The quick take on NATO is not promising. Since the false ending of the Cold War the most important NATO undertaking has been in Afghanistan, but other than the Germans fascinated by skulls the war has not been conducted with any fire in the NATO belly. The odds of NATO lasting in Afghanistan, till a win, are not good.
Georgia is another matter. Do not hold your breath waiting for Georgia to get into NATO. NATO is not what we hoped it would be. Whether NATO has built a straw house or one of sticks, it sure ain't brick.
The charade may as well stop here. Expansion to Soviet borders is pointless.
We have returned to “spheres of influence” and "balance of power." Get used to it.
If Nato won't fight, what's it for?
Tuesday, August 19, 2008, 10:33 AM GMT [General]
NATO is meeting in summit at Brussels. Sixty years after the alliance was signed, can anyone tell me what it's for?
The revival of Russian revanchism might seem to answer that question. Except that NATO has been conspicuous by its absence from the Georgian conflict. Let's conjecture that Russia tried something similar in a NATO state. Say it moved troops into Latvia following inter-communal rioting. (It wouldn't declare war, of course. No one ever declares war these days.) Say that, as in Georgia, it agreed to remove its forces but somehow didn't quite get round to pulling them out. Does anyone really believe that this would trigger an all-out NATO counter-offensive? That Turkish troops would surge up through Georgia to harry Russia's south? That the Norwegian and Icelandic navies would blockade Archangel? That American and Canadian and British and Belgian forces would be dispatched to relieve the Baltic States?
It seems likely that that a Soviet attack on West Germany during the Cold War would indeed have triggered a military response. Certainly the possibility was strong enough that the USSR never took the risk. In that sense, NATO was a triumphant success. But is it still the best possible vehicle for the advancement of its members' collective interests?
I ask the question with genuine regret. In the days when NATO had an obvious purpose, I was one of its biggest supporters. As a teenager, I was a member of an organisation called Peace Through NATO, which used to hold debates against CND supporters. Our side would always begin by smugly reminding the CNDers that it was thanks to the nuclear deterrent that we were free to hold such debates at all. How tiresome they must have found us.
The end of the Cold War removed NATO's foundational rationale. In order to find itself a new role, the alliance took to expanding rapidly. But, in doing so, there is a danger that it has made a fiction of Article V: the clause that treats an attack on one member as an attack on all.
I hope I'm wrong. I'd certainly be in favour of fighting for the freedom of the Baltics. Britain did so once before. The only direct clash between our Armed Services and the Red Army was in Estonia in 1918. We lost a number of sailors, who were buried locally. When the Soviets annexed Estonia, they dynamited every monument that dated from the independence period. But the graves of the British sailors were kept hidden and tended by local patriots. They are still there. I hope the British would fight again. But would the rest?