The history behind NATO's international 'one world' order
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Angela Merkel’s comments following the Group of 7 meeting that Europe must take account of its own destiny reminded me of something Henry Kissinger wrote early in his career, when he authored A World Restored. He wrote that leaders who aggressively pursue peace tend not to find it, whereas those who accept and operate within a legitimate, if not a just, international order tend to maintain it.

It seems Chancellor Merkel is not comfortable with a United States that is selective in its treaty obligations and refuses to abide them as open-ended commitments, to be fulfilled “no matter what.”

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But Merkel comes from the globalist, judicial, internationalist, school of “One World” thought most closely aligned with the Wilsonian and neoconservative worldview. That view has been standard fare, too, in both the major political parties of the United States since about the George H.W. Bush administration. It was not always so.

 

The internationalist, interventionist, right of today’s GOP foreign policy establishment is a creation of the last 30 years. Before that, conservatives and Republicans were, by and large, wary of pursuing foreign adventures and did so only when vital American interests were at stake, or when American lives or property were at risk. Even George H.W. Bush limited the U.S. mission in the Gulf War to protecting Saudi Arabia and expelling Saddam Hussein’s army from Kuwait.

But that realist, non-interventionist, perspective changed for American policymakers with the fall of the Soviet Union. Thereafter, the neoconservatives’ desire to make the United States over as a singular hyperpower, unable to be matched by any challenger, came to be accepted mainstream thinking in both of the major political parties and veritably all of America’s foreign policy establishment.

Sadly, there was no Robert Taft, “Mister Republican,” to “stand athwart history yelling stop,” as Bill Buckley once best described the role of American conservatives. Taft’s brand of conservatism was mostly extinguished by the Bush brand of internationalist “Rockefeller” Republicanism — that of Wall Street and the Eastern Establishment. (Democrats had been internationalists going back to Woodrow Wilson’s 14 Points.)

This very week, Montenegro, the rump state cut from Tito’s former Yugoslavia, and well within Russia’s sphere of influence, is expected to join NATO as a full member. Thus, a country with an army of around 2,000 — about the size of a single U.S. brigade — can call NATO to repulse any foreign attacker.

Even today, American troops are stationed in countries like Estonia and Latvia, NATO countries since 2004, fulfilling U.S. treaty commitments to an over-extended and over-reaching NATO that now extends well into Russia’s “near abroad.”

There was little or no debate in extending NATO membership to either the Baltics or Montenegro (the latter was approved by the U.S. Senate in a vote of 97-2. The wisdom of the expansion wasn’t even mentioned in the 2016 presidential election).

Washington’s professional policy makers and its ordained expert class of foreign policy intellectuals — mostly reading aloud from the echo chambers of the Council on Foreign Relations, Johns Hopkins, Tufts, Columbia, and Harvard — made the decision and a compliant Senate dutifully deferred.

The American parents whose sons and daughters will have to fulfill the commitments made by Beltway policy elites weren’t notified and certainly weren’t asked. NATO's expansion into Russia’s near abroad, territory that Russia considers as sacrosanct to Russia’s defense as the Western Hemisphere nations of the Monroe Doctrine we once considered to be as sacrosanct to ours, was simply a “fait accompli” of the New World Order establishment.  

Which brings us back to Henry Kissinger and the wisdom of A World Restored. No American believes that it is appropriate — or just — that Eastern Europeans and the Baltics or the Balkans are subject to intimidation by Putin’s Russia. But that order, in place since Peter the Great, offers a certain legitimacy, if not justice.

But post-Cold War neoconservatives and Wilsonian idealists upset that order over the last 30 years and exacerbated the old order to bring us into greater conflict with Russia. They have also weakened NATO by making a legal case for war under NATO Article 5, were we ever called upon to fulfill our commitment.

The policy elites who expanded NATO took no account of the need to create the domestic political and public support any leader requires for any war, relying instead for a treaty obligation to drive us into war. It is more likely that conflict in the new NATO countries in the far eastern reaches of Europe would drive us — and much of Western Europe — out of NATO.

The alliance’s Eastern expansion has all but assured Otto von Bismarck’s long-ago claim that if another European War were to arise, it would probably derive from “some damned foolish thing in the Balkans” (or perhaps the Baltics).

As Kissinger warned, the god Nemesis may grant Washington policymakers desire to “maintain the peace” by plunging Eastern Europe into an unintended war in which we and our NATO allies choose not to partake.

J.G. Collins is the managing director of the Stuyvesant Square Consultancy, a business, political, and public relations advisory firm. His writings have appeared in Forbes, Daily Caller, The Hill, and elsewhere.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill.