A lot would depend on what specifically the “new” NATO would entail. The old NATO was an alliance for mutual defense. Do we really want to be obligated to intervene if Pakistan attacked India? How sustainable would such a commitment be in light of our current military overstretch? Or would the new NATO be more of a mutual defense from terrorism pact, something different from the original concept?
A problem with the current structure is that our European allies have military budgets that are just a fraction of the United States’. But that’s true of Japan, Singapore, and Australia as well, even though Howard’s government has pursued a defense buildup. Would their addition to NATO really add that much?
As for anti-terrorism cooperation, after 9/11 we were more successful in persuading countries that weren’t NATO member states to go along with the war in Afghanistan than we were in getting our NATO allies to back the war in Iraq. That had a lot to do with the international political climate in 2001 versus 2003 plus the effectiveness (or lack thereof) of our diplomacy. But it isn’t clear that a NATO-like structure including Singapore would have made our tasks any easier. Similarly, it’s not clear how the NATO expansion after the Cold War — to which I was initially sympathetic — has enhanced our security.
My biggest problem with the proposal is that rather than representing bold new thinking about international cooperation in combating the terrorist threat, I’m afraid it may just be another effort to fit the war on terror seamlessly into the Cold War paradigm, leaving us constantly looking for new Soviet Unions. The Cold War may be a better analogy for dealing with terror inspired by radical Islam than “World War IV,” but I’m still not sure it is the most useful model.
There certainly is a need to update our international organizations and alliances to accommodate the threats we actually face today rather than those of the last generation. Maybe Giuliani’s proposal satisfies this need — or maybe we need to make a cleaner break from outdated international institutions and form new ones.
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