Spotlight on Geopolitics

Change is good for NATO

President Obama has arrived in Lisbon on Friday, but no-one on this side of the Atlantic seems too heartbroken that he will be forced to leave in two days’ time. On the other side of the pond, however, the Heritage boys and even some NYT columnists think he should have arranged to stay longer, for reasons not in full accordance with the real mood of his hosts…

Yes, NATO should be changed in a meaningful way. Yes, it should get a new strategic concept and regional focus, more adapted to a multipolar world. How about a brand new organisation built on the ashes of the old one,also called NATO ? Now this would allow pundits back in Washington to continue to claim that nothing has changed, and that the US is still top dog in world affairs. Neat, isn’t it ?

Instead of NATO standing for the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, it would in future stand for the North American Treaty Organisation. Emulating their former Russian foes, US policymakers should then decide on the size of their own near-abroad and defend it accordingly. Why, news has it that President Chinchilla of Costa Rica – a country with no army but a police force equipped with the latest American weapons – is under aggression from Nicaragua ! If we’re to believe a Ha’aretz editorialist, Daniel Ortega has ordered his people to occupy a small island on the San Juan river as part of a bigger and darker plot involving Venezuela’s Chavez and Iran’s Ahmaddinejad. You wouldn’t have foreseen it, but it’s a conflict made in cyberspace, since the Google Maps people are apparently at the root of it all.

It is understandable, therefore, that with so many incidents vying for President’s Obama’s attention right in his own country’s backyard, he couldn’t overstay his welcome in Europe. No matter, as long as NATO will evolve along the lines suggested above and its HQ remain in Washington. Fifty years from now, at a convenient time for US political leaders, a press statement would be enough to let ordinary Americans know they wouldn’t have to shoulder the financial burden of defence spending for us penny-pinching Europeans anymore. If the present trends are any guide, however, even a pared-down role for NATO will lead to increased military expenditure…

P.S.- Although American politicians have come to resemble their Soviet counterparts in so many ways lately, I can only hope that they have preserved a healthier sense of humour. Wait, what if I’m wrong ?…

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