NATO, R.I.P.rnAt the European Union summit in Nicernlast December France initiated plans forrna new Eiuopean military structure.rnWhile the stated purpose of the emergingrn15-member alliance is to complementrnNA TO rather than replace it, there isrngrowing concern in Washington that thernultimate objective of French and Germanrnstrategic planners is to sever therntrans-Atlantic military cord altogether.rnWith most key European countries full}’rncommitted to the project—in which therncompletion of a 60,000-strong Europeanrnrapid-reaction force is but the first step —rnthe future of NATO appears uncertain.rnThat is good news. Combined, therncountries of the European Union haverna greater population and GNP thanrnthe United States, and the E.U. is politicalK,rntechnologically, and financiallvrnequipped to take care of itself. Somern500,000 American servicemen are still inrnWestern Europe for no apparent reason,rnand their return home would save overrnfive billion dollars each year. Cries of anguishrnfrom Washington, where no Europeanrndefense initiative is acceptable unlessrnit is cxplicitiy subordinate to NATO,rncome mainly from Cold War obsessivesrnwho have never been able to explain whyrnwe should strie to preserve a military alliancernthat has outlived its usefulness.rnInstitutions tend to be self-perpetuating,rnand bureaucracies self-serving. NATOrnis no exception, of course, but arndecade after the implosion of the SovietrnUnion, its advocates have not been ablernto come up with a convincing justificahonrnfor its continued existence. It is anrnunnecessary drain on American taxpayers.rnIts costh’ “out-of-area” forays into thernBalkans have been either mistakenrn(Bosnia) or outright criminal (Kosovo),rnunderscoring the alliance’s lack of realrnpmpose. Its mindless eastward expansionrnhas unnecessarily alienated Russia,rnwhile bringing no benefits of any kind —rnpolitical, financial, or strategic —to itsrnoriginal members, America included.rnIt is hard to believe that, less than hvornyears ago, the Beltwa}’ cabal of “NATOrnfore’cr” enthusiasts seemed firmly inrncontrol as the Czech Republic, Hungary,rnand Poland formally joined its ranks at arnThe American Interestrnby Srdja Trifkovicrnceremony in Independence, Missouri.rnTheir sights were set not only on the Balkansrnbut on the three Baltic states, onrnUkraine, and even on the Caspian basin.rnTheir geopolitical objective was to encirclernRussia, to let the Europeans knowrnwho is calling the shots, and to enjoy thatrnheadv buzz, the insatiable hubris ofrn”Benevolent Global Flegemony.”rnBv last spring, there were already clearrnsigns in Europe that further eastwardrnexpansion of NATO would be resisted onrnboth practical and political grounds.rnIn purely technical terms, the three formerrnSoviet Pact armies turned out to bernpoorly equipped and almost impossiblernto integrate into the alliance’s commandand-rncontrol structure. “Interoperability” —rnthe bedrock of NATO military doctrine—rncould not be applied to the new members.rnThe problem was compounded byrnthe growing opposition in those countriesrnto massive spending on .American weaponryrnin the absence of any credible threat.rnAt the same time, some influential Europeansrn—notably French and GermanrnF,.U. officials —proved loath to antagonizernMoscow further. The Russians naturallyrnsaw NATO enlargement as arnthreat, and this impression was confirmedrnby the attack on Serbia. Furtherrnenlargement would be an open challengernthat Vladimir Putin could not affordrneither to ignore or to accept meeklyrnlike his bungling predecessor. Whilernthere are inveterate Russophobes inrnWashington smarting for a showdown,rntheir enthusiasm was not shared bv thosernwho woidd be most at risk if we were tornignite a new cold war.rnThe most significant source of Europeanrndoubts about NATO, and the subsequentrnsearch for an independent defensernstructure, was the bombing ofrnSerbia. During those 78 days in thernspring of 1999, it became obvious that decisionmakingrnwithin NATO had becomernmore centralized than during thernCold War. Wliilc preserving the appearancernof unit)’, the Clinton administrationrncould not prevent the soul-searching thatrnwent on in many European capitals. As arnresult, it is no longer deemed risky for Eurocratsrnto argue that NATO should havernbeen abolished after the fall of the BerlinrnWall, the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact,rnand the collapse of the Soviet Union.rnAmerica should quit dragging its feetrnand take the lead in wrapping up NATOrnand securing the defense of its interestsrnoutside all entangling alliances. Thernpreservation of NATO after the end ofrnthe Cold War and its subsequent enlargementrnover the last decade has had arndestabilizing effect not only on Europernbut on the nature of America’s long-termrnrelationship with Russia and the emergingrnpowers in Asia. George Kennanrnrightiy called it “the most fiiteful error ofrnAmerican policy in the entire post-ColdrnWar era.” ‘Fire resulting quest for new missionsrnhas turned NATO into an aggressiverntool of inter’entionist hegemony and anrnorganization tainted by criminality. Its existencernis devoid of any sh-ategic logic, militaryrnnecessity, or ideological merit.rnAfter the Nice summit we may seernmore than rhetorical grandstanding andrnposturing: If Europe is seriously preparingrna military structure to replace NATO,rnit will have to invest countless additionalrnbillions into defense. It is in America’srnnational interest to have a strong, friendly,rnself-reliant Ekirope, no longer in needrnof American nuclear umbrellas and conventionalrnhardware; whether the wishywashyrnThird Wave socialists who rule thernOld Continent have the political will tornput their money where their mouth is remainsrnto be seen. f-‘rnM O V I N G ?rnSend change of addressrnand the maiHng label fromrnyour latest issue to:rnCHRONICLESrnSubscription Dept.rnP.O. Box 800rnMount Morris, IL 61054rnJANUARY 2001/45rnrnrn