Is NATO still necessary?

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uk 75

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Western Europe despite all the setbacks of the EU in recent years and the rise of China still contains several of the world's leading economies.
Its only neighbour with serious military power is Russia. There are many other military and terrorism dangers from N Africa to the Balkans but Russia is the most powerful threat.
Seen from a post Brexit UK and the US the time ought to have come for the Europeans to shoulder the burden of confronting Putin"s activities on their Eastern frontiers.
Britain's frontline is no longer on the Rhine but in the seas around our coast and in the wider world where so much of our daily needs come from.
There will be much moaning about the damage done to NATO by Trump and now Biden. But for the US and UK does it matter.
Putin can barely control his own country and his armed forces remain pretty hollow despite some new investment.
If ever there was a time for still prosperous French and German taxpayers to shoulder the burden it is now.
 
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Opportunistic Minnow

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You can't answer this question without a political element.

My suggestion (aspiration?) is essentially a split between a Four Eyes alliance (given NZ's general reluctance) and the EU. Perhaps NATO could be maintained as a loose framework between the two blocks as their objectives wouldn't be entirely incompatible. It would however, allow both groups to pursue their obviously divergent paths with some gusto.

Do the Four Eyes, for example, need MBTs without their commitment to a European land war, given their geography? Could they instead pursue more strategic aviation and maritime capabilities instead? Could the EU concentrate on securing their eastern borders and allow any expeditionary capability to lapse (minus France's departmental defence of course)?

Questions I don't have answers to.
 

kaiserd

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There is an increasingly well armed and aggressive regime in Russia that has invaded and annexed neighbours and which undertakes increasingly aggressive interference in Western elections and referendums.

And it is being proposed with a straight face that there is now LESS need for NATO?
 
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Foo Fighter

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IMHO, now more than ever, NATO is vital. Someone has to curb the real threat to europe in a land war which is the continued expansion of the eu.

Consider from the Russian side of this, they are faced with retreating borders from the west and Belarus is in the process of falling too. This would mean the possibility of a combined eu military force right on their western border. I will not go into the politics of why this is apparent rather than suggested but frankly the Germans and the French MUST honour their NATO commitment at last rather than relying on others for their defence or creating an eu standing military that basically will be run by France and Germany.

I wonder if I could get away with setting up my own nation and opting out of the madness...........
 

Opportunistic Minnow

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I'm confused. Wanting to disentangle from the defence of mainland Europe and leave such affairs to the peoples there-in makes one an imperialist, pining for the glory days of empire and yet in the very next sentence we the accused must, vitally, involve ourselves in someone else's war, one of eastern and perhap central Europe, of which we are not a part.

One cannot cry no longer, imperiously, meddle in the affairs of others on the one hand and cry we must meddle in the affairs of others with the other!

The threat of Russia on the UK is very different to that upon Europe. It is high time that was acknowledged. We are afforded a natural defence by geography and should be free to tailor our armed forces accordingly. Defence of the UK need not necessarily cater for a land war in Europe. An aero-maritime pivot is long overdue IMO. What others do or do not do is for them.

So in answer to the question is NATO still necessary, my answer, again, is not in it's current form. Perhaps it can be broken into smaller like-situated mutual-defensive blocks? A true Atlantic-coast one, a central/eastern Europe one, perhaps a Mediterranean one etc.? That way, everyone can play to their strengths rather than spreading themselves thinly being jack of all trades, attempting to cover every eventuality. I would not rule out cooperation betwixt the blocks if the occasion called.
 
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uk 75

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Why should the UK taxpayer who does not maintain the capacity to build land force equipment contribute to the force provided by the Czech Republic, France,Germany, Italy and Poland who do?
This seems to me a perfectly reasonable question?
Russian naval and air forces threaten UK security on a daily basis. Basic geography means that their land forces do not.
The main asset the UK has in dealing with threats from Russia is its close relationship with the USA.
I appreciate small non aligned European countries must look to France and Germany for their security and prosperity. The UK is in a very different place.
 

Fluff

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I'm not convinced we can rely on the Channel quite as much as we have in the past.

Yes its a long way from the Eastern Polish border to Calais, but if the UK isnt going to contribute any ground forces, then the ruskis could roll up to Calais, followed by a pounding of our defences and they are in.

Assisting the front line countries aims to deter just such an attack, not allow it then help a bit.

I would ask what exactly the Russians need in central Europe? What fantastic resource do we have?

Certainly we can major in Sea and Air power, but I'd like us to have some form of Army, with tanks, and the skills to use them.
 

Hood

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NATO should have died in 1992 but it didn't for several reasons:
Political inertia - why do anything when you don't have to? Plus the 'winning' side feel no impetus to enact change. It was less messy than reverting to smaller regional defensive blocs and tying defence into the EEC as it morphed into the EU could have killed it.

Uncertainty - no sooner had the Iron Curtain fallen down then Yugoslavia went up in flames, where else would be next in Eastern Europe? This was years before the EEC became the EU and expansion was on the cards. Plus there was the Gulf Wars, although that became an international operation and not purely NATO.

US Power - the USA was never going to give up its bases in Europe and the lure of American arms and support was alluring to all the NATO members (not to mention the nuclear umbrella).

Cheaper - peace dividend meant NATO members could spend a lot less and having NATO around meant getting away with spending less.

Club - NATO was a handy military club for exchange postings and training, much neater than replacing it with multi-lateral agreements etc.







It's expanded more since 1992 than at any point and more or less encompasses the greater number of nations in Europe but has partners in North Africa, Australia, Colombia, Japan, even Mongolia.

NATO is not purely a North Atlantic Treaty anymore, its a global power bloc. NATO is shorthand for Western military power. Maybe its time to change the name?

Does it have any relevance at all in the Far Eastern situation? Well a lot of its members have interests there but not all of its members are well placed to assist there or would be willing to.
Could NATO act within a European context without EU political agreement given most of its members are members of both but its leading powers are not?

And let's stop pretending that NATO has ever been unified in command and control, defence spending priorities or equipment standardisation. They could barely agree on common kit or actions forty years ago when it mattered, let alone today. Continental Europe didn't exactly have the Atlantic as their priority defence area despite any reinforcements having to cross the Atlantic under attack from Soviet subs and long-range aviation. The USN, RCN and RN would have borne the brunt of that fighting. And that was only right, West Germany had more need for a mechanised army than a navy. Today the same is true of Poland or Romania.
Each nation has its own priorities, NATO has to fit what its given into the jigsaw, it has no power to cut the pieces itself.
 
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uk 75

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I am simply putting forward legitinate questions and themes to tease out sensible answers and opinions as well as information.
 

muttly

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Countries feel safer, mainly smaller ones, if grouped together with more
powerful ones. If nothing more than to keep other countries from swallowing
them.
 

Jimmo952

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Yes. It is still needed. There is really no current alternative for keeping Russian expansionist tendencies in check.

Now, if some sort of joint EU military force actually had meat on the bones it might be different but today, NATO is really the only thing credible.
 

shin_getter

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This sort of question really can not be answered unless you start with WHO you are and what are your goals. It is only logical that an Russian nationalist would have a different answer than, say, a Indonesian off the street.

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Just as a prior however, I am suspicious of organizations whose goals are not immediately beneficial or necessary. The natural evolution of all human organization is self preservation and growth as it suits the interests of its leaders. In the context of NATO, antagonization and arms race with Russia actually fits the personal interest of its leaders. If you look at poorly constructed media narratives regarding Russia in some circles you can suspect that something like this is already happening. This may be okay if one's goals align with this, but not for me.

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Looking at the likes of Nord Stream, many European states do not consider Russia as a serious threat to be isolated.

In the practical sense there isn't much States could gain in military conflict, as high value industries can not be captured intact in the modern era, while even weak insurgencies can deny meaningful tax collection. Military action would at best generate some buffer zone which wouldn't be needed without military tension.
 

Archibald

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I'm not convinced we can rely on the Channel quite as much as we have in the past.

Yes its a long way from the Eastern Polish border to Calais, but if the UK isnt going to contribute any ground forces, then the ruskis could roll up to Calais, followed by a pounding of our defences and they are in.

Here let me allow to quote the (often much maligned) De Gaulle, related to the Force de frappe FDF
(a quote slightly modified by yours truly)

We have the means to kill 80 million Russians. I truly believe that one does not light-heartedly attack people who are able to kill 80 million Russians, even if one can kill 800 million French - that is if there were 800 million French.

Shortest, best way of summarizing the why of the FDF - and still pertinent nowadays as it was in, say, 1960, 1980 or 2000.

An even shortest way of summarizing it would be Inspector "Dirty" Harry memorable quote - to a man threatening to kill his hostage.

"Go ahead, make my day !"
 

Hobbes

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Western Europe despite all the setbacks of the EU in recent years and the rise of China still contains several of the world's leading economies.
Its only neighbour with serious military power is Russia. There are many other military and terrorism dangers from N Africa to the Balkans but Russia is the most powerful threat.
Seen from a post Brexit UK and the US the time ought to have come for the Europeans to shoulder the burden of confronting Putin"s activities on their Eastern frontiers.
Britain's frontline is no longer on the Rhine but in the seas around our coast and in the wider world where so much of our daily needs come from.
There will be much moaning about the damage done to NATO by Trump and now Biden. But for the US and UK does it matter.
Putin can barely control his own country and his armed forces remain pretty hollow despite some new investment.
If ever there was a time for still prosperous French and German taxpayers to shoulder the burden it is now.

I get the impression your question isn't 'is NATO still necessary' but 'does the UK still need to be a part of NATO'?
 

Opportunistic Minnow

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Western Europe despite all the setbacks of the EU in recent years and the rise of China still contains several of the world's leading economies.
Its only neighbour with serious military power is Russia. There are many other military and terrorism dangers from N Africa to the Balkans but Russia is the most powerful threat.
Seen from a post Brexit UK and the US the time ought to have come for the Europeans to shoulder the burden of confronting Putin"s activities on their Eastern frontiers.
Britain's frontline is no longer on the Rhine but in the seas around our coast and in the wider world where so much of our daily needs come from.
There will be much moaning about the damage done to NATO by Trump and now Biden. But for the US and UK does it matter.
Putin can barely control his own country and his armed forces remain pretty hollow despite some new investment.
If ever there was a time for still prosperous French and German taxpayers to shoulder the burden it is now.

I get the impression your question isn't 'is NATO still necessary' but 'does the UK still need to be a part of NATO'?

What's wrong with that? It's a legitimate question.

Looking at the likes of Nord Stream, many European states do not consider Russia as a serious threat to be isolated.

This, I feel, cuts to the heart of my concern. NATO is schizophrenic. Divergent national objectives have rendered it ineffectual. We mustn't do anything that will turn the taps off. Well alrighty then.

Frankly 2018's display of "solidarity" was so underwhelming to me it would be funny if it wasn't deadly serious. Circling the wagons, it wasn't.

@shin_getter hits the nail firmly on the head. The answer will vary massively depending on who you are. It will be of greater value to some than to others.

Me? I have doubts in NATO's ability to function. I question it's utility for my country. NATO is not immutable or indispensable, nor is it a mantra or religion, though with some of the responses, you'd be surprised! Is change so scary or do we need to be locked into a 90s/00s state forever?

Now I'll stand-by and wait for @kaiserd to imply I'm stupid or racist again. That's always a blast.
 

Hood

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Russia has been straining at the leash to invade Western Europe every day since 9 November 1917...

Yet every time they have invaded westward or southward (Ukraine 1917-21, Finland 1918, Estonia 1918-20, Lithuania 1918-20, Georgia 1918-20, Poland 1919-21, Azerbaijan 1920, Georgia 1921, Finland 1939-44, Poland 1939, Estonia 1940, Latvia 1940, Lithuania 1940, Romania 1940, Poland 1944, Georgia 1991-93, Transnistria 1992, Chechenia 1994-2009, Georgia 2008, Ukraine 2014-present) it has always been against territories that were once within the Imperial Tsarist Russian Empire and/or parts of the USSR before the break-up.
Hitler gifted two bouts of expansionism - giving Stalin a freehand in the Baltic in 1939 and Bessarabia and later as blowback from the collapse of Barbarossa.
If you ignore the ramblings of Comintern about world communism, which got nowhere in Europe, there seems little direct evidence the average Russian general fantasised about padding at Calais anymore than your average NATO general dreamed of conquering Western Russia.

Russia has always feared the Eurasian landmass in modern times, Russia is most vulnerable at any point between the Baltic and Black Seas with favourable flat terrain and lots of room to manoeuvre and few natural obstacles that cannot be overcome. In ancient times the Eastern Huns, Goths and Vandals et al swept westward, the Vikings swept south via the river networks, the Mongols swept west, the Muslims swept up from the southwest, Napoleon was the first to actually head into the sunrise, the Kaisers and Hitler went that way too.

So in 1945 Russia used its preeminent power, Germany had destroyed the central European states and left the USSR as a superpower, allied with Communist ideology and Stalinist perfection of authoritarianism it took the step it could have done before - or since - dictating its own buffers by creating the satellites to soak up any future offensive from the West and secure the entire entrance to Russia. As the border conflicts with China in the 1960s showed, the USSR had other threats to face too where it had no luxury of buffers but only open space.
In 1945 the USSR was convinced the Capitalists wanted to destroy it, the West were convinced the Soviets who had taken over its buffer would stop at nothing.
Neither side actually wanted to invade anywhere but instead feared the other wanted to and they sat there glaring at each other and have done so ever since. Had nuclear weapons not have existed maybe tensions might have snapped or maybe a new accommodation would have been found, the borders and territories of central and eastern Europe have been flexible for centuries, even today nothing is entirely fixed.

Does Russia want to invade Europe? Annex Poland? Take the industrial heartlands of the Ruhr? The vineyards of Italy? No. It does want geopolitical security, the buffer zone is gone, not just gone but vanished. NATO is now right on the borders of Russia, in places like Estonia that had long been parts of the Russian Empire. There is no tripwire now. So its bellicose and tries to fight back some of that territory - it wants the Crimea back to dominate the Black Sea, does it want the Baltic Republics back? Who knows, possibly but they are not strategically key as long as it holds Kaliningrad (which of course was once German territory, indeed the Teutonic states along the Baltic from Prussia to Estonia pre-date the mightiest phase of Tsarist Russia).

There is an element of nostalgic grandeur too. Some Brits might wistfully think back to the Empire, some Russians wistfully think about the world's largest nation, a true monolithic Empire that stretched across the Eurasian landmass and all the peoples within it and the power it had. The USSR only died not long ago, only 30 years ago, a mere blink in the eye of geopolitics.
Yet Russia never had supreme power despite its size, could never turn its geographic bulk and ethnically diverse population into a superpower. The Communists did that by force and terror and what they couldn't accomplish the Nazis finished for them, creating a military giant forged in war that Moscow could never wean itself off ever since - the Red Stars, the Guards Divisions, the parades massed ranks of veterans. The Russian Military still evokes the grandeur of May 1945 - those T-14 Armatas in serried ranks are the descendants of massed T-34s rumbling past a smirking Uncle Joe.
Moscow still dreams of the days its command echoed across Russia and many of its leadership remember their youth when they held greater power in their hands. In truth the centre never really commanded the outlaying areas and control of places like Georgia and Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan were tenuous. It still counts itself as a Great Power - but nobody else does. NATO treats it like a bogeyman, Russia has always been the bogeyman since the 1800s and likewise the Western nations are an anathema to it. A nation that has never had a democratic tradition and which only an obsessively strong ruler can hold together is unlikely to sway from that path. It doesn't want to join the West, its still paranoid and likewise the West is paranoid of any nation it can't buy off.

So its easy to write off the Russian government and military as red-tinted nostalgists with maniacal tendencies. But let's face it, if Cold War had ended in 1991 and the Balkan states, Italy, Denmark and Norway had joined the Warsaw Pact in the intervening decades I think the view from Washington and London would be a lot like Russia's today.
When does a defensive pact become offensive?

The questions I asked in my earlier post are still pertinent, NATO has far greater global influence than it ever has and many of its members are nowhere near the Atlantic. Some like being in the anti-Russian club as those who felt Russian domination for the last 200-80 years naturally would do. Others have other bogeymen to face elsewhere in the world.
Whose interests does NATO represent? Washington's? London's? Brussels' (EU)? Kiev's? Warsaw's? Tokyo's?
NATO is still very much subservient to national interests in foreign and defence policy, an insurance policy to dip into when you need it - much like the UN.

Do we still need it? Well if it didn't exist I think its highly likely that the Western members of the G7 or the EU would create something very similar to it with a very similar membership. So yes, it still serves a purpose.
 

Opportunistic Minnow

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What's wrong with that? It's a legitimate question.
There's nothing wrong with either question. It is causing confusion, though: some people answer one question, others answer the other question and people are talking at cross purposes.
Probably due to the preponderance of UK contributors. ;) I'd certainly like to here from some Mediterranean area/eastern European posters to hear their views.
 

Fluff

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What's wrong with that? It's a legitimate question.
There's nothing wrong with either question. It is causing confusion, though: some people answer one question, others answer the other question and people are talking at cross purposes.
Probably due to the preponderance of UK contributors. ;) I'd certainly like to here from some Mediterranean area/eastern European posters to hear their views.
They are all busy digging anti tank trenches....
 

UpForce

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I am simply putting forward legitinate questions and themes to tease out sensible answers and opinions as well as information.

My concise (tl;dr) answer to your doubts about the necessity of NATO is "don't let the perfect be the enemy of the adequate".

I get "down in the weeds" below, though this will be ad hoc and reactive to the above discussion, not meant to be some kind of an exhaustive presentation on my general perception or thinking at all.

---

The organization itself has had its detractors throughout history but I'd say thank goodness this "once or twice obsolete" structure was kept in place beyond the fall of the Soviet Union. You have a particular perspective on the whole; fine, so do we all. It's not like the common defense doctrine means everyone's got to excel in every kind of capability, quite the opposite in fact. We all have our strengths, the sum of which (properly rehearsed, one cannot stand these capabilities up on a whim, not without a great deal of "blood, sweat and tears" at least) is greater than its constituent parts.

Just ask nonaligned countries whether they find their security somehow cheaper or if they somehow have greater sovereignty or latitude of actions. A quick answer to that largely rhetorical question: They tend to have (even universal) conscription, have to expend quite vast (often a greater fraction of GDP than NATO nations) resources on military technology nonetheless, have to contend with unreliable supply networks exactly during times of crises and/or just acquiesce to different degrees of constraints, that is if they're not vassal, crisis or captive states outright.

I'm somewhat curious as to why "brexit" would have any import on the functions of NATO anyway; rather it seems this would be one structure to keep in place as the EU never had or likely will have a serious hard military dimension. It rather functions as an entity bridging a diverse continent's civilian and democratic infrastructures together insofar it is practical (in some circles it was evidently thought the whole of EU would promptly fracture with the UK departing which was a curious misreading of the situation). There's of course a diversity of other security agreements the UK is engaged in but their stabilizing/utility effect is largely complementary; for example this nascent "AUKUS" is largely Asia/Pacific Ocean specific, JEF (Joint Expeditionary Force) provides structure for co-operation in the diverse Nordic/Baltic region, etc. None of these efforts speak to defense and security professionals thinking that fewer, or more opportunistic, arrangements would be in order, quite the opposite.

Also, geography didn't magically change due to "brexit" either, Calais didn't just suddenly up and move a hundred miles further out, past empires didn't reanimate themselves, vast tracts of lawless "buccaneering" wilds didn't open up for exploitation. The question(/-s) you put seem to be somewhat myopic as well; curious as this is the North ATLANTIC Treaty Organization. What of Canada? The GIUK (Greenland, Iceland, UK) "gap"? The Arctic? No utility there? Seeing Russian Bears, Tu-160s and naval assets (particularly "research ships", submarines and contraptions such as "Status-6") at activity levels sometimes surpassing the Cold War, I would have at least some reservations in thinking that geography dictates the UK will always be "behind" a European landmass with regard to any threat that reaches the shores, a continent vicariously bleeding for Queen and country and none other scenario will ever come to pass, NATO or not.

The framing of NATO as a solely adversarial organization also somewhat misses the point. If we only think about defense and co-operation in terms of something adversaries impose on us then we're also letting them define us; (Putin's) Russia looms large here and with "brexit" it perhaps predictably but depressingly has become harder to disambiguate merely competitive and outright malicious relationships. Some NATO members are also EU countries, some are not. The UK having had its relationship changed with regard to one but not the other is not the sea-change it might seem only from within the isles. Russia has become what it is due to no pressure, threat or slight from NATO or EU; there was a lot of wishful thinking against mounting evidence and what ostensibly should have been a peace dividend became a debt.

Questioning NATO's very existence instead of its purpose is a continued escapism of these realities and the true work of rebuilding and deterrence that lies before us.
 
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Justo Miranda

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If Israel can participate in the Eurovision Song Contest... why can't something as obsolete as NATO continue to exist?
In my opinion, its sole purpose at present is to prevent the creation of a European army with a strong French presence.
 

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Opportunistic Minnow

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^ Gah! Thanks. I thought I had months before someone would inevitably bring that up again!

I would have at least some reservations in thinking that geography dictates the UK will always be "behind" a European landmass with regard to any threat that reaches the shores, a continent vicariously bleeding for Queen and country and none other scenario will ever come to pass, NATO or not.

I don't know if that was directed at me but assuming it is......I am perfectly aware of where the UK is situated, I'm sitting in it! At no point have I asked for a continent to die protecting the UK or for Britain to hide behind anybody. That is an alarming miss-interpretation.

I clearly haven't worded my comments very well. Let me try again.

NATO doesn't work for me as it is. What I am advocating is breaking NATO into smaller, nimbler Theatre Commands that would allow nations to specialize their own defences to local conditions and shorten reaction times and lines of communication. Like-situated nations are far more likely to be on the same page militarily than nations thousands of miles apart. Crudely put, there is no point in transferring Bulgarian troops to reinforce Norway if Danish troops are closer, available and exercise with the Norwegians on a regular basis. I advocated a looser over-arching structure to permit cooperation between theatres if it proved necessary. If, say, Poland is getting hammered and Spain is essentially un-engaged, troops can be transferred between commands, as needed. You could even call this over-arching structure NATO if it helps you sleep at night!

Specifically regarding the UK (because go with what you know), I am advocating specializing in air defence and maritime capabilities because threats to the UK can only come from sea or air! Obviously some non-trivial expeditionary land warfare capability would be retained for global interventions as necessary but this force wouldn't be expected to hold the Fulda Gap single-handedly (for instance). In a Red Storm Rising-esque scenario (isn't it a little old hat?), while the continent is "bleeding" very much non-vicariously and very unfortunately, the UK would be ensuring Atlantic SLOCs are operational, sanitizing the GIUK Gap and North Cape, North Sea etc. and lets face it, be absorbing a fuckton of Russian air-delivered ordnance that then need not fall on the continent. Absent from the mainland war, yes, but very much in the thick of it., very much bleeding with her allies. Just a little further over and up. Nothing like the bizarre, selfish image of abandonment being painted!

I'm not suggesting doing away with a European mutual-defence structure, just a tear-down and rebuild into a leaner, less bureaucratic, less multi-headed organization. Less cooks, more broth. My intial post suggested breaking up along Four Eyes and EU lines as I thought the EU posters might appreciate throwing off the shackles of the dreaded anglophones but of course it is more complex than that. The breakdown would be dictated by threat and topography. So British AWACS & ASW, German JSTARS & MBTs (not exclusively but you get the idea). France & the USA would more than likely remain generalist and sit across multiple theatres, lynchpins you might say.

Ultimately probably too fantastic but twas only originally mentioned in passing and not really deserving of some of the vehemence! Sorry to go on but I just want to make sure I am being understood!

Questioning NATO's very existence instead of its purpose is a continued escapism of these realities and the true work of rebuilding and deterrence that lies before us.

Now this, I really don't understand. Everything is up for questioning. That is one of the benefits of living in the free world (more or less). The idea that NATO is an all-enduring, sacred cow that I daren't question is frankly the most preposterous thing I've read in an age and I started this post referencing Eurovision!

On a personal level: is suggesting I haven't a grip on reality really necessary?
 
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uk 75

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In the spirit of asking questions rather than answering them. Germany and France both put their national interests first. Germany especially focuses on its own prosperity and business relations with Russia and China. Yet when the UK does the same thing?
 

Orionblamblam

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NATO is not purely a North Atlantic Treaty anymore, its a global power bloc. NATO is shorthand for Western military power. Maybe its time to change the name?

Call it something like "The United Nations as it should have been." The UN is a nice enough idea as a place where all the nations of the world can get together and babble, but if you want an organization with actual power an abilities, you *don't* want every nation involved... you want the sane democratic ones. When you see who gets on the various UN "human rights" groups, you quickly understand that the UN needs to go the frak away. Something like NATO is far, FAR better.
 

Opportunistic Minnow

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I'm not convinced we can rely on the Channel quite as much as we have in the past.
Considering that the Channel is regularly crossed by hundreds at a time in overloaded crappy boats, it's safe to say it's not much of a barrier to invasion anymore.
Yeah, no. Not quite the same thing is it? It isn't the done thing to fire on refugee boats. Those people are more often than not in desperate need of rescue rather than an existential threat. Think things might be handled differently in the latter case. :rolleyes:

Correct me if I am wrong but wasn't it often said that if the Soviets crossed the Rhine, the Force de frappe would get the go order? If a dozen T-90s were seen driving round Elephant & Castle (and I'm being pretty charitable there) I think one or two red lines might have been crossed? Lead-lined teacups again though amiright?

In the spirit of asking questions rather than answering them. Germany and France both put their national interests first. Germany especially focuses on its own prosperity and business relations with Russia and China. Yet when the UK does the same thing?
Seems to be plenty of Brit-bashing to be had throughout the internet and in this very thread in particular. If it helps I guess.....

Spinning things around, I've noted few Russian contributors have chimed in on this thread. They may be the wise ones.

I noted in an earlier post that the whole Red Storm Rising scenario is a bit old fashioned. NATO is being parsed here very much in a Russian tanks roll across the continent environment but I wonder if that's not hopelessly obsolete? "We've got the oil and the hackers dumbass, we don't need to fire up a single tank!". Energy independence and cyber-security must be battlefronts as much as the air, land and sea. Yes, obvious these days but interesting that it hasn't been addressed to nearly the same extent in this thread as ye olde threats.

There's also the question of whether this has all become a self-fulfilling prophecy. By expanding NATO up to Russia's chain-links, how can it not be seen as an act of aggression? I'm not claiming innocence on the part of Russia, nor suggesting any form of appeasement but it seems to me to be that post-Cold War, NATO has become a paradoxical construct. By staving off a thing, we have guaranteed that thing. Since neither side has a first-strike policy (or so we are told), we seem doomed to a perpetual stand-off.

I think I'll vote for Russia in the next Eurovision. Baby steps.....
 

Pioneer

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I can't help appreciate Foo Fighter's comment:
"Consider from the Russian side of this, they are faced with retreating borders from the west and Belarus is in the process of falling too."

And Opportunistic Minnow comment:

"By expanding NATO up to Russia's chain-links, how can it not be seen as an act of aggression? I'm not claiming innocence on the part of Russia, nor suggesting any form of appeasement but it seems to me to be that post-Cold War, NATO has become a paradoxical construct."

I think this fact has been so deliberately overlooked, so manipulated and yet so deliberately orchestrated, I can't but feel that Russia can not and will not ever be forgiven for it's Soviet past.

I also can't help notice the seemingly 1930's-like disunity of Western Europe/NATO, with the revisiting of nationalism, xenophobic and open racism which like a cancer is clearly eating away at NATO countries foundations, which can't help but have a detrimental impact on the uniformity of NATO.
I think it's obvious that NATO completely lost its way with it's adherence to and involvement in 'The War on Terror'.
Then there are countries and hence their militaries which seemingly have no idea who or what they are, let alone what they are supposed to be committed to..........

After witnessing what happened in the United States with Trump and Trumpism, I'm adimit a lot of NATO members have been thinking WTF.

Regards
Pioneer
 
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airman

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NATO should have died in 1992 but it didn't for several reasons:
Political inertia - why do anything when you don't have to? Plus the 'winning' side feel no impetus to enact change. It was less messy than reverting to smaller regional defensive blocs and tying defence into the EEC as it morphed into the EU could have killed it.

Uncertainty - no sooner had the Iron Curtain fallen down then Yugoslavia went up in flames, where else would be next in Eastern Europe? This was years before the EEC became the EU and expansion was on the cards. Plus there was the Gulf Wars, although that became an international operation and not purely NATO.

US Power - the USA was never going to give up its bases in Europe and the lure of American arms and support was alluring to all the NATO members (not to mention the nuclear umbrella).

Cheaper - peace dividend meant NATO members could spend a lot less and having NATO around meant getting away with spending less.

Club - NATO was a handy military club for exchange postings and training, much neater than replacing it with multi-lateral agreements etc.







It's expanded more since 1992 than at any point and more or less encompasses the greater number of nations in Europe but has partners in North Africa, Australia, Colombia, Japan, even Mongolia.

NATO is not purely a North Atlantic Treaty anymore, its a global power bloc. NATO is shorthand for Western military power. Maybe its time to change the name?

Does it have any relevance at all in the Far Eastern situation? Well a lot of its members have interests there but not all of its members are well placed to assist there or would be willing to.
Could NATO act within a European context without EU political agreement given most of its members are members of both but its leading powers are not?

And let's stop pretending that NATO has ever been unified in command and control, defence spending priorities or equipment standardisation. They could barely agree on common kit or actions forty years ago when it mattered, let alone today. Continental Europe didn't exactly have the Atlantic as their priority defence area despite any reinforcements having to cross the Atlantic under attack from Soviet subs and long-range aviation. The USN, RCN and RN would have borne the brunt of that fighting. And that was only right, West Germany had more need for a mechanised army than a navy. Today the same is true of Poland or Romania.
Each nation has its own priorities, NATO has to fit what its given into the jigsaw, it has no power to cut the pieces itself.
Nato is not dead but it's not in good health !
 

zen

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Certainly the depth of the strategic error in treatment of Russia after the Cold War hangs like a vast shadow over everything.
Some of us accepted Putin's posturing after Boris with relief. Better a strong enemy who gives his country pride, than a weak ally who humiliates his country.
The former encourages us to do better, think harder and not let down our guard.
The latter lures us into folly, sloppy thinking and dropping our guard.

But Eastern Europe needed guarantees and NATO was that guarantee. Just look at Ukraine for the validity of other paper documents.

And....Biggest question of all .....where is Germany in all this?
 

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NATO is on its way out, and the part four years haven’t done much to improve the situation. Without going into politics, the US made some “controversial” statements and plans under the Trump Administration, and I am inclined to believe Turkey will be withdrawing from NATO in the coming years. With Russia on the rise, there is still some need for the alliance, but it needs to be restructured to meet the 21st Century and the evolving political climate.
 

uk 75

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I am surprised that no-one seems very enthusiastic about a European Defence Union or Community.
With the Brits no longer around to pour cold water on it, this is surely France and Germany's chance to align defence with the EU.
Despite Trump's replacement by Biden the recent events in Afghanistan and Australia ought to be a wake up call for Europeans.
As I suggested above Europe is more than a match economically and industrially for Putin's Russia.
 

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It makes me wonder if things would be substantially different if NATO invited serious Russia liaison rather than alienating and isolating Russia. It's obvious to me that the West was happy to capitalise on Russia's financial system, which only encouraged the flood of dodgy dealings, collusion and corruption, which someone like Putin capitalised on and caused resentment of the general Russian populous towards the West
Can't help but appreciate that the West's/NATO/America's Eastward expansion to the Russian boarder, it's isolation/Container 2.0 has driven Russia to the Chinese camp, instead of dividing them. Can't but reflect the logic of America embracing PRC in the 70's to alienate and contain the Soviet Union. But then again just as the United States has never been able to get over the bogeyman of "communism", it likewise can't seemto be able to get over the Soviet Union......so this concreted ideology is made to haunt NATO.

Regards
Pioneer
 

UpForce

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...

I don't know if that was directed at me but assuming it is......I am perfectly aware of where the UK is situated, I'm sitting in it! At no point have I asked for a continent to die protecting the UK or for Britain to hide behind anybody. That is an alarming miss-interpretation.

...

No, my post wasn't directed at anyone particularly. I noticed the discussion, agonized for a moment whether even to participate, skimmed through and partly against my better judgment wrote - what to me at the time seemed like a generalized - comment. It was a bit meandering so I'm somewhat impressed and appreciate that you read it as closely as you did even though, in some nebulous fashion, we may disagree on some things.

I'm a bit unclear on what, though, since much of what you suggested in your reply is how NATO feasibly and even likely might function in the more or less speculative (use/show of force) scenarios you laid out. The balkanization of the organization seems superfluous and the efficiencies dubious, especially as Putin's regime and its illiberal ilk and allies seem explicitly intent on fracturing "the west" (if you will) any way they can. Under the circumstances one needs to have damn good reasons and readily employable, unquestionably superior, alternatives to even entertain the possibility of doing anything approaching their bidding.

You don't have to elaborate though as I'm not trying to run through numerous hypothetical scenarios. To put it bluntly, I think NATO and the interests of democracies are under a persistent and sustained attack now. If I have any criticism of NATO and its purpose, it is that the much vaunted 5th article is too blunt, too binary (i.e. war or peace), a tool to adequately deter and defeat threats that effectively weaponize every aspect of interaction and life. But then again this isn't solely a NATO problem either so it'd be disingenuous to lay every challenge at this one organization's feet. The redeeming factor of course being that obviously the core deterrence of NATO remains and is mostly attacked obliquely; exceptions to even this, though, are sadly becoming more numerous.

The references, inevitably present in this discussion also, of Putin's regime being "surrounded" by NATO and/or "driven" to China are ridiculous on their face and are standard fare coming from the Kremlin, Ostankino media center and their more or less astroturfed online/social media affiliates and fellow travelers. Merely glancing at a World map, these notions and the implied victimization are ridiculous on their face. Russia's had a diplomatic presence at NATO for long enough and Putin's regime is plenty realistic to absolutely know that NATO as an organization is not geared, structured or willing in any shape or form as an offensive force driven by some antiquated zero sum totalitarian calculation. Their opportunistic and unhinged actions over the past years, in fact, belie as much.

In the mean time they'll go as far as they can, which is exactly why utmost care by responsible parties must be taken in discussing the utility and future of NATO.

...

NATO doesn't work for me as it is.

My frustration with generalized questions like "is NATO still necessary" is that they play squarely into our increasingly fractured online experiences. It's of course tempting to play an armchair general or an armchair president (and, obviously, I'm giving in to that temptation as well) but this presents very clear challenges and - from a determined malicious adversary - threats to democratic life and institutions. Lived experience, tangible causalities, structures emergent from actually having relevant responsibilities risk getting overrun by merely pondering abstractions (and this of course is relevant to other things as well, but NATO is something of a glaring example with a rich history of information operations directed at it throughout its history).

So if NATO "doesn't work" for someone, much depends on whether that is actually personal or merely thrust into focus otherwise. Repetition is a potent tool; a blunt one at that and of course I'm not saying that things shouldn't be discussed freely and openly, just that currently we risk being oblivious to the context (and outcome) we're being pushed into by seemingly innocuous notions, oftentimes repeated with no ill intent.

"Can NATO do anything?"

"Does NATO risk obsolescence?"

"NATO is an old institution."

"NATO is on autopilot, devoid of leadership."

"NATO has problematic members."

"Not everyone shoulders the responsibilities of NATO equally."

"Would NATO fight X?"

...

NATO is people, actions and experiences. Day to day and hopefully far into the future. It provides assurances and at least some foundations for stability in viable civil societies. Nothing is invulnerable, defense can't be externalized or devoid of risk but responsibilities can be shared and different capabilities and strengths appreciated. I guess my top line, armchair general, ask for good faith actors is that we treat NATO and what is to come of it responsibly, also as friends and neighbors. To everyone else, come as you may and find out.

Questioning NATO's very existence instead of its purpose is a continued escapism of these realities and the true work of rebuilding and deterrence that lies before us.

Now this, I really don't understand. Everything is up for questioning. That is one of the benefits of living in the free world (more or less). The idea that NATO is an all-enduring, sacred cow that I daren't question is frankly the most preposterous thing I've read in an age and I started this post referencing Eurovision!

On a personal level: is suggesting I haven't a grip on reality really necessary?

Hopefully at least somewhat clarified above, to whomever might be concerned. "Escapism" here was meant to signify the contemporary ways in which our collective perceptions and decision making processes are unmoored from our emergent, personal structures and how that can be - and be consciously used - to our detriment.

Once again, my earlier post wasn't directed at anyone particular; I did quote the person who initiated the discussion but even so, with no intent to stymie the subject or disparage the raising of it. That wouldn't, indeed, be in keeping with my conviction of just why NATO should continue to exist and improve itself/ourselves where it/we can, "if you get my drift".
 
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Nicknick

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I'm not convinced we can rely on the Channel quite as much as we have in the past.
Considering that the Channel is regularly crossed by hundreds at a time in overloaded crappy boats, it's safe to say it's not much of a barrier to invasion anymore.
Yeah, no. Not quite the same thing is it? It isn't the done thing to fire on refugee boats.

Indeed so. A thousand refugees a day, mostly military-age males, gives you around a third of a million "invaders" in a year, more than twice as many as landed on the beaches on D-Day. The invaders, willingly or not, knowingly or not, constitute a colonization force of considerable magnitude, changing the nature, composition and strength of the "host" country.

The Native Americans who saw European settlers swarming across their lands knew themselves to be invaded, even though the vast majority of the settlers were not agents of a military, but just regular folks. When China took Tibet, one of their bigger projects was to load up Tibet with Chinese civilians. Australia, Tasmania, Central America, and lands and countries throughout all history have been invaded by "refugees" who wound up owning the place without the declaration of a war and the use of full military power. The Power And Glory Of Rome, after all, used to be a thing, till the refugees showed up. You control your borders, or you forfeit your nation.
I might be deleted a second time, but I still agree on that!
 

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@UpForce Thank you for the clarification. I'll permit myself a little more repetition of old ground to illustrate that NATO doesn't function as well as it might currently and that the proposed Balkanization (well put btw) rather than being superfluous, as you say, might be beneficial.

The chief benefit as I see it would be the shortening lines of communication and reaction times in emergent threat scenarios. For a (perhaps overly) simplistic example, if Norwegian ASW detected a submerged contact but all assets were otherwise occupied, a RN Type 23 could be despatched to sit on it. An ASW assignment in the northern sector need not loop in, say, a Hungarian General and ex-KC-135 driver US General on watch at various HQs such as Brussels, Offutt etc., passing back and forth (and probably back and forth again) unnecessarily . With the proposed Balkanization, the British & Norwegian naval command authorities could very likely be in the same room, drastically reducing lag times. Again, using a close-ish to home example, myriad other efficiencies I can't conceive of are there to be had.

There! That sums up the thrust of what I want to say. Now, I'll try not to mention it again! Ultimately NATO is bloaty and needs less brass hats and less loops. I don't really care as to the exact nature of the reform but it's command structure needs streamlining (or bludgeoning).

I want to touch on another point @UpForce raises. Russia has, for better or for worse, a siege mentality. I won't get into a debate into how right or wrong it is, I will merely say that *I* do have some (historic) sympathy for it. It does though, wear thin. Putin has obviously used Russia's historical victimhood to great advantage and NATO works wonders for him I'm sure. Whether it could have been otherwise, I don't know. You can't bring eastern Europe into the fold without antagonism but eastern Europe has a right to mutual defence. Sounds like a nice little trip in Gamma Hydra to me. So, for clarity, while I don't agree that Russia's encirclement complex is ridiculous, I do hold Putin's regime in contempt.

@Orionblamblam that is a bleak picture you paint. The nature, composition and strength of my country was already mixed a millennium ago. Melting Pot Britain. It was ever thus. I'm quite satisfied that there will be enough British-ness to be going along with. What of give me your huddled masses?
 
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