If you’re not convinced we are now in a “post-American” (and hence post-NATO) world, consider these events of the last 72 hours.
After the Paris attacks on Friday, the G20 leaders gathering in Turkey knew that both Syria and ISIS would top their agenda in Antalya. On Sunday, UK Prime Minister David Cameron expressed the standard position of the Western allies, since late summer, that Russia should stop prosecuting what is essentially a unilateral war in Syria.
How odd that that position should seem antique a mere 48 hours later. In the wake of the most recent events, one now has the sense that Cameron was speaking in another world and time.
Obama’s watershed moment
The most important thing happened on Monday. Barack Obama made it clear that the U.S. will not change anything we’re doing in Syria. He made it abundantly clear that he doesn’t care what happens in Syria, to Syria, or to the regional nations that are affected by Syria.
This may or may not mean he has no vision at all for what should happen in the Middle East. But it does mean that he has no interest in applying a positive strategy with specific political goals – the only kind of goals that matter at this point – to the security problem created by Syria.
Europe sees no value in waiting for us any longer. France, to be specific, is not going to wait. To prosecute his war, Francois Hollande is not invoking Article 5 of the NATO treaty – and that has enormous implications for the alliance. France has invoked a mutual-defense clause of the EU agreement instead. But if NATO is not for this security problem – as it was after 9/11 – then what is it for?