2002 November 12 Tuesday
Ira Straus On The Purpose Of NATO

Ira Straus has written an interesting analysis of the rise of the West, the shift of the center of Western Civilization toward the Atlantic, and his view of the purpose of NATO as an organizing force to strengthen Atlantic Civlization:

For the Founders, the purpose of NATO and its sister institutions was:

First, to organize the Atlantic countries so their leadership in Europe could be exercised in a consistent fashion, joining the cause of freedom with the cause of international order and stability, depriving their enemies of hope of victory, and gradually drawing all of Europe in tow.

Second, to salvage European leadership in the world at large and render it, too, more consistent and sustainable, until the day when all the world could be drawn in tow.

This purpose -- organizing Atlantic leadership Europe-wide and renewing it worldwide -- is the one against which NATO's plans for the future have to be measured. The plans for the Prague summit were not drawn up with this purpose in mind. Not surprisingly, the plans therefore fall short. To do adequate planning, the Atlantic countries will have to remind themselves of the sources of their leadership and the role that their unification was meant to play in enhancing it.

Update: Also see this UPI article for the views of an assortment of thinkers on European and American divisions:

Fukuyama also said there is merit to the argument put forward by Robert Kagan, a scholar at the Carnegie Institute for International Peace, that European discontent with American policy is driven by Europe's embrace of normative laws and international organizations like the United Nations. Kagan has written that such Europeans believe that such institutions provide a needed balance in world affairs, and also function as the driving force of European power.

Fukuyama said that such beliefs underlie the basic schism between the American view of nation states and international power, and the view held by the European policymaking elite, because Americans have a fundamentally stronger belief in national democratic institutions. He added that Americans also strongly mistrust non-elected bodies like the International Criminal Court.

Also, this article reports on a meeting in Berlin between UK and US policy makers and Berlin thinktank intellectuals:

At the Nov. 5 meeting, British Defense Minister Geoffrey Hoon lauded the Germans for their intense public debate over defense issues. He also said: "It is well known that Britain and Germany do not see entirely eye-to-eye on how to deal with the issue of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and I do not propose to go through all the arguments again now.

"In this context, I would therefore merely like to pose the question: If Germany is really serious about the importance of arms control, as I know it is, what effective action would Germany take in the event of a flagrant and very dangerous breach (by Iraq)?"

The article reports that, not surprisingly, the Germans had no answer. To argue against preemption one has to either put forward an alternative strategy that can work or to admit that one holds the position that proliferation of weapons of mass destruction is not a threat to the security of Western nations. So far the opponents of preemption have no workable alternative strategy. It is implicit in their position that proliferation is not a problem. Yet they will not come out and say this explicitly.

See these previous posts for more details on Fukuyama's and Kagan's views on the differences between Europe and America.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2002 November 12 03:50 PM  Europe and America


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