HAWAII, May 20, 2012 — As thousands of anti-NATO protesters take to the streets in Chicago, the sixty-three year old alliance has come into the national spotlight once more and raised questions of whether or not the Cold War organization even has relevance in the 21st century. While some suggest that NATO should be expanded to “embrace a more global security agenda” even to the point of superseding the United Nations, it is my belief that NATO should be disbanded.
A Historical Primer: Post WWII Europe and NSC-68
The immediate end of the Second World War presented Washington with a number of headaches. First and foremost, postwar Berlin had been split into four occupation zones, the largest of which was controlled by the Soviet Union. If the West was to be humiliated in the eyes of the world, the post-WWII Soviet leadership believed that Berlin would be the most logical place to make their first move.
Secondly, WWII had left most of Europe devastated and its cities gutted by fire. The immediate concern by the Truman Administration was that the destruction of Europe had fundamentally changed the global balance of power. As National Security Council Report 68 (1950) warned,
“the defeat of Germany and Japan and the decline of the British and French Empires have interacted with the development of the United States and the Soviet Union in such a way that power has increasingly gravitated to these two centers … the Soviet Union, unlike previous aspirants to hegemony, is animated by a new fanatic faith, antithetical to our own, and seeks to impose its absolute authority over the rest of the world. Conflict has, therefore, become endemic and is waged, on the part of the Soviet Union, by violent or nonviolent methods in accordance with the dictates of expediency.”
NSC-68’s authors theorized that the Soviets’ immediate goal was “domination of the Eurasian landmass” and effectively characterized the struggle between East and West as a zero-sum game in which either communist design or American-style freedom would prevail in the world.
The Truman Administration worried that Europe, without the economic and military support of the United States, could quite easily be overrun or subverted into alliance with the Soviets. The response to this led to development policies such as the Marshall Plan and the military umbrella which became the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
For most of the Cold War, the question of a divided Berlin and a divided Germany was the source of international tension and worry. Because Berlin is where the Cold War began, many people feared it was where a World War III would likewise start. In the game of nerves that characterized the Cold War, NATO was in large part an organization meant to address the Berlin problem.
John Newhouse, author of War and Peace in the Nuclear Age wrote, “American foreign policy in the nuclear age, if rooted anywhere, is rooted in the problem of the divided German people. Much of Washington’s purpose has been to absorb their energies within a secure Western system – one sturdy enough to assure their country’s stability and security.”
Why We Should Say No To NATO
Throughout the entire existence of NATO, many policymakers in member states have questioned and feared the entangling relationship and erosion of national sovereignty that the organization brings.
Questions of troops being under the control of foreign officers and political concerns of being “tied” to to war with any enemy of any member state were debated at its formation and endure to this day. But the biggest problem with collective security in general is that it distorts global policymaking into a view of “us versus them” and requires that individual states tie their nation’s safety and security to policies that may not even be made by elected members of their own country.
The world we live in today is not one in which either the United States or Russia will rule; it is a multipolar world in which the opening of markets and the rapid proliferation of communications technology has made it possible for people the world over to interact and trade with each other. There is no need for one system to rule over another system, only a need for people and their nations to have the right to determine their own future.
To use NATO as a driver for regime change under the guise of spreading democracy and freedom would commit the populations of its member states to financing military operations the world over and make the entire planet open season for conflict. For NATO to be used around the world to “spread” its members’ doctrines to other states would be the kind of global warfare that early Cold War planners sought to avoid.
As Secretary of State John Foster Dulles warned the Council on Foreign Relations in 1954, “if our policy was to remain the traditional one of meeting aggression by direct and local opposition – then we had to be ready to fight in the Arctic and in the tropics, in Asia, in the Near East and in Europe; by sea, by land, and by air; by old weapons and by new weapons.”
With both the United States and the European nations suffering from fiscal imbalances and declining revenues, it makes little sense to make a global police force out of their crumbling militaries. The energies and finances of NATO member states need to be focused inward, not outward. A decade of war in Iraq and Afghanistan has drained the U.S. taxpayer’s wallet and bled out our sons and daughters. Individual nations should be free of entangling alliances and free to make their own security and trade decisions on their own.
The Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact are no more. NATO was formed to protect Europe – not to dominate the world. It’s time to abolish and just say no to a continued NATO.
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