Friday, February 14, 2003

Whither NATO?

These are strange times indeed. History is catching up with "Old Europe." The situation that existed on V.E. day in 1945 was enshrined in the roster of the Security Council, which would:
confer special authority upon the states that possessed special authority at its founding. The "permanent membership" status of France on the Security Council is not so much an outrage as an anachronism. Maintaining the diplomacy of the 1940s in perpetuity is rather like maintaining the technology of the 1940s in perpetuity.

The strident obstructionism of France and Germany, and their attempt to lead an insurrection within NATO against the use of Western force against Saddam Hussein, even to the point of violating the treaty commitments of the alliance to the security of its own members (in this case, Turkey)--this is a genuinely momentous turn of events that should not be understood merely as a comedy of national character.

The petulance of these European states seems farcical, but in fact it is the expression of a profound historical transformation. It is not clear that the Europeans are entirely cognizant of this transformation, but it is essential, if the United States is to manage its global responsibilities effectively, that Americans be cognizant of it. For it is not the strategic impertinence of Europe that we are beholding, it is the strategic obsolescence of Europe.
So now the anachronistic alignment of Europe against the rest of the world is about to complete its evolution, as the Europeans accept geopolitical marginalization as the cost of maintaining their bourgeois welfare states. While they seem to be willing to give up their national sovereignties to create a federalist communion, they might be getting strategic irrelevance as an unwanted side effect. What with both the United Nations and the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance sliding into obscurity, they are making the emergence of a global superpower a necessary, if unwelcome, outcome. Almost no one wants America to become the policeman of the world, but there may be no alternative. It's a tough job, but someone has to do it. If not us, who? If not now, when? Either the U.S.A. shall take over the position of arbiter and guarantor of freedom in the world, or we leave geopolitics to the Islamic fundamentalists to take by abdication. Since they would destroy us if they had the chance, we have no choice but to engage them. While the solons of European diplomacy decide weighty issues, such as where to eat lunch, we are left to decide the little things, like whether or not to allow Saddam Hussein to consolidate the Arab Middle East and destroy Israel, and containing a nuclear North Korea, without them.

Not alone, however. Eighteen of the countries of "New Europe" seem to be with us in the effort to contain Saddam, while what Suman Palit calls the "I3" triumvirate of Israel, India, and Iran coalesces to lead West Asia into theTwenty First Century. Maybe, if the Tranzies are successful and bind Europe into a federation, and then they decide to spend what is necessary in blood and treasure to become a power to be reckoned with, Europe may yet become relevant again. As of today, however, they are somwhere between a farce and a petulant child.