|China's Next Cold Warriors?|
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization made a lot of sense when it was an alliance of North Atlantic nations to mutually defend the security of North Atlantic nations. Notice the emphasis on "North Atlantic"?
With the demise of the Soviet Union, NATO's raison d'etre, the alliance lost its focus. It opened its membership rolls to most of Eastern Europe, the old Warsaw Pact states, advancing its frontiers right to the Russian border.
NATO moved on to Balkanization, waging a bombing campaign against Serbia. There was nothing particularly defensive about that. Then came 9/11. Under Article 5 of the NATO Charter, the founding members, or most of them, came to the defence of the United States by supporting the conquest and occupation of Afghanistan although most declined America's invitation to do the follow-up conquest and occupation of Iraq.
More recently NATO air forces intervened in Libya to bomb Gaddafi forces and enable the rebellion to topple their murderous dictator. Again nothing particularly defensive about that.
Now there's a move afoot to cajole NATO into joining the Pentagon's "pivot" into Asia, a polite way of describing poking China's panda with a sharp stick. That's part and parcel of the F-35 deal but we'll leave that for another day.
Perhaps this is a good time to ask if we're setting ourselves and our alliance up for a global military version of Groundhog Day? Are we backing ourselves into another American led fiasco or maybe even a series of them? We know how Iraq turned out. We know all too well where Afghanistan's heading. We have seen how much and how very little "all the King's men and all the King's horses" can deliver.
There's a faint whiff of "1984" in all this. The first true, Permanent Warfare State (PWS), in which military force has replaced diplomacy as the principal instrument of foreign policy, lining up its minions (us) like ducks in a row, to perpetuate conflict in the remotest corners of the world. Did Orwell write this script? An ascendant oligarchy, corporate media implementing a form of mind control, pervasive public surveillance. I dunno, sounds eerily similar to me.
We must also bear in mind the legacy of the Bush Doctrine. It stood for unilateralism, "preventative" war (i.e. illegal war), and regime change. Thus spake Incurious George:
"...the first duty of the United States Government remains what it always has been: to protect the American people and American interests. It is an enduring American principle that this duty obligates the government to anticipate and counter threats, using all elements of national power, before the threats can do grave damage. The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction – and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack."
Recall that this perverse doctrine prescribed that America would not tolerate and expressly reserved the right to use military force to prevent any other nation or group of nations achieving economic or military superiority to the United States. Hmm, what nation would be on the verge of achieving economic superiority to the United States? And what is "military superiority" anyway? Perhaps you should ask some defiant Afghan tribesman armed with a Korean War vintage assault rifle and a RPG.
Are we going to sign on to that? And if you think Obama has rescinded the Bush Doctrine, think again. I'm pretty sure President Mitt would find it to his liking too.
And then there's the matter of money. Canada is being criticized for failing to meet the NATO member committment to spend 2% of GDP on our military. We currently come in slightly below 1.5%. Yet we're hard pressed to find the funds necessary to meet our "Canada First" defence priority. Money spent on equipment, personnel and operations as part of America's Foreign Legion is money we don't have to provide for the security and defence of Canada.
It may have passed unnoticed by the Canadian public but Washington's Asian sabre-rattling has been heavily escalated by the Obama administration. The military leaders of China and the United States now wargame battles between themselves. And, by all accounts, the Chinese are decidedly hostile and in the mood for a scrap. Quite recently US forces staged Operation Chimichanga, a live-fire stealth bombing campaign simulating a first strike to obliterate Chinese air defences. It's sort of like Japan putting on, in public, a full dress rehearsal of its attack on Pearl Harbour. And next month we'll have RimPac2012, a multi-national (i.e. America and the Seven Dwarfs) naval and air exercise staged right in China's maritime back yard. And the Chinese aren't taking this lying down either. In fact we may be about to unpack a new Cold War.
It might just be too late to arrest this transformation of NATO. Canadians are certainly not alive to the issues. Their image of NATO is fixed in the alliance of half a century ago. Now when we most need the NDP to take up the challenge, that NDP is, like the NATO we once respected, a thing of the past.