Reinvention or a New Strategy?

At New Atlanticist Harry L. Hannah says that the U. S. need to “reinvent” its alliances:

When it comes to working with allies, business-as-usual won’t cut it anymore for the United States—especially in the face of growing Chinese and Russian competition and expanding systemic, regional, and terrorist threats. This is why the United States needs to make strengthening its alliances, particularly in Europe and the Indo-Pacific, a core element of its national-security strategy.

Before World War II, alliances had been composed of two or more countries cooperating in an additive fashion to independently combat a specific threat: Country A plus country B yielded the alliance’s total capability and value. But during the Cold War, the United States began designing its alliances differently, with the understanding that integrated partners are greater than the sum of their parts.

Now, the strengths of country A plus country B are multiplied by the extent to which the partners intertwine their military organizations—including their staffs, rules, standards, and training—and share their capabilities.

While I agree that we should reconsider our alliances, I’m not sure that increased integration is the right direction and, indeed, I think he’s ignoring something fundamental. During the post-war period one of the largely unstated goals of our military strategy has been to increase our own security by assuming the security responsibilities of our allies. That was explicit in the cases of Germany and Japan but implicit in all others. Our standing up enabled them to stand down. Our increased military expenditures allowed them to spend less. We maintained our force readiness so they decreased theirs.

One of the great exceptions to that has been France which largely demurred from diminishing its own forces. Consequently, it maintains the highest degree of force readiness of any of our allies.

While I won’t argue with Mr. Hannah that integration can be a force multiplier, how do you integrate with a military that doesn’t buy enough equipment to train its soldiers with? A major military with no operational submarines or heavy transport?

I have always thought the practice was an error. What need do we have for unarmed provinces, especially provinces that don’t behave like provinces and pay no tribute? I think that a prerequisite for strong alliances is strong allies. Then we can discuss increased integration.

I’m also curious as to how Mr. Hannah proposes increased integration with the Hungarian or Estonian militaries? That hearkens back to an old Soviet-era joke (the Warsaw Pact was united in a common understanding of the Hungarian language).

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  • bob sykes Link

    The problem is not our allies nor the form of our alliances, it is the behavior of the US elites. The blunt fact is that since the fall of the Soviet Union the US has been the aggressor is nearly every war that has been fought. The only exceptions that come to mind are the Rwandan genocide and the Iraq invasion of Kuwait.

    We supported the Taliban against the Communist government, invaded Somalia (although with UNSC mandate), attacked Sudan (aspirin factory), attacked Afghanistan (Clinton), invaded Afghanistan, invaded Iraq, attacked Libya and killed Kaddafi, overthrew the democratically elected President of Ukraine and tried to kill him, invaded Syria, invaded Yemen, TBC.

    At present, and just within a few days, our SecDef Austin said we would try to get Georgia and Ukraine into NATO, Russia’s main redline; our President said we had a treaty commitment to defend Taiwan against China (we don’t, and State explainedit away); and some clowns in the White House said it was time to move on to Plan B with Iran, universally interpreted as meaning attack Iran.

    My God! That’s the problem. The US is a rogue, aggressive, expansionist, terrorist state. Trump and Obama were bad Presidents, but they kept their boots on the warmongers’ throats. Biden doesn’t even know where he is most of the time, and he has no idea what the various factions of the Deep State are doing or to whom.

    If the US and its allies get out of Biden’s first (hopefully only) term without a World War it will be a miracle.

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