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Expanding NATO Is a Bad Idea

America’s founders, having survived a violent and protracted struggle to break away from England, shared a belief that their fledgling nation should be free from foreign entanglements. Thomas Jefferson’s well-known quote- “Peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations- entangling alliances with none” -encapsulates perfectly their view of the wisest foreign policy for America. A famous portrait of George Washington depicts him holding a sheaf of paper emblazoned with the admonition: “Beware foreign influence.” Yet our modern lawmakers reject the non-interventionist principles of our founders, choosing instead to involve America in conflicts around the globe.

Consider our participation in NATO, which commits American military forces to conflicts that serve no national interest. Congress voted last week to expand NATO and increase the number of countries we are obligated to defend, even while our own military forces are stretched far to thin around the globe. Department of Defense figures show that 250,000 American troops are deployed on 6 continents and 141 nations. When we suffered the September 11th attack on our own shores, we were forced to call on foreign nations to supply AWACS planes and defend our domestic airspace! Our military entanglements, especially NATO, have left us relying on foreigners to defend us- yet this is exactly what the globalists want. They want us to lose our sense of national sovereignty, so that America’s national defense becomes a matter of international consensus. Only by removing ourselves from NATO and the UN can we reassert our fundamental right to defend our borders without the approval or participation of any international coalition.

NATO is an organization that has outlived its usefulness. It was formed as a defensive military alliance, designed to protect western Europe against the Soviet threat. With the Soviet collapse in 1991, however, NATO bureaucrats (and the governments backing them) were forced to reinvent the alliance and justify its continued existence. So the “new NATO” began to occupy itself with issues totally unrelated to defense, such as economic development, human rights, territorial disputes, religious conflicts, and ethnic rivalries. In other words, “nation building.” The new game was interventionism, not defense.

The new approach manifested itself in Yugoslavia in the late 1990s. The defensive alliance became a military aggressor, in direct violation of its own charter. When NATO bombed Yugoslavia, a country that had neither attacked nor threatened a NATO member state, it turned its back on its stated purpose and lost any credibility it once had. Predictably, the NATO strikes failed to produce peace or stability in the former Yugoslavia, and UN occupation forces likely will remain in the Balkans indefinitely.

Now Congress has endorsed the expansion of this purposeless alliance, of course taking the opportunity to grant 55 million of your tax dollars to the former Soviet bloc countries that want to join. This expansion may be profitable for weapons manufacturers and bureaucrats, but it represents another example of U.S. taxpayers subsidizing foreign governments and big corporations. It is time for the Europeans to take responsibility for their own military defense.

As the world’s foremost military power, it always seems that our money, our weapons, and our troops play the primary role in any NATO military action. It’s a one-way street, however, as our NATO partners are not so enthusiastic about defending us. Some NATO states have refused outright to participate in our campaign in Afghanistan, while presumably reliable allies like France and Germany have expressed serious doubts. Only England, with whom we share a very strong kinship regardless of NATO, fully supports our actions. It’s time for America to recognize that the interests NATO serves are not our own. CP

Ron Paul, M.D., represents the 14th Congressional District of Texas in the United States House of Representatives.

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