Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
This isn't the first time the question of NATO's future and role, if any, has come up. I remember seeing it in the 1990's. I don't recall hearing a compelling reason for NATO's continuance.

That being said, then, as now, the feeling is that for all its faults (and there are plenty - NATO cooperation in Afghanistan is miserable, and a blessing as well) nobody quite had the feeling that the world had changed enough to discard an agreement that might be almost impossible to reinstate in future. And in the 90's, uncertainty ruled.

Nobody then would have predicted that the face of conflict in the 21st century would be overwhelmingly intra-state rather than inter-state, but it is. Nobody would have predicted that there would have been a genocide, then another ethnic cleansing in Europe, but there was. And it was NATO who stepped up, not without missteps, when Operation Horseshoe was initiated. I remember at the time the Clinton administration saying that Balkan unrest was a European problem, and that the threat to European peace and security (and the threat was real) was something Europeans should step up and deal with. European leaders insisted on American involvement, perhaps reading better the mood in Moscow than did Washington.

In the end, for the US, the Russian proposal for a EU-Russian security agreement is likely seen as an attempt by Moscow to isolate the US. It's my feeling that the Bush/Cheney administration's disdain for multilateral agreements and penchant for going it alone is an anomaly, and for all our recent misdeeds, please bear in mind that since 1990, no other nation has sent troops over its borders as often as Russia, and linking EU security to successive siloviki regimes in Moscow in lieu of maintaining the existing link with Washington, seems to me to be a poor bargain.

Andrea Merkel is correct in stating that the future of European security lies in building agreements with Moscow, but basing your security on a relationship with a massively corrupt, opaque regime whose government rests on a foundation of iron control of the elements of civil society (the police, courts and press), whose current backstory is how Russia shall go it alone and yet emerge triumphant, is dangerous in so many ways. At best, I think, it would have a futile effort. At worst, it could have leant diplomatic weight to Russian adventures all along its southern and western borders.

Moscow has a long way to go yet and seemingly is oblivious to this fact. Putin speaking of the effects of the economic crisis at Davos:

"Let us be frank. Provoking military-political instability and upper regional conflicts is also a convenient way of deflecting people's attention from mounting social and economic problems. Regrettably, further attempts of this kind cannot be ruled out."

--quoted by Niall Ferguson in a statement to the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

"It Can't Be Just About Us"
--Frank Schnittger, ETian Extraordinaire
by papicek (papi_cek_at_hotmail_dot_com) on Thu Feb 26th, 2009 at 10:11:29 PM EST

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