By Alan Caruba
Do you have any clothes in the closet left over from World War II? Perhaps you’re still driving one of the cars built following the end of that era? No? Well, then, why is the United States still involved with two institutions that were the direct result of the end of World War II and the rise of the threat from the former Soviet Union?
I speak, of course, of the United Nations and of NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
In his 2003 book, “Act of Creation: The Founding of the United Nations”, Stephen C. Schlesinger revealed that just nine weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and six weeks after twenty-six nations had assembled in Washington, a fourteen-person committee convened on February 12, 1942 for the first time. They signed a United Nations Declaration affirming their intent to defeat the Axis powers and fulfill the Atlantic Charter.
The failure of the former League of Nations was still fresh in everyone’s mind, but one wonders why it did not demonstrate that such lofty ideas of global cooperation were doomed to failure. It is the oldest rule of diplomacy that nations always operate in their own interest.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, however, was already planning for yet another such organization and envisioned it as a kind of global policeman that would be enforced primarily by the United States, Great Britain, France, China and the Soviet Union. They would be the core of the UN Security Council, each with veto power.
Today, the Russian Federation has replaced the former Soviet Union and it is the People’s Republic of China that replaced former governments. Many have suggested that India should be a permanent member at this point, given its size and other factors.
Fast forward from its inception and we have a United Nations dominated by a Middle Eastern coalition and a non-governmental environmentalist clique intent on ending the concept of individual national sovereignty in favor of either imposing Islam on the world and/or putting the UN in charge of the entire world.
NATO had a legitimate reason to exist given the threat from the then-Soviet Union. As of 1991, however, that nation ceased to exist and many of its former satellite nations in Eastern Europe were quick to join NATO as a buffer against the Soviet Federation that replaced it. Georgia which was not a member was invaded by Russia in 2008. NATO did nothing.
In a policy analysis from the Cato Institute, a Washington, D.C. think tank, Ted Galen Carpenter, its vice president for defense and foreign policy studies, offers the view that, at age 60, NATO is “A Hollow Alliance.”
Carpenter notes that “Although NATO has added numerous new members during the past decade, most of them possess minuscule military capabilities.” In addition, some have “murky political systems and contentious relations with neighboring states, including a nuclear-armed Russia.”
The result is that “NATO’s new members are weak, vulnerable, and provocative—and especially dangerous combination for the United States in its role as NATO’s leader.”
Just how great a farce is NATO or, for that matter, the United Nations?
A look at the Iraq War and the counterinsurgency in Afghanistan reveals that, other than Great Britain and Canada, all other forces were token and generally not involved in actual combat operations.
As Carpenter points out, “Perhaps most worrisome, the defense spending levels and military capabilities of NATO’s principal European members have plunged in recent years” adding that “The ineffectiveness of the European militaries is apparent in NATO’s stumbling performance in Afghanistan.”
Not surprisingly, Carpenter concludes that “While the alliance exists, it is a vehicle for European countries to free ride on the U.S. military commitment instead of spending adequately on their own defenses and taking responsibility for the security of their own region.” He calls it “a bad bargain for the United States.”
The United Nations was a remake of the failed League of Nations (which the U.S. Senate refused to join, concerned for U.S. sovereignty) and NATO which followed the end of World War II, is now 60 years old. It is time to retire this tired organization.
There are entirely new realities at work in the world today and some old ones such as a resurgent Islamism that need to be addressed. Neither the United Nations, nor is NATO up to the task and, in many ways, are part of the problem.