Author Topic: My conflicted NATO  (Read 260 times)

TheDrake

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My conflicted NATO
« on: July 03, 2018, 12:50:57 PM »
I am pretty conflicted on the latest Trump moves concerning NATO. On the one hand, I am pretty strongly in favor of a "take all our marbles and go home" foreign policy. I think we've vastly overreached, and the more alliances and foreign footprint we have the more expensive it is for us.

Absent NATO, there isn't a lot of risk these days of an invasion from the East. France and the UK are nuclear capable states, and they aren't likely to stand by if Russia were to continue West into Poland or Romania from Ukraine. Not to mention, it is quite possible to continue to have mutual defense without all the forward deployment.

On the other hand, it diminishes our leverage in global affairs as well as the leadership position that our spending currently affords. A NATO without US might well pursue different policy that might not be so aligned with our interests. In the case of engagement in other theaters of operation, it leaves us without shared responsibility as we had in Afghanistan.

I only wish that to balance cost we were decreasing our military costs rather than insisting other countries try to match our insane spending levels.


TheDeamon

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Re: My conflicted NATO
« Reply #1 on: July 03, 2018, 01:43:55 PM »
I am pretty conflicted on the latest Trump moves concerning NATO. On the one hand, I am pretty strongly in favor of a "take all our marbles and go home" foreign policy. I think we've vastly overreached, and the more alliances and foreign footprint we have the more expensive it is for us.

Absent NATO, there isn't a lot of risk these days of an invasion from the East. France and the UK are nuclear capable states, and they aren't likely to stand by if Russia were to continue West into Poland or Romania from Ukraine. Not to mention, it is quite possible to continue to have mutual defense without all the forward deployment.

On the other hand, it diminishes our leverage in global affairs as well as the leadership position that our spending currently affords. A NATO without US might well pursue different policy that might not be so aligned with our interests. In the case of engagement in other theaters of operation, it leaves us without shared responsibility as we had in Afghanistan.

I only wish that to balance cost we were decreasing our military costs rather than insisting other countries try to match our insane spending levels.

I'm likewise kind of mixed. Although to some extent, I'm also largely ok with arrangements like we've typically had with Japan and South Korea (And Germany to some extent, IIRC offhand) historically, where they foot the bill for a significant amount of the base operating expenses in exchange for our troops being present in their country.

If they want to be protected under our umbrella, and they're willing to bring things to the table that are mutually beneficial to both of us, then I'm inclined to play ball. Forward operating bases are a HUGE benefit that cannot be emphasized enough. It is part of how the United States became, and remains so dominant in the late 20th century. It is how Britain was so dominant prior to that. The specifics have obviously changed, as Britain was primarily a nautical power. While a modern force seeking military dominance needs to do so in the Air as well as on the oceans and land, with Space itself also becoming a bigger factor as well.

Sure the Air Force likes to talk about their bombers and other craft that they can fly out the United States to anywhere on the planet and back again. But those aircraft can only do so because of aerial refueling capabilities. Capabilities which normally requires other craft to be available to perform that in-flight refueling operation. You know, planes flown out of the "forward operating bases" in places like Japan, Korea, or Germany. (Something which the Navy somewhat skips by use of Nuclear Powered Aircraft Carriers, they move the air base with the planes--Although even they still require material support and additional stocks of jet fuel, which isn't to mention the needs of their escorts.. Which is in part why the Navy has ships and other resources stationed overseas as well in places like Japan. Particularly as ships move much slower than Aircraft in general, typically taking days to travel what a plane can do in hours.)

Up to a point "forward operating bases" are very useful, but there is an eventual saturation point where diminishing returns quickly starts to settle in with regards to dollar value of the capabilities it presents vs the costs of operating the facility. And as it pertains to much of Europe and Eastern Asia, we're pretty much near that point. So NATO cannot offer us more bases, or better financial support for the bases that remain. This also ignores that those agreements are not made with NATO, although NATO benefits from it, those agreements are with those respective nations.

Which means that from a purely military cost/benefit standpoint, the question becomes what benefit does the United states get from NATO? MOST of the objectives for NATO, circa 1950 are largely N/A at this point.

We're not concerned about Germany rearming and declaring war on France over disputed territorial claims from centuries ago.

We do have some concerns about Russian activities, but the level of concern doesn't get anywhere near the level of concern we had about the Soviet Union up through the early 1990's.

The Joint Military Operations and Exercises conducted under the NATO banner are useful exercises in diplomacy at the Military level, but for some of the nations in question, we have regular exercises and exchanges with outside of NATO as well(United Kingdom in particular). Many of the other members are unlikely to stop seeking joint exercises with the United States even should NATO disappear next week.

But in the meantime, the other factor in play here is that many NATO are effectively "freeloading" on the United States of America. They've cut their military spending in pursuit of spending it on "butter" instead of guns, and absent NATO, it is questionable how much those policies would change. But even with NATO, they've diminished their military capabilities to the point that as far as being a mutual self-defense alliance, it does not directly benefit the United States at all. If for some strange reason the US required direct military assistance in North America(space alien invasion?), most of NATO would be completely useless, as the only way they could get to the United States is if the United States helped them get there.

So the thing to realize is that NATO is a one-sided relationship, in the event of attack, the United States is obligated to help defend everybody else, but should the United States get attacked, the only way NATO might be useful is if the attacker happens to be someone that the European contingent is able (and willing) to likewise (counter-)attack.  Which basically boils down to: Russia.

They're effectively useless(without our assistance) against China, they're useless against North Korea, they're not particularly useful in an Iran scenario, and so on. Many of the ones that did help us in Iraq and Afghanistan often were only capable of doing so because we provided the logistics support for their troops to get there. The UK was a major exception, Canada, Australia and a very short list of others made respectable showings of their own(but still needed some help IIRC), but they're exceptions, not the rule.

Which leaves the question of how do you address this? Do you demand that they start giving money to the United States to directly fund the operations(not just hosted bases) of the Department of Defense? That reeks of imperialism, and also leaves one open to their potentially cutting funding in fits of pique later on. Or do you start demanding that they increase their military capabilities or be left to their own devices?

Fenring

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Re: My conflicted NATO
« Reply #2 on: July 03, 2018, 03:07:36 PM »
I like your write-up, The Deamon. I would add that the issue with NATO isn't just one of pure strategy and mutual defence as a cost/benefit. There's also the issue of the people that work with NATO, the politics involved in "keeping up the need" for it, and the parties that will always try to utilize a power structure for their own ends rather than for the sake of peace.

While NATO may have had some direct necessity in the past I feel at this point that in addition to being a question of freeloading, there's a question of whether the NATO arrangement is leading to some actual negatives. For instance, how much of the NATO arrangement leads to an "us vs them" mentality with other countries. How many of the NATO countries feel protected under a shield (e.g. Turkey) and can therefore do things they'd never dare to try without being under the umbrella? How many officials and 'statesmen' feel bold making threatening statements towards Russia, for example, because they feel the strength of a large gang standing behind them? And then there's the issue of "NATO defence" being a cheap excuse for military purchasing boondoggles where countries have to be armed to the teeth for 'protection', which often means reams of missiles right on the border with Russia - a move that was supposed to have been curtailed after the Iron Curtain came down?

Overall I don't see a good case for NATO existing at all. I do see a good case for keeping good relations with other nations, and ideally even with those like Russia and NK. The best defence is good communication and peaceful relations. Mobilization to deal with a legitimate invasion would be so different in this day and age than it was in 1943 that I don't think it's even worth discussing. The days of having to prevent a WWII using convention methods are over.

rightleft22

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Re: My conflicted NATO
« Reply #3 on: July 03, 2018, 03:22:17 PM »
What a difference a year makes. Allies one moment frenemies the next.

Its interesting to watch as the US traditional allies are accepting that Trump America is an unreliable actor and can’t be trusted.  I suspect its just a matter of time for NATO to move on without the USA or disband. It might be for the best.
Now that liberalism is dying and trade no longer associated with human rights I suspect China and Russia will be more then happy to fill any gabs.
The US has a big stick and can bully its way through any negotiations, (while it plays the victim of being taken advantage of – personality sound familiar?)  it won’t be forgotten.

TheDeamon

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Re: My conflicted NATO
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2018, 04:24:26 PM »
Uh, "The Conservatives" complaining about NATO dates back to AT LEAST the Clinton Administration. You can probably find less than enthusiastic comments from many of us, myself included, from during the Bush Administration here on Ornery.

Antagonism towards NATO from many of us isn't new, and has nothing to do with Trump.

TheDrake

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Re: My conflicted NATO
« Reply #5 on: July 03, 2018, 04:34:03 PM »
Uh, "The Conservatives" complaining about NATO dates back to AT LEAST the Clinton Administration. You can probably find less than enthusiastic comments from many of us, myself included, from during the Bush Administration here on Ornery.

Antagonism towards NATO from many of us isn't new, and has nothing to do with Trump.

True, and also true that Obama and Bush also complained about NATO countries not doing enough. They just did it more diplomatically and never called into question whether it ought to exist.

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In frank comments about foreign relations, the US president also revealed he warned his British counterpart that the “special relationship” would be at risk if the UK did not commit to spending 2% of its national income on defence, in line with Nato targets.

article


TheDeamon

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Re: My conflicted NATO
« Reply #6 on: July 03, 2018, 06:44:48 PM »
In terms of "unreliable allies" that take on Obama's 2016 interview is extremely harsh, and aimed straight at NATO, and its two most significant European contributors at that.

Seriati

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Re: My conflicted NATO
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2018, 09:21:45 PM »
I thought this was an interesting graphic.  Kind of visually explains Trump's point, and why Germany is getting singled out.  https://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2018/07/10/defense-expenditure-of-nato-members-visualized-infographic/#5a23c2214cff

Greg Davidson

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Re: My conflicted NATO
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2018, 11:17:06 PM »
War is vastly more expensive than peace. We should be careful about eliminating institutions that have been established to keep the peace. Does anyone remember that the US cut funding to the mujajadeen and madrassas because of Republican Senator Jesse Helms?  Those tens of millions of dollars of savings may have cost us trillions of dollars

TheDrake

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Re: My conflicted NATO
« Reply #9 on: July 12, 2018, 08:58:35 AM »
The US is spending more than anyone else. Ya know, there's another way to balance the equation. We could spend less.

Germany keeps blowing all their money on healthcare and foolishly running a budget surplus for four years instead of borrowing madly like the US.

Seriati

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Re: My conflicted NATO
« Reply #10 on: July 12, 2018, 09:44:12 AM »
The US is spending more than anyone else. Ya know, there's another way to balance the equation. We could spend less.

Now there's a solution that no one else in NATO wants to hear and you think Trump is the radical one?  The point of NATO is to be a defensive alliance, not to become a US military vassal state.  If it were the later we'd expect them to contribute to our military budget.

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Germany keeps blowing all their money on healthcare and foolishly running a budget surplus for four years instead of borrowing madly like the US.

There's really no excuse for Germany.  As you note their economy is plenty strong enough to allow them to make the contribution required to the common defense.  Germany is literally on of the most direct beneficiaries of US military cover and leads the way on the "demands" placed on NATO continuing as an effective force.  They literally the "free rider" of the NATO alliance.

rightleft22

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Re: My conflicted NATO
« Reply #11 on: July 12, 2018, 09:57:51 AM »




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While Washington is the largest contributor to "NATO common-funded budgets and programs," funding 22 percent of them, Berlin comes in second, paying for nearly 15 percent of the civil and military budgets and NATO's security investment program for 2016 and 2017.

Germany boosted defense spending by 5 percent last year, according to NATO, but because economic growth has been strong, spending remains at 1.22 percent of Germany's GDP.

France and the UK, the third and fourth-largest contributors to NATO, trail behind Washington and Berlin, providing 10.6 and 9.8 percent of the cost-sharing budgets and programs, respectively.

But Berlin has offered more than monetary resources to the alliance. "Germany is contributing some 4,700 personnel for ongoing operations for whom the security architecture of NATO, the EU, the United Nations and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) form the frame," according to NATO headquarters.

In February of last year, 450 Bundeswehr soldiers and 30 tanks arrived in Lithuania as part of NATO's "enhanced forward presence" in the Baltic region.

Read more: Why the 'fake rape' story against German NATO forces fell flat in Lithuania

Germany provided the main support ship for NATO's deployment to the Aegean Sea to "conduct reconnaissance, monitoring and surveillance of illegal crossings" in Greek and Turkish territorial waters at the height of the migration crisis.

Berlin has approximately 980 soldiers stationed in Afghanistan for NATO's Resolute Support mission, which aims to "train, advise and assist the Afghan security forces and institutions" after the end of the decade-long International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission.

Germany also represents the second-largest contributor to NATO's Kosovo force (KFOR) with 550 troops deployed to maintain a "safe and secure environment in Kosovo."

As such, Berlin continues to make significant contributions to the alliance, including supporting its administrative and operational framework. However, how defense spending is measured and to what extent Berlin contributes to the military budget will remain contentious topics for the country's political parties to tackle.

TheDrake

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Re: My conflicted NATO
« Reply #12 on: July 12, 2018, 11:54:17 AM »
The US is spending more than anyone else. Ya know, there's another way to balance the equation. We could spend less.

Now there's a solution that no one else in NATO wants to hear and you think Trump is the radical one?  The point of NATO is to be a defensive alliance, not to become a US military vassal state.  If it were the later we'd expect them to contribute to our military budget.

It's been pointed out regularly that those countries do pay costs associated with our presence, although it likely factors into totals. As for the value of NATO, German bases have been used far more often for the US to stage attacks in Africa and the Middle East, or as medical facilities for our troops engaged outside Europe than anything else. The US outspends the next seven countries combined, and you don't think that's excessive? We should stop being a global police force, we can't afford it. The alternative Trump suggests is that we should increase the net number of troops and weapons in the world, and of course have lots of parades celebrating how powerful and badass we are.

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There's really no excuse for Germany.  As you note their economy is plenty strong enough to allow them to make the contribution required to the common defense.  Germany is literally on of the most direct beneficiaries of US military cover and leads the way on the "demands" placed on NATO continuing as an effective force.  They literally the "free rider" of the NATO alliance.

What exactly is Germany needing protection from these days? Russia invading eastern Europe and restoring the Warsaw Pact? Taking back East Germany? Other NATO countries? Europe is already spending more than Russia collectively. Does it really take trillions of dollars for Germany to remain a sovereign nation? Or for us?

TheDeamon

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Re: My conflicted NATO
« Reply #13 on: July 12, 2018, 01:05:59 PM »
The US outspends the next seven countries combined, and you don't think that's excessive? We should stop being a global police force, we can't afford it.

Keep in mind, "other factors" play into things here:

The United States is the 3rd most populous nation in the world, behind China (1.3 Billion), and India (1.2 Billion); it also is the 3rd largest country by area in the world, behind Russia and Canada(who is an ally).

We'll revisit some of those numbers shortly.

Before getting into the economic side, it should be pointed out that the military of a nation usually becomes larger when it has more to protect. What they have to protect is typically described both in terms of area and in terms of (value of) physical assets. Also there is something a ratio that nations attempt to maintain in terms of soldiers to general population.

So the more people you have in a country, the more people there should be in the military. So in terms of population alone, the US should have the 3rd largest standing military in terms of raw population numbers. With it only being beat out by China and India.

In terms of land area, again we should at least be in the top 3(and given Canada's population/location, why they're not is kind of understood; most of Canada is wilderness and not particularly hospitable to longer-term human habitation at any "advanced level" without needing outside support).

In terms of economic standing, we're supposed to be the largest. So our standing "head and shoulders above the rest" in military capabilities is hardly shocking. We have plenty of valid reasons for having a large and robust military force, as most of our country is NOT inhospitable wilderness. It just also happens that we have a high technology force, which is expensive to operate and maintain even if our raw numbers in terms of force size doesn't fully reflect the "other factors" in play, because of technology multipliers for the manpower we do have.

Now let us look at the economic side:
https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2018/04/the-worlds-biggest-economies-in-2018/
According to the IMF sometime circa April of this year:
1) United States of America $20.4 Trillion
2) China $14 Trillion (4th largest by land(or 3rd depending on who you check and criteria used), largest by population(1.4B))
3) Japan $5.1 Trillion  (61st by land area, 11th by population(127M))
4) Germany $4.2 Trillion (62nd by land area, 16th by population (82M))
5) United Kingdom $2.94 Trillion (78th by land area, 21st by population(66M))
6) France $2.93 Trillion (42nd by land area, 22nd by population(65M))
7) India $2.85 Trillion (7th by land area, 2nd largest by population(1.3B))
8) Italy $2.18 Trillion (71st by land area, 23rd by population(59M))
9) Brazil $2.14 Trillion (5th by land area, 5th by population(209M))
10) Canada $1.8 Trillion (2nd by land area, 38th by population(36M))

And China also is a special footnote because nobody claims to know what China is spending on its military because of how their economy and military is structured, so trying to translate much of that into a meaningful and reliable number is a challenge unto itself. Everybody else's numbers are readily available for the most part however.

It should be noted however that China is building up/improving their military capabilities, India is doing the same, if only to keep pace with China because they have long-standing disputes with one another over territory. And Brazil likewise is expanding and improving its military capabilities as well. It is fairly new to being near the top of the food chain on at least some metrics at the least.

Edit: And it should also be noted that on that axis, all 3 of those "rising powers" China, India, and Brazil exist outside the direct purview of NATO, and while they present challenges to US interests, the European interests involved are much more mixed(and primarily either French or British in nature).

edit 2: It should also be noted that if you remove China from the list, it takes from Japan(#3) through to Italy(#8) to total the GDP of the United States of America. Which would be the combined economies of 6 rather large nations.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2018, 01:14:01 PM by TheDeamon »

TheDeamon

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Re: My conflicted NATO
« Reply #14 on: July 12, 2018, 01:23:06 PM »
What exactly is Germany needing protection from these days? Russia invading eastern Europe and restoring the Warsaw Pact? Taking back East Germany? Other NATO countries? Europe is already spending more than Russia collectively. Does it really take trillions of dollars for Germany to remain a sovereign nation? Or for us?

We want the bases in Germany because of what capabilities we gain from having said bases there. Getting the Germans to cover at least some of the costs for those bases is nice as well.

As to threats from Russia, I'm not overly concerned. As pointed out those bases have been used for operations in Northern Africa and the Middle East. Replacing those facilities elsewhere would be a very expensive undertaking, and the list of stable alternative nations to do so in isn't very big.

That said, China is a concern, India could be a problem. A China/India conflagration is likely to cause all kinds of headaches globally and is in the realm of possible, and we're the only one big enough to potentially go toe-to-toe with either of them(IE able to potentially play "outside 3rd party" and not cause all trade in or around southern and Eastern Asia to shut down from the Gulf of Aden to the Sea of Japan.

Which isn't to mention the other things China has been getting up to.

TheDrake

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Re: My conflicted NATO
« Reply #15 on: July 12, 2018, 02:11:08 PM »
China is a good reason to maintain presence in Japan and South Korea, possibly, although I take a more isolationist stance. It still doesn't mean bases in Germany.

I'd really prefer a pre-ww2 footing where we didn't meddle around the globe. We withdraw, the EU can worry about Europe, Japan and Australia can worry about the Pacific. India can worry about China. Israel can worry about the middle east. We can stick to North America. Everything gets rebalanced. When spot issues come up, like Syria or if China invades Taiwan, we can engage with those nations on a case by case basis rather than maintaining a standing presence in the region.

Military spending is $900 billion. Income tax is $2.3 trillion, so I don't really like that much of my paycheck going out to make other people safe. Germany's defense budget is $43 billion, so even if they gave it all directly to us, it hardly makes much difference. And no one is calling for that.

Where are the calls for Israel to spend its part? We're currently giving them $3 billion in military aid. They only pay $17 billion of their own money, while their percentage is 5% of GDP, its really about what we're spending versus what we're getting in return.

Greg Davidson

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Re: My conflicted NATO
« Reply #16 on: July 13, 2018, 10:43:27 AM »
Sarajevo. Anyone remember the Winter Olympics in 1984? Lovely place.

And then the post-World War II order in the Soviet sphere collapsed. The former Yugoslavia was struck with small ethnic wars and genocide. To be fair, not every country behind the former Iron Curtain devolved into warfare - only some (assuming that we count Yugoslavia as the six countries it is today).

So if President Trump achieves the #1 foreign policy goal of President Putin and destroys NATO, and then only a few small wars and genocides occur in only some of the countries in Europe, who is responsible for the hundreds of thousands of people killed?

Lloyd Perna

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Re: My conflicted NATO
« Reply #17 on: July 13, 2018, 10:51:11 AM »
The people that kill them, obviously.

TheDrake

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Re: My conflicted NATO
« Reply #18 on: July 13, 2018, 11:06:22 AM »
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So if President Trump achieves the #1 foreign policy goal of President Putin and destroys NATO, and then only a few small wars and genocides occur in only some of the countries in Europe, who is responsible for the hundreds of thousands of people killed?

This presupposes that NATO is the only agency that could stop such a thing. Why couldn't EU forces accomplish the same? Much as the African Union intervenes on that continent. Did the UN dry up and blow away in this hypothetical future? It also assumes that the US wouldn't intervene as a unilateral action, like in Somalia. And then there's whether it actually leads to more death in the future, like some suggest that US intervention in WW1 lead to punitive measures taken against Germany that set the stage for WW2?

Unless you've got a Tardis or a Wayback machine lying about, its not so easy to see repercussions of action or inaction. People were dying in Iraq at the hands of Hussein - a lot of them, ask the Kurds. Then we rolled in and - a lot more died. Instability set the stage for Daesh to fill the vacuum.

Greg Davidson

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Re: My conflicted NATO
« Reply #19 on: July 13, 2018, 11:14:07 AM »
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People were dying in Iraq at the hands of Hussein - a lot of them, ask the Kurds. Then we rolled in and - a lot more died. Instability set the stage for Daesh to fill the vacuum.Unless you've got a Tardis or a Wayback machine lying about, its not so easy to see repercussions of action or inaction.

So, TheDrake, are you going to stop expressing opinions on the efficacy of anything, because it is not easy to see the repercussions of your assertions?

We have 70 years of experience with NATO in place. Is your hypothesis that literally any other solution is just as likely to work? Even no solution, just eliminate NATO? Remember, you are talking about hundreds of thousands of lives lost.

And I also disagree with your "Iraq War was okay because Saddam was killing Kurds" assertion. Killing Kurds was evil. There's a lot of evil in the world.  Around the same time as we intervened in Iraq (which likely led to an additional 500K-1000K fatalities) there were about 3 million people being murdered in the Second Congo War.  If Saddam was killing thousands of Kurds each year (and I am not sure the number is that high) it is truly evil, but it does not render us incapable about making judgments concerning the advisability of the Iraq War.

Seriati

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Re: My conflicted NATO
« Reply #20 on: July 13, 2018, 12:00:29 PM »
Greg, you seem to be ignoring the real point here.  NATO was intended to be a mutual defense society. What's its become is the US defends everyone else, with largely token support from the majority of the members.  Heck a source I saw implied that military pensions make up a significant part of certain countries contributions (I didn't verify and that certainly could be fake news).

How does NATO make the world any safer than than the US alone?  If the US withdrew it's military bubble, wouldn't the EU - countries that you seem to think are more responsible than us - have to increase its own military levels to take up the slack - wouldn't by definition in your world view having "responsible" people controlling any military mission make the world safer?  Even operating together, what could the rest of NATO do if the US was incapacitated by Chinese aggression in the South China sea?  The answer is literally nothing.  The rest of NATO would be hard pressed to defend the EU without the US, let alone operate in any other area.

How is that a military alliance that is providing benefit?

Whether Trump is undermining or supporting a thing is a misdrection from whether the thing is objectively doing what it's supposed to do.  And honestly, its bizarre and hypocritical for anyone on here who doesn't think the US should be the world's police man to argue that Trump is wrong is on this - he's literally saying that the spending levels force the US to be NATO (and the world's) police man.

TheDrake

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Re: My conflicted NATO
« Reply #21 on: July 13, 2018, 12:22:35 PM »
So, TheDrake, are you going to stop expressing opinions on the efficacy of anything, because it is not easy to see the repercussions of your assertions?

I'm not avoiding an opinion, I'm stating one. Military intervention by the US makes things worse overall, it is not our job, we have no mandate from the world - nor does NATO.

The UN model isn't new either, it was used in the Korean war, East Timor, the slavic states. The UNSC is the correct body to decide when the world should intervene - not Europe and North America acting on their own.

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We have 70 years of experience with NATO in place.

I'm not even going to bother listing all the bad things we had 70 years of experience with that were bad.


And I also disagree with your "Iraq War was okay because Saddam was killing Kurds" assertion. Killing Kurds was evil. There's a lot of evil in the world.  Around the same time as we intervened in Iraq (which likely led to an additional 500K-1000K fatalities) there were about 3 million people being murdered in the Second Congo War.  If Saddam was killing thousands of Kurds each year (and I am not sure the number is that high) it is truly evil, but it does not render us incapable about making judgments concerning the advisability of the Iraq War.
[/quote]

The Congo isn't a NATO thing.

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The Parties to this Treaty reaffirm their faith in the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations and their desire to live in peace with all peoples and all governments.
They are determined to safeguard the freedom, common heritage and civilisation of their peoples, founded on the principles of democracy, individual liberty and the rule of law. They seek to promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area.
They are resolved to unite their efforts for collective defence and for the preservation of peace and security. They therefore agree to this North Atlantic Treaty...

Which part of this sounds like "we resolve to go on the offensive in Africa because people are getting killed."?

Of course, since I don't want to be the police, I'm am not in favor of anything that helps us continue that role - including growing that capability. Europe getting more defensive capability means less operational risk to deploying our forces to other theatres from our handy NATO bases. The only way that doesn't happen is for us to reduce our expenditures as Europe takes up the slack.

Seriati

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Re: My conflicted NATO
« Reply #22 on: July 13, 2018, 12:54:51 PM »
TheDrake that response to Greg was clarifying.  I think your idea that the UNSC should be some kind of exclusive arbiter of intervention is naive.  The UN is designed to be a paralyzed body that gives equal weight to all views, whether they are objectively horrible or objectively noble, that's not a recipe for good governance.  At best the UNSC could be described as choosing to intervene when it's in the combined interest of the powerful to do so, the ultimate in might makes right.

Basic respect for human rights, equality of women, religious and sexual freedom, should be a requirement for a country to have a say in world governance.  That's why NATO has been a better proxy than UNSC for legitimacy of world intervention.  But make no mistake, we do not have a world government, the law of nations is literal might makes right, nothing else.

Greg Davidson

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Re: My conflicted NATO
« Reply #23 on: July 13, 2018, 02:50:54 PM »
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NATO was intended to be a mutual defense society. What's its become is the US defends everyone else, with largely token support from the majority of the members.

Seriati, when Osama bin Laden struck at the United States on 9/11, NATO members fought and died with Americans not only in Afghanistan (which arguably had something to do with 9/11), but many warfighters from NATO countries also joined the US in our war-of-choice against Iraq.  Is that what you mean by "largely token support"?

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The Congo isn't a NATO thing.

TheDrake, I was countering your use of Kurdish fatalities as a justification by itself for the Iraq War.  Kurdish fatalities by themselves are not a NATO thing either, the Iraq War by that standard wasn't a NATO thing either.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2018, 02:53:38 PM by Greg Davidson »

TheDrake

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Re: My conflicted NATO
« Reply #24 on: July 13, 2018, 03:42:29 PM »
Fair enough, Greg. Intervening in the Congo is a bad idea, just like intervening in Iraq was a bad idea - just like it was a good idea not to commit NATO to intervene in the Rwandan civil war, and a good idea not to get involved in Tibet. It might be a decent idea for the UN in some cases, but it is certainly a terrible idea for the US unilaterally. That should help clarify.

UN commitment is useful to ensure that we don't wind up on opposite sides (Syria, Russia vs. US). It is also useful to ensure some follow up once bullets stop flying. I think it is less likely that you get Abu Graib with UN peacekeepers. Too many people, too many cultures, too much visibility. Now, you can certainly still have the country with the largest military providing most of the troops, but its more likely to be proportional. Ethiopia, India, and Pakistan are top three countries - about 7000 troops each. United States - 58. Not 58 thousand.

Seriati

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Re: My conflicted NATO
« Reply #25 on: July 13, 2018, 04:36:28 PM »
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NATO was intended to be a mutual defense society. What's its become is the US defends everyone else, with largely token support from the majority of the members.

Seriati, when Osama bin Laden struck at the United States on 9/11, NATO members fought and died with Americans not only in Afghanistan (which arguably had something to do with 9/11), but many warfighters from NATO countries also joined the US in our war-of-choice against Iraq.  Is that what you mean by "largely token support"?

The operation in Afghanistan was probably a high point for NATO operations, and at one point, the US was less than half of the total troops involved (it's percentage of support and equipment was much higher).  Even there though the US ended up providing more than 75% of the troops.

https://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2009/sep/21/afghanistan-troop-numbers-nato-data

As far as Iraq, other than the UK who exactly did anything but send a token force?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Multi-National_Force_%E2%80%93_Iraq

Arguably those are the two "best" examples you can find, and in both cases it's clear that only what I said is the truth.  It's the US that's doing the heavy lifting, and the vast majority of NATO is providing token support.

If you go further back in time, it just proves the point that the rest of NATO is suffering from a worsening free rider problem.

DJQuag

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Re: My conflicted NATO
« Reply #26 on: July 14, 2018, 04:56:47 PM »
The point of NATO is and ever was to defend against Soviet/Russian aggression in Europe. It was never meant to defend the US against Mexico, so talking down the ability of Europe to defend the US, in this case, is kind of silly. (Although the UK and France both still have operating air craft carriers and submarines, so...).

Also as to the idea stated above that the ideals of NATO now aren't the same as they were in the 50's, get real. The dictator of Russia is a guy who is on record as saying he thinks the collapse of the Soviet Union is a tragedy. Look at what he's done in the past ten years.

If we leave NATO, he'll first take the Baltic states, because they're small and weak and there will plenty of people in the West willing to say that they're "historical Russian territory" anyway. After that, he'd go sniffing in Eastern Poland looking for populations of "persecuted ethnic Russians," the same as was done in Ukraine.
« Last Edit: July 14, 2018, 04:58:53 PM by DJQuag »