Time to Withdraw from Outmoded Nato Alliance Taxpayers Could Save $90 Billion a Year

March/​April 1995 • Policy Report

“Today, NATO is an alliance in search of a purpose,“writes Ted Galen Carpenter, Cato’s director of foreign policystudies, in his latest Cato book, Beyond NATO: Staying Out ofEurope’s Wars. The NATO alliance, he says, has become an expensiveand dangerous anachronism in the post‐​Cold War era. But“instead of considering whether an alliance created to wagethe Cold War is relevant in the vastly altered setting ofpost‐​Cold War Europe,” Carpenter writes, “policymakersare debating whether NATO should enlarge its membership byincorporating some or all of the Central and East European nations.”

Beyond NATO is a call for U.S. withdrawal from analliance that costs American taxpayers some $90 billion a year. Carpenterwrites that even more worrisome than the financial burden is theunhealthy attitude of dependence that U.S. dominance induces inthe European allies. He warns that an eastward extension of NATOwould almost certainly undermine democratic pro‐​Western Russians andgive ultranationalist elements an ideal issue to exploit. Itwould also risk military confrontation with Moscow over a regionin which Russia has long‐​standing political, economic, andsecurity interests. Carpenter cautions that an enlarged NATOwould entangle the United States in an assortment of parochial quarrelsand ethnic conflicts among the Central and East European nations.

Carpenter proposes that the United States encourage thestrengthening of “Europeans‐​only” military organizationssuch as the Western European Union. “An important initialstep is to change the nature of the debate about NATO’sfuture,” Carpenter says. “Too often the debate has beena narrow and intellectually sterile discussion of when, how, andhow far the alliance should expand. The more fundamental issue iswhether the alliance should exist at all. A high‐​priority item onWashington’s foreign policy agenda should be to move beyond areflexive reverence for NATO toward a new European policy thatbetter serves America’s interests in the post‐​Cold War era.”

Charles William Maynes, editor of Foreign Policy, says,“Ted Galen Carpenter’s study of post‐​Cold War Europeansecurity is the most penetrating I have yet seen,” and BurtPines of National Empowerment Television calls the book“essential reading for every American taxpayer who continues tounderwrite NATO.”