Discussing
A Christian defense of NATO

Brian J. Auten

Robert Joustra
May 25, 2012

Brian, thank you for taking the time to write this out. While I hesitate on how effective the ballast of NATO is for American foreign policy, I nonetheless share your overall argument that its existence is important if only for the potential of such a balance, and as an effective arm for international action beyond the more rhetorically strategic work of the U.N.

Josh Rockett
May 25, 2012

Thank you Brian for your well thought and researched reflection on what Christians should think of NATO. It is a nice piece of educated and informed work, but your post was unsettling to me. At first I was ready to respond mirroring your scholarly and researched positions complete with corrective reflections and links to articles amending some of your understandings and points about just war theory, specifically Augustine’s idea of caritas as it relates to collective defense. But I’m not going to because the thing about your article that unsettled me was much more simple.
NATO is an organization of a small number of people in powerful positions who make decisions of neighbor regard that effect countless numbers of people. The power NATO holds is a problem along with its arrogance to think its decisions are the best for poor and oppressed people to whom they seek to respond. You write, “Governments…are too easily tempted by power. Alliances serve as a break or a bulwark in the face of…the inescapable political fact of power asymmetries.” Sure a collective defense may be a form of neighbor regard and better than a unilateral response, but the alliance is still a small group of people who hold a large amount of power and force it upon a vastly larger group that has no say in the matter. Though NATO has a variety of responses (thank you for speaking about MISFA—this is good work) its primary tool for response and action is military force and violence. When the only tool you use is a hammer, everything starts looking like a nail.
Can probability of success really be measured and neighbor regard really be calculated without diminishing the value of human life? There is no man or woman, no nation, no mortal power on earth capable of ridding the world of evil. The desire is preposterous. To act upon preposterousness with vast military might (it is a military alliance, correct?) is evil. To acquiesce in such evil is somnolence. No man, woman or mortal power can rid the world of evil: only Christ can. God is a God who fights against suffering and wants to show solidarity with human beings who suffer and God fights against suffering in a human way: the cross. So what should a Christian think of NATO? Whatever they think, their thoughts should begin from the foot of the cross and include the voices of crucified peoples-not the voices of the powerful.

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