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Don't Take the 'North Atlantic' out of NATO

In an apparent attempt to prove that the worst foreign policy ideas are bipartisan, Will Marshall, president of the Progressive Policy Institute, has renewed the call for a 'global NATO'. The idea bascially comes down to having all the liberal democracies in the world join NATO, and the purpose is to enable NATO to engage in more wars of intervention. This is written in a 'memo to the next president':
You should seize the opportunity to lead NATO's transformation from a North American-European pact into a global alliance of free nations. By opening its doors to Japan, Australia, India, Chile, and a handful of other stable democracies, NATO would augment both its human and financial resources. What is more, NATO would enhance its political legitimacy to operate on a global stage.
There isn't much difference between this and Bob Kagan's 'League of Democracies' except that Will Marshall still pays lip service to working with the UN. The objective, however, is clearly to be able to bypass the Security Council. The 'global NATO' idea has been around for longer. It was proposed by Ivo Daalder and James Goldgeier in a 2006 Foreign Affairs article. It has also been discussed at a NATO forum, where current SecGen Jaap de Hoop Scheffer quickly dismissed it and offered some lucid thinking on the current development of the alliance.

Aside of the concern that expanding the alliance will trigger a reaction and the reality that neither Europe nor most of the designated candidates have any kind of appetite for the idea, the rationale of increasing foreign interventions shows that a lot of liberal hawks have really learned nothing at all. But it is not clear what kind of influence they have.

The PPI is the think tank of the Democratic Leadership Council, which also has Hillary Clinton, the next US Secretary of State, as a prominent member. This is mere association, but it will be worthwhile to keep a tab on whether the ideas (and careers) of liberal hawks at the DLC and the Brookings Institution gain traction in the State Department.

(via Yglesias)

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Don S on :

Alright, Nann, but what is you're proposal to put meaning back into an empty alliance? Consider NATO. Is it an alliance against one or more common threats - or merely a mental crutch? What are the threats, and if they actually exist why are Germans so reluctant to pay for a military capable of repelling said threat(s), or at least take on a proportional share of the work? If there are no threats, why does NATO exist? To defend the North Atlantic, as you imply> From what? The Russian Navy (the same Navy which regularly seems able to lose submarines on the sea bottom)?

nanne on :

NATO is not really needed given the current 'security environment'. But before I've never really thought before about the potential benefits of having what is to the largest extent a legacy organisation. And I'm not sure others have, either. The security environment can change. Say, you could see a nuclear war someday between Pakistan and India, or some other developing countries, that will rattle up the existing system in terms of attitudes at the individual and nation level, and so on. Today we are still having this discussion about terrorism, and to a lesser extent piracy and the global black economy, for which NATO has not provided the most useful kind of forum. These challenges will not be permanent, in their current extent, just as rivalry between power blocks is far less intense today than it still was 20 years ago. Maintaining interoperability between weapons systems and somewhat functioning command chains, and conducting common exercises seem not to be the greatest kinds of inefficiencies. And if there is ultimately some kind of stable form of global security governance (a big if), NATO can become something like the Benelux now is to the EU. That's one side of the argument. There are other sides, such as whether NATO leads to a wrong kind of focus in our foreign policies or it causes us to make the wrong decisions in domestic policy. I'm not sure about those, with regard to the future.

Don S on :

"you could see a nuclear war someday between Pakistan and India" Nanne, you are contradicting yourself. On the one hand you assert that NATO ought to refocus on the (nonexistant) North Atlantic security problem, but here you write that NATO would have a role in a nuclear war thousands of miles away from any NATO member. And if that IS proper business for NATO, then how is the current Afghanistan conflict NOT NATO's proper business (as you and many other Germans seem to strongly believe)? Or is the role of NATO only to protect German trade and interests, but not to protect American trade and interests? How is that agin?

nanne on :

Don, I do not say that NATO should refocus on a nonexistant problem, or that it should take sides in a nuclear war. Just that the situation we see today might be fundamentally different within a day. Furthermore, I am not German, even though I have lived in Germany for a while now. Afghanistan is a proper concern for NATO, and there are German troops there, but it is not being fought seriously by any of the partners.

Don S on :

Nanne, I think a lot of Germans and other central europeans are treating NATO as a kind of cheap insurance policy *in case things go wrong*. Problem is that they want it to be cheap, so they aren't writing many checks. The question is whether it makes sense for the US, Canada, and UK to continue to underwrite the insurance policy given that the premium cheques from continental Europe are kinda - bouncing? It's pretty much unlimited liability for us outliers, but continentl europe doesn't want to pay anything for it. The 'insurance' is not a German birthright, and Germany herself has established the principal that the liability is not unlimited. Don't be shocked if you learn that the US doesn't consider itself liable either at an awkward time - for you....

Pat Patterson on :

Can I assume that this new international peacekeeping force will have the same success in dealing with the situation on Cyprus as NATO and the UN did?

nanne on :

That would seem a safe assumption, yes. I think Obama should send McCain there as an envoy and have him sit the Turks and the Greeks down and say, "[url=http://www.brendan-nyhan.com/blog/2006/05/john_mccains_so.html]stop the bullshit[/url]". Might not work, but it would be awesome.

Don S on :

It might be priceless, but it would also be completely ineffective. Conider the fact that the Turks would be the more receptive of the two parties to a US envoy. The same Turkish government who would not allow US forces to enter Iraq in 2003 is nevertheless more receptive than Greece is to US influence. That is saying something. I suspect the best way is to allow Greece and Turkey to work things out between them in the longer term. There is rapproachment going on between the two countries in other matters than Cyprus, sooner or later they might get around to this issue.

John in Michigan, USA on :

This PDF file "[url=http://www.atlantic-community.org/app/webroot/files/articlepdf/How%20and%20Why%20Did%20NATO%20Survive%20Bush%20Doctrine.pdf]How and Why Did NATO Survive Bush Doctrine?[/url]" is the best explanation I've seen so far of the reasons why NATO has endured and will continue to endure in the future. I am focusing particularly on part II, pages 5-9, which gives 8 reasons why NATO endures. Part III, called "Lessons that should be learned", give recommendations which in my opinion aren't especially worth reading, but Parts I and II are good. A global NATO is the sort of big idea that one seems compelled to recommend to the "change" president. But pres-elect Obama has been signaling a generally status quo foreign policy; perhaps the global NATO people didn't get the memo.

Joe Noory on :

Nanne - Your attempt to characterize the [i]Progressive Policy Institute[/i] as bipartisan is lame. So is the idea that arguing for a "global NATO" is anything like a "League of Democracies". It's clear to enlarge NATO to a global scale is the way to destroy it by turning it into a duplicate alphabet soup talking shop, and eliminating its' actual reason to exist, a common defense. Clearly the concept of a "League of Democracies" is to embolden pluralistic, open, and decent societies by giving low-performing despots and Russia-like banana republics something to strive toward - It is the precise OPPOSITE of a pangalactic-NATO. Demilitarizing and "universalizing" NATO would just create another dues collecting, meaningless, non-jugemental large scale employer for some tidy but dull European city after the European image (that any genuiniely effective security institution is scary and must be neutered).

John in Michigan, USA on :

Joe, You need to read more carefully. Nanne didn't describe the PPI as bipartisan, he described "the worst foreign policy ideas" as bipartisan.

Joe Noory on :

I was calling the statement Nanne was reporting on dim. As for selling "these liberal hawks," one could hardly call them pragmatic or hawks. They frame of perception they're looking through isn't a strategic one, it's entirely founded in the politics of the perception of their hawkishnes, not security. In other words, it's driven by vanity and not reason. [b]How on earth can people who want to hollow out a security pact be called "hawks"?[/b] As far as I can see, the most important thing that has to happen is that the non-EU members of NATO, priciply the US, need to stop dealing with those individual EU-member states, and only agree to deal with them through the EU. Period. Either that or dissolve the pact. It's the only way continental European NATO members will take seriously their words and actions in the prism of a world larger than themselves, instead of just trying to score points for their perceived image of themselves.

Alfred E Neumann on :

"How on earth can people who want to hollow out a security pact be called "hawks"?" Perhaps because some of them used to be called hawks and might be better described today as 'disillusioned hawks'? Perhaps because many NATO members seem to percieve their role as entirely consisting of 'restraining' the US and not, you know, contributing? NATO, like anything else, has a good side and a bad side. The good side goes on peace marches, sits on war crime tribunals, and offers trenchant if often ill-informed criticism of warmongers, but only certain warmongers. Warmongers with accessible energy supplies go unmentioned, but warmangers who lack these supplies are fair game. The bad side actually do stuff, and are called warmongers and war criminals. Any people within the 'warmongering' countries who seek to disattach themselves from the 'good' peace marcher war crime tribunal type NATO members are defined as 'hawks' and are to be denounced upon all possible occasions. Got it now? ;)

Marie Claude on :

yeah, Saddam was one of the oil suppliers though ??? but the Saudi were/are the saints, even if they spread their hate discourses all over the world with their mosquees and imams

Joe Noory on :

I understand your point of departure: you see strage, fairy-tale heroes and villains, and the villains are all wearing uniforms. Tell me - if you want NATO to be eliminated why don't you just say so, without trying to reseve some delusion that people can IMAGINE that a defesnse pact and structure still exist? What you're saying has absolutely nothing to do with defense. What it does have to do is with an idea held commonly by adolscents that if armies didn't exist, that there would be no hostility in the world.

nanne on :

Joe, Aside of what John noted, you are selling these liberal hawks short. The 'progressive' part of the name seems to mislead you; they are not on the left wing of the Democratic party.

Joe Noory on :

I wasn't referring to the democratic party. I was referring to progressives, and the Progressive Policy Institute. They call themselves "third way" "progressive internationalist" types and all the rest of these silly tags for only one reason: they discuss security at all without openly constructing the failure of their nation. In the left's intellectual framework that alone is hawkish. They're also a contentious, small faction of the political left that are hated by much of the political left - especially pointing their venom at Will Marshall and Joe Liebermann. Even Liebermann, as you know by this point is a proponent of national exceptional policy becuase he knows that the United States can't really count on any of its' "partners" to any degree that matters. Look - the only reason anyone would propose something that silly is becuase of a curlture that lulled them into believing that they can experiment with that kind of change the way the Euroepeans can. The only way European critics can toy with ideas like that is because they know that there is a force across the ocean to guarantee their security if the experiment fails.

Pamela on :

Completely off topic: Is anyone else hearing rumors that India is considering offering something like 120,00 troops to be deployed in - wait for it - AFGHANISTAN. Talk about Pakistan's worst nightmare. I'm not announcing anything - I'm just reporting what I'm hearing - and it could very well be several different sources (of mine) keying off one dubitable source. Don't know. Just asking.

Pat Patterson on :

Jeez, Pamela, I have to scroll through dozens of defense web sites daily and missed that one. But it appears at least three sites considered reliable are all talking about the offer, more of a trial balloon of sending nine divisions with specialized counterinsurgency rifle companies made up of professional soldiers whose unit origins are traced back to The Raj. Pakistan Defence, ORBAT and The Long War Journal have been posting and commenting since an article by Bill Roggio on the 29th. While Pakistan Defence has several long comments discussing the issue, without much rancor considering the long time animus between the two countries. http://www.defence.pk/forums/war-terror/18974-120-000-indian-troops-afghanistan-hot-air.html And also Order of Battle. http://orbat.com/ ORBAT had a great comment at the end of their post. "The United States would be mad to refuse. The Indians would be mad to actually follow through." Pakistan appears dreading even the possibility of such an event but appears to have noticed that this would elminate the feared invasion of the rest of the Kashmir and another one into Pakistan proper. Though the transit of Indian troops directly from the nearest border crossing would take all 120,000 Indian Army soldiers smack through Islamabad. But for the time being the shifting of supply routes to Russia then through Uzbekistan and Tajikistan will obviate the need for at least NATO to secure completely northern Afghanistan.

Pamela on :

THANK YOU! It makes sense that they would wait for the next U.S. admin. And it is a brilliant move on the chessboard from India. But it's crap like this that keeps me up at night: ----------- (from the Paki defence link) ------------- if China does send troops to Afghanistan, Delhi will canoodle with Washington without competition from China. The Chinese will have no choice but to join the Afghan venture or lose influence in South and Central Asia, and with Washington. Please. God. No.

Pat Patterson on :

The canoodling or the loss of influence?

Pamela on :

Chinese troops in Afghanistan. The thought makes all the air leak out of my head. *THUD* (p.s. You really should lay off levy over at No Parasan. It is unkind to ridicule the mentally deficient. BTW, 'wahabicorridor' is my other nic).

Pat Patterson on :

In my own defense you will note that I always post a factual response then have fun!

Pat Patterson on :

Pamela-That trial balloon seems to have deflated faster than it was inflated but here is a link to some much more solid indications of the increasing closeness of India and the US. Including a visit by a US nuclear powered ship to India and most importantly some kind of shared technology for the creation of a anti-missile system in India. http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/US_India_in_anti-nuclear_missile_defence_talks_Report/articleshow/3953112.cms

John in Michigan, USA on :

If this rumor of an Indian deployment to Afghanistan turns out to be real, it would be a huge coup for Obama in the so-called War on Terror. It would show he has an ability to play in the big leagues, in a big way. But would it actually be wise? Allegedly, the Indians would have a certain political ability to sustain casualties. Presumably, they would not be held to the same utopian standards of international law and human rights to which NATO is held. As attractive as a large infusion of troops might be, how they are used would be as important as their numbers. Do the Indians (or Obama) know something about Afghanistan that NATO does not? What is the vision for Afghanistan? Can Afghanistan even be governed, in the conventional sense? The past 100 or so years of history suggest that Iraq, India, or even Pakistan is more governable than is Afghanistan. Perhaps the plan is to sunder the toxic relationship between the Mujahidin and Pakistan's ISI, and then basically leave Afghanistan to its own devices? What do the Indian think-tanks have to say?

Pat Patterson on :

I've not see anything that would indicate that President-Elect Obama is involved with the Indian offer at all, if indeed such an offer has been made. But he certainly would get the credit and probably when speaking he should imply that he was involved from the very beginning.

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