Tell NATO 'No Thanks'
October 15, 2001
Last time Europeans came to our defense, America was more a
dream than a country. Casimir
Pulaski, a Polish soldier found in Paris by Benjamin Franklin, won the title
“Father of the American Cavalry” after saving the Continental Army at
Brandywine. Thaddeus Kosciusko,
another Pole, masterminded the battle of Saratoga and engineered the
installations around West Point. Prussian
Baron von Steuben drilled the fledgling Army into a fighting machine through the
winter at Valley Forge, and the Frenchman, Marquis de Lafayette fought alongside
us in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Virginia.
But these were individuals – not nations.
And like Lafayette, who took U.S. soil for his burial plot back in
France, they were not mercenaries but shareholders in the American endeavor.
Fast forward two centuries and a score.
America has come of age fighting around the world – sometimes beside
allies, sometimes alone. But never have we officially enlisted foreign help to defend
the homefront. Until now.
Late last week, five NATO AWACs – one-third of its global
force – left an air base in Geilenkirchen, Germany to take up surveillance of
the American skies. Similar U.S. aircraft have been sent to Afghanistan.
President Bush welcomed the NATO deployment saying, “In an
unprecedented display of friendship, NATO air surveillance aircraft are on their
way to the United States to help keep our country safe.
This has never happened before, that NATO has come to help defend our
country. But it happened in this
time of need, and for that, we’re grateful.”
Rep. Ron Paul argues the contrary: “National security is the most basic sovereign duty of the
federal government in our constitutional republic,” he said upon being told of
the NATO deployment. “Neither
Congress nor the president can cede that duty to a foreign nation or body.”
Too true. While
we draw coalitions for global fights, defense of our own shores should be the
sole prerogative of our own government – and its first priority. There is
little Leviathan does that actually falls within Constitutional bounds.
But when it comes to “provid[ing] for the common defense,” Congress
must plead dereliction of duty.
Since the dawn of the Clinton era, the Navy has lost
one-third of its ships, and Army modernization funding has dropped 41%.
Only 65% of all combat units in the Air Force are rated war ready, and
since 1995, the Marine Corps’ mission-capable rate has decreased 9.4%.
While we’ve increased missions to far-flung corners by some 300% over
the last decade, overall spending and resources have been slashed by 40%.
Not a portrait of a nation fortified to defend herself.
Comes the counter. Supporters
of the NATO deployment will contend that the U.S. military, though bled by a
million cuts, isn’t stressed by battering a defenseless country the size of
Texas. They tell us NATO’s
gesture is supportive, not essential. A
show of unity rather than necessity. But
if this is the case, is symbolism all a member state can expect from NATO’s
invocation of Article V – “An attack on one is an attack on all”?
Is this the grand future our tax dollars have bought?
If America is unwilling to prioritize her own security, then
we must delegate our defense to international organizations.
But we are no more ready to put our eggs in NATO’s basket than they are
to assume the responsibility. Thus,
the AWAC deployment exposes a dangerous truth.
America does not expect reciprocity or even efficacy from our global
alliances. Yet for the facade of
partnership, we pay disproportionate dues – while our soldiers apply for food
When last a foreign defender came to our aid, Lafayette said of the American cause, “my heart was enrolled in it.” But NATO cannot pledge that allegiance. No international organization can – and for that very reason America must fast awake from the fatal delusion that we can indefinitely defend a host of other nations to the detriment of our own.
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