NATO Is as Vital Today as It Was in 1949
Since its founding on April 4th, 1949, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has worked to secure the peace of Europe. Imagine being in that tumultuous year: two world wars had torn the continent to pieces since the turn of the century. Further, the twin threats of communism and the Soviet Union’s growth loomed: Europe’s very future was at stake. The viability of the individual countries themselves was on the line when the organization was created that would bring the nations of Europe, Canada, and the United States, together. Since the North Atlantic Treaty Organization has been a vital institution of global stability and the Pax Americana Institute salutes the venerable organization.
The United States was integral to NATO’s creation, and today remains the group’s largest military contributor and supporter. Today, NATO remains fundamental to the defense and preservation of Europe. Though the names have changed, the looming threats of terrorism, Russia, and China continue to press on the European way of life.
The threat of Russia is as true today as the Soviet Union was at NATO’s inception. Now, under Vladimir Putin’s guidance, Russia is continuing its attempts at expansionism and global dominance.
Evidence abounds, but most recently is Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014. This thrust Russia’s aggression into the public sphere, and showed many that Putin’s Russia has the same intentions that the Soviet Union did. Mercenaries — paid for and supported by Russia — continue to disrupt the region, in addition to agents of the KGB and SVR, Russia’s domestic and foreign intelligence services.
In 2018, Russia deployed specialized arctic troops to its Norwegian border in response to a NATO training exercise. The exercise, Operation Trident Juncture, took place in Norway. Russia claimed that that the exercise was a deliberate attempt to show force against Moscow. Russia’s deployment of specialized forces in response to a training exercise was an unnecessarily militaristic response, but representative of its aggressive posturing.
The U.S. continues its support of NATO partners through training, deployment rotations and joint exercises. The United States Army’s 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team has been stationed in Germany and Italy. The 173rd has been rotating through training mission in Ukraine as well, and will soon be accompanied by the 101st Airborne Division. Though ostensibly much of what these soldiers are doing is showing the lessons learned from conflicts in the Middle East, leaders have noted that exercises have focused on defeating large vehicles, tanks and helicopters.
Relationships built between NATO partners is vital to ensuring that any conflict could be fought with continuity among nations. Poland remains on high alert as well, hosting American troops and even requesting a permanent military base be placed within their borders.
NATO could also be essential in combating Chinese imperialism embodied in President Xi Jinping’s expansionist policies. First, NATO sets an example of the sheer power a determined coalition of allied partners can bring. While China aims to expand its economic and territorial control in Asia — and can largely do so in the region without peer competition — nations like Taiwan, Japan and South Korea remain at obvious risk. Experts on Asia have concluded that similar institutions could be founded by learning NATO’s lessons: communal support and protection against invasive powers.
Second, NATO countries could be pivotal in subverting one of the biggest modern threats China poses: data security. 5G networks are spreading across the world and Chinese state-owned company Huawei is leading the charge on the creation and sale of 5G network equipment. Security experts fear that Huawei has the ability to sell the information it collects from its users back to the PRC — leaving NATO at risk of spyware, malware and software theft.
Wisconsin’s own Congressman Mike Gallagher commented at 2019 CPAC on the spread of China via these 5G networks. NATO leaders can continue to push for western companies to develop and build alternatives to the Chinese-created platforms. These NATO-endorsed and -supported alternatives would allow NATO member nations to pursue faster networks without fear of Chinese hacking or theft.
Despite all its obvious good, NATO’s existence has not come without criticism. The largest of these critiques has originated in the current presidential administration, arguing that not every member nation contributes the proper amount to the common defense. Additionally, many neo-isolationists in the U.S. argue that American participation in NATO is not necessary for the protection of the country. Despite these detractors, it is in the best interest of the United States to maintain a leading role in NATO, for a multitude of reasons.
Russia and China are both ever-encroaching threats and must be opposed; supporting NATO allows the US to focus on other international endeavors; NATO prevents hostile actors from claiming territory; joint operations with NATO partners helps build continuity and fighting efficiency within member states. And if Article 5 were ever invoked (in which one member state is attacked, and the others are required to respond), the ability to quickly and concisely work with joint military forces is a strategic asset not available to NATO’s adversaries.
Playing a leading role in NATO helps the United States in multiple ways. China and Russia, as previously stated, remain a threat to the United States in particular. Countering those nations through multilateral action is far better received by the American people and the citizens of other nations than unilateral action would be. It is in the national security of the United States that NATO serves as the united front for a Democratic west.
Additionally, with the United States at the helm, NATO can be revitalized to address the challenges of today and show the member states that investment in the organization is vital to the longevity of each country. The possibility of adding Ukraine and other Eastern European countries also helps to reaffirm the necessity of the organization in today’s world.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a proud, storied organization that the United States is proud to have supported and been a part of. On its 70th anniversary, the Pax America Institute celebrates and honors the institution that has kept countless Europeans and Americans safe and affluent. It is the Pax Americana Institute’s position that the US must unabashedly continue its support for NATO, both for ideological and real-world reasons. Congratulations to 70 years, NATO, here’s to many, many more!