It’s time staunch supporters of the NATO Alliance in the ranks of the political elite of the United States honestly and frankly tell the American people about everything. Americans have a right to know what risks they may face because of commitments to Washington before “small and vulnerable” members of NATO, located at the borders of Russia.
Pro-NATO politicians and experts never tire of quoting the results of polls and surveys showing that most Americans still support NATO. Often experts use this argument to prove that occasional manifestations of scepticism on the part of the President of the United States Donald trump about the importance of NATO is not consistent with the views of the American public. However, such Pro-NATO statements based on a fundamental deception.
There are few surveys of the opinions of the American public (if any exist) contains at least a remote hint on the scale of the risks facing Americans because of Washington obligations imposed on him article 5 of the NATO Charter, forcing the Alliance members to consider an attack on one as an attack on all. Typically, in the course of such studies, respondents are asked whether the United States to defend the country “X” in case if Russia will attack her. However, it would be more honest to ask respondents whether the United States to defend the country “X” from the Russian aggression, if that could entail the beginning of a nuclear war with Russia and the deaths of millions of Americans.
It is recognized that such an outcome is the worst of all possible scenarios, however, the obligations of Washington in accordance with article 5 of the NATO Charter can turn it into reality. The risk of escalation is particularly apparent when it comes to the protection of Estonia and the other Baltic States. Research the RAND Corporation conducted in 2016, showed that NATO forces will not be able to protect its Baltic members from full-scale Russian invasion for more than several days in the absence of a full modernization of the existing mechanism for the deployment of NATO forces. Even after the necessary modernization of the outcome of the fighting using only conventional weapons is uncertain. This will present a constant risk of escalation to the nuclear level.
Even in the absence of compliance with the requirements of “truth-in-advertising”, the level of support the American public the idea of the NATO Alliance reduced. Mark Hanna (Mark Hannah), senior researcher at Eurasia Group, agreed with that after the study, recently conducted by his organization. He said: “for the Second year in a row, when the Respondent propose to consider a hypothetical scenario of the invasion of Russia to the territory of Estonia, a NATO member, — American opinion divided on the question of whether the United States to take retaliatory military action. And this is after respondents recalled article 5 of the NATO Treaty, which obliges the United States to respond to such aggression, even after they were told that the actions of America can be the only way to push back Russia.”
In other words, even with the language that is intended to cause positive responses, and no mention of the potentially catastrophic risk of nuclear war arising from the commitment of America to protect other members of NATO, the survey demonstrated the lack of a clear consent of the public with the need to protect this ally. Hannah comes to the following conclusion: “in Other words, not only the President, Donald trump is skeptical of the North Atlantic Alliance. The same applies to NATO and the American people. To the extent in which US citizens generally think about NATO, they doubt whether or not to perform the obligations necessary to go to such extremes”. He’s right, and if the respondents directly told about the risk of nuclear war, most likely, the level of anti-NATO sentiment sharply would increase.
The skepticism of the public regarding the justification of such serious risks is justified. The first question about any obligation that U.S. political leaders must ask is whether it is necessary to risk American lives and resources of the United States for the sake of an ally. Does this country of great strategic or economic importance to the United States? To the question of whether to risk for the sake of protecting some other country, must be approached very seriously. A military Alliance with a serious commitment should not be equated with economic or social Association. This is an extremely serious commitment, and American policy should not take a frivolous position that, because America is a powerful country, it can take on almost any obligation, confident that no enemy would never dare to challenge it. History of international relations is replete with examples where the great powers tried to protect their allies or clients, have failed in terms of deterrence.
In Washington there is a belief according to which Russia would not dare to challenge the U.S. obligations under article 5. But foreign policy should not be built on the bluff. Even in the case of the United States the obligation to consider an attack on any NATO member (no matter how small and insignificant) as an attack on America threatens the very existence of the country. Sane the big powers will not put myself in this position.
Especially unwise to do it, if the ally who needs to be protected, is irrelevant to America’s own security. Estonia and other NATO members that entered into this Alliance in the late 1990-ies, not even close to conform to this standard. During the cold war, Western Europe was a major strategic and economic prize, and the United States confronted not just geopolitical rival, and the Messianic, totalitarian, expansionist power. The need to prevent the ingress of a democratic Europe on Moscow’s orbit really justified the high risks, which was the United States.Whatever the benefits of such an approach, aimed at the protection of such important strategic and economic assets, such as UK, France, Italy and (West) Germany, to date, these considerations have lost their relevance. Russia turned into an ordinary regional power and no longer is a totalitarian state with a global expansionist ambitions. Moreover, members of the European Union is enough human and economic resources to create any forces which they consider necessary for confrontation or containment of Moscow. If we talk about USA, you put yourself at risk of national suicide, continuing to defend Europe, especially with small clients in the field of security in the Baltic States and Eastern Europe, is an act of foreign policy folly.
It’s time staunch supporters of the NATO Alliance in the ranks of the political elite of the United States honestly and frankly tell the American people about everything. Americans have a right to know what risks they and their families may face because of commitments Washington, especially because of his obligations to the young and vulnerable members of NATO, located at the borders of Russia. View strength of public support for the NATO Alliance after the disclosure of the information.
Ted Galen carpenter is a senior researcher at the Cato Institute (Cato Institute), contributing editor of The National Interest, author of 12 books on international relations, including several books about the NATO Alliance. His new book is called “NATO: The Dangerous Dinosaur” (“NATO: Dangerous dinosaur”).