Is it time to think international relations and security beyond NATO?

Jul 2009
NATO like all complex organizations is characterized by an important symbiosis. Prior to WW II, the United States had been characterized by its isolationist predisposition, which was reflected in its foreign policies. As much of the rest of the industrialized world had ruined itself, 1939-45, the post war realities gave the US no real choice but to become engaged with other geopolitical groupings of states and international organizations.

Yes, the US recognized - and it utilized - its dominant position in the West to serve its own interests. As has been mentioned in other threads that is the reason of state - the state can think only of itself. However, the state's interests are sometimes served by assistance and largesse, both political and economic. Seeing NATO only from an American perspective diminishes the concerns of western Europe in the 1940s.

1) Much of western Europe was an economic basket case. With such weakness there was much less ability to counter political subterfuge and also the influence of domestic Communist political organizations/parties, and also potential future armed aggression by the Soviet Union. The 1948 Marshall Plan intended to reduce the attraction of Communist influence; in 1949 NATO was established to deter the USSR, but that was not all. As mentioned above the US industrial and agricultural economy needed trading partners that could support both the US (and each others') economies - which had to be defended.

2) Much of western Europe remained wary of Germany. Although in poor shape in the late 1940s, Germany's potential - and Germany's recent history - was not discounted by its neighbors. By the 1970s West Germany was again an important industrial nation with a large population. NATO was partially intended to keep Germany more under control. The Europeans also established the European Coal and Steel Community in 1950-51 to fully involve Germany in an economy involving "checks and balances."

That was 70 years ago. NATO has served the interests of the US and of its members quite well. There was a reason that all those east European, former Soviet satellites wished to join. A challenge ongoing is that NATO can be seen by some political interests as a "globalist" organization. The current political environment in some NATO members in some ways reflects the political environment after the First World War.

It is another thread I guess, but during the past decade, in some members, there has arisen a trend toward authoritarianism (masquerading as populist nationalism, but often acting as a curtain for kleptocracy to hide behind). Demagogues are in fashion once more. It is a question for the future, but how much interest the US will have in supporting/defending states that may see advantage in close connections or formal relations with the Russian Federation remains to be determined. It is possible that there are members in NATO that will take advantage of US treaty support and at the same time act against US interests. Turkey these days is almost acting like a Russian ally. They like that nuke umbrella though.
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Jul 2009
Of course Americans propped up NATO in its own self-interest. Just like Europe has propped up NATO in pursuit of its own interests. Following WW2 after Lend-Lease was terminated but a few years later, Secretary of State George Marshall launched the Marshall Plan. The Marshall Plan saved Western Europe’s economy, but in many ways, it also saved the US economy because it created healthy trading partners.

I do not know of a single instance in contemporary politics and economics where one continent basically paid out vast sums of money in order to resurrect their destroyed economies.
In too many instances rather than repair economies, the victor further drained the vanquished by means of reparations.