NATO Membership Undermines America’s Interests

The Russian war in Ukraine has highlighted three different ways in which America’s membership in NATO has undermined our own national interests.

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First, because our European partners are able to count on the United States, both in terms of a possible military crisis and in terms of our presence providing a n ongoing deterrent, those nations have been spending much less developing their own military strength than they would if they had to provide for their own defense.  Consequently, we now find it necessary to step up to the task of deterring Russian expansionism in a much more bold way than we otherwise would, because our European partners are simply not as well prepared as they should be to shoulder this burden on their own.  Not only does this cost us in terms of the economic war in which we find ourselves, but it also threatens to drag us into a hot war in the near future, and of course costs us hundreds of billions of extra dollars we must spend on our military every year.

Second, because we are in a mutual defense alliance, NATO’s Article V, we have found it necessary to stop Poland from offering their own aircraft to the Ukrainians because we’re afraid it would drag us into a conflict with Russia.  In other words, we have to stop Poland from doing something that they believe is in their interest, that they believe is in alignment with their values, and by the way something that would otherwise be in our own interest by deterring Russian expansionism, because if the Russians get offended by it, it might start a conflict with a NATO nation and thereby trigger an obligation for the US to become involved.

Third, the encroachment of NATO into formerly Soviet territory – Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia as well as the soviet sphere of influence in Romania – wreaks of an offensive forward push as opposed to merely a defensive posture, especially if you look at it through the lens of a paranoid imperialist like Putin.  And it also wreaks of an American Trojan horse, the horse in this case being NATO membership, which NATO made it a point to leave as an open possibility for Ukraine.  No, NATO encroachment is not most of the reason for Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, but, yes, if you’re a Soviet-era politician determined to leave a legacy of greatness, you can see why the threat of a NATO flag flying in Kiev might be a problem, especially if the republic for which it stands is the United States of America.


A Ban on Russian Oil

There is probably nothing anyone could do to punish Vladimir Putin that would strike me as too much.  He’s a war criminal who insults the morals and sensibilities of both eastern and western peoples. 

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However, to be true to our own values, it’s important that our reactions be consistent with the rule of law and the spirit of the Constitution.  I applaud the decisions of American companies who have stopped doing business in Russia or with Russians, and I would have preferred the Biden Administration allow US oil companies to make these same types of decisions on their own, without the White House imposing a government ban on Russian oil imports.  

For starters, such a ban should be illegal in a nation that professes to allow its citizens to make decisions for themselves.  This is especially true when claiming that the reason we are doing it, is at least in part because we want to push back against the spread authoritarianism.  By the way, didn’t we just go through a period in which we all agree, looking back, that our government was too heavy-handed in terms of stopping people from conducting business the way they see fit?  

Secondly, the law and ethics aside, who is in the best position to determine whether it’s a good idea to stop importing oil from Russia?  Are you comfortable with that decision being made by a politician whose job it is to make you feel good about his efforts to punish an enemy?  This is a politician who has been quite comfortable with his decisions to shut down an oil pipeline from Canada and the drilling for more oil in Alaska, despite these decisions having inflationary effects on the American economy.  Maybe, we should be more comfortable with these decisions being made by companies who, by their nature, have to balance public sentiment against the cost consequences of finding new sources for our oil.