Response to Gates: “Don’t come to me whining now about EU participation in NATO activities”

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From Andreas Geiger, the Hill:  Let’s be honest here. Of course, NATO members have made it a habit to lean back and wait that the “US cavalry” will fix it. But for decades the US has very much enjoyed taking this role of a “world police” under the NATO banner. And sometimes even without the banner if NATO was not willing to follow in what it regarded as American interventionism. Frankly, often enough the U.S. has not even been interested that any of its NATO allies had a say in the military strategies the U.S. wanted to execute. In more than one case the U.S. just used NATO as a cover for its military action so no one could blame the US for any sort of “imperialistic politics,” which, let’s be frank, were exclusively serving American geo-strategic or economic, i.e. oil supply, interests.

The U.S. is realizing now that its financial limits of military engagement in the world are reached. Decades after bringing down the Soviet Union in an arms race, the U.S. realizes that there is a price to pay for that kind of politics. And Obama named the problem. Money. After Afghanistan and Iraq, Libya is the latest battlefield. And there could be a lot more. Despite riots in Syria, Iran, Yemen and Bahrain, these countries aren’t on the agenda of either the UN or NATO. And the US is remarkably silent about them as well. Why? Follow the money. . . .

But “puh-lease” don’t come to me whining now about EU participation in NATO activities. You did not want us there in the past. And you are running out of money now? Well, so are we. Want us to finance your future wars? Nope. No longer. We have Croatia, Albania and Serbia standing in our backdoor, waiting to join the EU. Looking at the Bulgaria/Romania experience this will cost us a hell of money. We have our old EU members Greece, Portugal and Spain which are one step from a financial collapse and state bankruptcy. We have to cover them, and no one knows how. We have to deal – both financially and politically – with shiploads of people coming to the EU each day from Northern Africa, a geo-politically totally unstable region where the US – correctly – stated that they are in OUR backyard and therefore our problem.

You want to talk about geo-political security interests? Then don’t talk about military interventions only and don’t force us to participate unconditionally. Most of the countries NATO went into are now in danger of ending up in chaos. That doesn’t promote security for Europe or the U.S. at all. Military interventions will make things worse when the future of a country is unclear. Before going into a foreign country there must be a master plan about what comes afterwards. What comes next when Gaddafi falls? Who are the ones we support and will the rebels really form a democratic state once they gain power with our support? A modern world needs modern answers. Interventionism and imperialism are dinosaurs.

Dr. Andreas Geiger is managing partner of Alber & Geiger, a leading European Union government relations law firm in Brussels.

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