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‘Arab NATO’: A Terrible Idea That Won’t Die

Trump is trying [1] to create a so-called “Arab NATO” as part of his obsession with Iran:

The Trump administration is quietly pushing ahead with a bid to create a new security and political alliance with six Gulf Arab states, Egypt and Jordan, in part to counter Iran’s expansion in the region, according to U.S. and Arab officials.

Creating a new alliance structure isn’t in the interests of the U.S., and the threat it is supposedly countering is wildly exaggerated. There is no Iranian “expansion” to be countered. The real purpose of a new military alliance would probably be to provide political cover for reckless interventions of the kind we have seen in Yemen. It is difficult to see how a new alliance (tentatively named the Middle East Strategic Alliance) would fare any better than the existing Gulf Cooperation Council, which has been badly split by the Saudi-led blockade of Qatar. It is even harder to see why Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar would want to join an explicitly anti-Iranian alliance.

A new alliance would represent more unnecessary and potentially costly commitments from the U.S., and it would tie the U.S. even more closely to reckless despotic clients that have become liabilities. If it goes ahead, it would represent the intensification of almost everything wrong with U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, and it will sooner or later drag the U.S. into more regional wars. The U.S. already has too many security commitments, and it has been far too involved in the conflicts of this region for the last thirty years. Creating a new alliance would mean adding even more burdens when we need to reduce them, and it would further ensnare us in the rivalries of a region that matters very little to U.S. security. An “Arab NATO” is a terrible idea, so of course it is something that Trump supports creating.

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6 Comments To "‘Arab NATO’: A Terrible Idea That Won’t Die"

#1 Comment By b. On July 30, 2018 @ 12:25 pm

“it will sooner or later drag the U.S. into more regional wars”

NATO expansion, properly understood as a device to promote, facilitate, and even coerce sales for US arms manufacturers, suggest that MESA is similarly driven by a profit motive. With the example of Turkey in mind, a formal alliance makes it easier for Congress to avoid inconvenient and unprofitable arms embargoes and export restrictions.

NATO expansion also serves as an illustration that US motivation is the reverse: to drag allies into more acts of globalized aggression. NATO serves as a platform for forward deployment of missile “defense” aka suppression systems that will eventually threaten Russian land-based missile systems with boost-phase and early intercept, as well as forward deployment for intermediate range ballistic missiles and cruise missiles that, once already, were designed and deployed for purposes of nuclear “decapitation” and counter-force strikes and, in combination with close-in SLBMs, for launch suppression by nuclear airburst.

NATO exists, profits aside, as a vehicle to co-opt and use allied resources in the Great Gamble against Russia. There will be a similar “alliance” established in the Indo-Pacific, and the US will not cede any “rights” in South Korea, on Okinawa, or regarding Taiwan for a similar effort regarding China – a lower priority as long as China retains their policy of minimum means of nuclear reprisal.

MESA is explicitly pushed to include “missile defense”. It has to be asked, against which missiles does the US wish to aggressively and proactively “defend” itself in the Middle East?

#2 Comment By b. On July 30, 2018 @ 12:29 pm

What nuclear tipped missiles would be launched against Middle Eastern target, and which targets would that be? Unless Trump is proposing to help the Gulf States counter Israels undeclared nuclear arsenal and unknownh missile capabilities, one would assume that Russian missiles aimed at US bases throught the region would be the most likely concern.

#3 Comment By Sid Finster On July 30, 2018 @ 12:29 pm

@Trump die-hards: How’s that “Trump is going to pull us out of pointless entanglements on behalf of other countries” working out there for you?

#4 Comment By rayray On July 30, 2018 @ 1:08 pm

@b.
Don’t always agree with your comments, but what an intriguing, insightful and cogent analysis. Much appreciated.

#5 Comment By collin On July 30, 2018 @ 4:59 pm

TBH, the best part about NATO is not the military alliance against enemies but the treaty decreased chances of European wars and increased trade. And it is own clunky way NATO was success for that but this Arab NATO screams of the Arab banding together against Iran which will likely end in war.

#6 Comment By Mark Krvavica On July 30, 2018 @ 7:47 pm

The original NATO would become a Cold War relic by the early 1990s, we don’t need another military alliance.