Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Albright On NATO

As readers of this blog are well-aware, FLG thinks NATO ought to be disbanded. When the Berlin Wall fell so went NATO's reason for existence. Ever since people have been trying to justify its continuation with absolutely no effectiveness.

The basic gist is this: The threat of the Warsaw Pact focused all of the interests of the members of NATO into a very tight channel of policy. Moreover, having an explicit alliance made the world safer, somewhat counter-intuitively, by automatically upping the ante of potential provocation. Invade Germany and you are instantaneously in a war not only with Germany, but also France, the UK, and the US. That changes the calculus of whether to invade.

Certainly the current NATO allies have various broadly shared interests in Europe and around the world. However, they aren't always as clear and unanimous as the threat of the USSR. There's no reason to keep an alliance that people can pick and choose when to agree with.

So, FLG was very disappointed with the statements expressed by Madeleine Albright in this interview. Her justification for the continued existence of NATO is almost circular. Yet, she talks about working with various partners outside of the alliance. One thing that sprung into FLG's mind is why it's okay to work with partners like Australia on an ad-hoc basis toward mutual goals, all the while encouraging closer cooperation and training, but no serious thought was given to disbanding NATO and doing the same?

Let's have joint training exercises with the UK, Germany, France, Australia and whomever else you want. That's fine. On the other hand, it also doesn't follow that we need to have an explicit alliance that necessitates other countries participate in military operations that they don't agree with because then they put caveats on how their troops operate and it's almost worse.

Best to declare the Cold War finally won, good work all around, and abolish NATO.


Alan Howe said...

A quick look online for the ANZUS Treaty will demonstrate that the coordination between the US and Australia is hardly "ad hoc." We prefer to work with NATO nations and countries like Australia because we have coordinated and trained with them routinely, reducing the danger of fog and friction that attend ad hoc efforts. Defense treaties and alliances like NATO and ANZUS save lives.

FLG said...


We don't need an explicit alliance to train together. Training together is what saves lives, not the explicit alliance.

I think NATO leads to more American lives being lost because it makes the Europeans reliant upon American military power, which makes them reliant upon young Americans for their security.

I realize this probably doesn't make sense to most people because they'll point to Afghanistan and say, look, Europeans are fighting and dying there because of the alliance. I'd argue that in a world where NATO didn't exist Europe would have a real global military capability and young Americans wouldn't be left alone as the world's sole policeman.

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