NATO: The New Holy Alliance

They’re cowering in Chicago, where the NATO summit is scheduled to open on May 20: the security arrangements go well beyond paranoia. They’re telling office workers in buildings adjacent to the site to “dress down,” lest they become identified with the proceedings. A huge “security zone” is being imposed on McCormick Place, where the conclave will take place, and subway riders who must pass under the site will be subjected to pat-downs and other security measures. The airspace above the venue will be restricted, and any planes that pass through it will be promptly shot down.

I have no doubt the original McCormick – Col. Robert Rutherford McCormick, publisher of the Chicago Tribune from the 1920s to the mid-fifties – is rolling in his grave as the NATO-ites prepare to convene in the place named for him. The Colonel denounced NATO, on the occasion of its formation, as the instrument of a destructive internationalism, one that would forever entangle us in the feuds and intrigues of a dangerous world: for his pains, he was attacked in The New Republic and even in The Nation (!) for “taking the Soviet line.” As McCormick, along with such notables as Joe Kennedy and Herbert Hoover, warned against the folly of “collective security” embodied by NATO, the editors of The New Republic envisioned a Red Dawn-like future in which the Commie Colossus would sweep across Europe and leap the Atlantic “until the Stalinist caucus in the Tribune Tower would bring out in triumph the first communist edition of the Chicago Tribune.”

Now that the Colossus has been downed and the original rationale for NATO no longer exists, the same hysterics are the occasion for any suggestion that America’s international footprint – considerably enlarged by its participation in NATO – be scaled back, Not to worry: new rationales are readily available, and the prosecution of our eternal “war on terrorism” has breathed new life into NATO’s moribund body.

Like all government bureaucracies, NATO is relentlessly devoted to its own self-perpetuation: far from dismantling itself after the end of the alleged “Soviet threat,” the NATO-crats extended their reach, moving into the Caucasus, where Georgia’s would-be dictator Mikheil Saakashvili is hoping to join the ranks of the alliance. The US has put the NATO “brand” on its occupation of Afghanistan, with the new “multilateralist” emphasis of the Obama administration being given a fresh gloss in Chicago.

As a conduit of “defense” funds piped directly into the coffers of the military-industrial complex, NATO is a reliable source of income for our crony capitalists. Aside from that, however, it provides a political and ideological framework on which to hang our interventionist pretensions. Which brings us back to Colonel McCormick….

When proposals for an “international army” arose in the postwar era, McCormick’s Tribune presciently compared the idea to the Holy Alliance, a gaggle of European monarchs who plotted to defend the “Christian” principle of monarchical absolutism in the post-Napoleonic world:

Almost immediately the defensive arrangement became aggressive. The people of Spain found their government oppressive and sought to do something about it. Their efforts were put down. The people of Piedmont and of Naples were the victims of appalling misgovernment: in 1821 they had to be repressed by the Austrians under Gen. Frimont.

And so it went. The South American nations had won their independence from Spain during the long European struggle. Now that the war was over, the king of Spain, with the repressive ideas of the Holy Alliance as his guide, was resolved to force his former colonies back into submission. He might have sent his fleet and his armies across the Atlantic if President Monroe had not put forward the doctrine that bears his name.”

Under President Monroe, America was a bulwark against the Holy Alliance of its day, the focus of Europe’s fearful monarchs as the peasants began to rise. Today, America stands at the head of a new Holy Alliance, as our modern-day Metternichs convene in Chicago amid rumors of a peasant protest that have the authorities terrified. The entire affair is to be walled off, with troops in the streets and snipers on rooftops: the city will be in lockdown for days.

Chicago has often been a battleground in the wars our government has waged on its own citizens. The year 1968 saw a pitched battle in the shadow of the Democratic national convention, as antiwar protestors fought police in the streets: the picture of Hubert Humphrey standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Boss Daley – against the backdrop of cops flattening peaceful protestors – forever discredited the cold war liberal wing of that party.

Naturally, one hopes the protest will be peaceful, but the authorities are making this difficult if not impossible by imposing draconian bans on almost all forms of protest – public gatherings are all but outlawed for the duration, unless they take place in designated “protest pens.” Hardly anyone finds it shocking that the constitutional right to assembly and to free speech has been summarily abolished by Boss Rahm Emanuel. After all, the Constitution is merely a national document, which must yield to the supranational priorities of the NATO confab.

NATO should have died with the end of the cold war. Instead it grew into the octopus-like creature it is today, its suckered tentacles attaching themselves to every conflict that arises, internationalizing ancient tribal feuds and elevating minor border skirmishes to the level of international crises.

America pays the bills, and provides the military backbone, while the Europeans are in it for their cut of the action, whilst assiduously avoiding getting their own soldiers killed. In return, Washington gets to dress up its wars in “multilateralist” drag, and conduct foreign policy without congressional oversight. One notes the recent agreement with Afghan “President” Hamid Karzai, signed by the President on his recent trip to Kabul, will be a major topic of discussion at the Chicago conclave: does anyone but me find it odd that the administration is taking a treaty to NATO for approval before deigning to submit it for the consideration of the US Senate?

I suspect the Colonel would have found it odd, too, but he’s been dead since 1955, the year the Warsaw Pact was founded and the cold war began in earnest. His warnings against a promiscuous internationalism, derided as “isolationism” by both the “progressive” left and the “New Right” of William F. Buckley, Jr., passed into history, where they are unlikely to be recovered by today’s anti-NATO protesters. Yet one likes to think McCormick’s ghost will be looking down at them from the height of the Tribune Tower, and saying: “Didn’t I tell you so?”

Author: Justin Raimondo

Justin Raimondo passed away on June 27, 2019. He was the co-founder and editorial director of, and was a senior fellow at the Randolph Bourne Institute. He was a contributing editor at The American Conservative, and wrote a monthly column for Chronicles. He was the author of Reclaiming the American Right: The Lost Legacy of the Conservative Movement [Center for Libertarian Studies, 1993; Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2000], and An Enemy of the State: The Life of Murray N. Rothbard [Prometheus Books, 2000].