Monday, May 17, 2010

NATO Seeks Legitimacy at the Margins

NATO has a huge problem. There's nothing remotely near the North Atlantic to pose a military threat to its members. The Soviet Union brought the last realistic military threat to justify the alliance's existence and, in case you haven't heard, the USSR is so 1991.

So with nothing close by, NATO is casting its net to distant shores in its quest for villains. A new report, NATO 2020, argues for "dynamic engagement" which appears to be code for battling in remote locales as America's new Foreign Legion. The report, written by the so-called "Group of Experts" calls for NATO to refashion itself as sort of a global policeman ready to call in aerial bombardment on wedding parties in any corner of the world on very short notice.

The Cold War rivalry that once stirred fears of nuclear Armageddon has long since disappeared. NATO’s role in maintaining the unity, security and freedom of the Euro-Atlantic region is ongoing. Its status as the globe’s most successful political-military Alliance is unchallenged. Yet NATO’s past accomplishments provide no guarantee for the future. Between now and 2020, it will be tested by the emergence of new dangers, the many-sided demands of
complex operations, and the challenge of organising itself efficiently in an era where
rapid responses are vital, versatility critical, and resources tight.

...The new Strategic Concept must also serve as an invocation of political will or -- to
put it another way -- a renewal of vows, on the part of each member. Threats to
the interests of the Alliance come from the outside, but the organisation’s vigour
could as easily be sapped from within. The increasing complexity of the global
political environment has the potential to gnaw away at Alliance cohesion; economic
headaches can distract attention from security needs; old rivalries could resurface;
and the possibility is real of a damaging imbalance between the military contributions
of some members and that of others.

The 58 page report is too complex to summarize here but it is plainly conceived in the shadow of the World Trade Centre towers. That, to me, raises the prospects that NATO may somehow define itself by the events of 9/11, just as America already has. I remain convinced that NATO was less than prudent in yielding to Washington's pressure to expand to the borders of Russia which seemed to be a ploy to anchor American interests in the Caucasus and south Asia. There are enormous geopolitical challenges developing in those regions that pit American, Russian, Chinese and Indian interests against each other and at times forge unnatural alliances. Will NATO's new Strategic Concept drag the members' commitment into service of Washington's interests? I want NATO to continue but on a rationalized, clearly defined and delineated basis. Getting dragged into one botched American war is enough.


LeDaro said...

Over and above politics of wars the weapons’ industrial complex is a major factor. It has to sell its product to someone and the demand goes up when wars get started.

Anonymous said...

Today's NATO is little more than a league of American client states that provide auxiliary troops and political cover for the various American colonial wars. The world would be a better place without it.

The Mound of Sound said...

There are several good reasons to maintain, even strengthen a mutual defence alliance incorporating only the original NATO states, or most of them.

The Pentagon knows, the British MOD knows and plenty of others know that the "best scenario" impacts of climate change this century will pose grave security threats to the US, Canada, the UK, France, Germany, Holland and the Scandinavian states. There is a genuine commonality of interest, selfish as it may be, among these countries. That doesn't extend to the old Warsaw Pact/Danube Basin countries which were impulsively stuffed into NATO's skin.