October 1, 2011  

Defending NATO Distance learning

First, Myers referred to “the alliance’s lackluster performance” in Libya. Clearly, national contributions to the NATO operations have varied. However, it may well turn out that NATO’s strategy in Libya — limited support from afar versus boots on the ground — turns out to be the right one.

Second, Myers notes NATO’s “swollen” membership and questions the contributions of new members such as Estonia, Albania, Latvia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia. Another way to look at NATO is as the critical trans-Atlantic collective-security alliance consisting of nations that share common values such as democracy, individual freedom, human rights and the rule of law. Taken in that context, it seems right that NATO would include like-minded democratic countries even if their contributions are relatively small.

Third, Meyers suggests “the U.S. may withdraw from NATO altogether” over concerns about disproportionate burden sharing. Broadly speaking, the U.S. can choose from several foreign policy approaches when dealing with geopolitical challenges: a unilateral approach, a regional alliance approach, or a multilateral approach (i.e., working through the United Nations). Where a unilateral approach often lacks international legitimacy, consensus in a multilateral approach is frequently difficult to achieve. In many instances, a regional alliance approach, such as NATO, offers the best option.

NATO has been an extremely successful military alliance for over 60 years. Further, it is an effective alliance today as it faces adversaries on multiple fronts. We should focus our energy on finding ways to strengthen the NATO alliance in order to better face the potential threats of tomorrow.

Lt. Col. John D. Johnson

Army Joint Intelligence Coordination Staff

Washington, D.C.