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Thursday, September 15, 2016

An American Brexit Referendum: Should the United States continue to participate in NATO?

The United States with eleven other nations formed NATO in 1949. There were three primary reasons for U.S. participation in this effort at collective defense. First, much of Europe had not yet recovered from World War II; much of Europe was unable to defend itself. The United States, whose territory had been relatively untouched by the war, was willing to step into the role of dominant partner in what was intended to be a shared effort at collective defense.

Second, NATO was intended to function as a collective defense system against the Soviet Union--the standard bearer for world communism. America was willing to participate in part because international communism, rightly or wrongly, was seen as a threat to all, if not today, then later. Better that containment should be enforced far from America’s shores.

Third, the presence of the United States—particularly in a leadership role—would make it possible for NATO members to participate without fear of one another, having in mind conflicts between member countries, some of which during World War II were among the Allies, the Axis, or neutral.

These reasons all once made sense; they justified American participation in NATO, at least until 1989, with the fall of the Berlin Wall, or, perhaps, as late as 1991, when the Soviet Union dissolved. Post-1991, it is difficult to see what rationale supports continued United States participation in NATO.

First, Europe has recovered from World War II. People immigrate to Europe: they do so because, although it is not an engine of rapid economic growth, it is relatively affluent, prosperous, and safe. Second, the Soviet Union has long ceased to exist, as has the threat of aggressive world communism as an ideological or military opponent to Western liberal democracy. It is true Russia is a threat to Eastern Europe, but it is not a military threat to Western Europe, much less the United States.[1] Third, post-Brexit, the nations of the EU are planning their own cooperative defense pact. Let them have it. The French are no longer afraid of German military power, and the Germans have no fear of the European periphery. The United States is not needed to keep the peace between France and Germany. And the Germans have the people to do it—they just imported a million new future (German and European) citizens.

Let’s not kid ourselves, NATO, in its current structure, destabilizes the peace of Europe vis-a-vis Russia. Europe’s states will not pay for their own defense as long as those states can enjoy a free ride courtesy of the American tax payer and the American elite’s visions of Pax Americana. Those visions are long past their sell-by-date. If American participation in NATO ends, there is a good chance (albeit, not a sure thing) that the Europeans will cooperate and defend themselves. That’s a win-win. Good for America, and good for Europe.

I propose a national referendum—an American Brexit—to settle the question. Let’s put the question to all of our people. Should the United States continue to participate in NATO?


Twitter: ( @SethBTillman )

[1] It is true that Russian nuclear weapons do threaten the United States. But America’s defense against that very real threat is based on our retaliatory capability and on our ABM capability. It is not NATO which secures the United States against this particular Russian threat; it is our submarines. 


Anonymous said...

Why not get out of the UN?

Better yet let them move the UN HQ to Brussels

And quit funding the lions share of their budget.

dmoelling said...

Nato represents the West in key areas. No other arrangement exists (UN, Trade pacts, etc.) that could be used to link Western Countries in any way. Dropping Turkey would be good, but the Old Hansa states of the Baltics, Sweden and Finland would fit well. While a Military alliance it has a means to bind the West. The real laggards on defense are France and Germany. The French have always had a tough time with Nato but under the Gaullists spent enough on French power. The Germans have totally capitulated. Some steady pressure on them and the Benelux area would help a lot. The Brits are in the process of building back the Royal Navy. The F35 despite the Russian counter propaganda will bring real muscle back to Nato air defense.

Staying in Nato will bring the best leverage on post Brexit Europe and as always leverage and quite diplomacy is best.

Anonymous said...

NATO has outlived its purpose. The expansion with Turkey, a muslim country was ill conceived. The inclusion of the Baltics was poking a finger in Russia's eye. Continuing the eastward roll out to the periphery of Russia does seem provocative. Much like the Ukraine the Baltics have sizeable Russian minorities. What would stop Putin from doing the same to Latvia, or Estonia. One of the think tanks ran a simulation with the Russians occupying the Baltics inside of 60 hours. If that happened and article 5 was invoked, would NATO respond. If NATO did respond, with what is the question

MissAnthropy said...

In the post-Soviet era, NATO has become a hammer looking for nails. It has become the de facto enforcement arm of supranationalism, or globalism if you prefer. Is it not unseemly that wealthy European countries with high living standards are effectively welfare beneficiaries of the American taxpayer who, it is worth noting, does not share any of those same lucrative benefits (long paid holidays, etc)?

Americans never really even wanted to be imperialists. It's a role that circumstance (and probably not a small amount of deliberate manipulation) foisted upon us. All we get in exchange is grief and bellyaching. We have our own problems and it would be nice to spend our resources on them for a change.

Seth said...

To Dmoelling.

"Leverage"? Leverage to do what? And if our being in NATO provided leverage, why is Europe (UK excepted) doing so little to defend itself? We will get more leveage by disengaging, by taking our troops out, and bringing them home.

Merkel tells us that Germany and Europe can do it. Let them.


GenEarly said...

The NWO-UN is the worst, full of despotic regimes monitoring "human rights"! Not much different than the Obamy-Hilarity Regime being transparent. Throw in the Saudi loving Busshies for good measure and expel the lot of them. NATO fighting in Afghanistan is pure insanity,the US should bid adieu to EU.

Anonymous said...

I am sorry to disappoint you, but NATO had three reasons to exist according to Lord Ismay:
1) to keep the russians out
2) to keep the americans in
3) to keep the germans down

Tom Van Dyke said...

HAD three reasons

Now let's see them make their welfare states work without the USA bearing the lion's share of the expense of what nations and governments are really for--mutual security.

God am I sick of all those OECD stats about how Eurosocialism is superior to our system. Let's see 'em stand on their own two feet and the smirking will stop pronto. [It already is.]