Real reason for continuance of NATO?

Just floating a trial balloon here, having read Robert Kagan's 'Paradise and Power', an excellent overview of current transatlantic relations.

Received wisdom, particularly amongst Europhiles, is that NATO continues primarily to enable the US to exert power over Europe. To this end, a 'European' defence identity was being pushed as an alternative to NATO, particularly by the French. However, these efforts appear to have somewhat fizzled out, or at any rate aren't being pursued with much vigour. Meanwhile NATO seems to be on a bit of an upper, expanding into the former Soviet Union and Afghanistan, etc. Now I can't beleive the entire French establishment and sundry Euro lefties and nationalists have suddenly decided that they really love Uncle Sam, Mickey Mouse, Apple Pie, etc, and have decided to embrace US dominance for ever. So what gives?

Well here's my theory. The reason for the continuance of NATO is that enables the EUROPEANS to exert influence OVER THE US. Think about it. If it wasn't for NATO, the US could basically do what the hell it wanted anywhere, including Europe. It would still have a choice of various European countires who are scared of/don't like Russia/Germany/France as allies in 'coalitions of the willing' and bases in those countries too. Anyone who objected to a US action could safely be ignored. But in a NATO context, everyone has to agree. The US can't just go it alone if it wants to use NATO bases/assets (or at least not without some difficulty), it has to consider the views of Europeans. NATO approval also adds legitimacy to US actions (e.g. Kosovo), important for US domestic consumption at least. So I think European governments have reconsidered and thought 'hmm, NATO, not such a bad idea after all, let's stick with it rather than undermine it with 'Eurofor'. Also of course a lot of eastern European countries prefer NATO anyway.

The problem for the Euros, of course, is that they have to be able to offer viable forces which can provide the US with something useful, otherwise the US will lose interest and NATO will die anyway.
Nato is nothing without the vast resourses povided by the US who sat down and decided how to fight Major Wars in the post Nam era.
The Yanks spent the money which Europe has spent on social issues.
I do wish sumone would tell our Dear Leader that trying to form an 'Undergound' Euro army w ill be an exspensive technical exercise.
I should also point out that, while many see the EU and NATO as rivals in some senses, a lot of the senior people transfer between the two - after all, they're only a few miles apart. Javier Solana is a good example.
Maybe a lot of Eastern European countries like NATO, but I'd put money on them choosing the EU instead if it was a straight contest. Their economies benefit in ways that the US could not or would not match.

Besides which, now the Freedom Crusade (TM- GW Bush) have
a) Failed to catch Ozzie
b) Allowed the Taliban to regroup
c) Given the international heroin market a boost
d) Destroyed a country's ability to govern itself
e) Decided that they want to cut and run

Who ya gonna call!


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