Nov 18, 2005

Exit Strategy for US Commitments in Iraq?

This post is a commentary on an article , "What Good is NATO?" by Clifford D. May, the president of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. His article is about a report by former Spanish prime minister Jose Maria Aznar about the future of NATO, so I recognize the information loss and distortions that my post, a second derivative, implies.

Several assumptions:

  • Militant Islamism is responsible for at least some of global terrorism
  • Militant Islamism's goal is to wipe out democracy
  • NATO has fulfilled its original mission (defend Europe against the Soviet Bloc)
  • NATO needs a new mission

The provocative recommendations of Aznar's report are:

  • approval of democracy-building as an objective of peace operations over and above the goal of nation-building.
  • creation of an operational command for post-conflict democracy-building operations, establishment of a joint fund to finance these missions and creation of a 'Partnership for Freedom
  • NATO must become a veritable Alliance for Freedom, one whose primary objective is to defeat terror[ism]

My Opinion:

I absolutely agree that Militant Islamism, or militant anything-ism, must be defeated. I doubt that even Foaming At The Mouth Lefties or Foaming At The Mouth Right Wing Crazies have any apologists for militancy. (Well OK, we've experienced Socialism and Facism, opposing ends of the militant political spectrum. I withdraw my previous statement.)

A global effort that is supported by many countries would work better than a unilateral American effort. Such an effort would be less contentious in the hyper-partisan American domestic political arena. That's probably why Aznar's report is enjoying support from US Democratic Senator Joseph Lieberman as well as from Republican Senator Jon Kyl. And such a proposal might dampen objections from those who insist that only world organizations, instead of national initiatives, have any legitimacy to deal with just about any issue. (Why don't such people appreciate nations that step up, that expend their own wealth and lives to solve problems, instead of waiting for world groups to get their collective acts together while the victims of terrorism continue to die?)

On the one hand, 're-targeting' an existing organization such as NATO may conceivably save at least part of the learning curve to establsh a new organization. But we all can chant in proper choral form the litany of problems with large bureaucracies such as NATO:

  • Stuck in the past
  • Self serving, maybe even corrupt
  • Slow moving, paralyzed by bureaucracy
  • Mired in a culture of internal politics
  • Myopically focused on internal lines drawn for old battles; unable to re-organize
  • etc., etc., etc.

On the other hand, using NATO to achieve goals has these advantages:

  • NATO already has the mandate to defend, if not promote democracy as a form of government
  • Revising its mission would say out loud that "Yeah, we're nation-building and furthermore, building democratic nations"
  • It has a huge force that's already existant and on-site
  • Funding processes are already in place
  • Funds are already allocated
  • Participants already know each other's agendas and constraints
  • Participants already know how to horse-trade with each other
  • The organization already has the veneer of international participation


NATO is already remote controlled by the US

So, if the US gets other NATO members to accept this idea of re-targeting NATO, and gets more of our allies to join it, we can still run the global war against terrorism, hand over to the new NATO our responsibilites in Iraq and move on to the next candidates for democratization: Syria and Indonesia. We can shut up the crassly irresponsible self-serving partisan rhetoric that doesn't even address the issue of defeating terrorism and building enduring democract governments.


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