Daniel Korski’s new article in Foreign Policy, “Partners in Decline,” calls for a renewed US-European relationship, as a way of staving off marginalization at least for a while. It’s kind of hard to discern his point – clearly at this point, Europe needs the US far more than the US needs Europe. True, NATO is a force of legitimacy right now, but if the demographic trends Korski points to as signs of decline continue, won’t it begin to lose that legitimacy as it becomes less and less representative of any significant proportion of global population?

Korski also misinterprets history. He asks us to

Imagine if the United States had in the past chosen its allies exclusively on whether they were willing to fight alongside the 82nd Airborne. That would have meant abandoning an alliance with Britain in 1966 after then-Prime Minister Harold Wilson refused to send British troops to the Vietnam War.

Is there some sort of treaty or piece of paper we would have torn up? Aside from the (predominantly cultural) Special Relationship – which certainly was damaged for most of the 70s until the Reagan-Thatcher revival – Britain’s refusal to commit troops to Vietnam was no more than a disagreement between longtime global partners. There was no real ‘alliance’ to end as a response but even that informal alliance was seriously damaged.

I wouldn’t go so far as to advocate an American withdrawal from NATO (as Andrew Bacevich does), but at the same time it is perhaps on an even steeper path to irrelevancy than Europe and the United States themselves. Korski’s argument is in itself contradictory, as his prescription for waning influence just reemphasizes the extent of Western decline. And like all other nation-states, it is an inevitable collapse.

One thought on “Transatlanticism

  1. This is really interesting and it goes far beyond The United States and Britain’s “Special Relationship.” It’s really, as you say, about NATO. Based on recent discussions in Washington last week pertaining to NATO’s alliances and scope of influence (obviously way beyond what it was post Cold-War) i would argue that its legitimacy is, in fact, in jeopardy, especially since Obama announced his plan for Afghanistan, leading the charge for other nations to follow suit.

    Perceiving and responding to threats has never been America’s strong suit, but that’s no reason for us to withdraw from the organization. Hopefully the discussions in Washington will lead to a more mature and realistic plan for how NATO will treat international needs that today include far more than war, but also climate change and terrorism, issues that we here in America have been invested in for over a decade. Furthermore, the United States needs to be accepted as a strong part of NATO because of the investigation of Article 5, what issues it raises/what actions it warrants.

    This is all jibber jabber, but i’m bored and wanted to respond. And I’m taking a class on this, so you’re basically doing my homework for me. THANKS!

    from across the sea…choops.

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