In The American Conservative, Doug Bandow reminds readers that “NATO was created to promote security, not extend charity.” He writes (abridged):
Both Finland and Sweden are applying to join NATO. The Blob, as the foreign policy establishment has come to be known, is ecstatic. It cannot conceive of saying no to any alliance applicant, no matter how insignificant or irrelevant.
Once upon a time, serious nations defended themselves, rather than begging faraway great powers to do the job for them. And no serious great power would do so unless it believed the other state to be essential for its own security. As Great Britain’s Lord Palmerston remarked, countries had no permanent friends, only permanent interests.
Instead of waving more applicants through NATO’s door, Washington should end expansion. Nothing in the alliance or its founding documents requires the organization to accept applications, let alone grant them. To the contrary, Article 10 provides: “The Parties may, by unanimous agreement, invite any other European State in a position to further the principles of this Treaty and to contribute to the security of the North Atlantic area to accede to this Treaty.” The transatlantic alliance is supposed to take the initiative and act for the benefit of existing members. That is, NATO was created to promote security, not extend charity. Instead of expanding the antiquated U.S. defense dole, the European security system should be reconstructed and placed in European hands.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine should remind Washington policymakers that alliances are serious commitments, which in the past have expanded as much as diminished conflict. Equally important, the U.S. should go to war only when forced to do so, to defend itself. That was not the case with Kiev, which is why America neither forced Ukraine’s inclusion in NATO nor joined in Ukraine’s defense against Russia. If the U.S. wants to remain a superpower and able to care for its own citizens, it must learn to say no.
Doug Bandow, Senior Fellow, Cato Institute
This article appeared in The American Conservative on May 19, 2022.
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