October 22, 2003


Is NATO Over?: The EU challenge. (Jed Babbin, October 22, 2003, National Review)

The Euromob in Brussels is putting the finishing touches on the thousand-page constitution for the European Union. One of the many mischievous tasks they've undertaken is to create a European defense establishment that will weaken, if not destroy, NATO. The Cold War is over. Do we really care if NATO joins the Evil Empire on the ash heap of history? We do, and whatever Brussels brummagem results, we must work hard to reform and maintain NATO. [...]

First, the EUnuchs want to subordinate their treaty obligations under the NATO treaty to a similar mutual-defense obligation among themselves. Back in the 1960s, the original Gaullist pulled French military forces out from the NATO command structure, but managed to do so without destroying the alliance. His progeny have no such scruples. One of NATO's finest moments was after 9/11, when for the first time the mutual-defense obligation was invoked. This will not happen again if the EU's decision makers will be able to decide — on an ad hoc basis — how and when any of the EU nations will defend any NATO ally, or fight any NATO foe.

The second danger is in splitting the EU from the NATO command structure. The French and Germans apparently are advocating a military command headquarters — and structure — separate from NATO. Prior to this week's meetings, Burns called this idea, "...the greatest threat to the future" of NATO. Burns is right to be concerned. Last week U.S. ambassador to NATO Nicholas Burns called an emergency meeting of NATO to deal with the direct challenge to NATO's future posed in the newly drafted EU constitution. That meeting began on Monday, and so far the results are not at all satisfying.

A variety of reports from the past year indicate that the French, leading the pack, want to make the mutuality of defense obligation in the EU superior to the obligation to NATO, thus blockading American participation in decisions on military deployments. A separate command structure — again independent of NATO — is being advocated strongly.

So what? Without us to provide their backbone any European force--which will necessarily be under-funded because of their social welfare obligations and undermanned because they can't afford to have people of tax-paying age in the military instead of the workforce--will be a joke. Europe is done for; untie the anchor before we get dragged down too.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 22, 2003 1:09 PM

I wish NATO was over. We have tank battalions stationed in Germany. Why tank battalions? Why Germany?

Posted by: David Cohen at October 22, 2003 2:32 PM

Hopefully the guns are pointed at the Germans?

Posted by: oj at October 22, 2003 3:59 PM

Better they be pointed towards Phraance. Move our troops out of Gremany to Iraq and let my NATO go to be replaced by a new organization, if necessary, which I doubt at the moment. We need to review other alliances/commitments as well.

Posted by: genecis at October 22, 2003 4:10 PM

We might see the EU crumble before NATO. NATO at least has a potential reason to exist and therefore somebody might want it.

Orrin's dance on Europe's grave would be more persuasive if Europe had not done OK in the 1940s after being so sick in the 1930s. It's not in nearly as bad shape now as it was in 1938.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at October 22, 2003 6:25 PM


I don't see how we disagree. I expect Europe's future to look very much like the '40s--war, genocide & famine, while waiting for rescue from America.

Posted by: oj at October 22, 2003 6:30 PM

One defense of NATO that comes to mind is that it is the only multinational organization in town when it comes to doing anything serious with guns. The U.N. will never fill that role. Neither, I think, will an new EU defense force. Here's the reason, from the article "The problem which the EUnuchs are incapable of addressing is that when you combine many weak militaries the same result obtains as when you combine weak economies without addressing the basic problems. The result will only reflect the weaknesses you started with." Except for the UK and to an extent Poland, there is no capability to project force and hold territory. It will also lack a real will to engage, since the French are involved.

The problem is that if the EUrocrats get their way, NATO is hamstrung until the EU thingie collapses or fails its first test.

Posted by: Dave in LA at October 22, 2003 6:40 PM

The US responded to WW II because it was perceived as a potential danger to the US.
NATO was formed to confront the USSR, which was also a danger to the US.

Why should the US care, now, if Europe's defense force proves unable to maintain order ? What harm, besides potentially economic, will result from a re-shuffling of Europe ?

Kosovo is the perfect example. To read of the possible horrors that occurred is heartwrenching, but NO US interest was at stake. Had the US not acted, it would not have mattered, from a national security position.

Posted by: Michael Herdegen at October 22, 2003 7:22 PM

NATO has only fought one hot war. It couldn't get UN approval. It couldn't muster the political will to send in ground troops. NATO was designed as a defensive force against a specific enemy that no longer exists. There is no point to it.

Posted by: David Cohen at October 22, 2003 9:18 PM

Why can no one explain to me why the US needs to be engaged in Europe and Korea's problems? If they were faithful and good allies there would be a debt of friendship and honour maybe, but they are worthless, trecherous and ungrateful.

Ditch them already and concentrate on the Iraqi democracy project, a thing with massive potential dividends.

Posted by: amos at October 22, 2003 9:28 PM

Welcome back Harry and congratulations.

Posted by: at October 22, 2003 11:29 PM


"Why can no one explain to me why the US needs to be engaged in Europe and Korea's problems? If they were faithful and good allies there would be a debt of friendship and honour maybe, but they are worthless, trecherous and ungrateful."

Amos, my man, you are on the path toward wisdom.

"For of men it may generally be affirmed, that they are thankless, fickle, false, studious to avoid danger, greedy of gain, devoted to you while you are able to confer benefits upon them, and ready, as I said before, while danger is distant, to shed their blood, and sacrifice their property, their lives, and their children for you; but in the hour of need they turn against you." Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Ch 17.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at October 23, 2003 12:10 AM

I haven't seen such an unpersuasive article in National Review since the one where they defended MacDonald's as an advance in civilization. If you can't explain why an alliance like NATO should continue in one simple sentence comprehensible to the average joe, its time is up.

(BTW, the life and benefits of those posted to NATO are very pleasant and generous. Bureaucracy alert!

Posted by: Peter B at October 23, 2003 5:55 AM

Europe is as much under attack from Islam as the US.

The U.S. is not, inevitably, going to defend even itself. I can conceive (barely at the moment) of an isolationist, defeatist administration in power. We've had 'em before.

Therefore, NATO or something like it has a purpose.

I agree with Dave in LA that a whole bunch of little, weak armies add up to a big, weak army. NATO would have to get more serious than it is now. With sufficient fear, it could and I believe would.

The EU, however, appears to have no function whatever. It acts like the League of Nations.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at October 23, 2003 3:44 PM

Probably sometime before 2010, the EU (or some version thereof) will be in Washington, asking for money. The question is, who will be there to give it to them? President Clinton, perhaps? Or President Rice? A serious journalist would start asking the candidates this question now, and in the pre-primary climate, I would bet that at least 4 or 5 of the echoes would support it.

Posted by: jim hamlen at October 24, 2003 12:05 AM