Many organizations often seem relevant and necessary when they are initially formed but may subsequently prove to have outlived their original purpose.
Has NATO become such an organization or is it still a viable option in the fight to control Islamic State?
NATO was established on April 4, 1949, as an international military alliance to enable its members to oppose the threat levied by the Soviet Union. The original members of NATO consisted of the United States, Canada, and their European partners.
NATO’s current essential purpose, according to its website, is to safeguard the freedom and security of its 28 members through political and military means.
It is believed by some, however, that NATO is no longer effective as a defense organization but rather functions solely as a security organization.
Photo Credit: NATO
Critics argue that NATO’s current philosophy focuses much more on cost, when it comes to human life and national budget, with less emphasis on the severity of an actual threat against its members.
They agree that NATO cares more about the success of its operations and the merits for entering into a conflict, rather than making the defense of its members its first priority.
Current NATO political and military purposes appear geared toward working together with other members to prevent conflict with a commitment to peaceful resolution of disputes. If that fails, the mission shifts to undertake a crisis-management operation under its founding treaty, or under a United Nations mandate, either alone or in cooperation with other countries and international organizations.
President Barack Obama recently addressed the media while on a stop in Estonia, following the beheading of a second American journalist, Steven Sotloff, by the Islamic State.
You may recall that Obama raised a few eyebrows when he responded to a question regarding his strategy to control Islamic State, when he said he planned to reduce them to a “manageable problem.”
While it seemed like an odd and even weak strategy to use against an enemy that had just beheaded two American journalists, perhaps the watered-down tone Obama took toward the threat of Islamic State can best be explained by the language used to describe NATO’s role in regards to “crisis-management operations.”
Obama, after all, is excellent at giving speeches and may have felt that the choice of these words would appease those member states of NATO, while once again failing to take into consideration the opinion of the American public.
NATO boasts its crisis-management as being one of its most fundamental security tasks, involving both military and non-military measures to respond to national or international threats. The word “defense” was notably absent from the definition of crisis-management.
Crisis-management can also involve peacekeeping operations that we have become all too familiar with under the auspices of the U.N.
NATO’s own language speaks about their crisis-management style as being a “holistic approach.”
While a holistic approach may be the appropriate words to use when explaining yoga or other mind, body, and spirit meditation techniques, they come across as feeble and inappropriate when confronted with an enemy that is hell bent on destroying us.
While these words may fit in with Obama’s "manageable problem" method, I would argue that what is needed is a much more direct and strong approach to those who have murdered Americans and threaten our very existence.
In this undated file image posted on a militant website on Tuesday, Jan. 14, 2014, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, fighters from the Islamic State group march in Raqqa, Syria. (AP Photo/Militant Website, File)
Islamic State has proven by actions and words that they are our enemy and will not stop until they are flying their flag over the White House, the very symbol of American authority. They will not yield to signs of weakness by this president or by NATO.
Many would argue that NATO’s authority has been severely weakened in the past by cuts in defense spending, both in the U.S. and in other member countries.
Even if NATO decided collectively that an act of aggression should be used against Islamic State, it is uncertain how much firepower would be at its disposal.
Some socialists are touting the reduction in defense spending as yet “another landmark in the weakening of U.S. imperialism…”
They also reference the ineffectiveness of NATO due to its member states’ struggles with economic decline.
Finally, they suggest that there has been infighting among some of the member states of NATO regarding how to handle a crisis such as the one Ukraine has recently found itself in with Russia.
Facing a monumental watershed moment in dealing with Islamic State cannot be achieved when those whose very function it is to resolve such issues, are involved in an internal crisis with its own members.
Others argue that NATO’s effectiveness has seen better days and would prove to be ineffectual in a battle against Islamic State.
This undated image posted on Wednesday, Aug. 27, 2014 by the Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group, a Syrian opposition group, which has been verified and is consistent with other AP reporting, shows a fighter of the Islamic State group waving their flag from inside a captured government fighter jet following the battle for the Tabqa air base, in Raqqa, Syria on Sunday. (AP Photo/ Raqqa Media Center of the Islamic State group)
Luke Coffey, a Margaret Thatcher Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, recently said, “I think NATO needs to get back to some of its roots, back to the basics.”
Coffey, further said, “ISIS, without a doubt, poses a threat to the members inside NATO, but I think as an alliance this is not a challenge NATO should take on.”
Coffey cited the coming together of NATO members in 2011 to resolve the crisis in Libya, as one example of how trying to get 28 members to agree, slows down the process.
Coffey believes that with the upcoming fight against Islamic State, a quick and rapid decision-making process is needed.
Frank Gaffney, the founder and president for the Center for Security Policy, believes that NATO is “being a pale shadow of itself” due to its reduction in defense spending by the U.S. and other member states.
Only four of the 28 NATO member states, including the U.S., met or exceeded the NATO requirement that each country spend 2 percent of its gross domestic product annually on military spending.
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen gestures while speaking during a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013. Credit: AP
There are those who also question the long-term relevancy of NATO and call for a modification of its function to more closely reflect the issues plaguing society today, such as cyber warfare and piracy.
It is suggested that this change in function would reduce the need for a large military that has already been reduced because of defense spending cuts.
Perhaps resolving the issue of the relevancy of NATO, whether its function should once again be modified to alter the definition of its original intent, or whether NATO should be involved at all when it comes to resolving the Islamic State conflict, may prove too big of a task to undertake at this point.
America needs to move quickly to resolve the imminent danger that Islamic State is posing to the U.S. Our goal cannot and should not be to arm Syrian rebels to achieve that goal.
Additionally, now is not the time to sit around a table with 28 other member states in order to decide how each country would like to “manage” the situation.
Obama has what he needs to take action to protect American interests without the involvement of NATO or Syrian rebels.
His only decision going forward should be to call upon and work together with Congress to devise a plan that will actively and aggressively send a clear message to Islamic State that America will not be threatened.
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