Has NATO a future?

Has NATO a future?

Posted by jmvaughn – Topic War with Iraq
Much has been made of the fact that this crisis with Iraq is a test of the will, the credibility, and the very purpose of the United Nations. If the U.N. does not move to enforce its own resolutions and stand up to a brutal dictator bent on acquiring weapons of mass destruction, then people are right to raise the question of why we in the United States should continue to fund what has become little more than a very expensive anti-American, and anti-Semitic, talking shop. Because of the outright opposition of NATO’s two largest European members, France and Germany, to U.S. policy on something of supreme importance to our national security, I believe we should also begin to consider whether or not NATO has also outlived its usefulness.

At the end of the Cold War, there was much talk about the future role of NATO. Should it be limited to defense of Europe, or should the infrastructure and resources of NATO be used to handle other international crises outside of its historic sphere of influence? There was much hope NATO might become a framework for a like-minded group of Western democracies to maintain peace and stability in the world.

The action against Yugoslavia in support of the minority Muslim population of Kosovo within the Yugoslav federation was hailed as a model for the future of NATO. We were able to get support for this action because the nations of Europe saw this as a danger to their own security. They feared a guerrilla war in Kosovo could turn into a civil war in Yugoslavia. The very possibility of a war in their “backyard,” and in the area where World War I started, was enough to scare France and Germany into acting — notably, without United Nations authorization.

Shortly after September 11th NATO voted unanimously to invoke Article V of the NATO charter, which declared that an attack against one was an attack against all. Why a vote was necessary, I really don’t understand. This is the entire raison d’etre of NATO. It was a nice gesture. But it has turned out to have little meaning. We got European support for action in Afghanistan, to be sure. But the threat of terrorism is one that spans the globe, and was certainly not limited to Afghanistan. When oceans of Soviet tanks, missles, and men were massed in East Germany ready to roll through the Fulda Gap into West Germany at a moment’s notice, we stood by Germany. When the threat of war breaking out in the Balkans threatened European security, we heeded their call for assistance — even though Russian and Chinese veto power on the Security Council denied us U.N. approval (have I mentioned that before?). Now, when we need the support of our supposed allies, Germany and France, on something difficult and risky, we not only fail to receive their support but seem to have gained, instead, their active resistance.

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder led his re-election campaign last year with America-bashing. One of his cabinet members compared U.S. President Bush to Hitler. Schroeder actually stated that even if the United States went to the Security Council, and got a unanimous resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq (which, by the way, we have done), that Germany still would not participate. Schroeder’s government is in trouble, and may be using this issue to distract the electorate from the absolutely horrible state of the German economy (e.g., unemployment has just reached 11%). But opinion polls have shown that his anti-American view is widespread and representative of his nation.

The same is true in France. One of the best-selling novels of last year in France was “911: The Big Lie,” which posited the argument that the events of September 11th were the product of a nefarious plot of the evil American “military-industrial complex” which was just itching to invade Afghanistan and then seize the oil of the Middle East.

When Donald Rumsfeld was asked recently, before Congress and under oath, questions pertaining to our allies in a possible war with Iraq, he answered truthfully that we had received outright denials of assistance from only a few countries, including Cuba, Libya and Germany. Rumsfeld was assaulted in the German press for mentioning Germany in the same breath with these tyrannies. Only one major German paper, Die Welt, looked inward and honestly confronted the fact that it was the present German government that put itself in the company of those other nations — not Secretary Rumsfeld. Die Welt went on to warn that if Germany votes against a possible second UN resolution on Iraq, “Berlin’s plunge into the company of pariahs, thieves and the usual suspects for anti-American activities would be complete.” Unfortunately, the German government and the majority of the people of Germany have chosen to ignore this perceptive observation.

France and Germany only want an alliance with the United States when it suits their purposes (as in the Cold War and, more recently, in Kosovo). Threats principally to the United States are not their problem, and our efforts to defend ourselves are to be opposed. The interests of France and Germany no longer coincide with our own. If a military alliance is not reciprocal it is worse than useless.

Eighteen other European nations, including a majority of Western Europe and nearly all the nations of Central Europe, have stood up alongside us (see earlier article on GPTV on the letter by the first eight to do so). Clearly we have many friends in Europe, and we should foster these relationships on a bilateral basis — or perhaps under a new framework that reflects the political reality of today, rather than that of the Cold War. But NATO is dead. Our erstwhile allies in Germany and France are clearly allies no more.