NATO & the new European balance op power

Posted on | juli 8, 2011 | No Comments

In the last ten years NATO has demonstrated weaknesses of the US role in the Atlantic alliance and the need to redefine its mission to reflect the new geopolitical realities. As a defense organization with principally a political role NATO can only be useful if it continues to serve all of its members’ best overall interests and not just those of ‘imperial US’. China’s new role in the world and EU economic and political strength relative to the US suffering military defeats in Iraq and Afghanistan and questionable tactics and results in Libya raises questions about NATO as an American organization that is heavily involved in Islamic countries.

1. CONVERGENCE: Is there convergence between U.S., ‘Old Europe’s’, and ‘new Europe’s’ collective security, political, and economic interests and will there be 10 years from now when the EU will enjoy far greater influence in ‘new Europe’? The US strategy of creating quasi-protectorates in ‘new Europe’ allows it to effectively compete with and counterbalance both ‘old Europe’ and Russia. The old East European ‘Iron Curtain’ increasingly looks like the new American sphere of influence and buffer zone.

2. INTERVENTIONISM: To what degree will the EU place limits on US unilateralism and interventionist role via NATO as was clearly demonstrated at Bucharest when Bush raised the Afghanistan issue to less than responsive Europeans? Even more significant, is ‘old Europe’ using American interventionism as a front to derive benefits as a follower?

3. DETERRENCE: Is NATO deterrence a cloak for protecting US and European expansionist economic and geopolitical interests at the expense of Russia and smaller countries seeking NATO and EU membership? In the 1990s there was a rush by the US and Europe to compete for raw materials in the former Communist bloc, especially oil and natural gas along the trans-Caspian region, thereby preventing the Russians from securing their neighbors’ valuable resources. For example, is CAMP BONDSTEEL, the largest US base in the Balkans located in Kosovo designed to prevent another local conflict, deter Russia, determine the regional balance of power, protect the pipeline from the Caspian Sea across the Balkans, or all of the above?

4. ABM Treaty: Does the AMB defense shield in the Czech Republic deter, protect, or provoke without much tangible benefit to the US? In terms of benefit/harm ratio is the US or Europe helped by that installation? If Europe, why is the American taxpayer paying for the cost? Is it because Europe’s defense, political, and economic interests are inexorably linked to the US and the EU is helping in Iraq and Afghanistan, or is it because the US wants to retain the costly dominant role and create a buffer zone in the old ‘Iron Curtain’?

5. CHINA: Regardless of NATO’s eastward expansion, what does that have to do with China that poses a far larger challenge to the west than Russia? Does this mean that a new SEATO-style organization needs to be established and India must be armed to the teeth as a counter-weight to China for a 21st century style Asian Cold War? Is it in NATO’s interest to debilitate Russia to the degree that China benefits inordinately?

6. ‘KEYNESIAN MILITARISM’: Given the current US-generated global economic stagflation, is this time either for the US or EU to engage in deficit-military-spending and force people to make even more sacrifices? Does Keynesian militarism work to stimulate growth when the US suffers balance-of-payments deficits that continue to weaken the dollar? Must workers and the middle classes pay for illusions of grandeur by ideologues bent on transferring capital from the civilian economy to defense?

7. MILITARIST DIPLOMACY: Do western governments want even greater integration of military force into diplomacy as a means of solving crises? How absurdly oblivious can they be to the lessons of history that military solutions do not solve political problems? Aren’t Iraq and Afghanistan sufficient blunders of militarist diplomacy?

8. DEFENSE INDUSTRY: Should NATO continue to exist so that its members comply with mandatory defense spending requirements which essentially keep US and Western Europe’s lobby-omnipotent defense industry profitable?

9. Middle East/Africa and Terrorism: If NATO exists to deter Muslim terrorists and to interfere in the Middle East and Africa, then it has a future. China and to a lesser degree Russia will continue to oppose NATO operations in Islamic countries, but having NATO around as the last relic of the Cold War to limit the sovereignty of underdeveloped nations also works to the advantage of China and Russia that present themselves as an alternative to the imperialist West.

10. US FEAR and COLLECTIVE SECURITY: Does NATO exist solely because the very idea of its absence strikes fear of chaos, instability, and the possibility that a rival organization guaranteeing Europe’s collective security may spring up to challenge the US global hegemonic role?

Owing to the convergence of ‘old Europe’s’ interests with Russia, the gap will continue between Western Europe and the US. To reflect the new balance of power in Europe and Eurasia, NATO will have no option but to include Russia, or evolve into a European defense organization that would probably be ineffective and may dissolve eventually, given the absence of a common foreign policy.

AUTHOR: Jon Kofas
E-MAIL: jonkofas [at]


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