Document created: 20 August 02
Air & Space Power Journal - Fall 2002
US Allies in a Changing World edited by Barry Rubin and Thomas A. Keaney. Frank Cass Publishers (http://www.frankcass.com), 5824 NE Hassalo Street, Portland, Oregon 97213-3644, 2001, 294 pages, $54.50.
This book is the product of a conference dedicated to analyzing American alliances in the new century, hosted by Johns Hopkins University and the Began-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies of Bar-Ilan University in Israel in 1998. At that conference, a dozen academics specializing in national security, strategy, and international affairs delved deeply into a number of alliances crucial to the United States as it enters a new phase of defense strategy and policy.
The book contains several parts. Part one lays the groundwork for how the United States evolved from the Washingtonian ideal of shying away from foreign entanglements to forming the foundation of several key alliances against communism—these include the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Southeast Asia Treaty Organization, and Central Treaty Organization. Thomas Keaney reminds us of 80 years of American history in which alliances became crucial to dealing with problems of global proportions. In World War I, the United States was a junior partner promoting collective security and fighting for independent control of its forces in Europe. In World War II, the United States eventually established itself as an equal among European and Russian Allies, emerging after 1945 as a dominant partner in several key alliances. This dominance, however, would be tested in the future, in light of Europe’s desire for equality within NATO, the economic challenges of maintaining forces, and disagreements over foreign policies.
Ted Hopf then offers a compelling argument regarding US maintenance of what he terms authoritative alliances. His thesis highlights the freedoms and sovereignty that nations give up when they enter into collective economic or security agreements. Thus, he forces readers to look upon the power of an alliance as a whole instead of focusing solely on the dominant partner (e.g., the United States). This perspective allows for a broader exploration of possibilities in the face of threats and challenges.
Part two explores the future of British and German alliances with the United States. Christopher Coker examines the historical aspects of the Anglo-American alliance, noting not only the two nations’ firm commitment to each other but problems, such as the frightening technology gap between them. He also addresses the significant decrease in England’s defense spending and the drawdown of British forces. On the positive side, Britain brings a wealth of experience in military policing, peacekeeping, and civil-military affairs by virtue of its colonial past. According to Karl Heinz-Kami, Germany sees the Bundeswehr evolving from its defensive role to one that includes both a crisis-reaction force and main defense force. German defense planners are seriously considering the concept of preventive defense, which favors limi-ted and early military intervention before a crisis turns into a full-blown conflict.
Part three deals with Middle Eastern alliances, primarily Turkey, the Gulf States, and Israel. Kemal Kirisci cites Ankara’s concern about its neighbors’ arsenal of ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction, a fear that has driven Turkey into a cooperative agreement with Israel to fund and research antimissile defense systems. Turkey sees its alliance with the United States as crucial and understands the geo-strategic advantages it brings to the NATO alliance. Stressful situations include the rise of political Islam in the Turkish electoral process and disagreements over the plight of the Kurds.
Joseph Kostiner offers an illuminating synopsis of how the Gulf States wish to ally themselves with the United States. Arab nations have had a hard time jump-starting a collective security agreement, and Kostiner highlights the failures of the 1991 Damascus Declaration and the Gulf Cooperation Council. Moderate Arab states look to a future in which they would need US intervention in times of major crisis, with low-level contingencies handled by a collective security arrangement featuring Egypt, Syria, and a moderate Iran led by President Mohammad Khatami and his followers.
Gerald Steinburg explores the current US-Israeli alliance, finding it anchored in two key points: antimissile defense and the question of implementing a formal defense treaty with Israel. Such a treaty would be based on the establishment of a Palestinian state and a declaration that Washington would not tolerate any further encroachment on Israel by either Palestine or other Arab neighbors.
The final part of the book delves into Asian alliances, looking in particular at the future of Japan, Taiwan, South Korea, and Australia. Tohkiyuki Shikata addresses issues of the Japanese alliance, including theories of preventive defense and attempts to balance Tokyo’s constitutional limitations regarding offensive capabilities with a need to maintain security for the island. The United States will need to look into using its Japanese bases more effectively and utilizing offshore basing, while simultaneously developing Japan’s capabilities for self-defense. Curiously, only Japan and the United States maintain squadrons of F-15 strike fighters and AWACS aircraft as well as Aegis-class cruisers.
Yong Sup-Han discusses how policies regarding South Korea have changed from containing North Korea to pursing engagement with Pyongyang while maintaining a defensive strike posture. Similarly, Philip Yang delves into how US relations with Taiwan have changed from maintaining Taiwan’s independence to making it part of a third China, whereby the island maintains its government, economy, and autonomy—like Hong Kong and Macau—yet is merged with mainland China.
US Allies in a Changing World is a thought-provoking book, highly recommended for readers interested in these key regions of the globe. Its lessons in the changing nature of US allies lead us to be sensitive to the aspirations and needs of those nations whose support America will continue to require as it pursues the current war on terrorism.
Lt Youssef H. Aboul-Enein, USN
The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University.