the implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) has been met with doubt from Moscow. Russia has repeatedly raised the issue of the real goal of the Pentagon’s research programs at various international sites, [but] … these questions remain unanswered to date. 

In late October, Russia filed an official complaint claiming that US-backed biological activities are taking place in Ukraine and requested a UN probe into the matter. The UN Security Council rejected Moscow’s proposal, with the US, UK, and France voting against it.

The DTRA’s document itself opens:

In his Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, published in March of 2021, President Biden focused the Nation’s instruments of power on China and Russia as “pacing threats,” in a frankly acknowledged shift to strategic competition. Secretary of Defense Austin’s published priorities for the DoD have done the same. These developing strategies have revectored the Nation’s national security interest in partnerships and international leadership; on securing the homeland; and in mounting an effective, integrated deterrent to adversary use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and emerging threats.

The document goes on to say:

The United States faces a complex and volatile security landscape. As identified by Secretary Austin’s 2021 Defense Planning Guidance, China remains the pacing threat and seeks to replace the current international rules-based order [America’s proposed replacements of U.N.-based international laws] with one centered on [against] Beijing. While Russia does not pose the same long-term military, economic, or diplomatic challenges as China, it too is highly capable, and seeks near- to medium-term hegemony within its region. [America demands continued and increased U.S. “hegemony” throughout the world.]

In other words: under President Biden, the production of epidemic-producing pathogens will be increased, as part of “a frankly acknowledged shift to strategic competition” against China and Russia.

Page 10 of the document says:

AGENCY GOALS:

3. ENABLE THE JOINT FORCE AND ALLIES/PARTNERS TO COMPETE AND WIN AGAINST ADVERSARIES

The Agency enhances the Joint Force, allied, and partner ability to compete and, when necessary, win against potential WMD-armed adversaries. Today, potential adversaries believe that WMD are critical to shape the battlespace, exert coercive influence, and achieve military aims. The impact of conflicts with WMD-armed adversaries are mitigated by developing counter-WMD technical solutions, highlighting WMD warfighting challenges and adversary vulnerabilities through strategic and operational analysis, and supporting DoD plans and exercises focused on CWMD threats. The Agency provides the Joint Force, allies, and partners with unique insight into adversary WMD force posture, doctrine, and systems. In particular, DTRA examines how potential adversaries plan to employ and integrate WMD during conflict. This better prepares U.S. and allied forces for overmatch within a WMD battlespace. To this end, the Agency will:

Expand our ability to identify, characterize, and exploit adversary WMD vulnerabilities; Strengthen target characterization and servicing requirements for WMD hard targets;

Develop non-traditional planning solutions to emerging WMD problems, to include preventing further WMD employment following adversary first use; and

Recognize potential WMD warfighting obstacles as well as potential solutions to enable the Joint Warfighter to win during conflict.

But is China, and is Russia, actually developing and producing biological weapons — or is America itself instead actually leading the way toward a pandemic-plagued global future?

On 28 May 2020, I headlined “The Stupid Insanity of Biological-Warfare R&D” and argued:

——

There is much speculation that the coronavirus-19 or Covid-19 was invented in a research-and-development (R&D) biological-warfare (B-W) lab, which might have been one in China, the U.S., or perhaps some other country; but, if that is the case, then that country’s entire military top brass and Commander-in-Chief (C-i-C) are not merely stupid but insane, for the following very simple reason: NO weapon is usable in war if it cannot be effectively and controllably targeted, and B-W weapons cannot be effectively and controllably targeted — they are contagious and respect no national boundaries and therefore endanger instead of protect the people who live in the country that has such a stupid and insane government, a government that is doing B-W R&D. Any such government (any country that is doing B-W R&D) is so bad that it needs to be immediately overthrown by its own population, because its own population is being mortally and severely threatened by that government’s stupidity and its insanity: its entire military top brass including its C-i-C must therefore be placed on trial for possible treason, at least in order to more-accurately define the very meaning of “treason,” a term whose meaning is not yet sufficiently clearly defined. (Is there no due-diligence requirement for public servants? Is there no accountability at all for any public servant who harms the public, no matter how badly? Public office entails enormous power, which is why it is so sought; but, along with that power needs to come full accountability. Does that exist? If not, is the nation effectively, then, a dictatorship?)

Ever since at least 1952 (and that 764-page document takes about ten to 30 minutes to load, but here are some excerpts), the U.S. Government has actually been doing R&D (research and development) into the use of bacteria and viruses as weapons to conquer countries that it wants to add to its empire (“allies,” or vassal-nations — not merely friendly nations but instead governments, including some barbaric dictatorships, that would prejudicially favor the products of U.S.-based international corporations; this is the U.S. international-corporate empire that became the U.S. Government’s supreme international-relations policy-objective to expand globally starting on 26 July 1945 . That biological-warfare (B-W) R&D tactic was part of America’s ‘anti-communist’ campaign, and it started in this American imperial invasion mainly against North Korea but also against China. The U.S. Government lied and denied that it was true, but subsequently an international scientific team investigated exhaustively into the matter and published the evidence which showed that it had, in fact, happened. Mainly the North Korean population had been bombed with contagious bacteria, but (as is common with R&D) the hoped-for results from this experiment (in this case an uncontainable spread of a deadly infection only in the bombed area) failed. Unfortunately, that failure (of an insanely stupid program) did not terminate the U.S. Government’s B-W R&D, and the same U.S. regime remains in place and continues to this day.

For example, the great investigative journalist Dilyana Gaytandzhieva headlined on 20 September 2018, “‘Diplomatic Immunity’ Used to Traffick Human Blood and Pathogens for Secret Military Program” and opened:

The US Embassy to Tbilisi transports frozen human blood and pathogens as diplomatic cargo for a secret US military program. Internal documents, implicating US diplomats in the transportation of and experimenting on pathogens under diplomatic cover were leaked to me by Georgian insiders. According to these documents, Pentagon scientists have been deployed to the Republic of Georgia and have been given diplomatic immunity to research deadly diseases and biting insects at the Lugar Center – the Pentagon biolaboratory in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi.

This military facility is just one of the many Pentagon biolaboratories in 25 countries across the world. They are funded by the Defense Threat Reduction Agency (DTRA) under a $ 2.1 billion military program – Cooperative Biological Engagement Program (CBEP), and are located in former Soviet Union countries such as Georgia and Ukraine, the Middle East, South East Asia and Africa.

Instead of investing in the health of its own citizens the US government has spent $161 million of US taxpayer money on the Lugar Center in Tbilisi for research on deadly diseases and biting insects abroad. (©Al Mayadeen TV)

The secret facility is located just 17 km from the US Vaziani military airbase in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi.

The Pentagon biolaboratory is heavily guarded. All passers-by within a radius of 100 m are filmed although the military biolaboratory is located within a residential area.

I am being filmed while talking to local residents on the street near the Pentagon biolaboratory and I want to know why the security guards are filming me. (©Al Mayadeen TV)

The security guards warn me that if I do not comply, show my passport and leave this place, I will be arrested. My official request to the Lugar Center for access to the facility and for interviews has also been rejected.

Secret experiments at night

However, I go back at night when the laboratory is seemingly still working. No matter how far the distance the air is laden with the smell of chemicals. This smell coming from the Lugar Center at night is blown by the wind to the residential area. Local residents from the Alexeevka neighbourhood, where the laboratory is located, complain that dangerous chemicals are being secretly burnt at night and that hazardous waste is being emptied into the nearby river through the laboratory’s pipes.

Gaytandzhieva there was reporting on what is clearly a U.S. B-W R&D facility, and so there can be little reasonable doubt that the U.S. Government is so insatiably voracious as to be placing the entire world’s safety at risk in order to advance its imperialistic objective.

What use can there actually be for this R&D? Whom does it actually benefit? Has any U.S. President, or any member of the U.S. Congress, pressed to defund all such taxpayer-financed operations and to prosecute the persons who created them? Is there no accountability? The United States has a higher percentage of its population in prison than does any other country on this planet, and so why are not perhaps half of them released and maybe just a thousand of the key individuals who did this immense harm placed there instead? Why is this not being investigated by the same U.S. Government that created the problem? Is there no accountability except against the poorest (such as in America)?

There are allegations that the Government of China likewise engages in this stupid and insane R&D. Consequently, the Editor-in-Chief of China’s Global Times newspaper, Hu Xijn, headlined on May 18th, “If coronavirus did not originate in China, Trump team’s campaign strategy will collapse” and he said via a youtube:

“The European Union is proposing an investigation into the origin of the coronavirus. As long as the investigation is scientific and fair, Beijing has no cause for concern. I think that Washington is the one that should be worried. Beijing has maintained that the coronavirus is an enemy of humankind no matter where in our global society it came from. Beijing has always taken this stance, which is shared by the majority of the world’s countries. Only Washington has politicized the coronavirus’s origins as a way to divert responsibility toward China for the US federal government’s ineffective handling of the pandemic. Now that early COVID-19 cases in the US are still being discovered, I believe the Trump administration has become very nervous. If the investigation finds that the coronavirus did not originate in China, or even finds that it originated in the US, the Trump team’s campaign strategy will collapse. As long as the WHO leads the investigation, and investigates China, the US and the whole world, it will be a good thing. If it finds that the virus originated in China, the US political offensive has already spent most of its energy. If it finds the opposite, which might be the case, it will be a heavy blow to the Trump administration.”

If the virus did originate in a Chinese B-W R&D lab, then the next question is: Who actually benefits from that R&D? All such individuals should be tried at the International Criminal Court (like America’s never were) for violating the existing international laws against such ‘weapons’; but, also, the question would be essential to pursue, of why such stupid and insane ‘weapons’ are being pursued — who benefits from ANY such R&D. Is it not blatantly clear “that the coronavirus is an enemy of humankind no matter where in our global society it came from”? That’s the point here. The United States Government is this stupid and insane, but is China’s also?

As regards the penalties that ought to be imposed against any such perpetrators, there is something else that is clear, and it is that a distinction must always be made between institutional criminality that is unintentional but the result only of failure to carry out due diligence — in other words, purely a result of incompetence —  versus institutional criminality that entails the CEO’s actual intention to achieve some criminal goal.

——

Russia says: “In late October, Russia filed an official complaint claiming that US-backed biological activities are taking place in Ukraine and requested a UN probe into the matter. The UN Security Council rejected Moscow’s proposal, with the US, UK, and France voting against it.” In other words: the U.N. Security Council voted politically on this — voted only on a partisan basis. RT’s article (as is unfortunately normal there and in all ’news’-media) provided no link to the alleged sources, the U.N.S.C. debate, and to the vote there on it; but, if Russia’s proposal was phrased in a partisan, instead of neutral, way, then that vote-outcome was inevitable and Russia itself was largely to blame for its failure. However: if it was not, then why is Russia hiding from the public what their precise proposal was? That wouldn’t be very bright of them. But was it the case? (‘News’-reporting that hides its sources is no better than gossip.)

Are OTHER Governments, and not ONLY America’s, producing biological-warfare ‘weapons’ — such UNTARGETABLE mass-murdering ‘weapons’ as these pathogens? Why are Russia and China doing nothing to force that issue to the public’s attention? Any U.N.S.C. proposal on the matter needs to be clearly nonpartisan. Otherwise, failure on it will be inevitable, and the entire matter will continue to be ONLY an international political football — as it is

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Contemporary Atlantic Alliance: An “Existential” Expansion that Obviates the Evil of Fighting

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Image source: NATO

The behavior that characterized the reactions of US President Joe Biden and Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Jens Stoltenberg, about the identity of the missile that fell on Polish territory, is not critical. The two men were keen to deny Moscow’s responsibility for its launch, and content themselves with a simple and simplistic narrative saying that it was a Ukrainian air defense missile that deviated from its course in the face of Russian attacks. The origin is the sufficiency of the evil of the clash with Moscow, on the part of the Atlantic involvement in particular, because whether the narrative that is is correct or fabricated, no one on both sides of the ocean, the Black Sea, and the Baltic Sea is ignorant of the dangers of a spark like this, which represents an escalation capable of igniting a confrontation like that. The funniest thing in the context is that the White House and NATO contacts with the Polish government did not aim at consolation or tightening the bonds and solidarity, as much as they exercised a series of pressures so that Polish President Andrzej Duda would not request the activation of Article 4 of the NATO Charter, which obliges allies to consult if a member state feels that its territorial integrity or its political independence or security is under threat.

     The principle of the clash, or the sufficiency of its evil either, brings one back to the fact that NATO is not the only military alliance in our contemporary world; And it is not the only reminder, almost, that mankind lived the Cold War throughout an entire and integrated era, just as well; Rather, it is also an alliance of intersecting, converging or opposing interests, often subject to give and take according to the principles of bargaining, settlement, and quota. This does not mean that NATO is not a geographical-civilian-cultural quota, according to what humanity understood from the words of former Czech President Vaclav Havel, two decades ago when his country hosted a NATO summit unlike any other, simply because it was considered a “transformation summit”. At that time, Havel said, in an unmistakable tone of warning, that “the alliance should not expand outside a very specific arena of civilizations that are generally known as Euro-Atlantic or Euro-American civilizations, or simply the West.” Was it Turkey that was meant by that implicit definition that does not completely succeed in purifying all the racist odors? Or were the countries in which Muslim communities still live? What is the motive for issuing this warning when the summit is discussing the expansion of the alliance in eastern and southern Europe, and the inclusion of seven new countries in the club? And which of these countries (which received their membership documents in the alliance at that time: Estonia, Bulgaria, Slovenia, Slovakia, Romania, Latvia, and Lithuania) did not meet the criteria of the Euro-Atlantic civilization track?

     Some argue, as these lines do, that such questions remain superfluous, whoever asked them, as long as the alliance’s military-political structure is, and as long as the United States is at the forefront of its leadership and direction on various levels, from which considerations of America’s geo-political interests are not absent in the first place. Indeed, the French and Germans do not stop harassing the Pentagon, and the right in Spain lost the battle of the sacred alliance with Washington, and the legacy of the alliance in Libya, Iraq, and Syria is not at all a significant harvest … On the other hand, all members of the alliance know that the shock of 9/11 granted the United States more than a military license; Washington also spared the embarrassment of consulting with Atlantic allies whenever the bell rang in a church. And if the Prague meeting deserved to be called the “Transformation Summit,” this was not primarily for military reasons, but rather because NATO penetrated all the former Warsaw Pact sites, and reached Russia’s back, belly, and flank, north, south, east, and west!

     It is also true that the balance within the alliance is not only imbalanced in favor of the United States but rather lacks a set of elements that allow the use of the term “balance” in any tangible sense. The correspondent of the British newspaper “The Independent” chose a funny way to express this imbalance, so he recorded the fact that the American delegation to that summit of transformation occupied seven floors of the Hilton Hotel that hosted the delegations, compared to one floor for the Dutch delegation, for example! In other, more indicative terms, the United States alone spends one billion US dollars daily on defense affairs, while the total of the 15 European members of the alliance spends nearly 500 million dollars. The world needed the tactlessness of former US President Donald Trump to read tweets like this one: “Without success, for years Presidents have tried to get Germany and other rich Atlantic nations to pay more for protection from Russia. They pay a small portion of their alimony. The United States pays tens of billions of dollars more than it should subsidize Europe and loses a lot in trade. Or this: “Above all, Germany has begun to pay Russia, the country from which it seeks protection, billions of dollars for its energy needs through a pipeline from Russia. this is unacceptable! All NATO nations must implement the 2% commitment, and this must rise to 4%.

     And the situation is that the Atlantic began as an American military arm in practice, where the European units affiliated with it are nothing more than a completion of the external decoration; And so the alliance remains today, even after it has grown in number, in equipment, and the area of deployment. It has expanded from 12 founding countries to 15 in the fifties of the last century, until it has reached 32 countries today, including Sweden and Finland; Among them are three former Soviet republics (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania), and seven former members of the now-extinct Warsaw Pact (Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Albania, Croatia, Poland), and there is a discordant mix in the record of those aspiring to the membership that includes Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and …Ukraine!

     As for the level of ideological preaching, military doctrine, and tactical cover, the justifications for the existence of the alliance can begin with the assertion that it is “the largest and most successful alliance in history,” according to former US Secretary of State and retired General Colin Powell; It will not end with the certainty of former French President Nicolas Sarkozy (who apostatized from the Gaullist philosophy and restored France to the military leadership of the alliance) that NATO is the only guarantor of European security, which has come and has not come for decades; In addition to the certainty of a country like the Czech Republic, that the difference between its reliance on European defense, versus the American defense, is like the difference between earth and sky!

     Whatever these “existential” questions, or others, the matter is the same in terms of the immortality of the alliance’s essence, militarily and politically. As long as the United States is the most important country in ensuring its survival, and in strengthening its technological fork in particular, both in defense and attack. The French and Germans indeed tried to harass Washington before the invasion of Iraq in 2003; And Afghanistan, under Obama, turned from a secondary front to a central one… But it is also true that Western Europe (capitalism, free, relatively healthy because of the grace of the United States in protecting the free world and capitalism…), is not allowed to flourish more than the prosperity of the United States itself, and to unify its ranks by detracting from the principle of American hegemony over the international system. That is why the United States pours whatever oils it wants on wars here and there, and it does not find embarrassment when it avoids the evil of fighting, and there are no big differences here between Trump and Biden in terms of the lack of diplomacy or the excessive use of it.

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