Last week, I suggested that since Turkey seems intent on starting a war with the Russians, NATO might be wise to dump Turkey, or face war with Russia over a part of the world that is not European. This suggestion came out of no special animosity for the Turkish state, but for the fact that I oppose NATO in its current form, and it’s obvious that Turkey is the soft underbelly of NATO that should be exploited accordingly.
Little did I know at the time that Europe was already planning to informally announce that Turkey was pressing its luck with other NATO members.
On Thursday, had I looked, I would have noticed that Benny Avni at the New York Post was suggesting that NATO is headed toward ending with a “whimper.” Avni asks: “[C]an anyone envision America — or anyone else in the alliance — rushing to Turkey’s aid in a military confrontation with Russia?”
Avni is pro-NATO, but he does seem to be observant, since The Daily Mail reported on Saturdaythat Luxembourg Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn had told Der Spiegel “NATO cannot allow itself to be pulled into a military escalation with Russia as a result of the recent tensions between Russia and Turkey.”
Both the DM and the Washington Times report an unnamed German diplomat as saying “We are not going to pay the price for a war started by the Turks.”
In other words, unless the Russians can be tricked into making a move that can be interpreted as an overt threat to Europe, NATO is dead, at least as far as Turkey is concerned.
What Turkey really wants, of course, is to be able to invoke NATO’s Article 5 which states than an attack against any NATO member is an attack against them all.
In fact, Turkey has been trying to invoke Article 5 since 2012 when Turkish diplomats met with European officials in Brussels to try to convince NATO as a whole to start bombing Syria.
They failed to convince Brussels even back then, but now with Russia involved, NATO’s status seems all the more precarious.
As the Washington Times noted, NATO may “be presented with a choice between supporting a member state or a war with Russia. Not supporting Turkey in such a scenario would be the end of the alliance, a day Mr. Putin dreams about. A war with Russia is not an option.”
The non-optional nature of war with Russia was emphasized recently when Zero Hedge reported that, when asked why he hasn’t been dealing more harshly with the Russians, John Kerry reputedly said “What do you want me to do? Go to war with Russia? Is that what you want?”
Of course, Europe and the US wouldn’t be in this position at all had they dissolved NATO — a Cold War institution — after the Cold War ended. But that didn’t happen because NATO was too lucrative for the US and other large NATO states as an instrument for extending their power well beyond their own borders. NATO has been instrumental in numerous military operations, some of them disguised as “humanitarian” missions, but always augmenting the political power of the dominant states in the organization.
It all goes swimmingly when you target a bunch of dirt-poor countries that can’t fight back, but suddenly, NATO doesn’t seem so tough when faced with a possible conflict with a country that has thousands of nuclear warheads, an air force, and a navy.
War can indeed be profitable for certain interest groups under the right conditions. When risks are low, war is a boon to weapons manufacturers, government agencies, and those who profit from government finance and debt. That all works well provided the country waging war isn’t at risk of being bombed within its own borders and thus being impoverished and subject to political upheaval.
NATO’s war in Libya, for example, was a low-risk proposition. War with Russia, on the other hand is something else entirely, and NATO is acting accordingly.
This isn’t to say that there’s anything wrong, necessarily, with an organization founded for the purposes of collective defense. After all, the United States under its first constitution (1777-1787) was primarily a collective defense organization, and it was successful in its war against the most powerful state on earth at the time. Such an organization can be used to help small, relatively laissez-faire states deal with larger, more militant states. Once an organization designed for defense becomes an instrument for aggressive foreign policy, however, it becomes something else entirely, and little more than an institution for increasing the size and scope of state power.