Do NATO and the EU Have a Future?

 

I was recently asked to contribute to a series on the website of the Hoover Institution Working Group on Military History. The topic was “The Unraveling of the EU and NATO,” and the precis I provided took the following form:

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union are in disarray. The former has fulfilled its mission. Were it not for Russia’s seizure of the Crimea and invasion of Ukraine and the refugee crisis in Europe spawned by the sectarian Muslim conflict raging in Iraq and Syria, it would be an empty shell without any obvious function. The latter has overreached. A great success as a customs union, it is a disaster as a currency union; and the attempt to turn it into a federation—oligarchic in governance and equipped with an intrusive administrative apparatus—will end in tears.

The full argument can be found here. In the case of NATO, I believe that everything depends on Donald Trump. In the case of the EU, everything will turn on the emergence of a new generation of leaders intent on pulling back from the abyss. There is in my opinion a limit to how far European integration can go.

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  1. Viruscop Member
    Viruscop
    @Viruscop

    Then you don’t deny that Donald Trump could collapse NATO, thereby causing the greatest foreign policy disaster in US history and the greatest victory in Russian history since the capture of Berlin.

    • #1
  2. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Viruscop:Then you don’t deny that Donald Trump could collapse NATO, thereby causing the greatest foreign policy disaster in US history and the greatest victory in Russian history since the capture of Berlin.

    You progressives are going to start taking the strength of NATO seriously? It’s refreshing and all, but are you sure you know how?

    Four years ago, when Obama said to Medvedev “tell Vladimir I’ll have more flexibility after the election” and then followed up by mocking Romney with “the Eighties called — they want their foreign policy back,” I don’t remember you Lefties wetting your pants, except maybe from laughter. It’s nice though that you are finally catching up.

    • #2
  3. Viruscop Member
    Viruscop
    @Viruscop

    Percival:

    Viruscop:Then you don’t deny that Donald Trump could collapse NATO, thereby causing the greatest foreign policy disaster in US history and the greatest victory in Russian history since the capture of Berlin.

    You progressives are going to start taking the strength of NATO seriously? It’s refreshing and all, but are you sure you know how?

    Four years ago, when Obama said to Medvedev “tell Vladimir I’ll have more flexibility after the election” and then followed up by mocking Romney with “the Eighties called — they want their foreign policy back,” I don’t remember you Lefties wetting your pants, except maybe from laughter. It’s nice though that you are finally catching up.

    Note that you are not disputing the danger of Trump to NATO.

    • #3
  4. Elliott Steele Inactive
    Elliott Steele
    @Steele

    It’s hard to disagree with the idea that NATO is better than nothing, but the real question is:  Is it better than some other sort of alliance?  In my opinion, NATO was made obsolete by the fall of the Soviet Union.  It was prudent to keep it around for a while to make sure communism didn’t threaten Europe again, but now we have to reconsider its purpose.  Europe can deal with Russia if it wants to.  Maybe Germany and France don’t really care about defense, but does that mean America has to foot the bill?  Also, NATO isn’t going to help us protect Asia from Chinese dominance.

    I would favor a new alliance along the lines of the Anglosphere as promoted by Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit).  He credits James Bennett for the the term.  Quote from Bennett:

    “To be part of the Anglosphere requires adherence to the fundamental customs and values that form the core of English-speaking cultures. These include individualism, rule of law, honouring contracts and covenants, and the elevation of freedom to the first rank of political and cultural values.”

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2004/oct/28/uselections2004.usa4

    • #4
  5. AnonyMouse Inactive
    AnonyMouse
    @AnonyMouse

    Viruscop:Then you don’t deny that Donald Trump could collapse NATO, thereby causing the greatest foreign policy disaster in US history and the greatest victory in Russian history since the capture of Berlin.

    NATO is not some sacred institution the disappearance of which is by definition a disaster. Millions of people dying is a disaster. Millions of one people living under oppression from millions of other people is a disaster.

    E.g. Crimea is not a disaster. The current outcome is the least bloody of possible outcomes. The vast vast vast majority of Crimeans are quite happy with the outcome. All of Russia is happy with the outcome. Western Ukrainians will be fine with the outcome as long as they get their own country with some security.

    • #5
  6. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Viruscop:

    Percival:

    Viruscop:Then you don’t deny that Donald Trump could collapse NATO, thereby causing the greatest foreign policy disaster in US history and the greatest victory in Russian history since the capture of Berlin.

    You progressives are going to start taking the strength of NATO seriously? It’s refreshing and all, but are you sure you know how?

    Four years ago, when Obama said to Medvedev “tell Vladimir I’ll have more flexibility after the election” and then followed up by mocking Romney with “the Eighties called — they want their foreign policy back,” I don’t remember you Lefties wetting your pants, except maybe from laughter. It’s nice though that you are finally catching up.

    Note that you are not disputing the danger of Trump to NATO.

    Note that you are not disputing the recent vintage of your concern.

    • #6
  7. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    AnonyMouse:

    Viruscop:Then you don’t deny that Donald Trump could collapse NATO, thereby causing the greatest foreign policy disaster in US history and the greatest victory in Russian history since the capture of Berlin.

    NATO is not some sacred institution the disappearance of which is by definition a disaster. Millions of people dying is a disaster. Millions of one people living under oppression from millions of other people is a disaster.

    E.g. Crimea is not a disaster. The current outcome is the least bloody of possible outcomes. The vast vast vast majority of Crimeans are quite happy with the outcome. All of Russia is happy with the outcome. Western Ukrainians will be fine with the outcome as long as they get their own country with some security.

    What you say about the Crimeans is nonsense.

    • #7
  8. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    Viruscop:Then you don’t deny that Donald Trump could collapse NATO, thereby causing the greatest foreign policy disaster in US history and the greatest victory in Russian history since the capture of Berlin.

    Of course, I do not deny it. I wrote about this before the election. Yes,, Trump might in foreign affairs be the true successor of Obama, who has done a great deal to undermine our alliances. That fear nearly caused me to vote for her. But I now very much doubt that he will do this.

    • #8
  9. AnonyMouse Inactive
    AnonyMouse
    @AnonyMouse

    Paul A. Rahe:

    AnonyMouse:

    Viruscop:Then you don’t deny that Donald Trump could collapse NATO, thereby causing the greatest foreign policy disaster in US history and the greatest victory in Russian history since the capture of Berlin.

    NATO is not some sacred institution the disappearance of which is by definition a disaster. Millions of people dying is a disaster. Millions of one people living under oppression from millions of other people is a disaster.

    E.g. Crimea is not a disaster. The current outcome is the least bloody of possible outcomes. The vast vast vast majority of Crimeans are quite happy with the outcome. All of Russia is happy with the outcome. Western Ukrainians will be fine with the outcome as long as they get their own country with some security.

    What you say about the Crimeans is nonsense.

    I promise you it’s not nonsense.

    Forbes article: one-year-after-russia-annexed-crimea-locals-prefer-moscow-to-kiev

    I also lived in Russia during that whole period. I have many Russian and Ukrainian on all sides of the various opinions. Overwhelming, the actual people of the region prefer the current outcome. The West hates it because it threatens our beautiful NATO institution, the edifice of which is somehow more important to Western thinkers than the happiness of 10s of millions of people.

    • #9
  10. Simon Templar Inactive
    Simon Templar
    @SimonTemplar

    Double posted.

     

    • #10
  11. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    A single currency for Europeans has basically been a swap of exchange rate risk for bankruptcy risk to the benefit of Germany and to the detriment of Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal. Even countries that are financially prudent such as Finland are placed at an enormous disadvantage when circumstances go awry — Nokia at the same time as a boycott of Finland’s largest trading partner the Russians. It makes life very difficult when you can’t devalue the currency. And it will cost a generation of Greeks a future unless they migrate.

    The benefit for Germany is that it gets a cheaper currency than it would otherwise have while the Greeks, Italians, Spanish and Portuguese do not. Italy used to run trade surpluses with Germany in pre-Euro days. Now it runs trade deficits.

    The Euro has been a disaster and the idea that the EU could not lead to war I think is misleading.

    As for Nato, it should at a minimum be retooled and refocused. You mention the two areas where the US should take leadership — keeping the Russians out and securing the borders from refugees. First, Europeans have to want this. Do they? I’m still not convinced. And should we defend what will be an increasingly Islamized Europe? And having an Islamist Turkey in Nato is just nuts when it is a source of huge potential problems down the road. Erdogan has dreams of another empire. Should Nato come to his rescue?

    • #11
  12. Simon Templar Inactive
    Simon Templar
    @SimonTemplar

    Simon Templar:Seems to me that the EU, as it currently exists, is unworkable in the long run.

    NATO is what: The US promising to defend the EU? We should demand the European members of NATO show a little more interest in defending themselves. If they don’t care about defending themselves then why send EJ Hill’s (@ejhill) son to do the dirty work for them?

    Sorry for the double post.

    • #12
  13. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Elliott Steele: Europe can deal with Russia if it wants to.

    Right this minute?

    The US provides a lot of the unglamorous capabilities necessary for deploying and maintaining the forces of our allies. When the French intervened in Mali in 2013, it was the USAF Air Mobility Command that got them there. A lot of the logistics, signals intelligence, electronic warfare capabilities and much else are things that we have and they would need.

    Can they pick up the slack on their own? It would take a while even if they were swimming in the resources it would require to get it done.

    • #13
  14. Elliott Steele Inactive
    Elliott Steele
    @Steele

    @Percival  Of course, you’re right that the Europeans don’t have the conventional forces to stand up to Russians without American help.  Maybe the British could, the French would have to rely on the threat of nukes.  My point was that they have the economic and political resources necessary to defend themselves, but they don’t have much of an incentive as long as the Americans jump in first. I don’t think we can count on the French in a crisis.  I’m pretty sure Turkey is lost for the rest of my lifetime.  They will pursue their own policies without any concern for NATO.  In the long run, we’re better off with a reliable allies such as Great Britain, Canada and Australia, who share our values.  We should, of course, try to stay on good terms with all of Europe — but let’s be realistic about what we can expect from them, and what we owe them.

    • #14
  15. Simon Templar Inactive
    Simon Templar
    @SimonTemplar

    Percival:

    Elliott Steele: Europe can deal with Russia if it wants to.

    Right this minute?

    The US provides a lot of the unglamorous capabilities necessary for deploying and maintaining the forces of our allies. When the French intervened in Mali in 2013, it was the USAF Air Mobility Command that got them there. A lot of the logistics, signals intelligence, electronic warfare capabilities and much else are things that we have and they would need.

    Can they pick up the slack on their own? It would take a while even if they were swimming in the resources it would require to get it done.

    Not to mention aerial refueling.  How to spell NATO – US military.

    • #15
  16. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Elliott Steele:@Percival Of course, you’re right that the Europeans don’t have the conventional forces to stand up to Russians without American help. Maybe the British could, the French would have to rely on the threat of nukes. My point was that they have the economic and political resources necessary to defend themselves, but they don’t have much of an incentive as long as the Americans jump in first. I don’t think we can count on the French in a crisis. I’m pretty sure Turkey is lost for the rest of my lifetime. They will pursue their own policies without any concern for NATO. In the long run, we’re better off with a reliable allies such as Great Britain, Canada and Australia, who share our values. We should, of course, try to stay on good terms with all of Europe — but let’s be realistic about what we can expect from them, and what we owe them.

    I do want them to contribute more to their own defense. Trump is right about that part, but his bull-in-the-china-shop tactics can create just the kind of situation that we want to avoid.

    It’s “speak softly and carry a big stick.” Jabbering like a mental patient is not part of the strategy.

    • #16
  17. James Gawron Thatcher
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Dr. Rahe,

    Of course, NATO has a future. Trump is only suggesting a more solid financial foundation paying for its upkeep. The EU must reform itself and become a fully democratic institution or divest itself of the additional powers it has accumulated over and above the initial trade alliance. Junker should not be lecturing anyone while he himself does not stand for popular election. The EU parliament is a waste of time. A legislative body that doesn’t have the power to legislate is an absurdity.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #17
  18. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Paul A. Rahe: That fear nearly caused me to vote for her. But I now very much doubt that he will do this.

    I think it’s important to remember that he backed off a bit and said he wanted the Europeans to pay their “fair share.” That’s a number that can always be re-negotiated. I don’t think he plans to get rid of NATO.

    • #18
  19. AnonyMouse Inactive
    AnonyMouse
    @AnonyMouse

    Susan Quinn:

    Paul A. Rahe: That fear nearly caused me to vote for her. But I now very much doubt that he will do this.

    I think it’s important to remember that he backed off a bit and said he wanted the Europeans to pay their “fair share.” That’s a number that can always be re-negotiated. I don’t think he plans to get rid of NATO.

    Putin will play brinksmanship until NATO is gone or irrelevant. He may even pull a couple triggers. Would we rather have NATO or war with Russia? Russians fully expected NATO to go away when we won the cold war. That we didnt dissolve it to them is a show of bad faith, and an indication that maybe they shouldnt have settled for a relatively bloodless folding of their hand. We should dissolve NATO and replace it with something that reflects the new realities of geopolitical power. The bargaining mandate should be, lets preserve civilization allowing for maximum freedom and diversity of culture.

    • #19
  20. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    Susan Quinn:

    Paul A. Rahe: That fear nearly caused me to vote for her. But I now very much doubt that he will do this.

    I think it’s important to remember that he backed off a bit and said he wanted the Europeans to pay their “fair share.” That’s a number that can always be re-negotiated. I don’t think he plans to get rid of NATO.

    Nor do I . . . now.

    • #20
  21. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    AnonyMouse:

    Susan Quinn:

    Paul A. Rahe: That fear nearly caused me to vote for her. But I now very much doubt that he will do this.

    I think it’s important to remember that he backed off a bit and said he wanted the Europeans to pay their “fair share.” That’s a number that can always be re-negotiated. I don’t think he plans to get rid of NATO.

    Putin will play brinksmanship until NATO is gone or irrelevant. He may even pull a couple triggers. Would we rather have NATO or war with Russia? Russians fully expected NATO to go away when we won the cold war. That we didnt dissolve it to them is a show of bad faith, and an indication that maybe they shouldnt have settled for a relatively bloodless folding of their hand. We should dissolve NATO and replace it with something that reflects the new realities of geopolitical power. The bargaining mandate should be, lets preserve civilization allowing for maximum freedom and diversity of culture.

    Do you work for Putin? You seem to be spreading Russian propaganda. Sure, the vast, vast, vast majority of Crimeans prefer their Russian invaders to the Ukrainians they voted to join. Tell me another!

    • #21
  22. Valiuth Inactive
    Valiuth
    @Valiuth

    Paul A. Rahe:

    Viruscop:Then you don’t deny that Donald Trump could collapse NATO, thereby causing the greatest foreign policy disaster in US history and the greatest victory in Russian history since the capture of Berlin.

    Of course, I do not deny it. I wrote about this before the election. Yes,, Trump might in foreign affairs be the true successor of Obama, who has done a great deal to undermine our alliances. That fear nearly caused me to vote for her. But I now very much doubt that he will do this.

    Because?

    • #22
  23. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Paul A. Rahe: Nor do I . . . now.

    I think until decisions are actually MADE, we have to admit these are only assumptions we are making. And even then, things could change. I mean, we don’t really know who the new Secty. of State will be, but everyone is sure.

    • #23
  24. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    Valiuth:

    Paul A. Rahe:

    Viruscop:Then you don’t deny that Donald Trump could collapse NATO, thereby causing the greatest foreign policy disaster in US history and the greatest victory in Russian history since the capture of Berlin.

    Of course, I do not deny it. I wrote about this before the election. Yes,, Trump might in foreign affairs be the true successor of Obama, who has done a great deal to undermine our alliances. That fear nearly caused me to vote for her. But I now very much doubt that he will do this.

    Because?

    The appointment of Jim Mattis, whom I know, and the softening of Trump’s rhetoric.

    • #24
  25. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    Susan Quinn:

    Paul A. Rahe: Nor do I . . . now.

    I think until decisions are actually MADE, we have to admit these are only assumptions we are making. And even then, things could change. I mean, we don’t really know who the new Secty. of State will be, but everyone is sure.

    Right. That is why in the piece to which this blogpost refers I was quite guarded. Trump or someone after him might return to isolationism. That is what Bernie Sanders wanted (and George McGovern before him), and that is where Barack Obama was headed. We are at sea.

    • #25
  26. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    I should perhaps add that we live in a dangerous time. The structure of international politics was tolerably clear during the Cold War. Thanks in part to Obama and in part to things that would have happened in any case, everything is now in flux. I am not among those who think that we can dump our allies and prosper. But there will be changes. Indeed, there have been changes. Is Turkey now a reliable ally? I doubt it. Are Britain, France, Germany, and Italy reliable allies? More likely. Do they need to be nudged to live up to their commitments? Yes.

    • #26
  27. I Walton Member
    I Walton
    @IWalton

    The EU created a wider market when essential but European wide free trade, like internal US free trade remains fundamental to  prosperity.    The rest of the EU, the currency, the regulations, the bureaucratic intrusiveness, political unity and security are public goods.    The ideal market size for private goods, (things that can be traded), is the whole world.  The ideal size for public goods  depends on the public good. It can be as small as a family or as large as an alliance.    We want cops on the beat, firemen in the neighborhood, but we want traffic rules the same throughout the city and state, and national security even beyond our borders.   The nuclear deterrent extended to all the free world.   To be credible there could not be a cacophony of views and decisions makers thus the US had to have an  unambiguous leadership role.  The thing about public goods is that in the area covered all must suffer the same good, the same policy as they are jointly consumed. Thus diversity makes them controversial and uncomfortable. When the Soviet Union collapsed the nuclear deterrent became  almost irrelevant.  Europe naturally wanted more security autonomy, to not be subsumed under the US in order to make a deterrent credible.   But a European political entity can’t be just created.  So NATO must change to become a security alliance not a complex trip wire to make the deterrent credible and the EU must to return to a common market, not a faux superstate.

    • #27
  28. AnonyMouse Inactive
    AnonyMouse
    @AnonyMouse

    Paul A. Rahe:

    AnonyMouse:

    Susan Quinn:

    Paul A. Rahe: That fear nearly caused me to vote for her. But I now very much doubt that he will do this.

    I think it’s important to remember that he backed off a bit and said he wanted the Europeans to pay their “fair share.” That’s a number that can always be re-negotiated. I don’t think he plans to get rid of NATO.

    Putin will play brinksmanship until NATO is gone or irrelevant. He may even pull a couple triggers. Would we rather have NATO or war with Russia? Russians fully expected NATO to go away when we won the cold war. That we didnt dissolve it to them is a show of bad faith, and an indication that maybe they shouldnt have settled for a relatively bloodless folding of their hand. We should dissolve NATO and replace it with something that reflects the new realities of geopolitical power. The bargaining mandate should be, lets preserve civilization allowing for maximum freedom and diversity of culture.

    Do you work for Putin? You seem to be spreading Russian propaganda. Sure, the vast, vast, vast majority of Crimeans prefer their Russian invaders to the Ukrainians they voted to join. Tell me another!

    Here is the quote from Forbes article I linked to:

    In June 2014, a Gallup poll with the Broadcasting Board of Governors asked Crimeans if the results in the March 16, 2014 referendum to secede reflected the views of the people.  A total of 82.8% of Crimeans said yes.  When broken down by ethnicity, 93.6% of ethnic Russians said they believed the vote to secede was legitimate, while 68.4% of Ukrainians felt so. Moreover, when asked if joining Russia will ultimately make life better for them and their family, 73.9% said yes while 5.5% said no.

    That’s a pretty vast majority. Please adjust your worldview regarding Russia before you and others as misinformed cause a world war. Forunately, Trump is surrounded by anti-establishment clear-eyed advisers who actually do understand the new Russia realities, so I’m not worried. Just trying to help you and others understand how things will be unfolding soon enough…

    And no, I do not work for Putin. But I do have other qualifications on the topic of US-Russia relations.

    • #28
  29. Viruscop Member
    Viruscop
    @Viruscop

    Percival:

    Viruscop:

    Percival:

    Viruscop:Then you don’t deny that Donald Trump could collapse NATO, thereby causing the greatest foreign policy disaster in US history and the greatest victory in Russian history since the capture of Berlin.

    You progressives are going to start taking the strength of NATO seriously? It’s refreshing and all, but are you sure you know how?

    Four years ago, when Obama said to Medvedev “tell Vladimir I’ll have more flexibility after the election” and then followed up by mocking Romney with “the Eighties called — they want their foreign policy back,” I don’t remember you Lefties wetting your pants, except maybe from laughter. It’s nice though that you are finally catching up.

    Note that you are not disputing the danger of Trump to NATO.

    Note that you are not disputing the recent vintage of your concern.

    I deny it, especially since you had no clue as to my opinions on the matter in 2012.

    • #29
  30. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Viruscop:

    Percival:

    Viruscop:

    Percival:

    Viruscop:Then you don’t deny that Donald Trump could collapse NATO, thereby causing the greatest foreign policy disaster in US history and the greatest victory in Russian history since the capture of Berlin.

    You progressives are going to start taking the strength of NATO seriously? It’s refreshing and all, but are you sure you know how?

    Four years ago, when Obama said to Medvedev “tell Vladimir I’ll have more flexibility after the election” and then followed up by mocking Romney with “the Eighties called — they want their foreign policy back,” I don’t remember you Lefties wetting your pants, except maybe from laughter. It’s nice though that you are finally catching up.

    Note that you are not disputing the danger of Trump to NATO.

    Note that you are not disputing the recent vintage of your concern.

    I deny it, especially since you had no clue as to my opinions on the matter in 2012.

    Well then you are exceptional, because very few if any of your fellow travelers had anything to say about what a threat to peace and tranquility Putin was until it appeared he might have gored your ox. But there is no need to bust out into tears for fear of what the Donald might do after eight years of watching Obama bow to foreign potentates, make simple-minded deals with hostile regimes, draw bright red lines only to dissolve into stuttering ineptitude when said lines are crossed, and carom around the globe apologizing to everyone who hasn’t already begun ignoring him. If Trump only does three of those things, he’ll be ahead on points — and since Donald doesn’t apologize, he’s already winning.

    • #30

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