It used to be that NATO was considered the one international organization on which we could count. After all it was the “most successful alliance” in history and such. It also wasn’t full of corrupt and incompetent third worlders like the UN. However, the value of even this alliance is increasingly in question.
The fundamental flaw in NATO is similar to the problem with the UN, it has become extremely unbalanced in the capabilities, responsibility, and interests of its members. The rapid collapse of Europe in virtually all aspects of global power and influence is the heart of the problem. This has bred in Europe a desire to maintain the trappings of power and influence the only way they can (diplomacy) while avoiding any tough actions that would lay bare their impotence. They are further bedeviled by their rapidly growing Muslim minorities, their proximity to the rapidly growing homelands of said Muslims, and their rapidly growing class of retirees with their high social spending requirements. The former restricts European actions due to fear of social disturbances and the latter prevents European actions due to lack of military spending and the intense quest for money wherever it can be found.
We are seeing the results of an increasingly dysfunctional Europe today in Afghanistan. NATO has sent remarkably few troops given its European members have over 400 million people and 2 million soldiers. Recent requests for an additional 2,500 soldiers have apparently fallen on unconcerned ears. One of the few good European countries, Poland, has offered 900 soldiers but sadly their capability doesn’t match their courage and responsibility (we should increase aid to help the former). Norway has recently ordered their soldiers to redeploy to a safe northern province since they aren’t prepared for combat (no excuse in this case, Norway is as rich as us with much of it coming from oil). Meanwhile, what NATO forces are in the south are not capable of completely wiping out the Taliban in their area since we have yet again been burned by European promises.
The change in the world power structure highlighted here is nothing new or surprising and should be expected and adapted to. Europe is in an irreversible slide, Japan is reawakening, Russia is returning to great power status, China and India are rising, and a global anti-West socialist ideology is advancing throughout the third world and beginning to join forces with radical Islam. Bush has made great strides in refocusing our foreign policy to radical Islam and China, while deepening our alliance with Japan and India. Yet the central focus of our foreign policy continues to be on a Europe who more and more does not share either our capabilities or our interests. The world is going to keep on turning no matter how much we wish it would stay still.