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Cafe Society to discuss U.S. relations with Allies

By Staff | Jun 27, 2016

The next session of the Cafe Society on June 28 will discuss the pros and cons of U.S. alliances since World War II. It is proving nearly impossible in recent years for nations to think, let alone act unilaterally. Increasingly international relations are conducted concurrently across many areas of often competing social, political, economic and national security interests.

Purely strategic or military commitments may be complicated by business or trade agreements and interdependencies that are difficult to assess when matters of national security are at issue. Alliances have proven to be very dynamic and at times unresponsive instruments of our foreign policy.

These informal weekly discussions are held from 8:30 to 10 a.m. every Tuesday morning in the Rumsey Room of the Shepherd University Student Center.

Cafe facilitator Mike Austin said, “In our diplomatic endeavors we often hear the somewhat cynical statement that “Nations don’t have allies, they have interests.” And in reviewing our international experiences since World War II we can appreciate what drives that assessment. Yet nave as it may seem at times, entering into some collaborative arrangements with like-minded nations does make a lot of sense, even if the relationship may be a short-term marriage of convenience.

“We look back now on the “Cold War” with a certain amount of nostalgia where threats to national security were more definable and intelligence or vulnerability assessments could result in recognition of shared interests and definable options for collaboration, mutual support, and most importantly commitment. Our role in NATO is clearly the best example of an Alliance that has served us well, and yet even that stalwart of U.S. foreign policy is now being called into question.

“We are no longer able to dominate the Alliance as we once did. As a consequence some may argue that there are diminishing returns from our contributions both in terms of military capability and political will.

“Yet we are inextricably tied to the Alliance and the individual nations within it. It is one of those “entangling alliances” that Washington warned us about in his farewell address, yet the fetters are of our own making, created through a long series of previous crises where we needed to be bolstered by other nations that shared our interests and concerns.”