What Is NATO Good For?

July 11, 2018 Topic: Security Region: Europe Tags: NATOMilitarywarnational securityRussia

What Is NATO Good For?

The truth is that North Atlantic Treaty Organization really is more relevant than ever—for every mission that doesn't involve actual combat.

It makes sense to continue working through NATO on noncombat missions like gender equality, disaster preparedness and environmental conservation. But Poland and Romania are likely to emerge as more reliable security partners than Germany and Italy. A future force disposition that sees a British brigade in the Baltics and American brigades in Poland and Romania would be more likely to deter Russian aggression than the current concentration of British and American troops in Germany.

The way things are going, NATO is already evolving into more of a broad security organization than an effective military alliance. An alliance requires allies, and most of NATO members no longer maintain any effective ability to fight a war. France has some ability to operate in Africa, and Italy in the Mediterranean, but such forces are maintained for their countries’ own purposes. They are not positioned for European collective defense.

Western Europe no longer needs the United States to defend it, so why maintain the charade that it does? It’s eastern Europeans who truly value the American alliance implicit in NATO. Direct security cooperation with the countries of eastern Europe through a European “hub and spokes” system would more efficiently reflect strategic realities than the current commitment to collective defense, without undermining NATO’s worthy postmodern missions. God helps those who help themselves, and in a world of scarce resources, so should the United States.

Salvatore Babones is an associate professor of Sociology and Social Policy at the University of Sydney.

Image: U.S. President Donald Trump walks at the start of a NATO summit at the Alliance’s headquarters in Brussels, Belgium July 11, 2018. REUTERS/Paul Hanna