Zakaria: NATO seeking relevance
May 21st, 2012
09:01 AM ET

Zakaria: NATO seeking relevance

The following is an edited transcript of a recent interview with Fareed Zakaria on "John King USA," talking about the NATO summit in Chicago and NATO's relevance in the world today.

KING: This year's NATO summit is in Chicago. And topping the official agenda is the transition in Afghanistan, but there are other giant issues for the 34 heads of state attending.

ZAKARIA: The truth is NATO was a defensive alliance. It was designed for, really, to protect against Russia, against the Soviet Union during the Cold War. And ever since 1990 when all that ended, it's been flailing around looking for something to do.

But it is a very useful time when all these heads of state, heads of government get together, and there's always something or the other on the agenda that's pretty crucial.

I would suspect that a lot of them would spend some time talking about Greece and Europe and the world economy, even though it's actually meant to be a security alliance.

KING: And when it comes to Afghanistan, which is important business at this summit, is it mission accomplished or is it mission exhausted, "let's get out"?

ZAKARIA: That's a great way of putting it. ... The Obama strategy - which is to double-down on the counter-terrorism (special ops, the drones) but gradually withdraw from the vast nation-building project and therefore withdraw the troops - is broadly shared by other European countries. So he's not going to get any pushback.

These summits become somewhat dramatic if there are two points of view. You think about the United States and France over the Iraq war. In this case, mostly everyone agrees with the Obama administration. And as we drawdown, they are drawing down, as well.

KING: Let's come back to the relevance question. Because as you noted, this is a defensive alliance. It was built when it was the West confronting, then, the Soviet menace. ... So if you are the leaders of the NATO alliance, what lesson do you have to learn from this very different world?

ZAKARIA: Political stability is a little bit like oxygen. When you have it, you take it for granted. We don't notice there's oxygen in this room: in my room and in yours. When you don't have it, you really notice.

So really preserve it. Do everything you can to prevent the return of Cold War-like hostilities between the United States and China, Cold War-like hostilities between the United States and Russia, rivalries between India and China.

All these things are, of course, low probability events. But if they were to happen, then all the stuff we're talking about - this single global economy, the technological progress, the trade, globalization - all that goes out window. Because now you're in a struggle for survival. And now politics and military affairs dominate everything.

So, you know, it is really true that we have the luxury of worrying about some of the kinds of things we worry about, which are real problems, but nothing like the problems of nuclear war during the Cold War, World War II, World War I and hundreds of years before that.

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Topics: Afghanistan • NATO

soundoff (119 Responses)
  1. HenkV

    Is NATO relevant? Sure it is. To all the bureaucrats who get fat paychecks it is.

    May 22, 2012 at 10:02 am |
    • Patrick-2

      Thank you, HenkV. How true that is!

      May 22, 2012 at 11:11 am |
  2. Uber News Network-UNN

    New, More Dangerous Hindu Extremist Groups Emerge in India

    Christians concerned as rightwing factions splinter to form militant outfits.

    PUNE, India, October 29 (CDN) — After more than a decade of severe persecution, India’s Christian minority is growing increasingly concerned over the mushrooming of newer and deadlier Hindu extremist groups.

    Gone are the days when Christians had to watch out only for the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) and its youth wing, Bajrang Dal, which are closely linked with the most influential Hindu extremist umbrella organization, the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). With voter support faltering for the RSS’s political wing, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), moderate and extremist sections within the Hindu nationalist movement are blaming each other, and militant splinter groups have emerged.

    Claiming to be breakaway factions of the RSS, new groups with even more extreme ideology are surfacing. The Abhinav Bharat (Pride of India), the Rashtriya Jagran Manch (National Revival Forum), the Sri Ram Sene (Army of god Rama), the Hindu Dharam Sena (Army for Hindu Religion) and the Sanatan Sanstha (Eternal Organization) have launched numerous violent attacks on Christian and Muslim minorities.

    May 22, 2012 at 2:08 pm |
  3. Uber News Network-UNN

    The Sri Ram Sene was one of the most active groups that launched a series of attacks on Christians and their property in and around Mangalore city in the southern state of Karnataka in August-September 2008, according to a report, “The Ugly Face of Sangh Parivar,” published by the People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL), in March 2009. In Jabalpur city in the central state of Madhya Pradesh, suspected extremists from the Abhinav Bharat attacked the Rhema Gospel Church on Sept. 28, according to the Global Council of Indian Christians. They had earlier attacked Pastor Sam Oommen and his family in the same city on Aug. 3.

    The Hindu Dharam Sena has become especially terrifying for Christians in Jabalpur. Between 2006 and 2008, Jabalpur was plagued by at least three anti-Christian attacks every month, according to The Caravan magazine. In the western state of Gujarat and other parts of the country, the Rashtriya Jagran Manch has also violently attacked Christians, according to news website Counter Currents.

    May 22, 2012 at 2:09 pm |
  4. Uber News Network-UNN

    The meeting was held to discuss prospects for immediate enactment of federal legislation to counter religious extremism with the proposed Communal Violence (Prevention, Control and Rehabilitation of Victims) Bill.

    May 22, 2012 at 2:11 pm |
  5. Uber News Network-UNN

    At a meeting held in New Delhi on (Oct. 24), the secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, Archbishop Stanislaus Fernandes, said the rise of fundamentalism was “seriously worrying” the church in India.

    May 22, 2012 at 2:13 pm |
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    I'm just a half-witt here who knows absolutely nothing about Iran!

    May 23, 2012 at 9:12 am |
    • Patrick

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      The as swipe with a multiple personality disorder keeps trying to be me.
      Marine5484, George Patton, J. Foste4r Dulles, Joseph McCarthy, Yacobi, Patrick*2, Willie12345, Warren, Quigley, Vin, whomever you are this second is playing little girl games.

      May 23, 2012 at 5:43 pm |
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