Eyes of the Fleet

Eyes of the Fleet

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

"What is NATO for?"

If you missed our last Midrats show, "Episode 75: From NATO and Russia; with questions" featuring CAPT Thomas Fedyszyn, (Ph.D.), USN (Ret.) - Professor of National Security Affairs at the U.S. Naval War College and Chair of the Europe-Russia Studies, you really ought to go listen to it (or download it from that site or iTunes for listening later), because it ties in nicely with this piece from Foreign Policy, "What is NATO for?" - By Paul Miller:
What is NATO for? Not for fighting wars. It proved in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Libya that NATO is not an effective fighting alliance. The wars it fights are fought by committee: or, worse, by bureaucracy. They are clumsy, inefficient, and violate the unity of command, one of the basic principles of war-fighting. Kosovo ended when the Kosovo Liberation Army began to make progress in ground combat and President Clinton appeared to be rethinking his no-ground-forces rule. Afghanistan has only turned around (barely) since the United States effectively re-Americanized the war starting in 2009 (Americans did not make up a majority of international military forces in Afghanistan until then). And Libya is likely to remain stalemated until NATO changes its approach or the United States takes over.
As noted in the piece, the U.S. spends a lot of money on defense and some portion of that is to allow us to defend our NATO allies under Article 5.

Our guest on the Midrats show argues that Article 5 (which requires all NATO nations to come to the defense of any NATO member that comes under attack) ought to be done away with while NATO shifts its mission - something about whether it makes sense for us to commit to "we will fight to the death of the last American for Estonian boundaries."

Some of us question whether or not NATO is needed at all - having successfully completed its mission, let's fold its flag and move on.

More at CDR Salamander's place where he has some nice graphics on European defense spending liberated from The Economist:
They end up with a phrase right off the front porch.
... why should outsiders bother to protect countries that won’t take their own defence seriously?
As I tried to pose in a question on the show, after 60+ years, haven't the European countries of post war activity grown economically sound enough to shoulder more of the financial burden of providing the military cover that allows parts of the world to be made safe for democracy?

Mr. Miller and Dr. Fedyszyn sort of reach the same point - let NATO morph into what is good at, but let's take a hard look at what Article 5 costs the U.S. in terms of the military benefits we get out of it.

UPDATE: This kind of highlights one of the issues addressed during the radio show about how slow the NATO decision processes can be:
"Nato decisions are very slow and very complicated. Nato send aircraft for reconnaissance, they take a picture, they take time to analyse the picture, then take time to take the decision to send the fighter to attack the target. Then the target moved.
Deliberate is okay unless you are the guy on the ground getting his ass shot off.


  1. Anonymous8:36 AM

    As a world power the US has been an abject failure: undermining its strong allies in the 20th century (so as to make itself the main world power), imagining a threat from communism and starting the cold war, messing up foreign policy consistently around the planet causing a rod for its own back, and now acting as if NATO is a problem because it costs too much? The US has caused NATO to be weak by only being interested in conflicts that benefit its useless, outdated imperialist policies. And now complaining that they have to look after countries that they have CAUSED to be poor by insisting that the European powers dispose of their colonies, thus bankrupting them? It is a like a big bully kid whinging that he has to give back the candy he stole off smaller kids! As to what the organisation is for: it is to give security to the West, even if it is on paper only. It is a moral obligation that would not have been needed if the giant nose of the US was not pushed into everything post WWII to ensure its pre-eminence. Nato is also a necessity so the grown up nations can help the US with its misguided childish foreign policies. And also, Afghanistan has always had more US troops than any other NATO partner, so I am unsure as to the validity of Thomas Fedyszyns' statement anyway. Perhaps he went to an American state school, and thus can't actually count.