Though many argue that NATO exceeded its authority by attacking a
sovereign nation, it appears that following the Cold War, when no one
was looking, it dramatically changed its mission to one abundantly more
A review of NATO’s evolving mission reveals the virtual inevitability
of U.S. involvement in such quagmires as the Kosovo conflict and
portends problems of even greater magnitude in the future.
NATO was instituted in 1949 as a purely defensive alliance for the
purpose of preventing further expansion of the Soviet Union inside
Europe. At the Rome Summit in 1991, it adopted a new Strategic Concept,
which transformed its mission from that of just military defense to a
broader role of promoting stability for the entire European continent
and North America.
The Strategic Concept established three key areas of new emphasis:
- A broad approach to security, in which cooperation and dialogue
would play a prominent part;
- military capabilities would be reduced in both size and readiness
but restructured for crisis-management missions, as well as collective
- the European Allies would assume a greater responsibility for their
The Madrid Summit in 1997 reaffirmed these changes and added
additional ones, including the introduction of “new mechanisms for a
close and permanent relationship with Russia.”
These summits established that extra-military peacekeeping would be
one of the future missions of NATO forces. This shift is based on NATO’s
judgment that risks to peace are more likely to arise from instability,
including ethnic rivalry or territorial disputes, than from full-scale
In short, NATO’s revised philosophy is that peacekeeping is better
attained through dialogue and crisis management than strong military and
nuclear deterrence. It is no coincidence that this philosophical
transformation began in the early ’90s, after Ronald Reagan and Lady
Thatcher had departed from the world stage.
The fall of the Soviet Union hasn’t changed the Reagan truism that
peace is best preserved through military strength. NATO’s ill-conceived
Strategic Concept, emphasizing cooperation and dialogue and
de-emphasizes military force, comes right out of Clinton’s Oxford,
war-protesting, playbook. Has it not been amply demonstrated to the
world’s “peace hawks” that tyrants like Saddam and Slobo don’t
comprehend words, merely force?
But the fact that Slobo will only respond to force doesn’t justify
NATO’s intervention. Perhaps NATO would have been more reticent about
intervening if it had adhered to its other new tenets: that “European
Allies would assume a greater responsibility for their own security” and
that it would seek a “close and permanent relationship with Russia.”
Russia couldn’t be more estranged from NATO and is beating its war drums
as this goes to press.
NATO’s problem is rooted in vintage liberalism. Liberals want all the
benefits but none of the attendant burdens, freedom with no
responsibility, peacekeeping with emasculated militaries.
With this short history in mind, we can see how Bill Clinton and his
fellow peace-protesting NATO leaders thought they could achieve world
peace by intermeddling in the internal affairs of other sovereign
nations and then attacking them with their crippled militaries when
silver-tongued efforts at diplomacy failed.
NATO’s modified worldview is naive, impractical, arrogant and
dangerous. Invading the borders of a sovereign nation has set a
disturbing precedent. If intervention is warranted in Serbia, why not
defend Kurdish rebels from their mistreatment by Turkey or intervene in
support of ethnic uprisings in Russia?
The harsh reality is that post-modern NATO’s intervention will be
grossly inconsistent and situational at best. All of this overwrought
rhetoric about humanitarian concerns rings hollow in view of NATO’s
utter silence in equally problematic areas of the world.
And what about future NATO interventions? Is it not conceivable that
the new and improved NATO may soon deem itself honor bound to intervene
in Israel in support of autonomy for the 20 percent Arab population
living in that nation?
Before you casually dismiss this notion, you should be aware that
just last month, Italy’s ambassador to Israel, Gian Paolo Cavarai,
raised such a possibility — i. e., NATO intervention — during a
meeting of diplomats with Foreign Minister Ariel Sharon. No doubt
Israeli Arabs are salivating at the prospect.
Both the United States and NATO are pursuing the self-destructive
path of unilaterally disarming on the theory that we should “just give
peace a chance,” then incomprehensibly deploying their militaries
everywhere when it becomes apparent that pacifism doesn’t work — even
in the enlightened era. They better pull in their reins before their
overblown globalism leads to their mutually assured destruction.
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