The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO, has just wrapped up its annual summit in Madrid, Spain. The one-time trans-Atlantic defensive alliance has, over the past three decades, transformed itself from the guardian of Western Europe into global cop, seeking to project militarily a so-called values- and rules-based posture.
NATO’s first Secretary General, Lord Ismay, famously noted that the mission of the bloc was “to keep the Russians out, the Germans down, and the Americans in.” In short, NATO served as a wall against the physical expansion of the Soviet Union from the perch it had established in eastern Europe at the end of the Second World War. Likewise, the creation of NATO prevented a treaty from being concluded between Germany and the Soviet Union that would enable the reunification of Germany. And lastly, the existence of NATO mandated that the US retain a significant full-time military presence in Europe, helping break America’s traditional tendency toward isolationism.
At the Madrid Summit, NATO radically redefined its mission to reflect a new mantra which could be encapsulated as “keep the Russians down, the Americans in, and the Chinese out.” It is an aggressive–even hostile–posture, premised on sustaining Western (i.e., American) supremacy. This mission is to be accomplished through the defense and promulgation of a so-called “rules-based international order” which exists only in the minds of its creators, which in this case is the United States and its allies in Europe. It also represents a radical break from past practice which sought to keep NATO defined by the four corners of its trans-Atlantic birthright by seeking to expand its security umbrella into the Pacific.
The guard dog had, it seems, been re-trained as an attack dog.