The recent NATO summit in Chicago that produced absolutely nothing has opponents of the alliance smelling blood. Indeed, the only thing that the Chicago summit may have produced is a healthy recognition by many factions that the future of NATO itself is increasingly in doubt. This should come as no surprise to any of us here at the Notewriter’s consortium, but in some ways this development is surprising.
Even mainstream pundits, ensconced as they are in Beltway ideology, have begun to notice that the alliance is on its way out. From CNN’s Security Clearance blog (“security clearance”? Really?):
Europe’s collective fatigue with NATO’s globetrotting has often left the United States shouldering most of the burden, which is considered one of NATO’s greatest shortcomings. The United States now covers 75% of NATO defense budgets, while the majority of allies don’t even allocate NATO’s benchmark 2% of gross domestic product to defense.
Sharp reductions in European defense budgets have only increased dependence on the United States.
While realists have been bemoaning the alliance for decades, it has become apparent that the reality of the situation has finally smacked some sense into the Beltway consensus. This must be kind of like how libertarians felt after the collapse of the Berlin Wall in the late 1980’s.
Like the collapse of the Soviet Union, though, there are many things to be worried aboutwith the impending collapse of NATO. The major issue that the US should be worried about is deteriorating relations with Europe. While the American taxpayer got stuck subsidizing the defense of Europe for well over half a century, the relationships brought about by working together have proved fruitful, and in order to keep these relations on good terms, Washington should undertake policies that will further integrate American and European societies: freer trade.
There is no reason why there shouldn’t be a free trade zone between the whole of the US and Europe on the scale of the US itself or the EU (the same goes for the US and its nearest neighbors: Canada, Mexico, and the Caribbean).
One thing that American policymakers should not fear is the rise of a competitor in the form of a European superstate. This fear (or hope, if you are an American socialist) is off-base. Just think of Europe’s sclerotic answers to the worst economic crisis in its history, and then imagine a European Union trying to implement a common, cohesive foreign policy on a global scale like that of the US.
It isn’t possible. Not even states with highly centralized power structures like China can compete with the US in this regard, and the thought of Brussels actively trying to compete with the US in international relations is ludicrous.
The demise of NATO is ultimately a good thing. There is no need for a collective security alliance to combat a menacing Russia any longer. Moscow’s empire of Soviets is long gone, and its focus in the near future will be domestic and along its borders. NATO’s demise will also save the US a lot of money, and will spare the European people from the negative effects (like terrorist attacks) associated with supporting a worldwide hegemon. We can only hope that NATO’s demise comes sooner rather than later, and that each party involved will recognize that continued relations with each other, especially in regards to trading policy, are still vital to peace and prosperity.