The Spectacle Blog

Avoiding Disaster with NATO

By on 6.19.09 | 12:27PM

[The following is a guest post by Sally McNamara, a Senior Policy Analyst in European Affairs at The Heritage Foundation's Margaret Thatcher Center for Freedom. Sally writes in response to this morning's post by Doug Bandow.]

Doug Bandow's piece "Defending the European Weenies," would be more appropriately titled, "Isolationism rocks." Although he is correct that the Continental Europeans aren't doing enough or spending enough on defense, he’s wrong to assume that NATO doesn't add to U.S. national security. His proposal to take every American troop out of Europe and close every American base is a recipe for disaster.

Strategically and tactically, Europe matters as much to the U.S. as any other geographic area. A resurgent Russia, missile proliferation, and Islamist extremism are just a handful of transatlantic challenges which requires America to have mutually reinforcing alliances. The old days, where bipolarity meant a large amount of predictability are long gone. NATO is the centerpiece of its multilayered European alliance architecture, which includes a Special Relationship with Great Britain and (hopefully) an upgraded security pact with Poland and the Czech Republic.

There's no doubt that those East of Berlin need, want and in some cases crave NATO's sacred Article V guarantee. But what was the point of winning the Cold War only to throw it all away 20 years later? And let's not forget that Article V has only ever been invoked once -- by the United States on September 12, 2001.

Mr. Bandow's idea that Europe can take care of itself is wrong-headed in the extreme. The European Union was unable to dispatch a few hundred bureaucrats to Kosovo on time last year, and that's after NATO did all the heavy lifting. If a Milosevic-type character fancies his chances at ethnic cleansing the Balkans once again, we can be sure that the reams of paper used on condemnatory statements will increase Brussels' carbon footprint ten-fold, but we can be equally sure that the blue-helmets of the EU won’t be going over the horizon anytime soon.

Rep. Turner's 'NATO First Act' skillfully analyses how NATO should fit into the global strategic environment. Committing to missile defense, opening NATO's door and maintaining a U.S. presence on European soil significantly advance American security.

Doug Bandow's arguments betray a dangerous streak of withdrawal making the rounds in Washington. Europe needs to take note. Between the sad state of European defense budgets and German troops safely ensconced in the North of Afghanistan, America is growing tired of carrying the world’s security burden with just a few reliable allies at her side. It is time for the Germans, French and Italians to take the lead of the British, Dutch and Poles in Afghanistan and step up to the plate.

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