Quit the NATO Club

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Following WWII,
the North Atlantic Treaty Organization Treaty (NATO), was established
in 1949 for the collective defense — Wait, hold on a minute. Isn't
collective a term the Communists use? More on that later.
Anyway, NATO was established for the purpose, as NATO's first secretary
General Lord Ismay summed up, "to keep the Russians out, the
American's in, and the Germans down." That the USSR posed a
serious threat to the security of Western Europe, there was no question
— That Europe wanted America to become point man for their defense
against the USSR was merely a continuation of Churchill's political
machinations to draw an isolationist US into WWII and European politics.
Add two world wars with Germany, and Europe gets an additional bonus
by having the US stationed in bases in Germany to disabuse them
of any ideas of having another go at conquering the continent.

Through the
1950's up to the late 1980's, NATO and the USSR stood glaring at
each other across the Iron Curtain. Dreams of an epic armor battle
at the Fulda Gap between the Warsaw Pact and NATO forces that would
make the tank battle at Kursk look like a piker filled the heads
of armchair wargamers and inspired books like Red Storm Rising.
Then, gosh darn it, Gorbachev's Glasnost herald a new era of open
politics in Soviet Union. Some electrician named Lech Walesa
was giving the Communist party in Poland fits with organized strikes.
Suddenly in 1989, East Germany takes down the Iron Curtain. The
cold war thaws into a hopeful spring. What was NATO going to do
with all those tanks, planes, and troops? Worse, what were the generals
going to do to keep their jobs? No enemies to fight, and the politicians
were promising a peace dividend to citizens by closing military
bases. The common quip of the Berliners in the last days of WWII
of “Enjoy the war. The peace will be terrible” now seemed a reality
for poor NATO. Without a combat command, military career advancement
would come to a standstill. Without the need to maintain ongoing
weapon superiority, the military industry would lay off employees.
There goes the economy. Desperate, NATO takes a cue from the movie
of Canadian Bacon, and becomes involved in the ethnic strife
in Yugoslavia between the Croats and the Serbs to look useful and
from being disbanded. It becomes the strong arm of the UN, enforcing
that august body's no-fly zone mandate, as well as the UN's arms
and economic sanctions. NATO continued by initiating air strikes
in Bosnia, and deploying a peacekeeping force on the ground. NATO
finds a use for its leftover cold war ordinance collecting dust
by mounting an 11-week bombing campaign. NATO cleverly names the
bombing sorties with various titles such as Operation Deliberate
Force, so as to assure people that the bombs were not
dropped by accident, or Operation Allied Force, in case someone
doesn't already know that NATO is a collective (there's that
Communist word again!) of various nations working together to enforce
the peace by killing people. What is strange about the working relationship
of NATO and UN is that the former resists attempts to by the latter
to have the final word regarding its military actions. The UN would
say, "Don't bomb, we have things under control," and NATO
would reply. "Yes we will bomb, just to make sure." I
guess when you have one organization whose mission is to preserve
peace, and another whose job is to break things to protect democracy,
you are bound to have some philosophical differences. As the Good
Book says, "A house divided against itself cannot stand."
How any nation can belong to both organizations, and yet come to
cross-proposes deciding if and who should be bombed, is beyond me.
Sounds like one of them is unnecessary and is getting in the way
of the other. Better yet, to be on the safe side, it might be best
to get rid of both. But that's just my opinion.

But local European
ethnic conflicts were not enough to justify the overhead cost of
a coalition as large as NATO. Fortunately, 9/11 happened just in
the nick of time. In 2003 NATO was reorganized so as to take over
the duties International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan.
This would set the precedent for NATO to entertain missions outside
its North Atlantic backyard. Plenty of opportunities to keep business
as usual for NATO. But while NATO enjoys a good brush war like anyone
else to keep the military industrial complex economy running, the
real action is found in the defensive missiles gig. Never mind there
is yet a practical missile made that can hit the broadside of the
proverbial barn, much less a ICBM coming in from the stratosphere,
this is were the big money is. Plus, it has the biggest boogieman
fear component to inspire the civilians to work harder to pay taxes.
Scaring citizens with images of mechanized armies invading your
neighborhood is so passé — To really play on the sheeple's
paranoia, talk about the possibility of rogue missile attacks launched
from middle-eastern countries such as Iran. Even hint darkly about
a resurgent Russia, with Putin desiring to push the big red button.
Never mind that Putin enjoys Russia's prosperity with capitalism
with Europe as customer. He wouldn't dream of killing the goose
that lays the golden eggs by nuking western Europe into glass parking
lot. Bad for business, you know.

NATO's reinventing
itself is so successful that many of the former Soviet Bloc countries
are applying for membership. Little Georgia has little to offer
to NATO, other than to instigate hostilities with neighboring Ossetia.
No doubt NATO was upset that Georgia did not wait after it was initiated
into its club, so NATO could get into the act and justify its military
budget by using mean old Russia as an excuse. Besides, how dare
the Russians come to the aid of Ossetia when it was attacked by
Georgia! That's NATO job! If its one thing an organization hates,
it's someone else cutting in on the action.

In a
recent interview by ABC's Charles Gibson
, Sarah Palin
condemned Russia's invasion of Georgia as quote-unquote, "unprovoked."
Which of course, is a lie. Palin favors the inclusion of both Georgia
and the Ukraine into NATO because they had demonstrated actions
as being "democratic" When Gibson asked: "and under
the NATO treaty, wouldn't we then have to go to war if Russia went
into Georgia?" She replied "Perhaps." Which is
another way of saying all options are on the table. Her fervor
revealed later in the interview to come to the aid of "smaller
democratic countries that are invaded by a larger power" would
have sounded noble if we were not already a larger power
that had invaded a smaller country that had done nothing against
us. But the difference of course, is Iraq is not a "democratic"
one, so the US is excused where Russia is not. Palin stresses the
importance of not reverting back to a cold war status, yet advocates
economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure against Russia that are
the equivalent of creating one. NATO could not have asked for a
better lobbyist that Palin to cheerlead for its continued existence

Palin and others
ongoing support to a collectivist (there its that word again!) defense
organization as NATO reminds me of new inmates who are obliged to
join a gang in order to survive in prison — Doesn't matter what
crimes you or they have committed, the thing is the colors you wear
define who are your friends, and who are your enemies. So much for
the rugged individualism that once was the hallmark of America's
legacy.

I find it ironic
that the people who are opposed with our association in the UN are
just as tenacious in insisting that we must stay in NATO. That we
must honor our commitments and treaties by continuing to belong
to a collective defense organization. All for the sake of
defending democracy, which is a method of government, not
a moral definition of who is the good guy, and who is the villian.
Many still think that poor Europe is too weak to defend itself should
Russia aspire to conquer Western Europe. Never mind that with the
collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia does not have near the manpower
and hardware it formerly had with the Warsaw Pact.

Everyone is
still thinking with a 1980's cold war mindset. Worse, these people
cannot see that NATO is little different than the UN — except it
does not use white-painted armored vehicles and blue helmets, and
is more likely to shoot first and then ask questions later. America
needs to get out of the NATO club and stop being a club for NATO.
NATO's original purpose has been made obsolete by the fall of the
USSR. It is a holdover of the same treaties, the "scrap of
paper" signed by old men in Europe who offered their young
people and treasure as collateral for the "honor" to defend
each other's decadent empires. By contractual reflex France, Britain,
and Russia were led into disastrous world war with Germany in 1914,
over the assassination of an Austrian archduke by a radical Serb.
After three years of callously spending the lives and limbs an entire
generation of their best young men by sending them in frontal attacks
against machine guns with bayonets, they looked to America for fresh
cannon fodder to rescue them for their folly — and Wilson provided
it in the name of "making democracy safe for the world."
That any reprobate country can gain political legitimacy by declaring
being a "democracy" and be admitted into the NATO club
is akin to putting lipstick on a pig, if I may use a cliché
that is presently in vogue. Spilling the blood of our soldiers and
depleting our treasure in the defense such countries that wear such
false garb is a sucker's game. America should follow the example
of Groucho Marx, treating any club that would invite them as a member
suspect, and not worth belonging to.

September
16, 2008

Ron
Shirtz [send him mail] is
a transplanted Californian teaching Graphic Communications in Northern
(Not “Upstate”) New York. His hobbies include arranging deck chairs
on sinking ships, tilting at windmills, and being fashionably late.

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