Could Afghanistan be NATO’s last war?
posted at 6:31 pm on September 26, 2013 by Ed Morrissey
Originally formed as a counterweight to the Soviet Union and a guarantor of American involvement in Europe’s defense, NATO has struggled to find a mission for the last twenty years — and an effective military without the US. Despite interventions in the Balkans (mostly successful). Afghanistan (TBD but not looking good), and Libya (disastrous), Europe doesn’t seem terribly interested in maintaining their end of the bargain on investing in the Western defense partnership. David Francis wonders whether NATO has become an anachronism:
Right now, the only NATO members that meet the requirement to spend 2 percent of GDP on defense are the United States, the United Kingdom and, ironically, Greece. NATO was an alliance formed to win a land war in Europe. Now that the possibilities of such a war rapidly recede, the Eurozone is struggling to justify the alliance’s existence.
The latest to sound the alarm is Secretary-General Anders Fogh-Rasmussen, who warned last week that Europe was at risk of becoming irrelevant if it doesn’t share the NATO burden with the United States. Right now, 70 percent of funding for the alliance comes from Washington.
“I do believe European nations can and should do more to match America’s commitment. Because a strong NATO needs a strong Europe,” Rasmussen said. “A strong Europe will require a strong political will.” …
According to the 2013 Transatlantic Trends survey released by the German Marshall Fund last week, 56 percent of Europeans believe that NATO is necessary, and only see it as alliance of “democratic countries that should act together.” Support for using NATO in a military capacity was almost non-existent in Europe. In fact, only 15 percent of all Europeans believed there was a military threat against their country. The lack of a perceived threat allows European governments to draw back on their NATO commitments without paying political consequences at home.
Our traditional allies are no longer 100 percent reliable. They do cooperate with U.S. surveillance efforts, but that happens outside of the NATO umbrella.
Be sure to read it all. While it might be difficult to conceive of a coherent mission for NATO in the post-Cold War era, its collapse might have big consequences for our ability to project power into the Middle East, and at a bad time. That doesn’t mean that the US should be footing this much of the bill, though.