American President Donald Trump has called NATO “obsolete” in an interview with The Times back in January. The US president’s view mirrors that of generations of Americans and Europeans who’ve wondered at the purpose of the military alliance since the fall of the Soviet Union. In Brussels and Berlin though, the bureaucrats and vested interests scurry like frenzied jungle monkeys posturing to save a paper tiger protector.
NATO is a paper tiger, you know? But first let me clarify, for those of you reading who are too young to have heard this terms before. The term “paper tiger” comes from the Chinese phrase zhilaohu (紙老虎), which means – “something that seems threatening but is ineffectual and unable to withstand challenge”. This is the fact of the matter of the North American Treaty Organization (NATO). Since its formation in 1949 this military alliance has only proven one thing, its ineffectiveness as either a peacekeeping force – its utter uselessness for the purpose it was instituted for. NATO nations spend 70% of the money spent on military and defense, and the organization has never won a war or deterred chaos. NATO is mostly a home for useless armchair warriors and a country club of unneeded bureaucrats.
NATO’s first Secretary General, Winston Churchill’s chief military assistant Lord Ismay, stated back in 1949 that the organization’s goal was “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.” Not a lot has changed in nearly seven decades, except the Germans are up and most Europeans are down. Oh, and the fact America may be “out” soon. As for Russia wanting “in”, there is no convincing evidence to show Europe has anything Russia needs except gas money. Moving on, the history of NATO’s military effectiveness is dubious at best, catastrophic in the worst case. Let me illustrate for you.
Civilians hearing of fancy names of missions and exercises today probably think Hollywood has had a play in NATO and CENTCOM’s roles for defense. But “exercises” and tough sounding names have been a part of NATO’s mystique all along. Exercise Mainbrace was the first joint exercise bringing together 200 ships and over 50,000 personnel to practice the defense of Denmark and Norway. Then there was Exercise Grand Slam and Exercise Longstep, and later on when Yugoslavia was undone Operation Deny Flight, and the more recent Operation Unified Protector saw Libya’s regime changed. If NATO has accomplished any military mission, then the Yugoslavia cleanup and Libya bear the closest resemblance to successes. NATO was massively expanded just before the outbreak of the Korean War, but since it is supposed to be a defensive alliance, it has taken no active role in any major conflict in its history. For all intents and purposes, the alliance of militaries has no extensive battlefield experience. To break this down, NATO is the US’s military might with fun and war games galivanting in the countryside of eastern Europe. As contrite as this may sound, I assure you it is the closest thing to the truth you will hear outside the Trump Oval Office.
Most people do not realize that the Soviet Union actually asked to join NATO in 1954 but was turned down. Few readers will be aware that the so-called Warsaw Pact alliance of Soviet states did not even exist until NATO included West Germany in 1955. And I’ll bet no one reading this report knows about NATO resolution MC 48 – a document stating NATO would have to use atomic weapons from the outset of a war with the Soviet Union, whether or not the Soviets chose to use them first. What his means, my friends, is that if there is some “perceived” declaration of war, NATO nations can launch a nuclear first strike against Russia. An incursion of any kind, measures against Ukraine for instance, might be deemed an aggressive act of war. But of course I am using a liberal case scenario here. My point is well made though.
All those trillions of dollars spend on uniforms, tanks, airplanes, ships, artillery, ammunition, gas, and NATO leadership trips around the world have been an utter and complete waste! NATO could not, cannot stop a Russian invasion of Europe proper – not without a massive nuclear response. This is the most certain truth you will have read in the last three years, I assure you.
It was NATO action that began and certified the start of the Cold War. While Soviet intentions and actions before NATO’s expansion were certainly not friendly, there was no indication the Soviets wanted all out war. Honorable intentions by some in the west were manipulated in order to perpetuate conflict in the world. This is my belief. It was also the belief of the former Allied commander in World War II, and later President Dwight D. Eisenhower in the now famous farewell speech in January, 1961. In an unprecedented address, the former president and five-star general warned the nation and the world of the power of the “military industrial complex”. You can see this televised address in full here. President Eisenhower also warned of other dangers we see manifested today, but I suggest you watch his entire speech and then correlate with today’s problems. The point here is, NATO is an arm of the military industrial complex, and no one can prove differently.
NATO has caused conflict, rather than having reduced or resolving it. The fact that a “nuclear solution” was always the only real defense tells us that our leadership has known all along how useless conventional forces have been. We see this manifested in the United States’ unbalance and unfair role in supporting NATO too. But the situation with dependence on America is far worse than the mainstream media or most European leaders would have us think. We were all subtly alerted to the dysfunction of Germany’s military (for instance), when Chancellor Angela Merkel pledged reconnaissance aircraft to take part in the battle on ISIL, and few planes serviceable planes could actually be found for the role. Then when the Bild revealed six of the country’s Tornado jets that did make it to Syria could not fly at night because their cockpit lights are too bright for their pilots’ eyes – well, it became clear the glory days of the mighty German Luftwaffe had long since passed.
I am picking on Germany because of the country’s special situation in the EU. Germany is the most prosperous of EU nations, and she is also the biggest supplier of arms in the region. What does it say for the third largest arms exporter in the world, to have such a pitiful military? Last year Hans-Peter Bartels, the German parliamentary ombudsman charged with overseeing the country’s armed forces filed a report about the German Bundeswehr as “small, demoralized, and struggling to fulfill missions with malfunctioning equipment”. Bartels also found that only 38 of Germany’s 114 high-tech Eurofighter jets are even operational, and that of the 93 Tornado fighter jets the country has, only 29 of them can fly.
So, when German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen called for NATO and the Unites States to take a common approach on Russia, her statement was less about our “common interests, principles and values”, and a plea to rescue her job. These bureaucrats in charge of “smoke and mirrors” posture about defeating ISIL and holding off the giant Russian bear, but in reality they have nothing to contribute except talk. President Trump knows NATO is obsolete from a business perspective – the money could be spend on better nukes and more roads. That is the simple reality here. NATO is obsolete, it was always obsolete – a completely wasted human endeavor if nuclear holocaust was always the defense Europe needed.
Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.