Do We Need NATO?

The Guardian is reporting that a group of top military officials from the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, and the Netherlands have proposed sweeping reform of NATO:

The west must be ready to resort to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to try to halt the “imminent” spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, according to a radical manifesto for a new Nato by five of the west’s most senior military officers and strategists.

Calling for root-and-branch reform of Nato and a new pact drawing the US, Nato and the European Union together in a “grand strategy” to tackle the challenges of an increasingly brutal world, the former armed forces chiefs from the US, Britain, Germany, France and the Netherlands insist that a “first strike” nuclear option remains an “indispensable instrument” since there is “simply no realistic prospect of a nuclear-free world”.

While I agree that the United States and Europe will inevitably either draw closer together or grow farther apart, it’s not immediately clear to me which is the better outcome for us and I’m far from convinced that there’s any way to achieve a closer and more effective military alliance if the European members are committed to allowing their militaries to languish.

I’ve put additional remarks at Outside the Beltway.

5 comments… add one
  • Calling for root-and-branch reform of Nato and a new pact drawing the US, Nato and the European Union together in a “grand strategy” to tackle the challenges of an increasingly brutal world….

    I’m going to have to look (later) to see if the NATO group called the world “increasingly brutal”. As I recall, armed conflicts have been decreasing in both number and over-all deaths over the last 20 years or so. Certainly that’s not the only possible type of brutality, but it does cover (arguably) the worst kind. Now, claiming that the threat profile to the West (in particular) has changed would be a true statement.

  • That’s my recollection, too, Icepick.

    I think there are legitimate risks nowadays and that while the number of incidents may be down the prospective cost of a serious incident may be considerably higher. The attacks on 9/11 are a case in point. The direct costs of the attack measured in the hundred of billions of dollars (not to mention the lives lost) and the indirect costs exclusive of the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and the increased security we’ve put in place (largely fruitless IMO) are more than a trillion dollars.

  • As I said, the threat profile is indisputably different now. I tend to be concerned about whether our policies are shaped by motivations that may not be correct.

  • Fletcher Christian Link

    To quote from the article:

    “Reserving the right to initiate nuclear attack was a central element of the west’s cold war strategy in defeating the Soviet Union. Critics argue that what was a productive instrument to face down a nuclear superpower is no longer appropriate.”

    I don’t claim to be an expert, but I disagree. It is perfectly obvious for whose ears the missile-rattling is intended. Those same people have shown time and again, for over a millennium, that only two things will stop them; the credible threat of massive, overwhelming force and its actual use.

    In any case, the nuclear forces of NATO excluding the USA are not enough, by a very long way, to face down Russia, so there is only one possible target for the psywar. The threat ought to be made explicit: “We lose a city and you lose all of yours.”

  • Hugh Haggarty Link

    These guys are complete idiots with there stupid comments. We threaten Russia and they will back down. You threaten me and I would put your lights out. It`s as simple as that. Second Russia destroys a city anywhere covered by NATO and we will destroy Russia. Russia would not just nuke a city it would be Armageddon. NATO needs a bogeyman. Which is run by the good old USA. Which is looking to start WW3. This is not the bidding of the people but big business. Like the mafia say it`s just business. Do the general public have a say in this “NO” W are just the idiots that have to pick up the pieces

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