Collective Security: a checkered record
The urge for nation-states to engage in Collective Security arrangements has a long and mostly unsuccessful history. Attempts at Collective Security go back as far as the 1648 Peace of Westphalia that settled, somewhat, the wars between Protestants and Catholics. Probably, the best-known attempts at Collective Security are the League of Nations, 1919, failed; NATO, 1945, initially successful; the United Nations, 1945, mostly failed; and street gangs -- on-going.
The central theme of Collective Security arrangements is found in Alexandre Dumas The Three Musketeers, whose rallying cry was "One for all, and all for one!" We see this expressed in NATOs Article V which says an attack by an aggressor against a single NATO nation is an attack on all NATO nations and all NATO nations must take action to oppose the aggressor.
Many people assume that "take action" means a military response; however, Article V is weasel-worded so those nations that do not want to lose their young men and women in armed combat can find less violent ways to voice their outrage.
During the Cold War, NATO was effective in preventing a Soviet all-out ground and air war from breaking out across Europe. The original 14 NATO nations had good reasons to fear that Stalin might send the Red Army to overrun Western Europe. From Norway to Turkey, NATO held the line.
Ironically, the NATO nations never gave a thought to attacking the USSR. Even so, Russian dictator Nikita Khrushchev formed the Warsaw Pact (1955), an exercise in Population Control, not Collective Security.
Today, NATO has 30 members and it is hamstrung by so many members not sharing the same concerns, strengths, and goals. You see, the only reason for a nation-state to join a Collective Security pact is to find positive answers to these questions: Are my Vital Interests and the Vital Interests of the other members sufficiently in accord? Will our combined forces be enough to defeat the aggressor? Is my nation willing to have its young people killed and maimed to help other members preserve their Vital Interests?
Answer those questions honestly and it becomes highly unlikely that NATO is of concern to Vladimir Putin who, by diplomatic and military maneuvers, is in the process of pressuring Ukraine into becoming the gas pipeline pathway for Russian heating and energy dominance over Western Europe. If Ukraine will pledge never to join NATO, the crisis is probably over.
Of course, when Putin has an American President who stop-lights Americas energy independence and green-lights Putins Nord Stream 2 pipeline into Germany, Putin has no reason to resort to armed aggression. But does help from President Biden* mean Putin will withdraw all Russian forces from eastern Ukraine? No, President Putin, like all politicians, needs to mollify his ethnic Russian "constituents" in eastern Ukraine.
It is of Vital Interest to viable nation-states to have secure international borders. Instead of to Europe, President Biden* should be sending troops to Americas southern border to back up our outnumbered U.S. Border Patrol. Even our "woke," Obama-Biden*-neutered, vaccine-mandated military could be effective in a border-defense role. Meanwhile, the worlds Vital Interest in preventing Iran from having nuclear weapons receives scant attention.
Suggested reading: The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli. 1513.The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, 1844.
©2022. William Hamilton.