Green Room

Could Afghanistan be NATO’s last war?

posted at 6:31 pm on September 26, 2013 by

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.

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Things change and so do priorities. Fully understanding why NATO was formed, if we are the one’s pulling most the load, what’s the point? Self interest takes precedent, why shouldn’t we do the same? We have the means to fend off the rest of the world, and as long as we perserve our 2nd Admendment Right, no one is going to invade us no matter how many ridiculous movies they make that can match the Matrix on levels of fantasy.

Let NATO decide, do they want to be free to do as they please and support us sometimes, or be slaves to those we protect them from?

Who’s your friend, and who want’s to be your master?

Choose wisely. And then live with it.

We’ll set you free again, when we get around to feeling like doing it.

Hog Wild on September 26, 2013 at 10:28 PM

Yes, NATO is useless.

The alliance was founded as a security agreement between Western Europe and the USA against Soviet expansionism. The USA is no longer a credible security guarantor, Western Europe by and large has disarmed and only has a few parade troops maintained for show, and the Soviet Union no longer exists. Furthermore the EU has a rapidly growing Muslim population which is inflexibly hostile to the United States. The people who created NATO are long dead.

Article 5 was also invoked in 2001 and basically nothing happened.

NATO is essentially just a military bureaucracy without an actual enemy to fight anymore.

Doomberg on September 26, 2013 at 10:32 PM

…NATO like the UN…is dead!

KOOLAID2 on September 27, 2013 at 8:05 AM

When Russia decides to stop playing around, we are going to wish we have a NATO.

BigGator5 on September 27, 2013 at 8:39 AM

If NATO didn’t exist, we’d have to create it. Here’s why:

NATO provides a common language (amusingly, American English) and set of procedures so that friendly nations can cooperate in military operations. While most NATO members have tiny militaries, they can serve around the world in ways in which the US couldn’t. Having soliders in your country from the Netherlands doesn’t carry the same connotations as having soldiers from the US.

If the stuff ever hits the fan and the European powers realize the need to re-arm, those NATO-trained military personnel will be at the core of the new military forces. Those will be officers and senior enlisted who can work cooperatively across national boundries.

I must admit a certain sense of awe when I was briefly on a training exercise which included the Germans and French, Greeks and Turks, and all sorts of folks who’ve been trying to kill each other for the past several thousand years. Take that as the “new normal” if you like, but historically only naive philosophers like Immanuel Kant considered such a thing even imaginable.

Abelard on September 27, 2013 at 9:53 AM

NATO was always an American sheriff, his Turkish deputy, and some ungrateful European janitors.

abobo on September 27, 2013 at 10:11 AM

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out with Turkey. We have a NATO base at Incirlik near Adana, Turkey. Furthermore, we have close to a hundred nuclear bombs stored there. Those bombs are nearing mothball status but neither Turkey, the US or NATO has been willing to move them.

Considering the AKP and regional turmoil, even though the Turkish airforce hasn’t been trained in their use – according to what I’d read – considering our President, what’s going to stop Turkey from keeping those bombs?

Logus on September 27, 2013 at 2:14 PM

A couple years ago I was at one those confabs on joint operations. The only two things I remember about it was the bad(awful) coffee, and the massive rant that both I and my boss made to our euro counterparts. I had just gotten back from AK-PAK, so I was, “little raw”. After I got done “talking” I was told I had set back American-European relations by a good fifty years. Then my boss “spoke”. He “nuked” them but good.(heh heh heh) Point is, this three(now four)star general made the exact same points that Ed made in his short post. The only question is, any body listening. For their sake, I hope so. For this is first and foremost, a political question. One that the Europe has dodged so far.

flackcatcher on September 27, 2013 at 7:49 PM

Let the Euros defend themselves.
The Germans refuse to fight,
Zee Fraunch are afraid to fight,
The EyeTalians? Meh
The Brits fight only when there is something in it for them –
(like American assistance whenever they decide to take back a small island many thousands of miles away)

So, how well did the “foreign entanglement” of the Brits and Poles work out in 1939? They got blitzed.
NATO is an expensive anachronism. Let it die under its own weight or they can pay us for our troops and materiel in their countries.
IF NATO is to survive, they need to find the spine to fight back against Islamism. BillyJeff even [allegedly] helped them when he murdered many thousands of innocent Christians in the Balkans while enabling the ever-northward expansion of the Muslim Caliphate. How’s that workin’ out, Euros?

Karl Magnus on September 28, 2013 at 7:44 AM

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