Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Today’s NATO Mission is to Preserve Itself | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on January 25, 2019

The alliance is scrambling for purpose in a changed world. Trump is right to consider leaving.

It supported insurgents in Libya, thereby replacing a loathsome dictator with multi-sided conflict and violent chaos. Heckuva job, NATO!


However, World War II ended 74 years ago. Joseph Stalin died 66 years ago. The Berlin Wall fell three decades ago. The Soviet Union dissolved shortly thereafter. Over that period of time, the Europeans recovered economically—they now possess 10 times Russia’s GDP—created the European Union, and incorporated the former Warsaw Pact members and Soviet republics. Yet even during the Cold War, the European members of NATO consistently resisted Washington’s pressure to hike military outlays. Today, only two countries, France and Great Britain, have serious militaries. Over the last couple years, a few governments have increased defense outlays, but mostly marginally and unenthusiastically.

Germany is the continent’s wealthiest country but refuses to take responsibility for its or Europe’s security. Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen recently took to The New York Times to celebrate the fact that her government’s defense budget had “increased by 36 percent” since 2013. However, that amount represents barely 1.2 percent of Germany’s GDP, a share expected to drop in coming years. Moreover, the Bundeswehr’s readiness remains wretched. As long as Washington is kind enough to take care of their security, why should they do more?

The president apparently understands the importance of both changed circumstances and perverse incentives. It is an opinion he has held for years. Long ago, he ran ads criticizing NATO. During the campaign, he called NATO “obsolete.” No one should be surprised that he’s been critical since becoming president…

Actually, when the Warsaw Pact dissolved and the Soviet Union collapsed, even fans of the transatlantic alliance feared that NATO’s time was over. So scared were NATO advocates that supposedly serious policymakers proposed unserious new duties. Robert Zoellick spoke of the need to “transform established institutions, such as NATO, to serve new missions that will fit the new era.” Robert Hormats urged Western leaders to “expand the range of issues on which NATO engages the common efforts of the European and North American democracies—from student exchanges, to fighting the drug trade, to resisting terrorism, to countering threats to the environment.” David Abshire observed that the long-time military alliance “could coordinate the transfer of environmental-control technology to the East.”…

Despite these efforts, the alliance didn’t become an uber-Greenpeace or supranational student advocate. But it did shift its attention overseas to conflicts with little to no relevance to American or European security. It intervened in Yugoslavia’s complicated, convulsive civil war—thereby inadvertently promoting ethnic cleansing of Serbs (by ethnic Albanians and Croats). It backed 17-plus years of nation-building in Afghanistan with no hope of victory. It supported insurgents in Libya, thereby replacing a loathsome dictator with multi-sided conflict and violent chaos. Heckuva job, NATO!

Alas, alliance members didn’t stop there. Contrary to assurances made to Russian officials, NATO expanded to the boundaries of the new Russia’s diminished borders. Robert Merry points out at TAC that St. Petersburg “resides within a hundred miles of NATO military forces, while Moscow is merely 200 miles from Western troops.” Washington and Brussels also supported a street putsch against the democratically elected (albeit highly corrupt) pro-Russian president of Ukraine and encouraged Kiev to join the alliance, steps that were even more provocative from Moscow’s perspective…

Be seeing you





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