Murdoch: NATO Faces ‘Crisis of Confidence’
News Corporation chairman Rupert Murdoch says that NATO is in a “crisis of confidence” because Western Europe is “losing its faith in the values and institutions that have kept us free.” He calls for a radical redefinition of the Alliance in order to save it, including extending membership to Australia, Japan, and Israel.
Murdoch, who is receiving the Atlantic Council of the United States’ Distinguished Business Leader Award for 2008, says in his prepared remarks that, “We must face up to a painful truth: Europe no longer has either the political will or social culture to support military engagements in defense of itself and its allies. However strong NATO may be on paper, this fact makes NATO weak in practice. And it means that reform will not come from within.” Accordingly, he continued, “we need to transform this Alliance from a community formed around a map to a community based on common values and a willingness to take joint action in defense of these values.” Indeed, he argued, “Expansion is the only hope of invigorating an Alliance weighed down by those who are no longer willing to commit themselves to defend its founding principles.”
Murdock contends that, “Around the world, there is no shortage of nations who share our values, and are willing to defend them. I am thinking of countries like Australia, which sent troops to Iraq … Israel, which has been fighting Islamic terrorism almost since its founding … and Japan, which generally follows a more ‘Western’ policy than most of Western Europe.” Ultimately, he argued, “If we continue to define the West or the Alliance as a strictly geographical concept, the Alliance will continue to erode. But if we define the West as a community of values, institutions, and a willingness to act jointly, we will revive an important bastion of freedom — and make it as pivotal in our own century as it was in the last.”
Murdoch cited his personal story as an example: “I was born in Australia, I received my university education in Britain, and I have made my home in America. Over a long and I hope productive life, I have learned that shared values are more important than shared borders.”
Speaking only for myself, I find Murdoch’s proposal very interesting. Indeed, I’ve long thought that Australia was a no-brainer* for NATO admission, given that they have stood shoulder-to-shoulder with U.S. and NATO forces throughout the history of the Alliance. Japan, too, seems a logical choice given their resources and recent movement toward more active engagement internationally.
Israel, obviously, is a different matter. While I agree that they share our values and have demonstrated enthusiastic willingness to take military action to defend them, they’re such a political hot potato that their inclusion would likely hinder more operations than they’d help.
*UPDATE: Talking to some experts at the Council, though, it seems that the yes-brainer folks disagree. Apparently, NATO-Plus has been bandied about for a while but there is strong concern that the Russians and Chinese would see this as a very dangerous encirclement.