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Europe and the Future of NATO

It's not going to happen in Riga next month, but in five to ten years Europe (by which I mean "Europe" and not only the European Union, i.e., including the European countries as members of NATO) may have digested its 1989-1991 revolutions enough to be able to play a cooperative partnership role within NATO (by which I mean "NATO" and not only the U.S., not excluding in the end some EU capabilities).

This is not to say that they have not recently tried. History may well show that the U.S. Administration's refusal of NATO assistance offered in the wake of 11 September 2001 was a myopic error, inasmuch as it presented an opportunity for re-cohering the alliance after the institutional disorder that emerged throughout the 1990s. NATO is in the process, if it hasn't already finished, of basically giving the St. Petersburg tasks back others such as the EU (when the EU can handle them), and refocusing on the neglected level that is intermediate between battlefield strategy and tactics.

Further military-industrial integration may be anticipated in Europe, since Europe cannot afford three or four varieties of what may essentially be the same system for the same goal. The professionals in Washington now out of favor (the so-called "multilateraliststs") look like the only ones in the Western world with anything resembling an idea for a vision of grand strategy: this would be a NATO-EU cooperation that can police its own borders and basically deal with its own security, a NATO with integrated EU-member participation in policy and implementation that would focus also on North Africa and some parts of the Middle East (and perhaps part of that nebulous construct called "Southwest Asia"), plus a series of "Global Partnership" agreements between NATO and third countries further distant from Europe. (What a "Global Partnership" would consist of is still an evolving idea, including whether it would resemble the "Partnership for Peace" in any manner.)

All this is upbeat news for people who lament the apparent death of the Enlightenment, and who may mistake 9/11 for the sack of Rome. Rome was neither built nor destroyed in a day, and stayed around in some form or another for some time after the Goths left town. One may debate whether those forms were progressive, and the new Charlemagne's appearance anyway would be some decades hence even with the present-day acceleration of history. We still have to get through the 2030-2050 period, which will see an international system-wide struggle between the "Enlightenment bloc" (i.e., Europe plus North and at least parts of Central and South America; Russia is leaning the other way for the moment) and the Asian counterweight. (I do not necessarily mean China, and this is not a "the West vs. the rest" argument!). For background on these conclusions, see Central Asia and the West after September 11 (2004) and The Complex Evolution of International Systems and the Nature of the Current International Transition (1999).

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 6, 2006 12:10 PM.

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