Is President Donald Trump going to destroy the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) when he attends its summit in Brussels on July 12?
One of the interesting aspects of the hysteria is that NATO’s supporters never seem to think it is necessary to explain why it would be a bad idea to end the alliance. In a spate of interviews ahead of the summit, NATO Ambassador Kay Bailey Hutchinson enumeratedthe many ways that Russia threatens Europe and U.S. interests. But while the threats she mentioned – political subversion through social media, nerve agent attacks in Great Britain, support for Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) treaty, and annexation of Crimea – are all major threats, they are not the main threats that the U.S. faces today. Moreover, NATO has been ineffective in confronting these malign actions by Russia.
NATO’s ineffectiveness ought to be the key issue of discussion when considering its future. But to date, that weakness has been largely overlooked in the rush to blame Trump for allegedly destroying America’s alliances.
NATO was established in 1949. It was the second major organization, after the United Nations, which was formed in the aftermath of World War II. Like the U.N., NATO was envisioned as a means to secure the peace in the post-war era.
To a significant degree, NATO was established because the U.N. was not up to the task. At the outset of World War II, then-President Franklin Delano Roosevelt envisioned the establishment of an organization whose goal would be to preserve the peace that would be secured through an Allied victory. Its establishment was agreed to by the key World War II Allies — the U.S., the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the Republic of China.
The basic notion at the heart of the U.N. was that Germany had to be restrained. After it started two world wars in 25 years, the U.N. would ensure that Germany would be in no position to start a third one.
While the notion of organizing the international community around the goal of restraining Germany made sense in 1942, by 1945 it was less relevant. Germany had been defeated completely. And the Soviet Union was emerging as America’s greatest post-war adversary.
But the the initial discussions and wartime agreements had an inertia and a logic of their own. So by the time the U..N was established in late 1945, its central organizing principle was obsolete.
Even worse, due to the fact that the Soviet Union was granted permanent membership in the U.N. Security Council, replete with veto power, the U.N. was almost powerless to stand in Soviet dictator Josef Stalin’s way as he carved out an empire in Eastern Europe, subverted Western European governments, and undermined U.S. and British interests and power around the world.
Today, NATO members Britain, France, and Germany are working through the EU to undermine U.S. sanctions against Iran, in the interest of preserving the Iranian nuclear deal from 2015. As Trump noted when he announced U.S. abandonment of the Iran deal, far from preventing Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons, the agreement gives Iran an open road to a nuclear arsenal. So today, key NATO allies are operating against the U.S on behalf of the Iranian regime in furtherance of its nuclear ambitions.
Then there is NATO ally Turkey.