NATO and Revisiting George Washington’s Guidance on Permanent Alliances


In my humble opinion, the biggest opportunity to demilitarize Europe in our lifetime was lost when the decision to expand rather than dissolve the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was made.

Author and lecturer Byron Katie stated that “defense is the first act of war” and this is good example of just that. NATO membership now includes former Soviet Block countries such as Poland and Czech Republic and serious negotiations are/were under way to include former Soviet Republics like Georgia and Ukraine that have long been in the sphere of Russian political, economic, military and cultural influence. This expansion could only be taken as an act of aggression by the Russians.

Starting in the late 1990s, I could not help but think to myself that there had to be some Russian version of a Rush Limbaugh out there playing the demagogue, stirring up nostalgia in the hearts of his listeners for a time when no one kicked Russia around. In short, we kicked them while they were down and now as the Russian invasion of Georgia and Putin’s stirring the pot in the Middle East would indicate – the chickens are coming home to roost.

In 1949, NATO was founded in response to the formation of the Warsaw Pact by the Soviet Union and the countries of Eastern Europe it held under its yoke. Under the treaty, the member countries agreed to come to each others assistance in response to an attack by any external party.

Although George Washington cautioned against foreign entanglements and stated in his farewell address that “it is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world . . .” I believe he would have favored our involvement in NATO in as much as we were “taking care always to keep ourselves by suitable establishments on a respectable defensive posture.” This view is reinforced when he further stated “we may safely trust to temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies.”

Given that the Warsaw Pact dissolved in 1991, my question is a simple one: Why are we still involved in NATO and why hasn’t NATO been dissolved? The emergency had passed. Short of the misguided desire to maintain and extend the American Empire, an empire that costs more to maintain than we receive back from, I can’t think of a one.

Now would be the time to heed the guidance of George Washington. The NATO alliance armed by the military industrial complexes of its member nations is a “misadventure” waiting to happen. Georgia is a prime example of just this kind of misadventure, with all the trappings like imperial overreach, hubris, and quagmire.

George Washington went on to say in his farewell address that “excessive partiality for one foreign nation and excessive dislike of another cause those whom they actuate to see danger only on one side, and serve to veil and even second the arts of influence on the other. Real patriots who may resist the intrigues of the favorite are liable to become suspected and odious, while its tools and dupes usurp the applause and confidence of the people, to surrender their interests.”

The dissolution of NATO would be a step in the right direction. That is not to say we should be isolationists, far from it. But the reality is the American Empire has hit its zenith. One way or another, it will end. We can choose to dismantle it in an organized fashion that would include a policy of non intervention, rebuilding our industrial base, ending dependence of foreign oil, and restraining our hubris. Or we can watch it collapse as we bankrupt ourselves trying to maintain it.

Kevin kevin_lynn.jpgLynn

Kevin Lynn is a delegate and member of the Executive Board to the California Democratic Party representing the 46th Assembly District which includes the Downtown Core, Little Tokyo, China Town, Boyle Heights and parts of East and South Los Angeles. He is formerly the leader of thePasadena Chapter for Democracy for America, one of the most potent political activist groups in the San Gabriel Valley. Kevin’s goal is to elect fiscally responsible and socially progressive Democratic leaders to office. To that end he is currently forming an umbrella organization called the Center for Progressive Urban Politics to assist political organizations with turning red districts blue and forcing our elected officials confront the difficult problems affecting the state of California. Kevin grew up on a small farm in Quakertown, Pennsylvania, is a former Army officer and currently works as a tax consultant. His hobbies are reading history, skiing, backpacking, political activism and yoga.

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