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By John Helmer, Moscow

Anne Applebaum is one of the advocates of war against Russia to the last Ukrainian – and to the last Pole, too.

Until very recently, she proposed reinforcing Poland’s borders with fresh North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) forces. On March 20, the Washington Post gave her a platform to declare: “we need to re-imagine NATO, to move its forces from Germany to the alliance’s eastern borders.” There are currently about 40,000 US forces in Germany, 21,500 UK troops, and 160,000 in the German Army. Assuming Applebaum means to leave the Bundeswehr to stay put and not repeat a former mistake, altogether, Applebaum proposes to redeploy to the NATO side of Russia’s frontier, 61,500 men.

radekThis was many more than Applebaum’s husband, Polish Foreign Minister Radosław (Radek) Sikorski, told NATO he wants to see on Poland’s eastern border. On April 1 he called for the positioning of two armoured infantry brigades of 5,000 men each. “It is very important,” he said, “that all members should enjoy the same level of security. Poland has been a member of NATO for 15 years now – and so far the only permanent military institution that we have is a conference centre, training facility. We would welcome a prominent, major presence.”

Warsaw sources say the major presence Sikorski has been meaning for the past five years has been himself. But by the time his wife started beating the drum for NATO to move out of Germany and into Poland, it was too late for Sikorski at NATO headquarters.

On March 28 NATO announced its new secretary-general will be the former Norwegian prime minister, Jens Stoltenberg. He replaces the former Danish prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen., whose term ought to have run out in the summer, but who has obtained an extension until September 30.

“Do you identify with NATO’s mission of peace and security?”, NATO asks in the career opportunities section of the official website. “Do you want to support high-level committees working on security and defence matters for our Alliance of 28 nations? Can you contribute to shaping NATO’s future?” In practice, the chief bureaucrat at NATO must be a European, while the military command of NATO forces must be an American.

Since 1952, the British have taken 3 of the secretary-general jobs; the Dutch, 3; the Italians, 4 (including two temporaries); the Belgians, 2, and one each from Germany, Spain, Denmark, and now Norway. These are all founding member states, which signed the original NATO pact. Spain is the only country to have come late to NATO (1981) and to have supplied a secretary-general so far. Among the NATO originals, France (for De Gaulle reasons), Iceland, Luxembourg, and Portugal have yet to help themselves to the top spot they are, by rights, entitled to.

The Turks and Greeks, who joined in 1952 but who are still at war (Cyprus, Aegean seabed), aren’t likely ever to allow a national of either to become secretary-general.

The NATO members who had been members of the Soviet bloc in Europe, and who switched sides to join NATO, started with the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland in 1999. Five years later, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania, Bulgaria, Slovenia, and Slovakia climbed on board. Croatia and Albania signed up in 2009.

In this crowd, the chances of a Pole taking the top NATO job have been small. But Warsaw sources say this hasn’t inhibited Sikorski, the current foreign minister, from lobbying tenaciously in the last months of Rasmussen’s term. Sikorski has been in his present job since 2007. He’s also been a defence minister. When he first took that job, he was obliged to renounce the British citizenship he picked up in 1987.

Sikorski married Applebaum in 1992, and she became a Polish national in 2013. From a well-to-do Jewish American family in Washington, DC, Applebaum has specialized in journalism and books on the evils of the Soviet Union. Though she sometimes omits to report her Polish ties when advocating Polish Foreign Ministry positions, she has many times denied she’s Sikorski’s spokesman. When Sikorski started his run for the NATO post in 2009, an American graduate student was picked to float the idea in public. For example: “the dynamic Radoslow Sikorski is now emerging as a strong contender for the position. The steely-eyed young Sikorski is Poland’s current Foreign Minister and was once considered a dark horse candidate…”.

Steely eyes can be contenders, naked ambition not quite. Sources who have heard Applebaum at the dinner-table in London say she continues to observe that Warsaw is too limiting for her family, and that a combination of Brussels and London is her preference.

A Warsaw source close to the Foreign Ministry says the Sikorski target in Brussels is now moving down the street – from NATO headquarters to the European Commission. “First Sikorski wanted to get the job of the Secretary General of NATO. Now he will try to manoeuver to get Baroness Ashton’s job, playing on the Eastern European quota for high-level positions within the EU bureaucracy. But as the Europeans believe Sikorski is close to the British services, I do not think the other EU members would welcome yet another Brit at the head of EU diplomacy.”

In her most recent proposal for action against Russia, Applebaum has also moved down the street, arguing that if not NATO reinforcement, then stronger moves are needed from the EU. “I don’t mean some kind of massive remilitarization”, Applebaum said on April 3. “There’s a real danger to the coherence of the European Union that I don’t know that European leaders themselves are yet aware of.”

What exactly don’t the Germans, French, Italians, and British realize they are missing? Precisely, who is missing?

There have been just two High Representatives of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, since the post was created in 1999. Javier Solana of Spain held the job for ten years. In parallel, the job of Commissioner for External Relations was held four times by British appointees, thrice by Belgians, twice by Germans, twice by French, twice by Dutch, and once by an Austrian.

ashtonSolana was replaced in December of 2009 by Catherine Baroness Ashton, a Labor Party minister in the governments of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. In Brussels she combined Solana’s portfolio with that of the old External Relations Commissioner. Her 5-year term is due to expire at the end of November this year.

The redeployment of the Sikorski forces to the front line against the Russian threat starts with the campaign to make sure Ashton, 58 years old last month, isn’t renewed for another five years. Ashton isn’t exactly lying down in front of the Applebaum-Sikorski juggernaut. Her fightback has already begun against Victoria Nuland and other women in Washington whom Ashton accuses of plotting to undermine her personally.

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