Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Exactly what do we need NATO for?

Having nominated as Secretary of State a woman who believes (as did Dubya before her) that NATO should continue to expand into the former Soviet republics, it is unlikely that President Barack Obama will rethink the US involvement in that organization.

Which is, as Douglas Bandow points out at AWC, is unfortunate:

America and Europe should continue to cooperate on issues of shared interest. But it is time for Washington to turn European security over to Europe.

In 1948 the world was in the midst of the Cold War. War-ravaged Europe remained an economic laggard vulnerable to communist subversion, democratic left-wing movements, and Soviet pressure. Joseph Stalin may never have contemplated an invasion of the West, but a U.S.-led alliance became the obvious means to, in Lord Hastings Ismay’s immortal words, keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down...

By the 1980s, NATO’s justification had grown threadbare. The sclerotic Soviet empire was still evil, but totally ill-prepared to launch a war of conquest to the Atlantic. Although the Europeans were fully capable of defending themselves, they saw little threat from Moscow and refused to up their military outlays or back Washington’s strategic priorities elsewhere around the globe. With the ascension of Mikhail Gorbachev and subsequent dissolution of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact, NATO lost its essential purpose....

Embarrassed alliance officials debated giving the quintessential anti-Soviet military organization new duties, such as fighting the illicit drug trade and promoting environmental protection. About the only thing NATO advocates didn’t suggest was turning tanks into bookmobiles to distribute inspirational literature to disadvantaged youth across the continent.

None of these proposed substitute duties made the slightest sense. With the Soviet threat eliminated, the anti-Soviet alliance should have been either disbanded or turned over to the Europeans. Instead, NATO became an end rather than a means, to be preserved irrespective of circumstances, and its supporters settled upon two new roles.

The first was to conduct “out-of-area” activities—military action in regions unrelated to Europe’s defense. However, European unity was rare enough when the continent’s security was arguably at issue (witness the dispute over building a natural gas pipeline to the Soviet Union). The further afield the alliance moved, the less agreement the members could reach. Today policy towards Russia divides not only Europe from America, but Western from Eastern Europe....

The second new task for NATO was to help integrate the newly freed states of Central and Eastern Europe into the West....

The Membership Action Plan process cites “demonstrating a commitment to the rule of law and human rights” and “promoting stability and well-being through economic liberty, social justice and environmental responsibility.” However, NATO has no particular expertise in promoting democratic process, rule of law, market economics, “social justice,” civil society, and, yes, “environmental responsibility.”...

NATO expansion in any direction multiplies liabilities rather than assets. While the original alliance members spend as little as possible on the military, Britain and France, at least, nevertheless maintain competent and well-equipped militaries. None of the newer NATO members are able to defend themselves let alone make a meaningful combat commitment overseas. But all have a variety of internal weaknesses, border disputes, and international conflicts. Bringing countries like Albania, Georgia, and Macedonia into the alliance creates ever new risks with no corresponding advantages....

It’s time for a NATO rethink.

The alliance is a means, not an end. And NATO’s end has been fulfilled. Europe has recovered from the horrors of World War II; west and east have reunited; the continent is capable of fielding any size and quality of military force that it desires. American guarantees and forces are not needed to prevent its subjugation by outside forces, whether from Russia or, even more implausibly, some other hostile state.


But don't hold your breath waiting to believe in that kind of change.

You'd actually have to have nominated somebody with (a) real foreign policy experience and (b) enough moral imagination to think about doing it all ... a little differently.

7 comments:

Eric Dondero said...

NATO's function should be shifted from the Russians, to protecting the European Continent from the onslaught of Islamo-Fascism, most especially in the Netherlands, Germany, Denmark, the UK and France.

Steve Newton said...

What a croc, Eric.

If there needs to be an alliance for that, form it.

But stop having the US entangled in an alliance that has us paying all the bills for people who won't pay to defend themselves.

NATO is a dinosaur, waiting for its K-T meteor.

Eric Dondero said...

What a croc, 'eh?

They just convicted the Ft. Dix 6 the other day for Terrorist activities and planning to shoot and kill "as many US Soldiers as possible."

Funny, you don't say a goddamned thing about this on your blog, AND YOU'RE RIGHT FUCKING NEXT DOOR TO JERSEY.

You Leftwing Punks are so goddamned Pro-Islamo-Fascism. You ain't no libertarian. Stop using the word. You don't give a flying fuck about freedom. Admit the truth. You've infiltrated our libertarian movement from Moveon.org and Daily Kos, cause you know the term "libertarian" is more positive, and you won't be written off as just another leftwing fruitcake.

You honestly think we real libertarians are that stupid and not on to your game?

Steve Newton said...

Eric
Do you actually deal with ideas, or do you just hide behind your brown shirt to call people names?

Your position is to keep the US paying for the defense of Europeans nations that won't pay for their own?

Brilliant.

As for the Fort Dix six and blog coverage, it's not a newspaper. Exactly what am I supposed to cover that people can't read in hundreds of other outlets.

I realize that you only accept the word libertarian as applying to people who favor an interventionist foreign policy and even racist wars of extermination (witness your early support for Sonny in Kentucky).

Fortunately, nobody died and left you in charge of the Department of Political Designators.

As for my free speech: come back when you've spent as much time in the US military as I did, little fellow.

I paid my dues for that right.

Delaware Watch said...

"They just convicted the Ft. Dix 6 the other day for Terrorist activities and planning to shoot and kill "as many US Soldiers as possible."

Yea, we need NATO all right to defend ourselves from a bunch of hack ad hoc dreamers of terrorism. What did NATO do to help in the capture of these clowns?

Eric Dondero said...

Hey Newton, don't you think those bar mates of Muhammed Attah and the other 18, on the night of September 10, 2001, thought they were "dumbass crackpots" too, bragging about flying planes into buildings and such.

Funny how those "crackpots" were responsible for the deaths of 3,000 Americans using nothing but box knives, and a few skills learned at a flight school.

But then again, you've already forgotten about 9/11. Punks like you have, how you say, "moved on..."

Steve Newton said...

OK eric--ball in your court

Precisely what did NATO do that was of any use in helping prevent 9/11?

Failing that, what has NATO been tooled up to do in the aftermath?

Ground rule: you may not resort to Interpol protocols or other existing law enforcement agreements (not NATO!) or the "Coalition of the Willing" (not NATO!). Beyond participation in Afghanistan (on a very small scale if you don't count the Brits who would have been there with us anyway) what has NATO done to justify the billions of dollars we pour into base infrastructure in the European Union, which has a larger GDP than ours, but pays only about 10% of its own defense costs?

C'mon eric, use some facts instead of your jingoistic name-calling.

FYI--I've done more actual post 9/11 security work than you can imagine--which is saying something, since you imagine America died on November 4, 2008.