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Friday, 15 February, 2002, 10:51 GMT
Has Nato outlived its usefulness?
European concerns about the direction of US foreign policy have raised the question about the present role for Nato.

Washington seems increasingly ready to act alone, and it has been suggested that the US defence force is now so far ahead of the European military in terms of fighting technology and defence spending, that the US is rarely likely to need its allies.

And Europe is going its own way too - EU foreign ministers have recently been discussing the idea of the new joint EU defence force taking over the Nato peacekeeping mission in Macedonia.

For this week's Europewide debate, Europe Today's Johannes Dell put the question to the foreign affairs spokesman of the German Christian Democrats, Karl Lamers, in Cologne; and first to the French international relations expert Dominique Moisi in Paris.

Has Nato outlived its usefulness? Tell us your views.


New threats of global terrorism and weapons of mass destruction need a different strategy

Jon, USA
Nato must not be dissolved but completely restructured. The US and Western Europe still share the same basic interests and face similar problems. New threats of global terrorism and weapons of mass destruction need a different strategy and organisational structure in order to be defeated.
Jon, USA

Unfortunately Nato is the only pillar of force and security currently available for the countries of Europe. As long as Europe continues to be dependent on this pillar to present a united military force, it will have to contend itself with being the second fiddle in this "marriage".
D. Ivanov, Bulgaria

Nato is redundant

Justin, UK
Nato is redundant. Europe has a comparative economy to the United States and therefore has the resources to build a strong enough military for its own interests. This can only happen when we get over our petty nationalisms (especially us Brits) and realise that if we truly want to be a friend to the USA we must become an equal and respected partner that is able to give constructive criticism that can be taken seriously.
Justin, UK/ European Union

I don't think that NATO has outgrown its usefulness and I hope that Europe will bear with us until the U.S. can move on to a new administration that better appreciates its need for its good friends around the world.
P. Cohen, USA

No, NATO has not outlived its usefulness. It remains the dominant military power in the world with no change to its status in the foreseeable future. Perhaps if the Europeans started paying their fair share of the research and development bill, Americans might be afforded the wonderful social welfares Western Europe enjoys. But oh well, if one nation has to be the one that foots the bill to protect democracy, it might as well be the USA, since we're the ones that invented it.
Bret, USA

The funds that has been used to sustain NATO could be better used for development.

John Upindi, Namibia
The world does not need NATO. What the world need is a strong United Nation. The funds that has been used to sustain NATO could be better used for development. For whose good is NATO there now? To fight whom? The cold war is over.
John Upindi, Namibia

One can not help others that do not want to help themselves. NATO will make itself obsolete if the power of European armies continue to decline. Europe needs to reject their naivety of the world and realize that there are countries out there that have the same goals that Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia.
Tim Renfro, USA

As a European, I think we should leave NATO and build our own defence structure. If I read the US contributions to this site, well, I think it is clear that Europeans and Americans think differently about world politics. At the moment (and most other times) the Americans only think about 'armed' politics, meaning, using crude force to reach a goal that only serves the US. They apparently think that problems can be solved by weapons alone (look at their justice system, but that¿s an other discussion).
The Europeans think a bit different. As a continent that has seen 2 World Wars and thus knows what war can do, we think that war is the last step in reaching a kind of settlement. Even then one should be very careful because war is never a solution. Americans call this statement weak and without backbone, but at least we do not kill innocents. This discrepancy in thinking alone justifies a change and going our own way.
Lenstra, Netherlands

NATO is quite obsolete. Europe has long been free from any danger of "attack" from the East. With a larger combined population and economy, The nations of Europe do not need the presence of US military in any form, and the US would be better off concentrating military presence and security at home. NATO may continue to exist on paper for a while, but the reason this "alliance" was created evaporated long ago: The Warsaw Pact is defunct.
David Broome, Ohio, USA

The Europeans are advanced nations and can fund their own defence

Daniel, USA
Nato is obsolete. The Europeans are advanced nations and can fund their own defence and draft their own military ideals. I just hope that if the world faces a major military conflict, the US and European forces not find each other on opposing sides.
Daniel, USA

I expect the EU wants Nato to break up, so that they have an excuse to put together their Euro-army. Personally, I think we need Nato to keep the EU in check and it's about time that Britain beefed-up our military so that we could keep tabs on this side of the Atlantic. We could then work in coalition with the States as ever, but with a bit more balance.
Russ Moore, UK

I think those countries that failed to show solidarity after September 11 should be voted out of Nato. What use is an alliance if your 'allies' refuse even to condemn your attackers?
Shantanu Thakur, Ohio, USA

No. The democracies should continue to stand by each other.
Michael Carr, Canada

Nato has absolutely outlived its usefulness. The USA's military forces have reached a degree of lethality that precludes symmetric warfare. Europe's forces, with the exception of the magnificent SAS, would be a liability now.
L. Green, USA

The European Union should do what's best for them. It's time for Nato to move on. The USA is not really treating the EU fairly. They can do what they want and when they want, with the help of Nato members. Wake up guys.
Lloydton Watson, USA

We should leave the Euro weaklings to cower in their closets

Vince Coleman, USA
The US should have dumped the Europeans a long time ago. The only thing the Europeans do is get in the way of every positive change the US tries to make in the world. They have no backbone and are very poor when it comes to threat assessment (WWII and the Cold War). We should leave the Euro weaklings to cower in their closets while the US does the heavy lifting, of making the world a better place for us and the rest of the world to live in, alone.
Vince Coleman, USA

Absolutely. As European fertility rates continue to fall, the native European population continues to age, and low investment continues to make the European military little better than a police force, Europe will become both incompetent and untrustworthy as an ally. The day will come, and soon, when the US will be unwilling to defend a Europe, which is unwilling and unable to defend itself.
Tom Jones, USA

Nato is a cold war relic, and should be dispensed with. The time for Europe to develop an adequate defence along with a rapid reaction force is now, and high on the list should be military items to facilitate rapid deployment (so-called heavy lifters) in the event of a breach of European security or interests. Wisely, the US is pursuing its own interests much to the chagrin of Europe, and this trend will likely continue under Bush. To be blunt, our interests should remain with our neighbours and those who supply us oil. As nasty as that sounds, it is reality until somebody in the US fires a few neurons and creates a viable alternative to petrol.
Victor, USA

I think a Euro-army is a great idea, in theory. However, judging from how Europeans have dealt with threats to their own history in the all to recent history I think that such an army is wishful thinking. It took US intervention to produce a lasting peace in the Balkans for example. Europeans too easily overlook their common interests and needs in favour of localism; it has been their downfall of Europe in the past and it will continue to be in the foreseeable future. If such a standing army was actually becomes a reality I think it would be in the best interests of all parties involved to continue the Alliance but in a revised form, one in which the European Union is a single member state. This would allow all member states to continue to rely on the phrase "an attack on one is an attack on all."
Justin, Connecticut

I'm British and usually a supporter of America in most things, but I become very angry ant American suggestions such as some of those here, insist on regarding Nato as some sort of US protection of Europe. It is not; it is a partnership, the UK and other nations can protect themselves. Nato provides a forum for co-operation and military unity that shall out live the EU.
Acc, Great Britain

How else will a group of ruling-class men be able to oppress foreign peoples without being constrained by some international body? The answer is Nato. Nato has not outlived its usefulness. It outlived its morality.
Henri Benney, US

I do think that Nato is still a very useful organization. How else could the US bomb little countries around the world without being blamed for suppressing civilians and causing major "collateral" damage? NATO is a major forum for war! We need it.
Peter Smily, USA

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Listen now both sides of the debate
See also:

06 Dec 01 | Europe
Nato still matters - Powell
26 Sep 01 | World
Macedonia: the Nato mission
03 Feb 02 | Europe
Europe urged to boost defence
13 Sep 01 | Americas
Nato agrees to back US
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