NATO: friends and enemies

10 posts

Bob Dylan Roof

Short analysis of the NATO situation. Mostly superficial, but I wanted to showcase two of my favorite quotes on enmity and friendship.

NATO: friends and enemies

Schmitt once wrote enigmatically in his Glossarium, "Tell me who your enemy is and I'll tell you who you are."

Twenty years after the collapse of the USSR, NATO is in shambles, lacking a concrete identity and, judging by its recent showing in Libya, an effective military presence. The disillusionment of the alliance's greatest benefactor, echoed in Gates's " blunt warning ," points to a bleak future.

The sorry state of the alliance suggests that the abstract enemy "terror" is just as weak at delineating real divisions as the abstract "bourgeoisie" was for communists. As real communism quickly dissolved into genuine political conflicts with concrete enmity between putative communist nations and ethnicities (Russia against China, for example) or conflicts over actual resources, so the war on terror has allowed supposedly anti-terror forces to fracture. NATO infighting, feet-dragging, and willingness to arm and support forces formerly identified as terrorists suggests that the abstraction of "terror" is insufficient to preserve NATO as an alliance of friends with a specific, concrete identity.

The existence of a unified, concrete enemy demands nothing less than political intransigence for those opposing the enemy. The source of NATO's decline is echoed in Nietzsche's advice:

Better an enmity cut from one block
than friendship held together by glue.
Bob Dylan Roof

Looks like diversity isn't working here!

Niccolo and Donkey
It's tough to fight a War on a Noun, isn't it?

This whole conflict has three main concepts:

1. the public face/argument for the war - a reaction to 9/11 and its 'unique horror' forcing the USA and its "Coalition of the Willing" to 'stamp out terror'

2. domestic political concerns - the Israeli Lobby in Congress and war profiteers such as weapons manufacturers or large firms like Haliburton

3. geostrategic/historical - The USA sensing an opportunity in the post-bipolar world doing what empires always do....try to increase their control outwards

Number 2 and 3 were slam dunks as no major opposition, either foreign or domestic, was able to counter these fronts.

The problem lies in number one; the shaping of the philosophical argument for war. Being a fundamentally liberal regime spouting notions about "rights" and such meant that their arguments had to be restricted when pursuing the case for war. This meant that historically aggressive language could not be used, nor could anything that could be construed as "racist"/etc. This last point is why the DPRK was included in the "Axis of Evil", to offset any accusations of Islamophobia as being central to the WOT. Nor was "terror" ever defined. It quickly became accepted as not only non-state actors engaged in violence, but regimes that refused to bow down to the USA. This nebulous usage of the word simply alienated those 'alllies' who saw right through what this entire action was: a power grab. Some signed on initially but it was quite clear that all lost heart once the actual results started coming in.

An opponent cannot simply be just an undefined term but requires tangibility and easy recognition, and must pose an actual existential threat for a wide coalition to actually hold in place until the end (which also was poorly defined).
Bob Dylan Roof

Good post.

lol, do you have evidence of this? I'm not saying I don't believe you - it makes sense that we'd want to quell sandnigger resentment by throwing gooks in the mix - but are there any quotes on this?

Abstract-intellectual concepts of enmity, like Lenin's formulation of the bourgeoisie, are useful for concealing the sorts of motivations you mention above; but, being inert concepts, they can't generate the force necessary to chain disparate interests together. Europe and Russia see what's really at stake now.
Niccolo and Donkey
Bronze Age Pervert The Cool Club @President Camacho

I swear to God there are some, but I would need to find them.

That's a good sentence. They should call you A+Roland.

Does this speak to the oft-held assertion about Strauss re: elites need to lie to the masses? If so, it would need readjustment to include "and act upon that lie quickly and bring it to a quick close lest it lose its power to deceive".
Bob Dylan Roof

No, I don't think it's about the noble lie, but I'm sure it could be related to the concept. I'm thinking here of the effects of abstract enemies and abstract forms of justice on world peace: both tend to muddle the situation and generate more monstrous forms of injustice, in the end at least. I've attached a short pro-read on the issue raised by Schmitt in the context of partisan warfare.


It might be that the Cold War was a temporary aberration in that it gave NATO (a liberal organisation) something of a concrete enemy in Communism. In the absence of this, NATO is reduced to (or becomes what it always was) the tool of the non-political juridical order/ thinking that brought it into existence. It is really neither able to counter nor to conceive of enemies, only criminal groups that deny others the rights (or prevent them from enjoying them) they are granted or conceived of having by said order. NATO is the police function that represents America’s economic presence but political absence, as per Schmitt.

Despite this, and maybe Nic could say more, NATO is America’s presence in Europe and thus something that they are unlikely to want to relinquish, although Gates might say different. The US is heavily concentrating on things like AFRICOM, but this is all run out of Europe (Germany), which still provides a stable environment for launching foreign adventures.

Niccolo and Donkey
Well put.

If we go to Mackinder's Dictum of 'he who controls the world-island (Eurasia) controls the world", NATO serves the purpose of having American forces on one side while they are present in the ROK on the other. In the meantime they've situated themselves at the southern end in Iraq and Afghanistan.
President Camacho
Good point.

Contrary to patriotard notions the American army isn't any tougher or tactically superior to opponents (as the WWII German army, for example, was). The lynchpin of American military power is and always has been logistics-- nobody does logistics better than America. Like War Nerd pointed out, that trend was set back in the Civil War when Grant, a great logistician, defeated Lee, a great tactician.

Giving up those sweet European bases a couple hours' plane ride from the Middle East would spell disaster from a logistics/cost perspective; it would make all of these democracy-building projects unfeasible.