(President Barack Obama, NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and fellow NATO leaders step down from a photo platform April 4, 2009, following their group photo at the NATO meeting in Strasbourg, France. Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Stephen Herzog, writing at World Politics Review, argues that NATO should reconsider its intention to develop contingency plans to defend Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania against Russian attacks.
According to Herzog, the operations are unnecessary because NATO is fully prepared to respond to a Russian attack. Moreover, such an attack is highly improbable and carrying out a contingency plan is only likely to generate hostility in Moscow.
The Atlantic Alliance and Russia need to work together to solve some of today’s toughest problems. These issues include fighting terrorism, preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction, cracking down on transnational crime, and reducing global numbers of nuclear weapons. Real cooperation cannot occur so long as both sides treat each other like enemies. NATO should abandon the idea of developing provocative defense plans that have little basis in geopolitical reality. But cooperation is not a one-way street. Russian leaders need to tone down their rhetoric and look for avenues of collaboration, not confrontation.
The dilemma Herzog identifies highlights a key problem connecting many of the United States’ strategic challenges. America is – to use Walter Lippmann’s term – “insolvent.” That is, its overseas commitments outweigh its foreign policy resources.
The fundamental issue with strategic implications is that the United States is burdened with massive security and political commitments throughout the globe that entail enormous political and economic costs.
The situation in the Baltic States is analogous to the conundrum in East Asia, where the United States continues to provide huge amounts of arms to Taiwan that benefit the Taiwanese and American military contractors at the expense of U.S.-China relations.
Adjusting America’s “legacy commitments,” must be part of the United States’ long-term strategy to reorient its foreign policy for the post-American international order, in which issues like NATO defense preparations and Taiwanese military sales cannot obstruct America’s higher-order strategic imperative of developing a new “social contract” of baseline global interests with Russia, China, and other major global players.
— Ben Katcher