Tuesday, February 11, 2003

NATO: Evolving, Fragmenting, or Fading Away?

Recent events involving NATO reveal an international treaty organization that is adrift from its original moorings, aimlessly bobbing in the waves of geopolitical self interest. "Old Europe," led by France and Germany, is using the alliance as a fulcrum to leverage the U.S.A. away from what it sees as its own self interest. America, for its part, maintains the alliance even though its raison d'etre is no more: as a bulwark against Soviet expansionism. Even now, two of America's six heavy divisions are based in Europe, guarding against a Russian incursion that no one in his right mind expects to occur.

Old Europe, finding itself increasingly irrelevant, is desperately seeking to affect the outcome of Bush's latest moves. They have a lot invested in their propaganda that Bush is an idiot, and will do anything to prevent him from outmaneuvering them yet again. They seem to either discount the possibility that the U.S.A. will pull out of NATO, or they don't care. They must care, so maybe they are buying into their own bullshit and believe that Bush really is an idiot. And maybe Bush will continue to participate in a shell of NATO, while moving our forces to Eastern Europe, thus accomplishing a "Lily Pad" deployment, in which dispersal of forces and mobility counts for more than a heavy concentration of forces. Incredibly, France and Germany are seemingly more concerned with relevance and importance in the debate... almost as if these nations have an ego problem, and would rather be respected and given lip service than be safe.

The future might very well be a place where Turkey and Bulgaria are more important to NATO than France and Germany. And perhaps rightly so. I am reminded of the old saw about the vaunted French military: How many Frenchmen does it take to defend Paris? Nobody knows, it's never been tried.