The Future Of NATO Is That NATO Does’t Have A Future

Yesterday, I received this email about NATO,

Dear Mr. Hawkins,

On the occasion of its 60th anniversary the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has released three online video spots designed to make the Alliance’s core values interesting for young people.

You can find the videos, and other relevant information here:

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We would like you to join our debate on whether NATO is successful in its mission amongst changing global security priorities, and would be delighted if you could feature one of the videos on your blog together with your thoughts, ideas, or criticisms about it, to help spark discussion.

You can also follow the debate taking place on

Please don’t hesitate to contact us should you have any questions.

With best regards,

The Atlantic Community Team

First off, NATO was created after WW2 to keep “the Americans in, the Russians out and the Germans down.” Put another way, NATO was designed to prevent Europe from starting another World War and to keep the Russians out of Western Europe.

Are these serious dangers in 2009? Is Europe going to start another World War? Is the non-existent Soviet Union going to roll divisions of tanks through Western Europe? Is Germany going to rise up and roll across Europe again? No, no, and no.

Moreover, most of the nations in NATO are no longer potent military powers. Either they’ve let their military atrophy to the point where they’re useless and/or their governments have grown so soft and pacifistic that they’re unwilling to offer serious help in a conflict.

So, if there’s a fight, in return for endless diplomatic appeals and reminders about their NATO obligations, most of these nations reluctantly send 500 fourth rate soldiers who spend their days drilling and picnicking outside of the danger zone while American and British troops do the real fighting. In other words, NATO is a shell alliance that is primarily used for diplomatic cover (Look at all the NATO nations that we have on board with us), not for fighting.

The danger in this is that we could eventually end up getting dragged into a fight, via NATO, for nations that we don’t care about, that can’t fight for themselves, and that offer us nothing militarily.

We need to start moving towards making alliances with nations that are actually willing and able help us in a conflict. If a nation wants a guarantee that the world’s most powerful military will be there to help it in a jam, then it should be willing to do its part to help us if we ask — and how many nations really met that standard in Iraq or Afghanistan?

Now is not the time to be celebrating anniversaries and reminiscing about the glory days of NATO; it’s a time to acknowledge that the glory days are over and to look for better options in the present. We don’t have to quit NATO — yet — but it is time to stop pretending like it’s a functional military alliance that’s capable to dealing with real threats in the modern world.

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