Filed under: Foreign Policy
Will Marshall thinks we should turn NATO into a global alliance by including Japan and South Korea, Brazil and Chile, Australia and New Zealand, India, and so forth. Matthew Yglesias thinks that’s a bad idea. One of the reasons Yglesias is right comes in Marshall’s first paragraph:
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is the most successful defense alliance in history. Today, however, the alliance is stumbling blind, and it badly needs a new sense of common purpose.
“I’ve got this cool old tool, now I just need some mission for it” is almost never a good way to make policy.
But the main point is that regional military-political blocs like NATO have proven fairly successful in the last 20 years at promoting stability and staging interventions in crises, while interventions by non-regional blocs have been pretty unsuccessful. NATO ultimately did resolve the Yugoslavian mess. East Timor worked because of Australia. In areas where the West is frustrated about long-running crises, such as Burma and Zimbabwe, the only players that can realistically resolve the situations are the regional ones — southern African nations in Zimbabwe, ASEAN in Burma. NATO works because it’s regional and there’s a regional consensus on European norms of governance and European security interests. Diluting that by bringing in lots of very different countries from all over the map would be a big mistake.
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