General Allen has anounced that he will not be seeking a NATO position. This could bring up a blog post about how the absurd politicking is making it impossible for competent individuals to serve and if we had politicked like this back in WWII, after all FDR knew that Eisenhower had a Mistress, we would have never won. But instead of blogging about that, I will blog about why the US keeps NATO around despite the lack of an apparent need for it.
NATO stirs up a lot of feelings. Alot of libertarians think the organization is just a giant waste of money and resources for the United States, after all, there isn't the need for large scale European American coordination since the fall of the Soviet Union. Many in the US feel that the we are putting far more into this alliance and not getting enough out of it to warrant continued investment. This has long been the case, even Eisenhower remarked about how American centric the military commitment to NATO was, and if it were a simple alliance of mutual defense, they'd be right. But that isn't why it continues to exist.
The alliance was never really about mutual defense, though it did serve that action during the cold war, it was about American dominion. It sounds strange I know, but in many respects it isn't all that different than the 'alliances' that Rome created with it's Latin brethren, save for the fact that America doesn't outright dictate foreign policy of our allies in NATO. How it (NATO) is like the web of military alliances that Rome had is that it is not arranged as a member of two equals, say like the mutual defense development between Great Britain and France, but from a greater and lesser partner.
What I mean by that is that the United States was the greater partner as it assumed all logistical responsibility for NATO, which meant that it controlled NATO. Yes there General Secretary or Chairman of the military committee are often officials from non-US nations. That doesn't mean much in my opinion. Whoever commands the logistical heart of NATO is the real leader of the alliance, and this is evident since the Supreme Allied Commander of Europe has always been an American and the Supreme Allied Commander of the Atlantic has also always been American, notwithstanding the current Royal Navy standing.
This means that NATO cannot do much without American support, as evident with the Kosovo intervention in the 90s, the Libyan intervention, or even the Mali intervention today, which the US is announcing will provide some limited logistical support for France. The alliance has made many European nations dependent on America's military might, which means that they cannot act against the United States in foreign policy. Case and point Iraq, despite the commendation of European nations, such as France, the US suffered no economic, military, or even political consequence what so ever.
It's not that European militaries are not well equipped, well trained, or incapable of acting effectively. That isn't the case. There just does not exist the ability for those European nations to act in concert to the same degree that the United States can because of decades of being in an American centric military alliance. After all, for over 50 years the alliance had existed with the understanding that should war break out with the USSR on the European continent that European military forces would operate under an American command and support American military forces. This resulted in European nation not spending the money to maintain independent logistical networks, since they could rely on the US military logistical network, and now, they find that they are dependent on it. If America doesn't provide the logistical support, then there is no way France, Germany, or even the U.K could support overseas long term military operations for any significant period of time. Case and point, the nations that intervened in Libya ran out of ammunition and had to buy it from the United States.
The author in that times article wonders if NATO will ever embark on such an action again? However, that is the wrong lesson to draw. The lesson to draw is that without the United States European nations cannot even keep their military supplied with ammunition for combat. That is the most basic logistical task for militaries today, and this is how the modern day Europe is 'contained' and kept in the American sphere of influence. It isn't that European leaders have not realized this, increased cooperation of militaries within the E.U is intended to resolve this issue, however, the E.U is now starting to fracture and the future of a combined E.U only military alliance is now remote.
This is why the US hasn't kicked NATO to the curb yet. The promise of American protection has caused European nations to underfund and underdeveloped their military and dependent on the United States. That was one of the goals of the military alliances with Rome. Yes Rome ended relying on it's allies to help keep the legions fully manned, but even so, Romans still made up the largest plurality of all the legions.
Does this mean that I think the US should continue with NATO? No, I think that the US would be better served by cutting back from it. Russia faces demographic decline and will never threaten the European continent the way it did during the 20th century, at least not in the foreseeable future, so there is no need to waste men, material, and resources. As for the possibility of France, Germany, or some other European nation rising up to dominate the continent. I think that is unlikely given demographics and economics as well, and I expect each nation to be more concerned with growing European and Muslim unrest than dominating each other, And even if that was a possibility, alliances with nations like Poland, who has been a very good US ally, to act as a counter to any potential power and be far cheaper than maintaining NATO.