NATO: What’s in a name?

BRUSSELS (Rooters agency) – To the surprise of many geopolitical scientists who weren’t paying attention, a big issue at this week’s NATO summit has been names.

NATO of course stands for North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Even when it was first formed – to counter a possible Soviet invasion of Western Europe, in case you’ve forgotten – the name was a bit odd, since it implied that Italy was a North Atlantic country, something that most Italians had probably not previously believed.

A few years later, NATO expanded to include Greece and Turkey. Aside from the inconvenience of a military alliance including members in the habit of shooting at each other, this further implied that the designation North Atlantic included pretty much all of the Mediterranean. Libyans and Serbians therefore couldn’t really say they hadn’t been warned when the bombs started falling – in order to forestall a Russian invasion, just in case the Russians might have been thinking about it.

Over the years, the North Atlantic, according to the US definition of NATO, has expanded to include the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea.

So NATO’s name has been increasingly inappropriate. When this week’s summit heard the proposal of US President Joe Notrump that the South China Sea be included in the definition of North Atlantic, at least one European leader is reported to have raised an objection. While he had no problem about engaging in a nuclear war with China, he didn’t want his country’s children miseducated about geography: If the kids thought parts of Asia were in the North Atlantic, wouldn’t that make it harder to raise fears about Asian refugees?

This leader therefore proposed that NATO stand for North of Antarctica Treaty Organization. With this definition, it would be considered quite normal if NATO decided to set up bases, or drop bombs, just about anywhere.

President Notrump was reportedly attracted by the proposal and sent it for evaluation by his advisors. However, the CIA raised the objection that the proposed name implied that the alliance had no military role in Antarctica itself. But the CIA had already found signs of terrorist propaganda among the continent’s penguins. And, even more seriously, the likely prospect of the Antarctic being ice free in a century or two made it imperative to ensure that the continent had a security environment suitable for the protection of the American Way, which would probably have to relocate there.

President Notrump therefore proposed a name change that also involved a slight change in the alliance’s initials. It will henceforth be NETO – the Nearly Everywhere Treaty Organization. (The “Nearly” was important, the President pointed out, aside from minimizing public awareness of the change. “If everywhere was included,” he asked, “who would be the necessary enemy?”)

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