Kissinger and NATO
Jude Wanniski
August 18, 1999


To: Henry Kissinger
From: Jude Wanniski
Re: "Is This the End of NATO?"

Your op-ed in Sunday's Washington Post, "The End of NATO as We Know It?" is a worthy contribution to the international discussion about the future of American foreign policy. If I'm not mistaken, you warned against NATO operations in the Balkans, then when the bombing campaign began, you urged support for the campaign. Now you note that the NATO allies are extremely happy with the way we dragged them into the bombing campaign when any fool could see President Clinton and Madeleine Albright bungled the diplomatic effort. Our European allies now are talking about how they might develop their own military capability, to be rid of amateur hour in Washington, which is more likely to send Europe up in NATO flames than preserve the peace. With exquisite hindsight, you have now decided that NATO has to reassess its raison d'etre. Here is how you put it:

If the Atlantic Alliance is to continue as more than a relic of a fading period, it must answer these questions: How do we define strategic threats to world order? What political changes will we resist for security reasons? Above all, and especially in light of the sweeping political goals recently enunciated, the political structure of NATO must be broadened and strengthened. But this cannot happen unless there is a reaffirmation of the centrality of the Alliance, not for liturgical purposes at periodic formal meetings but as a living institution systematically adapting itself to new realities.

Henry, my old friend, ought we also not consider the possibility that NATO should be allowed to fade away? That we should encourage the Europeans to translate the NATO apparatus into a regional security arrangement? NATO has lost its 1949 raison d'etre, and there is no reason why we should not permit it to fade away into more appropriate security arrangements. The cost of doing so would not be much more than throwing away all the NATO stationary and printing new letterheads with the European Security Arrangement (ESA). The United States could remain as a senior member of the board, the security of last resort, with the same kind of relationship to the ESA as Russia now has with NATO. Henry, all these issues simply are questions of jurisdictions. I've discussed this with you before and I think you know what I mean.

You were outflanked again and again in the Cold War by Albert Wohlstetter's team. You know that Henry, although you have been reluctant to admit it. But when the Cold War ended, Albert's people were obsolete, and I cheered you on when you took up the call for diplomatic initiatives. This should be your time, not Richard Perle's and Paul Wolfowitz's and Bill Schneider's. There is no reason for them to be involved in public policy nowadays. They have nothing to contribute, except ideas on how to start new wars where they will be needed. You should help put them out to pasture. The op-ed you've written is a good start. Follow your own line of argument to its natural conclusions and you will cheer the idea that NATO has no reason for remaining the way it was constructed in 1949. Figure it out. If we go with the UN, China and Russia can veto our dumb ideas. If we go NATO, Germany and France can veto our dumb ideas. Better that we watch from above and advise the rest of the world when they are having good ideas and dumb ideas. Right?