Clicking on banner ads enables JWR to constantly improve
Jewish World Review June 11, 2002 / 1 Tamuz, 5762

Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow
JWR's Pundits
World Editorial
Cartoon Showcase

Mallard Fillmore

Michael Barone
Mona Charen
Linda Chavez
Ann Coulter
Greg Crosby
Larry Elder
Don Feder
Suzanne Fields
Paul Greenberg
Bob Greene
Betsy Hart
Nat Hentoff
David Horowitz
Marianne Jennings
Michael Kelly
Mort Kondracke
Ch. Krauthammer
Lawrence Kudlow
Dr. Laura
John Leo
David Limbaugh
Michelle Malkin
Chris Matthews
Michael Medved
MUGGER
Kathleen Parker
Wes Pruden
Sam Schulman
Amity Shlaes
Tony Snow
Thomas Sowell
Cal Thomas
Jonathan S. Tobin
Ben Wattenberg
George Will
Bruce Williams
Walter Williams
Mort Zuckerman

Consumer Reports

Europeans defending whom?

http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | NATO's 19 members have gathered in Rome to initiate a new partnership with Russia; they are also planning to add several new members to the alliance. The usual fatuous rhetoric emanating from the meeting cannot hide the fact that NATO is an organization in search of a purpose and actually diminishes U.S. security.

For four decades, NATO was the quintessential anti-Soviet alliance. When the Berlin Wall fell, the Warsaw Pact dissolved and the Soviet Union collapsed, NATO lost its raison d'etre. For the last decade, NATO officials, demonstrating that there is no such thing as a temporary government program, have been attempting to develop alternative missions for the alliance.

Their original suggestions were comical -- protect the environment, combat drug abuse, promote student exchanges. All that was missing was an initiative to turn tanks into bookmobiles.

NATO advocates finally settled on using the organization for international social engineering. The alliance would sort out civil wars in the Balkans, badger former communist states to elect politicians favored by the West, and be the primary Western seal of approval. Thus, the alliance is now serving European, not American, objectives. Not that Europe needs a U.S. handout. The continent has both an economy and population larger than America's. Yet Europe remains a military dwarf by its own choice. EU members spend little more than half of what America devotes to defense. President George W. Bush has proposed a greater increase in military outlays for next year, $48 billion, more than any other NATO member currently spends.

True, the Europeans continue to talk about creating a 60,000-member rapid deployment force. Half of them have begun reversing a severe slide in defense outlays.

But there is nothing in past European behavior, even during the midst of the Cold War when the Soviet Red Army could theoretically have marched across the continent, to suggest that they will follow through. Because of America they don't have to.

Moreover, they prefer to maintain their bloated welfare states. Financial Times columnist Gerard Baker is refreshingly honest: extra military spending "would surely jeopardize other, more pressing budget priorities."

Anyway, more money would not be enough. The Europeans' entire forces must be reconfigured. Their current combat capability runs barely 10 percent to 15 percent of America's.

But why should they change? And why should the United States care if they do? NATO is irrelevant without an enemy. There is nothing against which to defend.

Some analysts made much of the fact that last September NATO invoked Article 5 for the first time in its history, formally declaring the attack on the United States to be an attack on all.

President Bush proclaimed that to be "an expression of European solidarity none of us will forget." Alas, expressions of solidarity combined with 50 cents still will only buy a cup of coffee. Some serious military aid might come from Britain and Turkey, but both can be obtained outside of NATO.

The Europeans would do far more for the United States by simply garrisoning their own continent, instead of expecting the United States to maintain 100,000 troops to protect populous, prosperous industrialized states, as well as another 11,400 to enforce order in the Balkans, a region of no strategic interest to America.

For the latter, the Europeans don't need a more effective force; their existing conscript militaries would do just fine.

In short, Europe currently is a security black hole, consuming U.S. defense resources while providing few assets in return. Yet the alliance is considering including up to 10 nations, including Slovenia and Slovakia and the three Baltic States on Russia's border. Bulgaria and Romania make some lists.

Ukraine says it wants in.

Expanding NATO will offer no benefits to America. Rather, doing so would extend U.S. security guarantees to peripheral regions without augmenting Western military power.

And there should be no doubt that it would be Washington that would be expected to resolve any new security problems. The membership might be in NATO, but the security guarantee is American.

On his recent trip, President George W. Bush said that NATO should "not calculate how little we can get away with, but how much we can do to advance the cause of freedom." For the Europeans, it always means calculating how little they can do.

Washington should abandon any pretense of re-invigorating NATO. Instead, the United States should phase out its forces in Europe, starting with those in the Balkans.

The Europeans are well able to defend against any likely threats in the future. Turning NATO into a European-organized and European-led alliance would allow the United States to focus on genuine threats to its own security.



JWR contributor Doug Bandow is a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. Comment by clicking here.

Up


05/24/02: Threatening pharmaceutical innovation
05/14/02: The war crimes fantasy
05/07/02: Paying a high price for befriending Saudi princes
04/30/02: The price of postal monopoly
04/23/02: The war on charity
04/16/02: The forgotten human right
03/27/02: Cuba's struggle to be free
03/20/02: How to defeat Cuban communism
03/12/02: Junk science, redux
03/06/02: Axis of hubris
02/27/02: Washington-style campaign reform: incumbent protection
02/20/02: The grand Enron morality play
02/12/02: Rebuilding what?
02/05/02: Succumbing to the terrorist temptation
01/29/02: Democrats for what?
01/22/02: The Iraqi question
01/14/02: Profiling frequent flyers
01/08/02: Trade, not aid
01/02/02: Treason by any other name
12/26/01: Preserving freedom in an unfree world
12/17/01: Dealing with terrorism's aftermath
12/10/01: Emerging friendships?
12/04/01: Uncle Sam: Insurer of last resort
11/28/01: Expanding the circle of trade
11/20/01: Free to be stupid
11/13/01: The meaning of compassion
11/07/01: Patriotic scoundrels
10/30/01: The coming postal raid
10/16/01: First, do no harm
10/12/01: Good news from a suffering land
10/04/01: Defending whom?
09/25/01: The wrong solution to the wrong problem
09/21/01: The price of terrorism
08/28/01: Uncle Sam's retirement scam
08/21/01: Canberra's quaint naivete
08/14/01: Uncle Sam's false fuel economy
08/08/01: The Clinton administration in drag
07/31/01: The high cost of government
07/24/01: Kill the campaign reform illusion
07/17/01: Do as I say, not as I do
07/11/01: Lawyers at play
07/05/01: Western blundering, Macedonian disaster
06/26/01: How best to honor Bill Clinton?
06/19/01: A maturing Europe?
06/15/01: Tell Beijing to mind its own business
06/06/01: Ukraine's boiling cauldron
05/31/01: Protecting privacy from Uncle Sam
05/22/01: America's Balkan quagmire
05/09/01: The Taiwanese flash point
05/01/01: Globalization serves the world's poor
04/24/01: Who's cheating whom?
04/10/01: The NCAA scam
04/03/01: Balkan stupidities
03/27/01: McCain doesn't want a 'risk for our country'
03/20/01: Dubious Korean alliances
03/06/01: Coercive patriotism
02/27/01: Bombing without end
02/20/01: A dose of misplaced outrage
02/13/01: Psst: Tax cuts for taxpayers. Pass-it-on
02/06/01: Bridging the unbridgeable gap
01/23/01: Left-wing demagoguery
01/16/01: The drug war problem
01/10/01: Politics and trade
01/03/01: Hope for liberty?
12/27/00: The debris of war
12/19/00: What's the rule of law for?
12/15/00: Ending silicone breast implant saga
12/05/00: Election may yield victor, but there are no winners
11/21/00: A Bush presidential mandate?
11/07/00: Exprienced Gore? Yeah, right
11/01/00: Interventionist follies
10/17/00: America's brightening prospects in Ukraine
10/11/00: GOP budget scandals
10/03/00: How a pharmaceutical 'crisis' was created
09/27/00: Clinton's empathy has helped nobody
09/13/00: AlGore's risky budget policies
09/05/00: Military readiness and Korean commitments
08/29/00: Let sleeping hypocrites lie
08/21/00: Targeting a journalistic pariah
08/15/00: European garrison for Kosovo?
08/08/00: Journalistic cleansing at the Boston Globe
08/04/00: Junk science on trial
06/22/00: Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty
06/15/00: The end of U.N. peacekeeping
06/07/00: The Clinton regulatory miasma
06/01/00: Administration stupidity, congressional cowardice
05/25/00: The silence of the international community
05/18/00: Protecting the next generation

05/11/00: Freer trade with China will advance human rights

05/04/00: How not to save the Constitution

04/28/00: American tripwire in Korea long ago disappeared: Why are we still involved?

04/18/00: Clinton administration believes the IRS is too gentle, wants more auditors

© 2002, Copley News Service