West in the Middle Earth: Between the UN and NATO
Since 1989, the US has become the world's policeman. This situation has put NATO in several unnecessary international conflicts as it has often taken the UN's place internationally. Does the West really need NATO? Which can be a possible solution?
1989 was an important year for the world. The end of the Cold War resulted in the defeat of the Soviet Union and the end of a communist threat for the West. On one hand, the US and Europe could finally say that freedom was gained by citizens of the last totalitarian country, and that capitalism was the best solution for the whole world. On the other hand, Russia was economically and politically destroyed and needed help to save its citizens. The world had changed a lot from World War II, and the risk of another global war was far-off.
Moreover, the fall of the Berlin Wall signified the end of a bipolar political world, and led to the US becoming the world's policeman for every problem. Yet, although Soviet communism had disintegrated, meaning the West no longer needed NATO, the Alliance decided to continue with this organization by increasing the number of members: since 1989, NATO has grown from 12 to 28 members, despite the world having no need for its existence. The main task of the West since the fall of communism would have been to create a more multipolar world where all countries could give their opinion, and where no country could enter by force without the permission of the government of that state. Instead of creating a multipolar world, the West decided to monopolize the power, thereby perpetuating the dominance of the US in maintaining global order and security.
Hence, NATO's biggest mistake in the last 25 years has been to continue believing that its countries members still need it. NATO was created for a specific reason, to defend the West against Soviet communism; yet since 1989 the US and Europe could have lived without it. In fact, since then not only have monetary costs increased, but also NATO has managed to create new enemies in the world. Just think about our conflicts with Russia. It's impressive that since the fall of the USSR NATO has surrounded Russia, by putting the majority of Russia's neighboring countries under its protection. It is thus necessary to question whether Russia is still the aggressor.
Furthermore, in the 21st century the majority of states are members of the UN, whose primary goal is to maintain international peace and security. Thus, NATO is in reality a meaningless organization that we keep just to isolate ourselves against the rest of the world. As we can read in Article 5 of the Treaty, "The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them … will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area. Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security." Through this article, NATO undermines international law and the UN's principles: it therefore appears as if NATO, not the UN, should maintain international peace and security. The US and Europe must decide: they should ally either with NATO or with UN, otherwise their policies will be incoherent and illogical.
Until 1989 NATO had a real enemy and a real goal: the USSR. NATO was in an international war, where each party had its allies. Yet at present there are no inter-state wars: the biggest risk in this century is intra-state conflict such as terrorism. This means that the West does not have to enter into conflict against any state, but it should cooperate with those governments which have problems with terrorist groups. What the West really needs is to increase the UN's responsibilities, and give them the tools to create a better world.
In fact, since the fall of the Berlin Wall, all of NATO's actions have created problems. Interventions in Kosovo, Afghanistan, Libya and Ukraine all resulted in fragile or failed states. Thus, why does the West need NATO? It is expensive, creates international problems and has no real objectives.
In my opinion, Europe needs its own army and with that, the EU and US could have some new agreements only in significantly dangerous cases. Nonetheless, in the majority of international conflicts, we should learn to converse with other parties into a round table discussion guided by the United Nations.
Luca Roncella is from Rome and studies economics at the University of Navarra.
This article has been submitted for category B "NATO's Biggest Mistake and Lesson Learned" of the competition "Shaping Our NATO: Young Voices on the NATO Summit". Comments are most appreciated. You can also read the other articles in this category. Learn more about this competition and how you can submit your own text or video in the categories C and D.
- Atlantic-Community.org in Transition
- Towards a More Inclusive Transatlantic Partnership: Update on the 2nd Atlantic Expedition
- Topic of the Month: The Future of Health Care
- Do We Need Data Donations?
- eHealth - Tele-Monitoring and Tele-Medicine - Digital Innovation in the Life Science Sector in Germany