What Good is a NATO Membership Anyway?

The NATO alliance was formed in 1949 in the smoldering aftermath of World War II, the most horrific conflict in the history of the human race. In hindsight, it was only logical, but it was radically ambitious of the time, to create international bodies like NATO and of course the United Nations, founded four years earlier, to help foster world peace. It was a radical concept because much of human history, and the preceding 100 years were no exception, has been marred by conflict, particularly in Europe. To counter an increasingly hostile Soviet Union, a critical ally that helped to topple Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany, the United States helped to found a military alliance named the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or in common parlance, NATO.

What began with 12 founding members in 1949 quickly became 14 nations in 1952 when Greece and Turkey joined the alliance. This was of vital interest to the United States as part of the Marshall Plan whereby the United States exercised soft power, namely offering humanitarian and economic aid, with the explicit aim of stopping communism in its tracks from expanding like a plague through Eastern and Southern Europe. Today, the NATO alliance is 30 members strong including two North American partners and the rest in Europe. What’s curious though is that since the beginning of the alliance, the fate of Greece and Turkey have been intertwined. On some level, it must have been reasoned that if the two nations were in treaty-bound alliance together, along with the vast majority of Europe, that the two quarrelsome neighbors would be deterred from conflicts in the future. For a while that thinking worked, however in 1974, Turkey under the guise of a peacekeeping operation, took approximately 35% of the land of the island nation of Cyprus and they have not left, to this day. Greece and Turkey were extremely close to the conflict over the issue before the United States intervened and the same thing happened with the Imia incident in the 1990s.

There’s no protocol for two NATO members going to war with one another – it simply has not happened before. In this horrifying roller coaster ride known as the year 2020, with Turkey’s economy cratering and President Erdogan of Turkey more delusional and power-drunk than ever, the threat of war in the Eastern Mediterranean is real once more. Germany has betrayed its hand by peddling pro-Turkish narratives and is essentially backing Turkey. The United States has absolutely abdicated its role as an international mediator and become an isolationist nation under Donald Trump despite American diplomats expressing support for Greece and military exercises conducted in the area. Which brings us to France, the only major Western nation in the alliance and in the European Union to offer full-throated support for Greece. Turkey is the agitator in the region, asking unreasonable things and looking for conflict. That nation’s government perpetuates civil rights violations and is a key reason why there is mass regional instability and yet nations like Germany remain on the fence as not one, but two, fellow EU states are taunted and threatened with Greece also being a member of NATO. What good is spending the required amount of GDP on national defense and paying for that level and the behest of the alliance, if at the end of the day, Greece will stand alone, with the exception of France, to ward off the Turkish menace?


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