Issue #69

Last Update October 31, 2010

International  EU, NATO - Too Far, Too Fast by David Katz April 28, 2009  The success of NATO over the past half century, and the success of the European Union over the past decade and a half, has landed both organizations in hot water. In their drive to become the all-inclusive economic and defense organizations for Western and Central Europe, they have lost sight of their original missions and the principals that made them successful. In both cases they have attempted to expand to inappropriate countries. 

NATO was formed to counter the threat to Western Europe from an expansionist Soviet Union and its ring of communist allies in neighboring countries. The basic principal of NATO is that an attack on one member is an attack on all. This gave West Germany, France, Great Britain and the other original European members assurance that the United States would be involved in defending them against Russia. This assurance was made tangible by the maintaining of American land, sea and air bases throughout the area.  American bodies were put in harm's way to make this clear. 

The area to be defended was contiguous and had clear lines of supply. Strategies could be developed that would put enormous resources into play in the event of attack. This is the principal that has been forgotten today. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the West, and especially the United States, moved rapidly to encourage ex Soviet Client States to move into the Western orbit. Border states like East Germany, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary were natural targets of this ambition. Despite being under communist rule for over half a century, they had borders with major Western countries, had traditions of economic and military cooperation that predated the Soviet era, and could bring NATO to the Russian border. East Germany was absorbed by West Germany into a unified country. The others were, after a while, offered NATO membership to solidify their integration into the West and prevent a reimposition of Russian control. 

The latest round of prospective NATO members would be a disaster to the Organization, and could even spell its demise. The incorporation of Georgia and the Ukraine, as has been proposed, is unsustainable. The countries are so far within Russia's sphere of practical control as to make them undefendable should Russia invade. The principle of "an attack on one is an attack on all" would collapse. 

Economically, a similar problem is faced by the EU. This collection of nations that has not yet gelled into a real country has a hard time achieving unity, even on economic matters. The Euro, which was intended to tie the EU economies more closely together and to compete with the dollar as a world currency, has not been adopted by all EU nations (Britain being the outstanding example). In times of crisis, national interests predominate, preventing the EU from mounting a unified response to the current economic debacle. 

Even the maintenance of the Euro has problems. The treaty rules governing the Euro require that participating states keep deficits in check, with well-defined limits. This has been difficult for some of the poorer Euro nations even in good times; when a crisis requiring stimulation of the economy occurs, Euro nations are faced with the choice of foregoing the stimulus or abandoning the Euro. 

The attempt to include some of the less-prosperous Eastern bloc nations is a recipe for EU disaster. It took a decade and billions of marks and Euros for Germany to absorb its Eastern half, and that part of the nation is still not on a par with the Western part. It is reasonable to assume that that the EU will have to contribute substantial sums to the economies of the latest countries asking to join, in order that they might begin to be on a par with earlier, wealthier members. The current economic environment will not support such largess. Other candidates for admission, regardless of their economic soundness, do not meet EU standards for political freedom. The last thing the EU needs is quasi dictatorships or theocracies in its midst.   

Perhaps NATO and the EU should retrench, postponing plans to add new members until these new members meet the basic conditions that the original members satisfied: in the case of NATO, defendability; in the case of the EU, political compatibility and economic soundness. These organizations might even consider shedding a few of their more problematic current members.

New York Stringer is published by For all communications, contact David Katz, Editor and Publisher, at

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