Joseph Harriss has recently written a ridiculous article about NATO for AmSpec.
Joseph Hariss has displayed an appalling lack of knowledge about NATO and global affairs in general.
Even more worrisome, though, is the fact that he quoted the utterly discredited, anti-American, anti-defense, communist Congressman Barney Frank of Massachusetts (the most liberal state of the Union) as an authoritative source, and quoted him without checking whether what he’s saying is true or not.
And what the extremely liberal MA Congressman said was 100% false, as always. The US is not spending money on defending European countries (i.e. not just defending them). The US spends money to defend ITSELF and, simoultaneously, Europe. 100% of these defense costs (which, by the way, constitute less than 15% of the total federal budget, less than half of all discretionary spending, and a microscopic 3.59% of GDP) would have to be borne with or without NATO – whether the US would be defending Europe or not. The costs of the Afghan War and the Iraqi war – unnecessary wars to be sure, but not connected in any way to Europe – would also be borne with or without NATO. Frank is a liar, and Harriss has irredeemably discredited himself by quoting him.
As for NATO itself: most of what Harriss cited is illustrative of the NATO before the 2010 Lisbon Summit, about which Harriss has evidently heard nothing except that it was held. At that summit, NATO leaders, at the urging of Robert Gates, decided to radically slim down the number of NATO agencies and NATO commands, to invest in alliance-wide missile defense systems, and to undertake a broader reform of NATO.
The collective purpose of NATO, contrary to the claims of Joseph Harriss, is clear, and has been written into the 2010 Strategic Concept. It is to defend the members of the alliance against ANY threat, conventional or irregular, nuclear or conventional. That is a much broader task than what NATO shouldered during the Cold War – and that is as it should be. During the CW, NATO’s task was extremely narrow – defend against the Warsaw Pact. As an excuse, I could say that during the CW, there was no other serious threat to the US other than Red China.
But now, in the multipolar post-CW world, the US needs more partners, fewer enemies, fewer rogue states, and fewer terrorists. Bilateral and multilateral alliances are even more important now than during the CW. The US is no longer the hegemon of the world and needs its allies as much as they need America.
What Harriss and Barney Frank advocate is a return to an isolationist foreign policy. That policy worked very well during the 1930s, didn’t it?
Harriss’s critique of NATO is also internally inconsistent. On the one hand, he criticizes NATO for being supposedly useless to the US when the chips are down, but one other hand, he criticizes NATO for intervening in various countries around the world, including Afghanistan and the Red Sea. So where does he stand? FYI, Mr Harriss, the era of bipolarism is over and threats to the US are more diverse, dispersed, and numerous than they were during the CW. Somalian pirates assailing civilian ships pose a serious threat to the US and Europe – so much so that Europe is now talking to Russia about using the Transsiberian Railroad as an alternative to the seaways.
Of course, that doesn’t excuse NATO for ANY for the shortcomings, wasteful expenses, and mistakes listed in this article. NATO must undergo radical reforms, just like the DOD has had to under Secretary Gates. Reforms which many bureaucrats, generals, and member states will oppose, but which are necessary to slim this bureaucracy down and keep it relevant.
But dismantling NATO would be a foolish mistake, which is why no serious politician on either side of the Atlantic Ocean advocates such a policy (FYI, Mr Harriss, Barney Frank is not a serious politician).
When your car breaks down, do you immediately dismantle it, or do you try to fix it (or take it to a workshop)?
With this article, Mr Harriss has irredeemably discredited himself. The AmSpec, of course, has discredited itself long ago.