NATO: Obsolete Superheroes?

By Kathryn Chaney
Staff Writer

On March 20, the Economist published a political cartoon depicting the role of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in the current confrontation between Russia and Ukraine. The cartoon depicts NATO’s power during the Cold War as a movie line up staring super heroes: Brawn, Shield, Unity, and Projector. Under each hero’s name, the cartoon describes their powers as they would relate to combating the Soviet Union in the Cold War. However, in the second portion of the cartoon, the same super heroes are shown waiting at a casting call for the alleged second Cold War developing around Russia and Ukraine. However, unfortunately these once super heroes are no longer employed due to budget cuts. Therefore, there is a question as to how much influence NATO can have in modern Europe and the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine.

In the cartoon published by the Economist, each of the NATO super heroes is given a description of their powers. Brawn’s “daunting deltoids deal deterrence to Russian rabble rousers.” Shield “protects open skies from ballistic baddies.” Unity “unleashes the undeniable energy of solidarity,” and Projector “promotes the power of democratic ideals.” However, it seems that NATO can no longer afford to have these powers on their payroll.

According to an article in the Daily Mail with former Defense Minister Dr. Liam Fox, the entire NATO alliance is at stake due to the conflict in Ukraine. Dr. Fox stated that the West should be supplying Ukraine with weapons to combat the Russian invasion. However, the Daily Mail explains that European nations have become extensively withdrawn from Ukraine as a result of their fear of further fueling the fire. The passions that once charged the super heroes of NATO during the Cold War seem to have vanished and been replaced with a concern for maintaining proper international relations.

Moreover, the Daily Mail also commented that the British Prime Minister David Cameron will not allocate two percent of Britain’s GDP for the NATO target of defense. Thus, collective self-defense is apparently not on Europe’s agenda.

Furthermore, do the powers of these super heroes still have a place in combating Russian aggression in the modern global community?

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica, during the Cold War NATO’s primary purpose was to strengthen the Western Allie’s military response to a potential invasion by the Soviet Union. One of the key aspects of this was nuclear deterrence based on the idea that with shared nuclear power between France, Great Britain, and the Unites States, the Soviet Union would think twice before attempting an invasion. However, in the case of the Ukraine, the invasion has already happened; Crimea has been annexed by Russia, and the Russian military forces show no signs of backing down or leaving, despite sanction and warnings from the western front. If these actions by Russia were not enough, WND has reported that Russia is poised to move nuclear weapons onto the Crimean Peninsula. These nukes should be interpreted as a message from the Russian Federation to NATO. Mr. Putin is not fooling around, and clearly deterrence is not going to work in this instance. Thus, Brawn and Shield are no longer employed by NATO.

Additionally, a push for solidarity and the promotion of democracy does not hold the weight today as it did in the Cold War. By general standards, the Russian Federation is a democracy. Therefore, the idea of solidarity has no grounds, as Russia is no longer a communist state, and the spread of democracy is not necessarily a contradiction to the ideologies present in Russia. Consequently, Unity and Projector are also out of a job.

Kathryn Chaney

Contact Katy at kathryn.chaney@student.shu.edu.

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