The Life and Life and Life of the NATO Bureaucracy
By David Henderson
The Partnership also prompted Foreign Affairs to publish an article strongly in favor of rapid NATO expansion. Its authors, Ronald D. Asmus, Richard L. Kugler, and F. Stephen Larabee, argued that German-Russian nationalist competition was bound to recur unless the former Soviet satellites were incorporated into NATO and the EU. The “new NATO,” the authors concluded, must go “out of area or it will go out of business.”
This is from Walter A. McDougall, “NATO at Three Score and Ten: An Anticipatory
Elegy,” Law & Liberty, April 1, 2019. The piece is excellent.
It’s three things in one: (1) a nice history of NATO in its various phases, (2) a case against NATO, and (3) implicitly a public choice analysis of a sprawling bureaucracy.
Notice this paragraph:
But the founders took care to do nothing that Stalin might perceive as threatening. Thus Iceland remained disarmed and only agreed to host U.S. bases after heated debate. Denmark and Norway, which shared a small Arctic frontier with the USSR, joined NATO only on condition that they not host foreign bases in peacetime. Sweden, trusting instead in armed neutrality, did not join at all. Fifty years later, the allies displayed no such prudence.
Of course, now NATO has expanded right up to the border of Russia. What could go wrong?
At a Hoover event a few years ago celebrating the life of Robert Conquest, one of the speakers was my Hoover colleague and former U.S. ambassador to Russia, Michael McFaul. I asked him if he thought it was a mistake to expand NATO up to Russia’s borders. He said no, why would I think that? Because, I answered, the Russians, with their history of having lost 1/7 of their population in World War II, would feel threatened. He said there was no good reason for their being threatened. I asked him, “What if the Canadians pulled out of NATO and made an alliance with Russia, and then had Russian troops stationed in Canada? Wouldn’t you feel threatened?” “No,” he said.