Small Wars Journal

NATO's Last Chance

NATO's Last Chance by Andrew A. Michta, The American Interest.

"As spring 2011 bursts into bloom, the NATO alliance finds itself withering on the vine. An alliance that was once the quintessential expression and spearpoint of the Transatlantic security relationship is now at risk of undermining it. Notwithstanding the adoption of a New Strategic Concept and Critical Capabilities Initiative at the November 2010 Lisbon Summit, internal differences over Afghanistan and a widening Transatlantic gap in defense spending are fast overshadowing the larger imperative of Euro-American security cooperation. All signs point to accumulating distress."

NATO's Last Chance.



Thu, 01/26/2012 - 7:34pm

NATO remains relevant. What is the US strategic goal in Europe? I would assert that it is stability. All the other things we desire such as access to markets, free flow of goods, cooperation, etc. are a consequence of stability. With stability as the goal; does NATO cause stability? The answer is clearly no, and in fact, it may contribute to instability by irritating the Russians. However, while it may not cause stability, it does contribute to it, and this is something that should not be dismissed. NATO continues to serve as an effective coordination, communication, and deliberation organization of like-minded states. NATO will never be what it was at the height of the Cold War, nor should it try, yet it may continue to serve as an effective diplomatic instrument and potentially develop into a core JTF command element or HHQ of some sort. After a decade of discovery learning with interagency coordination and coalition warfare, maintaining NATO seems like a prudent move. However, there are several things that could put a final nail in NATO's coffin sooner rather than later. If the US thinks that it can coerce NATO members into large defense expenditures by pulling its forces out of Europe, it should think again. This coercion will back-fire, and likely cause nations such as Germany, Italy, and Poland (yes, Poland) who continue to expand and strengthen economic ties with Russia to declare NATO unnecessary in an attempt to assuage the one country they are all growing in dependence on for energy. Just my two cents.


Tue, 10/25/2011 - 1:46pm

In reply to by John (not verified)


I diasagree. NATO is VERY relevant to the U.S. NATO however, may no longer be relevant to the international community. For the continuance of U.S. interests, and to maintain the alliances now and in the future, it is imperative the U.S. finds a method to maintain NATO relevancy. With the fall of NATO comes the fall of further American influence in Europe, which we desperately need (I don't see the EU falling all over themselves trying to appease American interests).

We've executed Libya quite nicely, with minimal troops expended. If we can convince NATO to at a minimum create defense focus' areas (such as Estonia's focus on Cyber and Norway's focus on aircraft/bombing), it is possible to make each nation foot a relevant contribution.

We can then keep our FVEY allies as ground troops (which usually happens anyway). As we see in Afghanistan, other nations brining in ground troops have varying levels of difficulty...

John (not verified)

Thu, 06/23/2011 - 8:01am

NATO heck the name sounds cool. But with the Cold War over, NATO is no longer relevent to the US. Our real allies (Brits, Aussies, Israel) will be with us. If Europe can finally after 500 years play nice,and if they can't who cares? My goodness they now have the Euro, they will be a nice little example of one world goverment rule, though that will be a few years. They have become the very thing they wanted to defend from... Socialists. Sorry gents but I don't really care what France or Belize says about anything. The sooner we withdraw from NATO is the sooner we will get a fix on who our real allies are. The problem with NATO is that it has become a beer party and we foot most of the bill, and have to listen to the ugly kids whine because the girls won't talk to them. Bottom line: It is time to take off the feed bag from Europe. The treasure we spend isn't worth it.

That EU defense force has been a decade away for the last two decades.

Eugnid (not verified)

Mon, 04/25/2011 - 1:00am

NATO doesn't need a bloated American defense budget and refuses to match it, just as the EU no longer needs the $ after getting screwed by Wall Street. So kiss NATO good-by because the EU Defense Force is only a decade away.

1950's Nato's last chance: German membership
1960's Nato's last chance: DeGaulle
1970's Nato's last chance: Vietnam
1980's Nato's last chance: Pershing II
1990's Nato's last chance: Balkans
2000's Nato's last chance: Iraq
2010's Nato's last chance: Libya?

Each was viewed as the ultimate existential crisis for the Alliance. Now the pundits paint Libya as the end.

Maybe, maybe not.