Could that excuse be the NATO charter’s Article 4? That is the provision that calls on NATO member countries to “consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the parties is threatened.” Turkey’s Islamist foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, has announced that Turkey is calling for an emergency consultation of NATO members under Article 4 to consider a response to what it deems Syrian aggression. Look for this to be the fig-leaf the Obama administration and the Republican Party’s transnational-progressive wing (under the leadership of John McCain — and, unfortunately, exercising obvious influence over Mitt Romney) uses to step up calls for overt U.S. intervention against Assad. And look for them to bypass Congress, just as they did in the case of Libya.
The animating principle of NATO is that an attack on one member is an attack on all. That made sense in the context of NATO’s raison d’etre — the existential Soviet threat. With the Soviets defeated and NATO’s mission accomplished, this principle makes no sense today — nor does NATO, for that matter. There is no defining, unifying mission. Today, NATO members are culturally fragmenting: Islamist Turkey is a repressive state that jails political opponents and journalists, promotes sharia creep, and labors to weaken its military, which was Ataturk’s bulwark against an Islamist reversal of secular democracy. Furthermore, NATO members pursue antithetical foreign policies: Turkey’s embrace of Hamas and support for Iran’s nuclear program are the two best examples, but they are not the only ones.
We should be unwinding NATO. Our national defense would be far better served by focusing on our own vital interests and, when it makes sense, forming “coalitions of the willing” to pursue them. Of course, NATO is a government program — indeed, a military bureaucracy on an inflated international scale. Such programs always sprawl, living on long after their useful purpose has been served and long after their continuation is patently unsustainable for economic and political reasons. Still, even if shedding NATO is politically unattainable at the moment, we should not permit its Islamist component to drag us, yet again, into the Middle East’s Muslim morass — where we have no friends and can only make our enemies stronger.