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The Washington Post’s ace, Jim Hoagland, recently filed an article on challenges facing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) partners during their meeting in Turkey.

[Quote] The Cold War made Europe’s Atlantic identity paramount in the Old Continent’s dealings with the world and particularly with its American ally. Mediterranean and Central European countries developed habits of cooperation and consultation in NATO that promoted the flow of security commitments, commerce and ideas across the North Atlantic.

But the turmoil sweeping the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean today threatens to transform Europe’s strategic outlook on security matters. The United States must pay careful attention to the growing gaps in the ways Washington and its European partners define the greatest dangers to their common well-being.

“For us, the biggest threat comes from the South,” says an Italian friend deeply experienced in NATO matters who now spends his time worrying about waves of migrants fleeing the wars, poverty and breakdowns in governance along the Mediterranean littoral. “Our nightmares are not about Russian tanks invading from the east. They are about the terrorists a short boat ride away in Libya.”

“Nobody in France is debating about arming Ukraine,” a conservative French parliamentarian once known for his hawkish Cold War views told me this week. “We are debating how much national surveillance we need to spot terrorists returning from war zones in Syria and Iraq, and how to stop Africa from completely imploding.”

Many Canadians and Americans will be tempted to leave the Mediterranean crisis to the Europeans to deal with on their own.  But the need for a new emphasis on alliance solidarity and burden-sharing is underscored at this moment by Vladimir Putin’s aggression in eastern Ukraine and the uncertain NATO response it has provoked.
NATO is now, in fact, divided into three factions on Ukraine.

Mediterranean countries are distracted and distant from any common effort to oppose Putin’s attempt to rewrite the rules of war and peace in modern Europe in Russia’s favor.

Fatigue with economic sanctions against Russia is setting in for France, Italy and even Britain. (One measure of the decline of the Atlantic identity in European affairs is Britain’s growing absence in power projection and major-power diplomacy. The recent election campaign contributed to this tendency, but larger forces are shaping the pullback.)

Poland and the Baltic nations, fearing they could be next on Putin’s list, are at the other end of the spectrum. They take a tough, Atlanticist line and seek to deter Putin by multiplying the tripwires that would bring NATO troops to their aid in the event of Russian attacks across their frontiers.

The Obama administration occupies a shifting, reactive middle ground on Ukraine, letting German Chancellor Angela Merkel play the leading role in dealing with Putin while trying to reassure Poland and the Baltic states by rotating U.S. planes and troops into their territories in an operation code-named Atlantic Resolve.

This approach has the merit of keeping Russian-American tensions at a manageable level. But it has not halted Putin’s buildup of Russian forces in Ukraine or prompted him to rein in military commanders who threaten the West with nuclear destruction when the whim strikes them. It will be surprising if the Russian leader does not see a golden opportunity here to drive a wedge between the United States and Europe and if he does not keep the opportunity alive as long as he can. [End Quote]

ObamaPutinColdNoncommunication[“Tensions at a manageable level?”]

Nonetheless, never let it be said that Antalya is not a place where the sobriety shared between Messrs. Putin and Obama overwhelms.

Going back over 2,000 years, the locals in these parts are legendary for knowing how to throw a party.  Considered the Turkish riviera, in 2011 Antalya became the 3rd-most visited city in the whole world, ranking just behind Paris and London (10,5 millions of visitors a year).

AntalyaTurkeyMap

Turks are savvy about their guests. They seem always to have known who their neighborhood’s Real Strongman du jour happens to be.

In the absence of any hint of strength by Obama or a need for copying a Washington landmark ala the White House or the Pentagon,  the Turks lost no time in encouraging a copy of Moscow’s Kremlin complex to become a signature beachfront draw including a copy of colorful St. Basil’s Cathedral.

So, forget all that bundling up, then trekking across Red Square to St. Basil’s in snow ….

St Basil Moscow in snow

and ever-present nasty slush!

Instead, slip on that wee slip of a bikini and try worshiping the Sun God at St. Basil’s-by-Sea instead.  Not familiar with this sun and fun alternative?

Indeed, at the end of all their hopefully serious work and well away from the faux-Russian distractions, the NATO worthies celebrated with a closing event which included locally-hired musicians.  These Turks, perhaps aided by a few wee drams of the local Turkish firewater, encouraged all the NATO attendees to participate in an ‘appropriate’ (or, at least to some) finale; an atonal attempt at Lionel Ritchie’s and Michael Jackson’s joint effort, “We Are the World”.

Notables seen in the clip, below, are the foreign ministers of Greece and Turkey, Nikos Kotzias and Mevlut Cavusoglu, singing and swaying arm-in-arm, as well as NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, EU Foreign Policy chief Federica Mogherini and others.


(If this link does not open, my apologies. Please insert this into your browser: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_wfMrz9_mY)

Despite the raki-fuelled raucousness in Turkey, make the mental hop over the 2,164km (1,345mi) distance from Antalya’s beaches to Moscow.  Revisit Jim Hoagland’s line about “…a shifting, reactive middle ground”.

Assuredly that phrase does not apply to the march past and the scenes of vast new weaponry and troops in Moscow during last months’s most recent celebrations commemorating the end of World War II.

Indeed, the cobblestones of Red Square and the walls of the Kremlin had to tremble with the seemingly endless display of military weaponry and troops.

ChinesePMXi&PutinNov14[President of the People’s Republic of China Mr. Xi Linping and Mrs Xi to the right of President Putin]

If the likely sidebar conversations in NATO Headquarters arising from this picture, alone, don’t rapidly sober up the NATO brass, what will?

One ponders the Fate of the ship of state, or per Longfellow’s immortal  ‘…. sail on, O Ship of State!
Sail on, O UNION, strong and great!
Humanity with all its fears,
With all the hopes of future years,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate!

Our hearts, our hopes, are all with thee,
Our hearts, our hopes, our prayers, our tears,
Our faith triumphant o’er our fears,
Are all with thee,—are all with thee!

Wonder what these happy, dancing NATO nabobs might think on the real “morning after”, and when the ships of NATO states might well be about to sink?

There’s got to be a morning after
If we can hold on through the night
We have a chance to find the sunshine
Let’s keep on lookin’ for the light

Oh, can’t you see the morning after
It’s waiting right outside the storm
Why don’t we cross the bridge together
And find a place that’s safe and warm

It’s not too late, we should be giving
Only with love can we climb
It’s not too late, not while we’re living
Let’s put our hands out in time

There’s got to be a morning after
We’re moving closer to the shore
I know we’ll be there by tomorrow
And we’ll escape the darkness
We won’t be searchin’ any more

There’s got to be a morning after
(There’s got to be a morning after)
There’s got to be a morning after
(There’s got to be a morning after)
There’s got to be a morning after
(There’s got to be a morning after)
There’s got to be a morning after
(There’s got to be a morning after)
There’s got to be a morning after.

—###—
Hat Tips to:
Jim Hoagland, contributing editor, The Washington Post; e-mail: jim.hoagland@washpost.com  writing in A challenge in the south for NATO, http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-challenge-in-the-south-for-nato/2015/04/24/c9654628-ea78-11e4-9767-6276fc9b0ada_story.html

Maureen “The Stradivarius Voice” McGovern who sang There’s got to be a morning after, the theme to The Poseidon Adventure, http://www.maureenmcgovern.com/

WOW Turizm Hotels http://www.mngturizm.com/wow-kremlin-palace

Poem “The Republic” from “The Building of the Ship,” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1892)