Thursday, June 10, 2004

Last month the liberal's favorite neocon David Brooks cooked up another wacky idea that some people actually took seriously: "a global alliance of democracies to embody democratic ideals, harness U.S. military power and house a permanent nation-building apparatus, filled with people who actually possess expertise on how to do this job." The only thing that even estimates this vision has to be NATO, and NATO must be the foundation of any future "global alliance of democracies" which would use US military power to kick booty around the world.

Even a cursory look at NATO, however, shows how fanciful (or farcical -- take your pick) Brooks' idea really is.

The world is changing and NATO is prepared to change with it. Or so NATO's mantra has gone. So it was noteworthy that the NATO secretary general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, felt compelled to warn a closed-door meeting of NATO representatives on Tuesday that the alliance had failed to commit sufficient resources to underwrite its new Afghan mission and was flirting with failure. . . .

[NATO secretary general Jaap] de Hoop Scheffer said in a speech on Monday. "My first priority for Istanbul, NATO's priority, is Afghanistan."

What happened the next day suggested that not all of NATO's members yet shared this priority. According to allied officials, a frustrated de Hoop Scheffer told the informal meeting of NATO representatives that their governments had failed to produce the military forces and assets to take on the mission. The message was that instead of celebrating NATO's success in taking on a new role, the Istanbul summit meeting might mark the alliance's failure to adapt. . . .

The larger question is whether NATO members truly believe the alliance's own statement about the need to transform the alliance and take on new and distant missions. The United States and Britain see these as vital tasks, but some members seem to regard them as optional, as operations for which contributions are welcome but for which they are not obliged to provide military assets or expend funds.

Even if NATO manages to scrounge up the necessary equipment and personnel, its difficulty in coming up with the needed resources has raised questions about how willing it is to meet its new security agenda.
The inability of NATO to even carrying out its mission in Afghanistan, much less in Iraq, is yet further evidence that the neocons and their fellow travellers are, even when owning up in the most limited senses to reality, still completely loony.

And lest we give Brooks more credit than his due, Karl Kautsky thought this one up 100 years ago. Of course, rather than "a global alliance of democracies" he called it "ultraimperialism".

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