The curtain has finally been raised on the new NATO: seven further countries (Slovenia, Slovakia, Romania, Bulgaria and the Baltic Republics) are entering into an Alliance whose aim is, at this point, to fight against international terrorism.
The American attitude prevailed right along the line, even if some apparent inexplicable contradictions were shown. By this enlargement NATO has accomplished that evolution started with Budapest, Prague and Varsavias entry into the Alliance from a containment force (against the Soviet menace) to one of stabilization of some recently democratised political governments. The aim is to open their markets to the global economy and make them ready to join the European community.
Doubtless, a larger membership will slow the passing of each resolution; consequently, an Alliances united policy would be improbable in those operations which involve many countries as happened during the Kosovo war in 1999. It was due to this very point that the Americans decided not to have anything to do with a war of committee, where it was necessary to pay a lot of attention to French and German requests to minimize collateral civilian deaths.
The idea which prevails in Washington is to propose for the future the pattern used in the Afghan campaign; that is, assembling, according to the circumstances, temporary alliances which would not be as formal as NATO.
A military worldwide menace disappeared after the decline of USSR. NATO could lead peace-enforcement operations or, at the most, local conventional wars.
During the summit which took place in Prague ( on November 21st and 22nd 2002), Ronald Rumsfeld made a successful proposal: to organize a rapid reaction force under the aegis of the Atlantic Alliance. This is a long-discussed evolution which confirms Americas essentially unilateral policy and the transformation of anti-Soviet international organizations which would have been scrapped.
Then the attacks in New York and Washington happened. From this moment all European security matters were shuffled.
After September 11th, in a rash move and taking advantage of the circumstances, France proposed and attained the application of the fifth article of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization according to which the attack against one of its members is an attack against all of them. This was one of Chirac and Jospins latest coups de thèatre which gave Washington an unexpected gift from the gods. Not only did the French initiative legally sanction that the USA could declare a kind of post-modern war against indefinite objectives( a vagueness which refers also to the number of them; see Iraq); it also legitimated again an Atlantic Alliance which Paris itself wanted to limit, aiming as it is to support European plans about autonomous defence; it also consolidates the American presence in Europe as the uncontested regional power.
A Europe which hasnt been able to stop Mohamed Atta in Amburgo before his crashing into the World Trade Center(WTC); a Europe which is very vulnerable if as Chirac said at that very moment, rushing to the still smoking ruins it could have happened in Paris or in Berlin; a Europe which needs American help once more.
It was childs play for the Bush Administration to use NATO as a pawn. Suddenly, the Alliance has become again a defensive organization while it has lost its power of peace-enforcement.
Who is the enemy? International terrorism.
Admitting that the WTC smoke is still dimming Chirac and his allies sight, we, the Western media, cannot keep on endorsing the fraud which is at the basis of that transatlantic reconciliation which has been reconstituted, as if by magic, in Prague: terrorism cannot be defeated by armies and Washington is not at war with terror.
Between Iraq, Iran and North Korea, on the one hand, and Al Qaeda on the other, there is no connection, either between September 11th or Saddams dubious rearmament.
Some European institutions have a very scant sense of democracy and they are not able to lead an effective foreign policy. So, each government is looking for protection in Washingtons both obsolete and strong presence in Europe and this is happening half century on from the Nazi debacle and ten years on from the USSRs dismemberment.
America is going towards a unilateral world-wide downhill path. Europe, France in particular, - being a diplomatic leader among EU countries has responsibility for it. America is in urgent need of western support in a war which is, at the same time, a battle for Hearts and Minds.
NATOs support to Americas policy is very grave. Not only because the American strategy is too militarist in front of a phenomenon - terrorism- which is not a military matter; it is also because the EU has at its disposal a more effective strategy whose path was traced in 1995 when the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership was signed; it aimed to create an economic collaboration between
the end-of-history empire (Europe, according to Fukuyamas definition) and the one where international terrorism breeds ( the Middle East).
Neither Nato nor the EU can defeat terrorism if they keep on supporting an unnatural Alliance.