Sunday, July 18, 2010

Ignore Cato, Keep NATO, and Stay in NATO

This Cato article argues we should abandon NATO. It will save us money, he says.

Amazingly, the author argues that there is no military threat to justify NATO and that we are just adding nations to NATO that will drag us into war.

The idea that NATO is a burden to us because the European members are not pulling their weight doesn't take into account the fact that our NATO bases in Europe represent defended lilly pads to project our power from America into an arc of crisis stretching from North Africa to Central Asia, as I discussed in an article in the November-December 2003 issue of Military Review (see p15_04_dun.pdf bookmark).

And let's think of what happened the last time we intervened in Europe (1917) and then walked away (that would be 1941, when we ended up returning to Europe).

Our relatively small contingent in Europe as part of NATO is a cost effective insurance policy to keep Europe friendly and prevent it from becoming a seat of conflict that drags us in again. And it is a base to project power to the arc of crisis. Further, even if it isn't a lot of help, the alliance does help us in Afghanistan. A little help is better than no help. To say that nations would help us even without NATO ignores the role NATO plays in making sure our militaries can operate together. That isn't something that can be thrown together overnight and NATO has had decades getting NATO nations to operate to alliance standards.

I call NATO a bargain. So what if it has no primary mission that drives unity? It's a good thing that the Red Army is no longer poised to leap to the Rhine River. Celebrate that success and stop pining for the unity the threat level provided or arguing that only that high threat level justifies an alliance.

NATO is useful to America. Keep it. Stay in it. I swear to God, Cato won't be happy until we've retreated all the way back to the continental United States.