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How the Transatlantic Alliance Makes America Less Secure

September 9, 2014 in Economics

By Doug Bandow

Doug Bandow

Leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization met in Wales in the shadow of the Ukraine war. Alliance advocates hoped to use the conflict to revive NATO, but responded, as usual, mostly with promises.

In fact, Ukraine demonstrates how the military pact today makes Americans less secure. Expanding NATO to countries such as Georgia would multiply the risks faced by the United States for little gain.

The transatlantic pact was created at a particular time in response to a particular threat. Washington desired to “contain” the Soviet Union in the aftermath of World War II, which had left Europe devastated. An American shield would allow the continent to revive economically, but U.S. leaders, like President Dwight Eisenhower, worried lest the alliance make the Europeans dependent.

That fear turned out to be well grounded. European governments discovered that it didn’t matter how little they spent on the military or respected America’s priorities. Washington would keep them secure. NATO’s European members broke promises to devote more money to the military, built a natural-gas pipeline to the Soviet Union, aided Washington’s enemies in Latin America and blocked overflight by U.S. planes to bomb Libya. But the United States continued to defend the continent.

At least there was a plausible case that doing so was in America’s interest. While a Soviet attack on Western Europe seemed unlikely, Washington was determined to prevent any hostile power from gaining control of Eurasia. Better safe than sorry.

The United States should not add new defense dependents, such as Georgia, that would bring far more security risks than geopolitical benefits.”

But that possibility disappeared with the Cold War. Russia lost a third of the USSR’s population. The military shrunk in size and diminished in effectiveness. Even more dramatic was Europe’s economic success and political consolidation. Today, the European Union enjoys an 8-1 economic advantage and 3-1 population edge. The Europeans don’t need America’s protection.

Yet U.S.-dominated NATO expanded through Central and Eastern Europe up to Russia’s borders. The new members added to Washington’s defense responsibilities without providing countervailing military benefits. Most notable were the Baltic States, which have troubled relations with large ethnic-Russian populations. Existing members never seriously considered the possibility that adding new members could lead to war with Russia.

Now the newly fearful Baltics and Poland are demanding “reassurance” that they will be defended by the original members, meaning the United States. These countries want permanent …read more

Source: OP-EDS

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