The insightful Josef Joffe carefully weighs the benefits and costs to both NATO and Israel for proposed membership in the alliance. His analysis is a sharp contrast to the superficial level of discussion about the merits of other nations joining NATO. Too much of the current argument for NATO enlargement relies on the use of alliance membership as a deterrence to war. When alliance membership is joined with other forms of deterrence, e.g., nuclear weapons, joint force deployments, reinforcement infrastructure for prolonged defense, political cohesion, etc., this can work as it did in the case of West Germany during the Cold War. Joffe sheds valuable attention to this case in his analysis. When alliance membership is relied on as the primary form of deterrence, it leads to World War I.
Joffe also highlights a question that is often ignored because it is politically difficult to answer, “does NATO want to have to fight [insert name of potential member here]’s wars?” It might very well be in NATO’s interest to fight Freedonia’s next wars, but the alliance should not offer the commitment of Article 5 until it is clear with itself and its citizens that the new ally is an essential (because of shared national interests) and responsible (because of quality of governance) trustee of NATO blood and resources.
From the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies: “Any alliance must crack the classical dilemma between abandonment and entrapment. Preventing abandonment in the hour of need calls for maximal entanglement, which makes sure that my partners will fight on my side when I am attacked. Entrapment poses the opposite imperative: I do not want to be drawn into a conflict that are not my own. Now assume a rational, even-handed NATO leader. Would he want to get himself in a situation where he had to fight Israel’s wars? . . .
What Euro-politico, who has to look out for his country’s interest first, would entangle himself on the side of Israel – even if he is favorably disposed to the Jewish State?” (via imra.org)