Every week on Monday morning, the folks at WoW! Magazine and our invited guests weigh in at Our weekly Forum, short takes on a major issue of the day, the culture, or daily living. This week’s question: Would You Change NATO Or Leave It As Is?
Stately McDaniel Manor: In this, at least, Donald Trump is right. As a military alliance, NATO retains potential utility, but it has fallen into disrepair and disrepute. A large part of the latter is the fault of Barack Obama, but every president since the fall of the Soviet Union bears responsibility for the former.
Any military threat is viable only if that force has sufficient numbers, capability, and demonstrated skill. What’s left of NATO is lacking in every category, and this is largely due to our ally’s failure to live up to their financial obligations. This is what Trump was talking about. Virtually all of our allies have failed to maintain their militaries at a level necessary to maintain a credible deterrent.
This is particularly ironic for nations of the European Union. If the EU is truly an economic powerhouse and a political wonder, why should any member nation have the slightest difficulty maintaining its NATO obligations? The nations of the EU should be equipped with the most up-to-date equipment, ready to field forces of sufficient numbers on a moment’s notice, and should be fully integrated with the rest of the NATO force. As Sarah Palin would say: “How’s that workin’ out for yah?”
A third issue is a failure of imagination. Too many assumed that once the Soviet Union was gone, there was essentially no existential threat. I suspect Georgia and Ukraine would have differing opinions. And, of course, North Korea remains a festering boil on the posterior of the world. NATO must be revamped, not only to once again face down the Russian/Neo-Soviet threat, but the threat of Islam, led by Iran.
The worst problem, however, is NATO has virtually no credibility left. When Barack Obama, early in his administration, pulled promised defensive missiles out of Eastern Europe, when he betrayed the Poles, he sent the very clear message that NATO existed in name only, and Vladimir Putin played him and Hillary Clinton–reset!–like the fools they are. He gambled, wisely, that NATO–which is mostly the United States–would do nothing to stop him, and he was right.
As inelegant as Donald Trump usually is, he’s on the right path. Either revitalize NATO, require–if we have to force them, NATO is a sham–every member to live up to their financial obligations, and readily admit new, viable members, regardless of what Vladimir Putin has to say about it–this will mean an immediate willingness to go to war with Putin and every other dictatorial madman–or finish the job Barack Obama has already nearly completed and let NATO die of neglect.
NATO is a military, mutual defense alliance. Unless it has the hardware, personnel, training, logistical capabilities and the political will to fight whenever the agreed triggers are pulled, it’s just another Hillary Clinton/Barack Obama State Department: full of lofty rhetoric and lies, but utterly feckless. For us, that’s a very expensive paper tiger.
Laura Rambeau Lee, Right Reason: As the world grows more unstable we will need the alliance of NATO nations to fight the threat of expanding enemy forces. Although formed initially to fight the threat of the Soviet Union and the spread of communism during the Cold War we are facing a greater threat today from radical Islamists in their attempt to create a global caliphate.
In addition we are on the precipice of a Third World War as we see the saber rattling from Russia, China, North Korea and Iran. A cohesive alliance of western nations is needed to quell attempts from an aggressive enemy nation or nations to expand their control into NATO allied countries. NATO needs a defined mission with defined actions should any aggressions occur. There should be no question as to what our response will be in the event of an attack on one or more of our NATO nations. We also need to build and preserve superior military power and presence in our allied nations.
JoshuaPundit: Ah, ha ha! King Solomon, author of Koheles (Ecclesiastes) gets proven right again…there’s nothing new under the sun. That’s because human nature never changes, just the players.
Ultimately, any alliance or foreign policy gizmo falls apart as soon as it outlives its usefulness to one of the major players. The Congress of Vienna, created to keep the peace in Europe after the Napoleonic Wars is a classic example. It lasted all of 65 years until the Prussians decided they were strong enough to knock off the French in 1870.
So, let’s look what NATO was, shall we? While one could say it succeeded in its initial mission, to fend off the USSR, in a very real sense it amounted to U.S. power providing a shield for Europe at our expense. The only original members whom even had anything resembling armed forces were America, the UK, Canada and France, sort of. And throughout the next half a century or so, the EU’s NATO herd dismantled most of their military and spent their money on building a Socialist welfare state rather than on national defense. Hey, let Uncle Sam do it!
Now, let’s look at what NATO is today. Russia, the original rationale for NATO isn’t a major threat for the most part just now. The collapse of energy prices as well as Russia’s severe demographic problems and difficulties with its domestic Muslims make war an option Putin can’t afford. The Russians do make a few choice items of military gear, but the stuff they don’t sell for badly needed export dollars is concentrated in a few elite units. The rank and file make do with what they can get, and the dirty secret about the Russian Army are the tensions and even actual firefights between Muslim and native Russian troops. The only reason Putin has been able to play a larger game is because like certain Russian leaders in the past, he’s discovered the dysfunctional and easily bluffed nature of his counterparts in the U.S.
As for NATO, it’s become divided into military haves and have nots. Most of Western Europe are have nots when it comes to significant military. France still maintains a semblance of what it once had, but the UK, including its once magnificent navy is barely capable of defending its own territory if that. Norway has a small but efficient and well equipped navy suited for its needs, and so do the Danes. No one else, although Germany’s Bundewehr is beginning to rearm. But here’s an additional problem…politics.
The real threat to Europe isn’t Russia, but jihad. And few if any of the Western European NATO nations are likely to participate in a war against it, either for reasons of domestic politics or simply because their entire resources are tied up in managing their domestic home grown jihad unrest. France will sit it out unless someone like Marine Le Pen is president, and most of the rest almost certainly will.
On the other hand, the Eastern European EU members have been investing a fair amount of funds into national defense. As a reaction to President Obama’s policies, a military alliance outside of NATO known as the Visegrád Group has formed, consisting of Poland, Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Hungary, who also have strategic cooperation with the Baltic States. Collectively, they represent a significant force, and even better, they have all avoided being bullied into taking large numbers of Muslim ‘refugees’ into their countries. That’s important, since their likely enemy is Islamic forces rather than the Russians.
And that brings us to the real catch 22 of NATO, Turkey. Originally, Turkey came into NATO in 1952, and because of JFK’s acquiescence to Khrushchev’s bluffing and demands during the Cuban Missile Crisis, our strategic missiles were removed from Turkey and they had to build their own army up, partly as a deterrent to their historic adversary, Russia and partly because of the army’s role in Turkish politics.
At this point,Turkey is no longer an ally and they haven’t been one since Erdoğan and the Islamists took over the country. And not only do they have access to all of NATO’s intel and contingency strategies, but they now have the largest conventional army in Europe, along with a clear path through the old, historic jihad route through the Balkans to the West, not to mention a Muslim enclave as a base in Kosovo. Does anyone think it’s beyond the realm of possibility that Erdoğan, faced with a moribund economy might decide to revert to Islam’s historic remedy for such things, rape and plunder of the Infidel? I’d start easing them out of NATO tomorrow,but there’s a problem there.
Erdoğan has already blackmailed the EU to the tune of $2 billion in exchange for making some effort to keep Muslim ‘refugees’ from crossing his border into EU territory. The Western European EU members of NATO would never go along with ousting Turkey out of fear he’d dump even more ‘refugees’ in Europe, let alone that he’d unleash his military on them.
One thing that’s stopping Erdoğan from pursuing something like that now is Putin,who the Obama regime has made a point of insulting and alienating. And as you might have noticed, Erdoğan is doing his best to cosy up to Putin in recent days.
A little history, to once again prove King Solomon’s point. In 1937-1938, Winston Churchill and those of like mind were screaming at the top of their lungs for Britain to take Stalin up on his offer of a conference to discuss some kind of mutual tripartite security agreement with Britain and France. Churchill saw clearly that Hitler would never dare start what would have amounted to a two front war, but Neville Chamberlain, the British Prime Minister refused to even consider the idea seriously. He delayed doing anything for months and then actually insulted Stalin, first by sending a low ranking general to Moscow with no authority to conclude anything and second by selling out the Czechs without even consulting the USSR.
Hitler took advantage of the West’s stupidity and told his foreign minister Joachim Ribbentrop to meet with his Soviet counterpart Molotov and give Stalin virtually whatever he asked for. And the Nazi-Soviet Non-Aggression Pact was signed on August 21st, 1939, 77 years ago today. Stalin ended up with lucrative trade deals for his raw materials, a non-aggression pact, a nice slice of Poland and a free hand to invade the Baltic states. Hitler got a quiet eastern front, war materials he badly needed and the ability to concentrate his forces on Poland and then the West.
Like it or not Putin is one of the few world leaders actually fighting jihad right now. We are going to need to work with him to defeat it and he will eventually need to work with us no matter what kind of deals he thinks he’s making now. As for the Western nations of NATO, I could be wrong, but I think that given the choice of spending more of their own money on rebuilding their military or dropping out of NATO, many of them would opt to drop out. In a war, you need allies whom are actually willing to fight. That’s where we should concentrate our aid and assistance. I’m not sure NATO as a whole qualifies anymore, something I hope changes for the better.
GrEaT sAtAn”S gIrLfRiEnD: Since their primary mission of being a force in opposition to the Warsaw Pact in Europe ended on December 24, 1991 when the Hammer and Sickle flag of the Soviet Union was replaced by the Tricolor flag of the Russian Federation on the Kremlin’s flag post in Moscow, NATO could have cased their colors the next day and locked the doors of their headquarters in Mons, Belgium. They had accomplished their mission.
Since that fateful day in 1991, they have proven themselves to be a fairly inept military force. In the Kosovo campaign, ninety percent of the air combat sorties were carried out by aircraft from the three English-speaking member states: Canada, the U.S. and the U.K.
None of the other member states, with the exception of the Netherlands, is very keen on increasing their troop commitments in Afghanistan, despite it flowing out from the only instance in which the alliance invoked Article 5 and declared that the attack on America of September 11, 2001 was an attack on all.
Joint Task Force 151, which is a NATO Naval force, is one military venture in the organization which is working with some degree of success and participation by the European member states.
Eastern European nations within an overnight tank ride from Commonwealth Russia are another.
Critics of NATO in regards to ‘bear poking’ or trying to start a war with Russia are off target
Simply put, absent the U.S., the rest of the alliance’s military does not have the heavy lift capability to move troops and equipment in an expeditious manner. They don’t have the needed air assets to carry out any sort of air interdiction campaign. Many of their Social Democratic governments are still, inexplicably, politically averse to placing any of their citizens in danger via any sort of heavy military action.
Since NATO members have been attacked by ISIL or ISIS sympathizers, it seems only fair that NATO should formally Declare War on the Islamic State.
That in itself would be a major shift for NATO as we know it. 1st off, Turkey – who has either covertly or overtly aided the Caliphate since day one with illicit oil purchases, easy access to and from the Caliphate as well as maintaining supply routes will finally have to decide which side of the fence she’s on.
Turkey would have to be in it to win it and that simply means the absolute destruction of the Islamic State. If not – the burden to destroy the IS would be heavier for NATO, yet not impossible.
The incredibly fake believe concept of no boots on the ground will have to be put out of it’s misery. While NATO nations that have far too long enjoyed a free ride with their conscript militaries, may have a significant number of their countrymen opposed to any intervention and ground force, this is where their individual leaders must develop and use their political leadership to convince their respective nation states.
Well, there you have it.
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