This year marks the 70th anniversary of the founding of NATO, but the question is, is this a happy birthday for a lively meaningful organization or time for us to pull the plug on a Cold War dreg that has lived well past its purpose?
After WWII it was inevitable that there would be a conflict between the Liberal Capitalist world and the growing Red Communist one. Perhaps if the Soviet Union would have resigned itself to being the only Communist nation rejecting any form of proselytization and rebranding itself as some kind of Democracy B as a mild alternative to the West’s Democracy A then the Cold War could have been avoided.
But this did not happen and was very unlikely to do so. The motto of the Soviet Union on its seal was “Workers of the World Unite!”. That was workers of the “world” not “only Russia”. So it is not surprising that the West took a preemptive move and formed NATO to gang up on the USSR.
However now the Soviet Union is dead and gone. NATO fulfilled its mission a little after turning 40. Sadly rather than phasing out and riding off into the sunset it had a midlife crisis, bought a Camaro and continued to not only exist but expand and bomb. But should it exist? Why is this organization still around at 70 years old posing as if we are still living in some sort of Cold War dynamic where if we don’t bomb Libya back to the stone age somehow Belgium and Greece will fall to evil ideologically different invaders.
NATO relies heavily on the idea that the weakest members benefit from being treated as “equals” in the security organization. Many tiny nations would be militarily helpless otherwise. At first this logic makes sense. Little nations need a boost to help them maintain a stable defense.
For example, the smaller nations who allied with Nazi Germany in/before WWII avoided their Deutsch wrath via submission. By NATO logic they were made vastly “stronger” by being part of the Axis/Tripartite Pact. The Nazis did have arguably the best military in the world at that time which would bump up weaker allies for sure. But in turn could weak Bulgaria and Romania really make any demands from Germany? Could Germany get their allies to do what the Reich wanted?
Weak members of an alliance are never equal members with a voice, they are merely submissive states who fear the whip of their masters who are more benevolent than some other potential master, and this is what we see in many NATO members today who have absolutely neither an economy nor military of any worth to offer allies.
Interestingly, NATO seems to acknowledge that some people might be baffled as to why it continues to exist and by making a video about the very topic they somewhat subconsciously confirm the doubters’ beliefs.
So NATO in its own PR declares that its current missions, which are too big for any one nation to handle, are the following…
Protect against an “assertive” Russia.
Deal with the “deteriorated” security situation in Africa and the Middle-East which cause migration and terror attacks.
Promoting “international efforts” (whatever that means) to project stability and strengthen security outside of NATO territory.
Dealing with WMD’s, Cyber Attacks, and threats to Energy Supplies and deal with Environmental Challenges with “security implications”.
So let’s evaluate these points to see if NATO should shoot for for an 80th birthday and beyond.
Protecting Against an Assertive Russia
During the 90’s Russia would have been willing to join NATO. Russia is very powerful but still a distant third on the world stage. Furthermore, in a world of mutually assured destruction, Russia is only capable of maybe retaking lost friendly territory that those in power in America cannot find on a map or helping foreign nations help themselves win wars like they did in Syria.
Russia as it is today is not very assertive and always plays a reactive role to the West. An assertive Russia would have taken the majority of the Ukraine which it considers to be an inherent and ancient part of Russia itself. Only being able to take the Crimea reveals that Russia still has far to go before becoming a “threat” to Europe again. In terms of the grand chessboard of the former USSR, Russia is usually spending its turns escaping from being in check.
The Deteriorated Security Situation in Africa and the Middle-East
This has been caused by NATO itself committing regime changes in stable nations. If NATO had disbanded in 1991 the security situation in these regions would be exponentially better.
Promoting International Efforts” to Project Stability and Strengthen Security Outside of NATO Territory.
Projecting Stability is just coded language for terrifying others into submission. This is a normal part of human history and NATO like all militaries should do this, however they should be more honest about it. If one is to act like the Romans or Mongols and put the fear of God into their enemies with the threat of war then they could at least do so boldly.
The key words here that raise eyebrows are “outside of NATO territory”. Meaning that an organization founded for the “defense” of its members must by its own officially stated objectives work outside of its own territory proving that their mission is not defense but a form of preemptive offense.
Dealing with WMD’s, Cyber Attacks, Threats to Energy Supplies and Environmental Challenges with “Security Implications”.
Every powerful military has WMD’s. If they mean getting them out of the hands of Non-State actors then NATO should try to not allow any of its members to sell weapons to non-member entities. Why does defense against cyber attacks require NATO? Threats to energy supplies is coded language for wars for oil. Dealing with the environment militarily is just stupid but it sounds trendy and caring, so why not?
As you can see none of the official arguments for the continued existence of NATO is particularly convincing. By their own logic NATO exists to deal with the problems it causes by itself, fight against an assertive enemy that backs down from fighting it, terrify foreigners outside its borders into submission as a form of collective defense and deal with vague issues and security threats to the environment vaguely.
These arguments are not convincing to anyone, and probably not even to the member states of NATO themselves. As we blow out the 70 candles on the NATO cake everyone knows that this organization is a farce living on via historical inertia alone. The only real purpose it has is to keep much of Europe under the Washington yoke which means that in all likelihood it will outlive us all. Happy Birthday!