Is NATO obsolete?

I know this has been discussed on the board before, but since it’s in the news again with the upcoming NATO meeting and the heated words between Trump and NATO, along with the running argument with Germany I figured I’d see what 'dopers think. Should we just scrap the thing and each country go it’s own way? Should Europe reform a defensive alliance of it’s own to protect it’s own interests and allow the US to go it’s own way, dealing with it’s own security concerns and issues? Is NATO necessary in today’s world, and could Europe simply defend itself without having to rely on the US…especially since the current US president and seemingly a segment of the US population doesn’t see the value in such alliances anymore?


What the West, specifically Europe and North America need, is a defensive alliance - a promise of mutual protection - that stands in opposition to the biggest threat in Europe and North America; Russia. Get most of the European democracies together along with Canada and the USA and have them promise to join in if even one is attacked.

You couldn’t call it the European Treaty, though, or the North American Treaty, because either name excludes the other… what di they have in common? Well, the North Atlantic, I guess. Call it the… North Atlantic Treaty! You could call the resulting Organizations the… North Atlantic Treaty Organization!

Heck of an idea if I do say so myself!

NATO is necessary for the Eastern bloc countries that are indefensibly small. They need the defense in depth that a large military alliance can provide. If Russia were economically and politically free, it would be a natural ally. But it’s not, so the Eastern bloc needs another source of security. The next most natural source is a mutual defensive alliance among themselves. Ideally, one large alliance they could all be a member of would be best, but several smaller pacts might be all they can manage (see the 1800s and first half of the 1900s).

While the US doesn’t need NATO militarily, it benefits us to have an economically free Europe to trade with. Subsidizing NATO is well worth the cost to have that.

NATO isn’t obsolete, Trump is.

Could you go into a bit more detail? Not about Trump…I think we are all on board with him being an idiot. The gist of the OP, however, is about NATO. Why is it not obsolete, in your opinion? What about it is still necessary today? Why shouldn’t Europe do it’s own thing without the US? Why should the US continue a military alliance with Europe? What do the two parties get out of it that they couldn’t have on their own? Should the pirate rules-esque ‘requirement’ of 2% of GDP towards the military be met, or should we just ignore that?

Just for full disclosure here, I don’t think the US should back out of NATO, and I do think it’s still relevant. I think the US gets a lot of secondary and tertiary benefits out of alliances like this in terms of security as well as economic benefits, the primary one being it’s in our best interest to have a stable, free and economically successful Europe (I wish we used similar metrics for Mexico). But what I’m wanting are 'dopers thoughts on this.

As long as Russia is a threat to Europe, and especially the Baltics, etc. then there is a purpose for NATO. At this point, it would be much easier to just let the inertia (for lack of a better term) keep NATO’s existence going than it would be to abolish it.

I’ll go one step further. As long as Russia exists

You can’t be too careful.

Exactly. With all the domestic governmental turmoil drawing all the news attention these days, people have forgotten that Russia has/had been flexing its muscles in the Ukraine and Georgia and also threatening the Baltics (who are NATO members) as recently as 2016, and acting kind of squirrely in the anti-ISIS/ISIL air campaign.

If somehow Russia quit being authoritarian and proved themselves to be good neighbors and participants in a wider Europe, then I think NATO could be said to be obsolete. But until then as long as Russia has aspirations to “Great Power” stature and intends to demonstrate said stature through conquest and intimidation, NATO is a necessary organization.

On the face of it, ‘because Russia’ doesn’t seem a clear justification for continuing NATO, especially from the US’s perspective, but even from the European’s perspective. While NATO members don’t spend to their target GDP on the military, they still collectively outspend Russia…in fact, from memory, France and Germany combined spend more than Russia does by a pretty large margin. Even taking the US out of the equation, I think that NATO spends approximately what, say, China spends annually. This SHOULD, in theory, give them a military capability on par with every other single nation, leaving aside the US. And even in a theoretical post-NATO world I don’t see western Europe needing to be particularly threatened by the US or vice versa.

Were you plumb asleep throughout the whole Crimea thing or what ?

The only reason there is even a discussion about the value of NATO is that Putin’s puppet is doing his best to undermine it. In my mind, that just proves how important it still is.

You’re ignoring the fact that Russia has always punched above its weight. Western Europe needs to spend significantly more than Russia does in order to have a truly level battlefield.

Your repeating the claim doesn’t make it true. Indeed it only serves to alienate those who check facts and might otherwise be on your side.

What is the objective evidence for this claim? Just World War II? That’s one war, and it was a really long time ago.

Why no, I didn’t sleep through it. I watched it unfold, and am still watching the aftermath in the Ukraine. Now that we’ve established that, do you have anything relevant to say wrt the OP? Why, exactly, is NATO necessary, IYHO and wrt the Crimea and presumably Russia? Why is it necessary for the US? Why is it necessary for Europe (western and eastern)? Can you give some details…which was, you know, what that line you quoted was actually asking.

Also, perhaps read the next paragraph as well. I know that’s difficult as I tend to be long winded, but you might want to consider I’m trying to draw out an actual debate from some rather unpromising replies so far. I think there is more than ‘because Russia’ or me supposedly being asleep for the ‘Crimea thing’ and I had hoped to draw that out. Seems unlikely at this point, but hope springs eternal.

NATO is obsolete. A NA-European Defence Treaty Organisation is not.

Ok, but why? Off the top of my head the only reason that Russia would punch ‘above its weight’ is all that legacy equipment left over from the old Soviet era…and their presumably still working nuclear weapons. In a conventional sense and from a defensive perspective (which presumably is what some future European alliance would be looking at), Europe should be able to match whatever Russia can do without the US. Theoretically. If they follow through on what many of them have started, which is an increase in their military spending with an eye towards capabilities that align with their mission parameters and overall strategic outlook.

The problem with NATO is that its chief architect, the United States, has a history of imposing its will on other countries and weakening regimes who don’t serve their (our) political interests. I don’t think we should disband NATO, but the US lacks credibility when it speaks of maintaining global stability. No force on the planet has been more disruptive and destabilizing than the US since 2002/3.

I don’t know what can be done now, because I think NATO is going to be destroyed. And that is probably going to touch off a new wave of disruption, and further destabilize the West (and the world generally).

This seems to argue for a US/European split then, with the Europeans forming their own, internal alliance without the US. Is that what you are saying? If not, why not? If the US has, indeed been the greatest destabilizing force on the planet since 2002/3 it seems the Europeans would be better off without us on their side…no?

You’ve checked the “facts” and found evidence to the contrary, have you?

Maybe you haven’t been following the UN breastfeeding resolution story, the latest chapter in this remarkable saga. From the New York Times:
A resolution to encourage breast-feeding was expected to be approved quickly and easily by the hundreds of government delegates who gathered this spring in Geneva for the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly.

Based on decades of research, the resolution says that mother’s milk is healthiest for children and countries should strive to limit the inaccurate or misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes.

Then the United States delegation, embracing the interests of infant formula manufacturers, upended the deliberations.
The measure was being introduced by Ecuador. The US ambassador to Ecuador, who bears a striking resemblance to Al Capone, immediately threatened Ecuador with major trade sanctions and the withdrawal of military aid. Ecuador had no choice but to meekly comply and withdraw the resolution. For a while, no other country dared re-introduce it.

Then Putin stepped in.

Trump’s UN delegation was the political equivalent of an aggressive yappy little dog, and Putin was like the alpha dog that gives one sharp bark of warning, and the yappy little dog scurries away with its tail between its legs. Russia re-introduced the resolution and the US sat quietly in the corner, scratching its fleas.

This story is tragically sad but so bizarre that it’s almost funny in a perverse kind of way. Putin’s vision of Russia regaining Soviet-like hegemony is no secret, nor is the threat that it poses over neighboring regions, especially and most immediately Ukraine. Watch Trump lift sanctions against Russia in the coming months to help things along. Ecuador deserves punishing sanctions, yes, for promoting mother’s milk, but not Russia – all they did was invade a neighboring country.