Tuesday, April 12, 2011

For Anne Applebaum's Keyboard To God's Ears

Anne Applebaum:
here was no NATO discussion of the operation, no debate, no vote, no joint planning. Technically, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization operates only in the wake of an attack on a NATO member. The war in Afghanistan followed such an attack and was, in the beginning, widely perceived as a war against a common enemy. Libya is different: There was no attack, there is no common enemy, and now there is no consensus.


If Britain and France run out of planes, fuel, money or enthusiasm, it’s over. And NATO — an organization that, I repeat, did not plan for, prepare for or even vote for the Libyan operation — will shoulder most of the blame. The use of NATO’s name, in Libya, is a fiction. But the weakening of NATO’s reputation in Libya’s wake might become horribly real.

Use of NATO's name was not a fiction; NATO is a fiction.

FLG has said it before and will say it again until people wake the fuck up. Many people wrongly believe that NATO was instrumental in winning the Cold War. NATO was merely a vessel through which the West could win the Cold War. Western democracies were faced with an existential threat which they could not ignore. They needed a apparatus to systematize and coordinate strategy, tactics, logistics, etc in their response to this threat. It served that purpose.

Insanely, people think that since we have an existing institution that worked for one very specific purpose that it can be repurposed to coordinate strategy, tactics, logistics, etc amongst 28 member nations, none of whom face an existential threat nor perceive lesser threats in the same manner, in any number of other situations.

NATO was successful in the Cold War because the member nations were forced together to focus on a common, existential threat. The removal of that threat some two decades ago took with it not only the justification for the alliance, but more importantly removed its ability to function as a strategic enterprise.

Okay, but "what about the tactical level?" Doesn't NATO facilitate our international military exercises and standards to ensure that the member countries' troops can interoperate? Sure, but you don't need a formal, legal mutual-defense pact to make that happen. Does anybody seriously believe that if NATO were disbanned tomorrow the US wouldn't still train with the UK, Canada, France, Germany, or whomever? We crosstrain with a variety of allies, including many who aren't in NATO.

Look, NATO has been vainly searching for a new justification for its existence for two decades. FLG can only hope that people recognize, after this current situation, that it is a zombie institution that needs to be put down.

NATO delenda est.


Anonymous said...

To kill a zombie, don't you have to destroy its brain*?

If this is true, then Houston we have a problem. The problem is you seem to suggest (and I'm not disagreeing) that NATO doesn't have a brain. If it doesn't have a brain then it can't be killed.

Mrs. P

*Ask Poulos the next time you see him -he's a zombie expert -- am not joking.

The Ancient said...

I remember meeting someone, forty years ago, with a particularly obscure NATO job title. When I asked if there was an English-language equivalent, he smiled, turned the steak, and said, "Undersecretary general for tactical nuclear warfare."

I don't think we need jobs like that anymore -- at least, not in Europe.

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