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NATO, Where Are You?

There is great concern for the well-being of global trade after recent attacks on international shipping by Yemen’s Iran-backed Houthi rebels. According to United Nations’ statistics, the volume of commercial traffic using the Suez Canal has recently fallen by more than 40%. This has started to lead to a drastic rise in consumer prices, as carriers are faced with the dilemma of a massive rise in insurance costs, or a huge increase in fuel costs, as ships now must go around Africa, instead of using the Suez Canal. Some shipping companies have even decided to curtail or suspend their routes through the Red Sea to the Suez Canal.

Although about 30% of global container trade passes through the Suez Canal, its importance to Europe is disproportionately greater than that of US shipping. The Suez Canal is the shortest maritime route from Europe to Asia.

To respond to the Houthi threat to the security and economic well-being of Europe, a United States-led multinational coalition military operation was formed in December 2023 to respond to these attacks on shipping in the Red Sea. Where is NATO?

Why is this not a NATO-led operation? Especially since NATO’s stated raison d’être (reason for being) is to guarantee the freedom and security of its members through political and military means. NATO is an alliance of 31 member states – 29 European countries and only two North American (US and Canada). The Iran-backed Houthis’ actions have an immediate effect and more greatly affect European shipping and economy more so than that of North America. However, as we’re in a world economy, eventually, all will feel the pain.

NATO, and/or a US-led coalition, has the ability to quickly and completely render the Houthis completely inoperative without putting any boots on the ground. However, the current campaign consists mostly of just shooting down the missiles and rockets aimed at ships.

Instead, the fire power of the US led (or NATO-led, if there was one) coalition should be directed to remove the threat not and just play defense. Firepower should be directed to the missile launchers, the people operating these missile and rocket launchers, and the source of these munitions. After all, a good defense is a strong offense.

Ukraine. Again, where is NATO?

When Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022, it was actually part of a conflict that started in 2014. Since Ukraine is just a NATO neighbor country, many called it a “buffer zone” war. Therefore, as a non-NATO member, Ukraine could not invoke Article 5, which provides that “if a NATO Ally is the victim of an armed attack, each and every other member of the Alliance will consider this act of violence as an armed attack against all members and will take the actions it deems necessary to assist the Ally attacked.”

Regardless of former President Donald Trump’s recent disturbing comments, it bears repeating that NATO’s stated raison d’être is to guarantee the freedom and security of its members through political and military means. Since NATO has not stepped up to lead and stop this powerful Russian invasion, Ukraine has been on its own, relying on the generosity of western countries.

The Kiel Institute for the World Economy, a research institute for globalization issues, provides some surprising and disturbing data. The top four military aid commitments to Ukraine (Jan. 24, 2022 to Oct. 31, 2023) are by country: USA 43.9 billion euros, Germany 17.1 billion euros, UK 6.6 billion euros, EU Institutions 5.6 billion euros. Interestingly, the NATO members who share a border with Ukraine, Poland and Hungary, offered only 3.3 billion and zero euros, respectively.

As a NATO member America should definitely and proportionately contribute to this Europe-threatening hostile invasion, which is a huge threat to the stability of the world economy. But why is the USA contributing 14.6 billion euros more than the three next countries combined? In addition, another 56.6 billion euros (61 billion dollars) commitment is in a current bill coming up for a vote in the US Congress! Where is NATO?

About the Author
David is a former NYC advertising agency, corporate-side marketing executive, and consultant. Prior to his career in advertising David spent 5 years in the financial arena. David holds a BS and MBA (both in Marketing & Finance) from New York University. He has been an officer/board member/speaker of industry, educational, and community organizations, as well as several new business startups. David is a US Patent Holder and published author (Hey Israel – You’re Perfect. Now Change (free) and How to Run the Business of YOU). See his website for more information and other writings. David is a retired instructor from Rutgers University School of Communication & Information. He lives in Ashkelon, Israel with his wife and is an active volunteer with the Ashkelon Search and Rescue.
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