- - Tuesday, July 12, 2016

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The recent British decision to leave the European Union dealt a body blow to the smug globalist establishment that assumed from the beginning that it would never happen and are now predicting that Britain will collapse as a direct result of the foolishness of her voters rejecting their leadership and advice.

Britain will survive as she has for centuries with or without Scotland, but whether the EU itself can or will survive in its current form is a more important issue. Several other EU members are considering Brexit-like referendums to decide whether they should remain members of what began as an admirable attempt to create a continental free market, but has morphed into a quasi-government with a system that reminds those of us who lived through it of the old Soviet bureaucracy staffed by imperious men and women ready, willing and able to meddle with just about every aspect of life within the borders of its member states.

Still uncertain is what impact Brexit and the shakiness of the EU will have on that other Brussels-based organization: NATO. Some appear to believe that NATO will be the glue that holds the EU together. Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Adm. James Stavridis predicts a “stronger trans-Atlantic military alliance” to counter “adventurism by Putin’s Russia.” Even the usually level-headed Steve Forbes has suggested illogically that in response to what he considers the Brexit “disaster,” NATO should deploy an armored division to Poland and another to the Baltic States.

Brexit aside, placing NATO forces in these areas might reassure the nations of the region that NATO will stand with them in the event of trouble with Russia, but it will also signal Moscow that the United States is willing to risk a nuclear war to defend areas on which Russia says she has no military designs. It strikes many as an unwise overreaction to a possibly nonexistent threat that can only increase tensions between Washington and Moscow, lead inevitably to a counter-escalation by Moscow and, in the process, increase the danger of an unintended incident that could result in the sort of armed confrontation that would be in no one’s interests.

Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump has claimed, rightly in our view, that NATO has thus far failed to counter the real threat to European and, ultimately, American security: the growing migrant-driven jihadi fifth column moving into western and other countries and dedicated to their destruction. No one doubts that after Paris, Brussels, San Bernardino, Orlando, Istanbul, Dhaka and Bagdad there will be more of the same.

What good has NATO been in countering that threat? Not much, and moreover, its intelligence even failed to locate terrorist cells in its own Brussels headquarters’ backyard. NATO’s main relevance to the jihadi peril so far is to boost it by overthrowing Libya’s government and allowing that country to morph into a terrorist playground and staging point for unvetted migrants and jihadists crossing the Mediterranean to Europe.

While human smugglers are making a good living, the crisis is ignored by NATO leaders obsessed with a plan to move four battalions, including one from Germany, to Poland and the Baltic states within 100 miles of St. Petersburg. The Germans of today are as unlike the Nazis of yore as today’s Russians from the Soviets of an earlier era, but the move will only serve to remind Russians of the 872-day World War II siege of that city that left more than 1.5 million of its citizens dead.

The next president needs to reexamine the U.S. commitment to NATO with an eye to reforming an alliance put together to contend with a threat far different than the one it confronted after World War II.

Analysts need to ask whether NATO as it’s presently constituted makes America and her allies more secure. During the Cold War when NATO allowed the West to stand firm against Soviet Communist designs on Europe, the answer was an easy yes, but today’s reckless NATO grandstanding in parts of the former Warsaw Pact and USSR while neglecting the terrorist Trojan Horse, the answer might be a resounding no.

NATO was once part of the solution, but is fast becoming part of the problem.

A rebuilt NATO, or a new organization specifically targeting global terrorism, would have a future and find common ground with new partners outside Europe, such as members of the Russian- and Chinese-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization, for which anti-terrorism is a key mission. Or maybe it is time for a new cooperative group — an International Anti-Terrorism Organization — to focus on today’s threats rather than those of the past.

Edward Lozansky is president of the American University in Moscow. Jim Jatras is a former U.S. diplomat and foreign policy adviser to the Senate GOP leadership.


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