Defending America
David H. Hackworth
5 March 1997

NATO, A COSTLY DINOSAUR

The French ain't for moving NATO East. Neither are the Russians. Nor are scores of US and European military and diplomatic big wigs who have extensive experience dealing with Russia.

Henry Kissinger is for it. But his self-serving plan to end the Vietnam War ­ the disaster that brought the U.S. and the now conquered South Vietnam the Kissinger version of "Peace With Honor" -- makes me suspect of his ringing endorsement of NATO's proposed expansion.

Since he became a world-wide oracle of all matters dealing with high strategy, Kissenger has gotten few things right except how to fill his pockets with gold from arms racketeers seeking his advice.

George F. Kennan, whose batting average is a million times better than Henry's, says expanding NATO to Russia's borders would be the most "fateful error in the entire post cold war era." Kennan called the cold war before one ice crystal had formed and was dead on regarding the insanity of America's involvement in Vietnam. Unlike Kissinger, he doesn't have a butler to walk behind him picking up his dog's droppings. He lives modestly and has never sold advice to anyone. In a word, he's a straight-shooter without any hidden agendas.

NATO no longer has a purpose. For forty years, it kept the Soviets caged. But since 1989, when the Evil Empire bellied up and the Berlin wall came tumbling down, NATO has been a defense organization scratching hard for a mission.

Yet the Kissingers, Albrights and the rest of the strategic intellectual set want to pump air into its corpse with the hope that it will come back to life.

They want Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary to be the first of the former Soviet clients to suit up in NATO green, an idea that drives the Russians bonkers and could well eventually bring back the cold war -- creating real security problems in Europe.

What this is all about is not the defense of Europe -- the Western Europeans all have enough bucks to defend themselves -- but a desperate maneuver on the part of the Pentagon, the-inside-the-beltway Congressional porkers and U.S. defense contractors to keep a prime feeding trough in place.

NATO has been a Pentagon job's program and a major player in the American Defense Corporation Welfare Program since General Dwight Eisenhower became its first chief. Trillions of your tax dollars have been spent on the defense of Europe since 1949.

We are currently spending over $10 billion a year just to maintain about 100,000 U.S. troops within NATO countries. When you add the indirect operating costs for overhead and weapons acquisition, the sticker price for U.S. participation in NATO virtually doubles to about $20 billion a year. Then plug in the Bosnias, Macedonias and Albanias and, BINGO, you're pushing $25 billion a year.

If the Poles, Czechs, Hungarians and other broke Eastern European counties join NATO, you the American taxpayer can expect to be gouged again big time. Polands' current annual defense budget can only purchase one F-16 fighter aircraft. Yet, the U.S. Air Force is already negotiating the sale of 100 F-16s to Poland and is leaning on the Czechs to buy this made-in-the-USA fighter aircraft. And the U.S Navy just offered the Czechs seven F/A-18 "Hornet" jets free for five years.

Congressional porkers applaud the sales of these aircraft and all the rest of the NATO-cloning gear even if the bill is picked up by the American taxpayer. It means jobs for back home, more votes and more PAC money for their reelection coffers.

The Poles, Czechs, Hungarians and the rest of the former Soviet satellite countries deserve protection as does the rest of Europe, including the Russians. But let's protect ourselves and our pocket books by pressuring the existing NATO nations and the former Warsaw pact countries into setting up a Western European-financed security agreement that puts all the nations in Europe -- including Russia -- in the same trenches with their weapons pointed towards China, their next real threat.

NATO no longer should be our business. Instead, imagine what we could do at home with $25 billion a year: schools, hospitals and churches could be built and the time bombs we call inner cities could be defused before they blow.

The end