September 16, 2008
Following WWII, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Treaty (NATO), was established in 1949 for the collective defense… Wait, hold on a minute. Isn’t collective a term the Communists use? More on that later. Anyway, NATO was established for the purpose, as NATO’s first secretary General Lord Ismay summed up, “to keep the Russians out, the American’s in, and the Germans down.” That the USSR posed a serious threat to the security of Western Europe, there was no question — That Europe wanted America to become point man for their defense against the USSR was merely a continuation of Churchill’s political machinations to draw an isolationist US into WWII and European politics. Add two world wars with Germany, and Europe gets an additional bonus by having the US stationed in bases in Germany to disabuse them of any ideas of having another go at conquering the continent.
Through the 1950’s up to the late 1980’s, NATO and the USSR stood glaring at each other across the Iron Curtain. Dreams of an epic armor battle at the Fulda Gap between the Warsaw Pact and NATO forces that would make the tank battle at Kursk look like a piker filled the heads of armchair wargamers and inspired books like Red Storm Rising. Then, gosh darn it, Gorbachev’s Glasnost herald a new era of open politics in Soviet Union. Some electrician named Lech Walesa was giving the Communist party in Poland fits with organized strikes.
Suddenly in 1989, East Germany takes down the Iron Curtain. The cold war thaws into a hopeful spring. What was NATO going to do with all those tanks, planes, and troops? Worse, what were the generals going to do to keep their jobs? No enemies to fight, and the politicians were promising a peace dividend to citizens by closing military bases.
A common quip of the Berliners in the last days of WWII “Enjoy the war. The peace will be terrible” now seemed a reality for poor NATO. Without a combat command, military career advancement would come to a standstill. Without the need to maintain ongoing weapon superiority, the military industry would lay off employees. There goes the economy.
Desperate, NATO takes a cue from the movie of Canadian Bacon, and becomes involved in the ethnic strife in Yugoslavia between the Croats and the Serbs to look useful and from being disbanded. It becomes the strong arm of the UN, enforcing that august body’s no-fly zone mandate, as well as the UN’s arms and economic sanctions. NATO continued by initiating air strikes in Bosnia, and deploying a peacekeeping force on the ground. NATO finds a use for its leftover cold war ordinance collecting dust by mounting an 11-week bombing campaign.
NATO cleverly names the bombing sorties with various titles such as Operation Deliberate Force, so as to assure people that the bombs were not dropped by accident, or Operation Allied Force, in case someone doesn’t already know that NATO is a collective (there’s that Communist word again!) of various nations working together to enforce the peace by killing people.
What is strange about the working relationship of NATO and UN is that the former resists attempts to by the latter to have the final word regarding its military actions. The UN would say, “Don’t bomb, we have things under control,” and NATO would reply. “Yes we will bomb, just to make sure.”
I guess when you have one organization whose mission is to preserve peace, and another whose job is to break things to protect democracy, you are bound to have some philosophical differences. As the Good Book says, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” How any nation can belong to both organizations, and yet come to cross-proposes deciding if and who should be bombed, is beyond me. Sounds like one of them is unnecessary and is getting in the way of the other. Better yet, to be on the safe side, it might be best to get rid of both. But that’s just my opinion.
But local European ethnic conflicts were not enough to justify the overhead cost of a coalition as large as NATO. Fortunately, 9/11 happened just in the nick of time. In 2003 NATO was reorganized so as to take over the duties International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. This would set the precedent for NATO to entertain missions outside its North Atlantic backyard. Plenty of opportunities to keep business as usual for NATO. But while NATO enjoys a good brush war like anyone else to keep the military industrial complex economy running, the real action is found in the defensive missiles gig. Never mind there is yet a practical missile made that can hit the broadside of the proverbial barn, much less a ICBM coming in from the stratosphere, this is were the big money is. Plus, it has the biggest boogieman fear component to inspire the civilians to work harder to pay taxes. Scaring citizens with images of mechanized armies invading your neighborhood is so passé – To really play on the sheeple’s paranoia, talk about the possibility of rogue missile attacks launched from middle-eastern countries such as Iran. Even hint darkly about a resurgent Russia, with Putin desiring to push the big red button. Never mind that Putin enjoys Russia’s prosperity with capitalism with Europe as customer. He wouldn’t dream of killing the goose that lays the golden eggs by nuking western Europe into glass parking lot. Bad for business, you know.
NATO’s reinventing itself is so successful that many of the former Soviet Bloc countries are applying for membership. Little Georgia has little to offer to NATO, other than to instigate hostilities with neighboring Ossetia. No doubt NATO was upset that Georgia did not wait after it was initiated into its club, so NATO could get into the act and justify its military budget by using mean old Russia as an excuse. Besides, how dare the Russians come to the aid of Ossetia when it was attacked by Georgia! That’s NATO job! If its one thing an organization hates, it’s someone else cutting in on the action.
In a recent interview by ABC’s Charles Gibson, Sarah Palin condemned Russia’s invasion of Georgia as quote-unquote, “unprovoked.” Which of course, is a lie. Palin favors the inclusion of both Georgia and the Ukraine into NATO because they had demonstrated actions as being “democratic” When Gibson asked: “and under the NATO treaty, wouldn’t we then have to go to war if Russia went into Georgia?” She replied “Perhaps.” Which is another way of saying all options are on the table. Her fervor revealed later in the interview to come to the aid of “smaller democratic countries that are invaded by a larger power” would have sounded noble if we were not already a larger power that had invaded a smaller country that had done nothing against us. But the difference of course, is Iraq is not a “democratic” one, so the US is excused where Russia is not. Palin stresses the importance of not reverting back to a cold war status, yet advocates economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure against Russia that are the equivalent of creating one. NATO could not have asked for a better lobbyist that Palin to cheerlead for its continued existence
Palin and others ongoing support to a collectivist (there its that word again!) defense organization as NATO reminds me of new inmates who are obliged to join a gang in order to survive in prison – Doesn’t matter what crimes you or they have committed, the thing is the colors you wear define who are your friends, and who are your enemies. So much for the rugged individualism that once was the hallmark of America’s legacy.
I find it ironic that the people who are opposed with our association in the UN are just as tenacious in insisting that we must stay in NATO. That we must honor our commitments and treaties by continuing to belong to a collective defense organization. All for the sake of defending democracy, which is a method of government, not a moral definition of who is the good guy, and who is the villian. Many still think that poor Europe is too weak to defend itself should Russia aspire to conquer Western Europe. Never mind that with the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia does not have near the manpower and hardware it formerly had with the Warsaw Pact.
Everyone is still thinking with a 1980’s cold war mindset. Worse, these people cannot see that NATO is little different than the UN – except it does not use white-painted armored vehicles and blue helmets, and is more likely to shoot first and then ask questions later. America needs to get out of the NATO club and stop being a club for NATO. NATO’s original purpose has been made obsolete by the fall of the USSR. It is a holdover of the same treaties, the “scrap of paper” signed by old men in Europe who offered their young people and treasure as collateral for the “honor” to defend each other’s decadent empires. By contractual reflex France, Britain, and Russia were led into disastrous world war with Germany in 1914, over the assassination of an Austrian archduke by a radical Serb. After three years of callously spending the lives and limbs an entire generation of their best young men by sending them in frontal attacks against machine guns with bayonets, they looked to America for fresh cannon fodder to rescue them for their folly – and Wilson provided it in the name of “making democracy safe for the world.” That any reprobate country can gain political legitimacy by declaring being a “democracy” and be admitted into the NATO club is akin to putting lipstick on a pig, if I may use a cliché that is presently in vogue. Spilling the blood of our soldiers and depleting our treasure in the defense such countries that wear such false garb is a sucker’s game. America should follow the example of Groucho Marx, treating any club that would invite them as a member suspect, and not worth belonging to.