by Rafael Bardají and Richard Kemp
Article published in The Daily Telegraph on 13 February 2017. © Rafael Bardají and Richard Kemp
President Trump has said repeatedly that Nato is obsolete. And he is right. For five decades Nato was necessary to, as its first Secretary General said at the time, ‘keep the Soviets out, the Americans in, and the Germans down’.
The Atlantic Alliance was indeed instrumental in deterring the USSR
and keeping the European continent in peace. There were many discussions as to how to achieve its goals, including major disagreements, but with America providing leadership, taking a big portion of the economic burden, and being willing to station hundreds of thousands of GIs in Europe, the Allies were able to overcome all problems and stay highly successful during the Cold War.
The collapse of the Soviet Union left Nato with both the sweet feeling of having won the Cold War without a real fight, as well as a sour feeling about what should come next.
In the early 90s there were voices calling for the dismantling of Nato as well as voices arguing in favor of retaining it as a safety net, just in case things went once again in the wrong strategic direction. In any case, the civil war in the former Yugoslavia offered Nato defenders a new option: to move from a territorial defense of the members in case of a Soviet invasion to a multinational body able to act on its periphery to enforce peace among rivals and contenders. More than a mission, peace enforcement was adopted as a salvation philosophy to keep Nato alive and well.
Thus, in 1995, allied forces bombed Serbian forces to force the Dayton agreement and put an end to the war over Bosnia-Herzegovina. In 1999 they mounted a bombing campaign to guarantee the independence of Kosovo, a territory controlled by Serbia.
That campaign lasted for 81 days, far longer than expected, and was (more…)