Column by Alex Shaner
This week, I am looking at one of the most effective alliances in political and military history. The Treaty of Brussels founded the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 1948 by a majority of the Allied-Nations from World War II (United States, United Kingdom, and France).
The first secretary-general of the NATO, Lord Ismay, summarizes the primary rationale for the organization, who remarked, “The purpose is to keep the Russians out, the Americans in and the Germans down.”
Besides this candid remark, NATO currently aligns for the basis of military and territorial integrity to stop outside threats.
However, this organization being formed during the early years of the Cold War brings up important questions.
Should it continue? Well, I am not arguing for the complete elimination of NATO, I think a restructuring of the funding and involvement must change.
Organized as a primary military deterrent, NATO invokes the famous phrase that an attack against one member is an attack against all.
This collective security agreement worked well within the confines of the Cold War where the “enemy” was the Soviet Union and the perceived threat of Communism.
However, in the 21st Century, the various non-state actors and rogue states are not as recognizable , and nor are they known and play by conventional rules.
70 percent of the World’s military spending originates from the members of NATO. The membership comprises the U.S., Canada and a majority of Europe (still excluding Russia), as well as Turkey.
Ironically, most of the operations of NATO took place after the Cold War. In the 1990s NATO was involved in at least some capacity in Africa, the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Several NATO members coordinated the conflict in Libya in 2011. The mission in Afghanistan and Iraq are prominent missions supported by NATO.
In a war, the pressure for US involvement has led many to rethink our agreements abroad.
I believe NATO is one place to start. The U.S. contributes around 22 percent of NATO’s funding totaling $711 million in 2010.
Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has been an outspoken critic of the US-European military alliance.
He quotes the growing gap between American contributions both in funding and military support while a ‘collective’ Europe simple rides along.
Restructuring the payment and funding mechanism that focuses on benchmark payments rather than on the gross national product number of each country.
This will force several European nations that slice budgets on military functions to simply “let” the U.S. take the burden to accept the responsibilities and conditions of such an alliance. This alliance is not just focused on the U.S. or the U.K. or Germany, if this alignment is truly collective, then most nations must contribute a more significant amount.
By restructuring the funding mechanism, NATO will be forced to step back and examine the true nature of the alliance.
By scaling back involvement to focus on internal problems, I think this will benefit the organization in the long run.
Shaner is a senior international relations and politics double major and can be reached at email@example.com