NATO Can’t Even Make the Trains Run on Time
The call grows amongst the bloggers to kill NATO. First Steven Den Best and now Sean McCray. These guys run two of my favorite blogs, so I hate to disagree with them, but…
NATO is still (marginally) useful. And, while this may be anathema amongst libertarians, we ought to stay in NATO for some of the same reasons we need to keep the UN around. Let’s look at the UN first.
The UN is like your nosy next door neighbor. She’s the do-gooder type who always meddles in business that’s no affair of hers. She gossips, she pries, she fusses. Oh, and she’s almost always wrong. She tells you your roof shingles aren’t quite perfect — but her yard is nothing but crabgrass, her house hasn’t seen fresh paint in a double decade, and her windows are cracked. And at Halloween, she’s the one person who hands out trail mix and pennies instead of Snickers.
Also, she wastes billions of dollars every single year and her diplomats get all the good parking in Manhattan.
(OK, so I kinda lost the metaphor there at the end.)
Nevertheless, we should keep the UN. We live in a world that is horribly scarred by two world wars and a century of Holocaust, ethnic cleansing, tribal violence, terrorism, Cold War, nuclear proliferation, etc. Because of all that nastiness, the world sometimes demands the appearence of multilateralism. Clinton was no Napolean (well, maybe a Napolean III), but that doesn’t mean the rest of the planet would let him invade Scotland for no good reason and without some permission from the world at large. Now keep in mind, we only have to follow the UN multilateral script during non-vital wars, such as the one against Saddam ten years ago or defoliating France. But in the current war against Saddam, the world can get screwed — we’ll do what we have to. And the world knows it.
But I digress.
The UN has a few decent agencies, can do the peacekeeping after we win the war, and can give us political cover for the things we want to do but don’t necessarily need to do.
And NATO is no different.
So why keep them both? Good question, I’m glad I thought of it. NATO is the rich, western, democratic subset of the UN. NATO, in other words, is made up of the UN members who actually count for something. (Yes, I’m leaving out Japan and Australia and others, but this is a simplified argument.) For truly European affiars, NATO is the cover we need, not the UN. Remember Kosovo? It was too small to spend our political capital at the UN, but too big to be left to France. Ergo, NATO. The fact that we had to do all the heavy lifting while Italy contributed little more than carping matters not one whit.
And I’ve saved the clincher for last. North Atlantic Treaty anchors Germany to the West. During the Cold War, US V and VII Corps weren’t in West Germany just to keep the Russians out, they were also there to keep the Germans in. We seem to remember that less and less as the Greatest Generation dies off. But without a strong US presense in the center of Europe, someone is going to fill that vaccum — and we’ve already been down that road twice before. It’s either going to be us or the Germans — and I choose us.
Let’s not dump NATO just yet.