An interesting article by Robert Kaplan on the Stratfor site in which he lays bare the inadequacies of NATO and, in essence, poses the question: what is NATO for? Quite correctly he reminds us that even from its inception NATO was utterly dependent on American military might. The fairly hefty armed forces of Britain and France which they possessed at the end of WWII soon withered on the vine of a domestic public opinion tired of war and demanding welfare state benefits and the shrinkage has continued unabated. Now, as American grand strategy turns to face China rather than Russia, even the American contingent is disappearing as two of the four American combat brigades in Europe are withdrawn. 'Dave' and the 'Dwarf' might have puffed their chests out after their Libyan adventure but as Kaplan cruelly reminds them - and us:
Whatever one thought of the Libya intervention, the details make for a bad advertisement about NATO. As one U.S. Air Force planner told me, "It was like Snow White and the 27 dwarfs, all standing up to her knees" -- the United States being Snow White and the other NATO member states being the dwarfs. The statistics regarding just how much the United States had to go it alone in Libya -- pushed by the British and French -- despite the diplomatic fig leaf of "leading from behind," are devastating for the alliance.
More than 80 percent of the gasoline used in the intervention came from the U.S. military. Almost all the individual operation orders had an American address. Of dozens of countries taking part, only eight air forces were allowed by their defense ministries to drop any bombs. Many flew sorties apparently only for the symbolism of it. While most airstrikes were carried out by non-U.S. aircraft, the United States ran the logistical end of the war.
NATO has become like that other great tottering mirage, the so-called European Union, a figment in the imaginations of the politicians who refuse to see the pikestaff that is plainly before their noses. At least in the area of international finance the markets are forcing the euro-zone politicians to face the realities of life but, alas, the great blundering NATO machine stumbles on - but only for as long as the USA fills the tank. In my view, the quicker America pulls out the better because there is every chance with this bloated military monstrosity, which fights wars as far away as Afghanistan, of getting us into something we have no business or interest in. The recent 'handbags-at-dawn' incident between NATO member Turkey and its neighbour Syria is a case in point. Do we really want to fight for the Turks? Whilst NATO exists the politicians will continue to use it as a plaything. So, please Uncle Sam, thank you for sticking around when Uncle Joe was pissed on vodka and being a thoroughly bad neighbour but now it's time to force us Euro-weenies to grow up and fight our own battles.
Of course, he added hurriedly, that doesn't include us, your cousins nephews! No, no, you can keep your airbases and rocket sites on our strategically placed off-shore island and your CIA is more than welcome to stay. After all, whilst at the moment you are more concerned about the South China Sea you would not wish to give up your influence and your bases, free of Franco-German influence, on the other side of the Atlantic, would you? No, of course not!
But being serious for a moment, the demise of NATO would require Britain to rethink with great clarity what arrangements, if any, it should make in the field of defence. I might waffle around that subject tomorrow.