Blog Link: Is NATO No More?

datePosted on 11:04, July 8th, 2011 by Pablo

The latest “Word from Afar” essay at Scoop ponders NATO’s obsolescence, and its future, with a NZ angle noted at the end: http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/HL1107/S00081/a-word-from-afar-is-nato-no-more.htm

5 Responses to “Blog Link: Is NATO No More?”

  1. Hugh on July 8th, 2011 at 13:01

    You may see this as nitpicking, but you’ve said that “The US has had to downscale its proposals on the subject because of the reluctance of NATO states to become involved in a US-Russia standoff”. I think you’re incorrect here. Poland and the Czech Republic were both enthusiastic about taking part and tended to see Russian threats as justification for the need for the shield (even if it is ostensibly directed at Iran, not Moscow). The scrapping of the shield had more to do with direct Washington-Moscow relations than Washington-Prague or Washington-Warsaw relations.

    This doesn’t of course affect your overall point, which I broadly agree with. I think the main reason NATO endured is simply that it was seen as having “won” the Cold War, and that disbanding it at victory seemed counterintuitive, but that’s not really a sound basis for policy.

    I think this is supported by the fact that the only part of the world where the NATO brand still carries cachet is Eastern Europe, where NATO membership is enthusiastically sought, but more for its symbolic than substantial value. (Not to say that most Eastern European states aren’t keen to have good relations with NATO states, not least the US but also the UK, but they generally seem to prefer bilateralism).

    I think one thing that your post doesn’t address is the relationship between the EU and NATO, particularly when it comes to the EU’s aspirations to be a military force. Any thoughts there? Is the EU a potential substitute for NATO when it comes to European collective self-defense?

  2. Phil Sage on July 8th, 2011 at 21:29

    I completely agree with Hugh on that point. Obama made the decision to appease Russia, much to the chagrin of Poland.

    Libya is going slowly but surely. It is better that the rebels take more time and do it themselves than NATO troops do the job for them. Gaddafi cannot win strategically. He does not get any more troops and his sources of funds are being steadily reduced. Rebels are training and will win eventually. Maybe it will take 6 or 12 months but they will win.

    The Visegrad group is a talking shop that is utterly incapable of fielding a large capable military force. Hungarian troops are conscripts and very poor quality. They have provided small numbers of highly skilled operatives in Afghanistan and elsewhere but they are certainly no alternative to NATO.

    Germany has made a strategic decision at the highest level to integrate with Russia rather than have an adversarial relationship. In the same way as France bound Germany to peace through the EU Germany seeks to do the same with Russia. That is a simple recognition that Russia would destroy Germany in any future conflict even if Germany was on the winning side. Germany is utterly reliant on Russian gas and is not showing any strategic urgency to remedy that. With its opposition to nuclear it seems to be doing everything it can to make itself more vulnerable to Russian energy pressure.

    Otherwise I agree with the premise that NATO is simply a self perpetuating bureaucracy for as long as Obama and Merkel hold power.

    It could be so much more. If the next US president was an internationalist like McCain, NATO could become the basis for genuine global peace and stability that the UN is so obviously failing to promote. France and Britain are merging their military capability for reasons of cost, they and Central Europe will form the basis of NATO forces. It will be much easier to commit a joint carrier as part of a NATO effort than for it to be used on individual adventures like the Falkland Islands.

  3. Hugh on July 9th, 2011 at 06:02

    Phil, don’t put words in my mouth. I didn’t say “appease”.

  4. Pablo on July 9th, 2011 at 08:07

    I agree that there was initial enthusiasm by the Polish and Czech govts for the BMD cordon, but was specifically referring to 2011, where rising domestic opposition to the plan in the Visegrad countries along with that of Germany (for the reasons outlined above) caused the US to modify its stance.

    I alluded to the political-economic fractures within the EU as the backdrop to NATO’s ossification, but the length of the essay precluded deeper analysis of that subject. As for the Visegrad Group–my point was precisely that the “talking shop” was now seeking to arm itself given that NATO no longer could be relied on to come to its defense. It may be just a gesture but it goes to the heart of the issue.

  5. Hugh on July 11th, 2011 at 12:14

    Pablo, I’d say that by 2011 Polish and Czech opposition to the shield was unimportant, because the components of the system that were to have been based in their countries had been scrapped two years prior, in 2009.

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