Is NATO irrelevant?

Discussion in 'Defence & Strategic Issues' started by ajtr, Sep 25, 2010.

  1. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Is NATO irrelevant?

    Posted By Stephen M. Walt Friday, September 24, 2010 - 11:06 AM Share

    NATO is by common consensus the most successful political-military alliance in modern history. It has lasted longer than almost all others, incorporates more members, and it achieved its central purpose(s) without firing a shot. After the Cold War ended, it managed to redefine itself by taking on a broader array of security missions and has played a modest but useful role in the war in Afghanistan. By surviving well beyond the demise of the Soviet Union, it has also defied realist predictions that its days (or at least its years) were numbered.

    Nonetheless, I share William Pfaff's view that NATO doesn't have much of a future.

    First, Europe's economic woes are forcing key NATO members (and especially the U.K.) to adopt draconian cuts in defense spending. NATO's European members already devote a much smaller percentage of GDP to defense than the United States does, and they are notoriously bad at translating even that modest amount into effective military power. The latest round of defense cuts means that Europe will be even less able to make a meaningful contribution to out-of-area missions in the future, and those are the only serious military missions NATO is likely to have.

    Second, the ill-fated Afghan adventure will have divisive long-term effects on alliance solidarity. If the United States and its ISAF allies do not win a clear and decisive victory (a prospect that seems increasingly remote), there will be a lot of bitter finger-pointing afterwards. U.S. leaders will complain about the restrictions and conditions that some NATO allies (e.g., Germany) placed on their participation, while European publics will wonder why they let the United States get them bogged down there for over a decade. It won't really matter who is really responsible for the failure; the key point is that NATO is unlikely to take on another mission like this one anytime soon (if ever). And given that Europe itself is supposedly stable, reliably democratic, and further pacified by the EU, what other serious missions is NATO supposed to perform?

    The third potential schism is Turkey, which has been a full NATO member since 1950. I'm not as concerned about Turkey's recent foreign policy initiatives as some people are, but there's little doubt that Ankara's diplomatic path is diverging on a number of key issues. The United States, United Kingdom, France, and Germany have been steadily ratcheting up pressure on Iran, while Turkey has moved closer to Tehran both diplomatically and economically. Turkey is increasingly at odds with Washington on Israel-Palestine issues, which is bound to have negative repercussions in the U.S. Congress. Rising Islamophobia in both the United States and Europe could easily reinforce these frictions. And given that Turkey has NATO's largest military forces (after the United States) and that NATO operates largely by consensus, a major rift could have paralyzing effects on the alliance as a whole.

    Put all this together, and NATO's future as a meaningful force in world affairs doesn't look too bright. Of course, the usual response to such gloomy prognostications is to point out that NATO has experienced crises throughout its history (Suez, anyone?), and to remind people that it has always managed to weather them in the past. True enough, but most of these rifts occurred within the context of the Cold War, when there was an obvious reason for leaders in Europe and America to keep disputes within bounds.

    Of course, given NATO's status as a symbol of transatlantic solidarity, no American president or European leader will want to preside over its demise. Plus, you've got all those bureaucrats in Brussels and Atlantophiles in Europe and America who regard NATO as their life's work. For all these reasons, I don't expect NATO to lose members or dissolve. I'll even be somewhat surprised if foreign policy elites even admit that it has serious problems.

    Instead, NATO is simply going to be increasingly irrelevant. As I wrote more than a decade ago:

    . . .the Atlantic Alliance is beginning to resemble Oscar Wilde's Dorian Gray, appearing youthful and robust as it grows older -- but becoming ever more infirm. The Washington Treaty may remain in force, the various ministerial meetings may continue to issue earnest and upbeat communiques, and the Brussels bureaucracy may keep NATO's web page up and running-all these superficial routines will go on, provided the alliance isn't asked to actually do anything else. The danger is that NATO will be dead before anyone notices, and we will only discover the corpse the moment we want it to rise and respond."

    Looking back, I'd say I underestimated NATO's ability to rise from its sickbed. Specifically, it did manage to stagger through the Kosovo War in 1999 and even invoked Article V guarantees for the first time after 9/11. NATO members have sent mostly token forces to Afghanistan (though the United States, as usual, has done most of the heavy lifting). But even that rather modest effort has been exhausting, and isn't likely to be repeated. A continent that is shrinking, aging, and that faces no serious threat of foreign invasion isn't going to be an enthusiastic partner for future adventures in nation-building, and it certainly isn't likely to participate in any future U.S. effort to build a balancing coalition against a rising China.

    The bad news, in short, is that one of the cornerstones of the global security architecture is likely to erode in the years ahead. The good news, however, is that it won't matter very much if it does.
     
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  3. Yusuf

    Yusuf GUARDIAN Administrator

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    NATO? What NATO? Isnt this question being asked too late??
     
  4. Patriot

    Patriot Senior Member Senior Member

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    Moscow security meeting to focus on closer NATO-Russia ties

    Berlin, Oct 8, IRNA -- High-level decision-makers from the US, European Union and Russia are to discuss prospects for promoting closer ties between NATO and Russia during a Munich Security Conference offshoot meeting in Moscow, a German official said here Thursday evening.

    Talking to media representatives, the head of the Munich Security Conference, Wolfgang Ischinger stressed that the two-day closed-door talks, slated for October 19 and 20, would dwell on boosting the rapprochement process between Russia and the military alliance.

    He called for NATO's 'open-door policy' with Moscow, saying the pre-conditions for a deepening of relations between the West and Russia were never as suitable as they were now.

    Ischinger did acknowledge though that such an integration process of Russia into NATO would take a long time.

    Meanwhile, a Berlin-based political observer on Russian affairs, requesting anonymity, told IRNA that western efforts to lure Moscow into the western military pact was bound to fail as a result of a deep mistrust by Russian militry leaders towards NATO.

    'Whatever the West is planning by enticing Russia to join NATO will not work because the Russian generals don't trust the West and NATO. Plus, I don't think Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin will support such as a move,' according to the observer.

    NATO and Russia relations deteriorated over the Georgian war in August 2008.

    Several former Soviet satellite Baltic states which are now NATO members like Poland, openly supported Georgia in its military campaign with Russia.

    The main venue for direct negotiations, the NATO-Russia Council (NRC), was suspended for several months by the western military pact in the wake of the Russian-Georgian military conflict and Moscow's subsequent diplomatic recognition of the rebel regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states.



    IRNA - Islamic Republic News Agency
     
  5. Patriot

    Patriot Senior Member Senior Member

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    NATO chief eyes deeper dialogue with China, India

    NATO must reach out to emerging powers such as China and India as it transforms into a 21st century guardian of international security against modern threats, NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Friday.

    Rasmussen wants the 28-nation alliance to deepen relations with key partners in the Asia-Pacific region such as Australia and South Korea, but also with eastern Mediterranean countries including Israel and Egypt.

    He suggested that NATO creates a system of political and military consultations with emerging powers.

    Three of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council -- the United States, Britain and France – are full-fledged members of NATO and have formal talks with Russia within the NATO-Russia Council.

    But there is no organised dialogue with China, the fifth veto-wielding member of the Security Council, Rasmussen told the German Marshall Fund think tank.
    "It makes sense to extend our range of consultations to also include countries like China and India in our regular consultations," Rasmussen said.

    In a speech, Rasmussen said NATO must transform to face new dangers such as cyber attacks, ballistic missiles and global terrorism as he outlined his views on a new "strategic concept" that NATO leaders will adopt in November.

    "The time has now come for 'NATO 3.0,' an alliance which can defend the 900 million citizens of NATO countries against the threats they face today, and will face in the coming decade," he said.

    Rasmussen presented his vision for the strategic concept, which he drafted following proposals by experts, ahead of a meeting of NATO foreign and defence ministers next Thursday in Brussels.

    It will replace a text adopted in 1999 and be adopted by NATO leaders at a summit in Lisbon on November 19-20.

    NATO must first modernise its defence and deterrence capabilities but the concept of collective defence will always remain a pillar of the military alliance, Rasmussen said.

    The alliance must be ready to take on "21st century crisis management" following the experience in Afghanistan, a nine-year-old war that now counts around 150,000 international troops, he said.




    NATO chief eyes deeper dialogue with China, India
     
  6. Tshering22

    Tshering22 Sikkimese Saber Senior Member

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    ^^ Joint wargames are good but it would be with EITHER China or India considering our gap widening in strategic and military understanding thanks to some aggressive usage of the 2 Ps by our bigger neighbour. Also unlike NATO which is a world police force, it is very very unlikely that Chinese or we would engage on international level like they are at any time in the next 30 years. China despite being a leading member of SCO, didn't intervene in the Uzbek-Tajik clash in Osh. Russia at the max, sent its special forces to guard the military installations of Kremlin. What's more, we Indians have a lot of our own internal troubles like Maoists, Kashmiri Jihadis etc and until these are solved and we get a calm environment like EU and USA mainland without separatism and terrorism, there's no chance that the tri-service command would ever choose to meddle in affairs outside South Asia.

    China's priority is to secure its supply lanes from Indian Ocean vis a vis India, and our priority is to secure entire South Asia and Southeast as our power base and safe from any enemies of the nation both internal and external. Therefore, apart from learning a few tricks and maybe building good trust with either countries, NATO won't gain anything. A joint relation with both Dragon and Tiger is simply impossible.
     

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