NATO is a pact between countries that if one is attacked, all will defend. 

As a stipulation for being part of it, NATO countries are expected to contribute 2 percent of their GDP to building out their own militaries. The idea is that by combining forces we can protect each other and the world from threats if needed. 

Made up of North America and most of Europe, NATO was founded at the tail end of World War II when 12 countries agreed to support one another against future threats. Now there are 30 member countries and growing—North Macedonia, Finland, and Sweden have all joined since 2020. 

It’s not easy to get in, countries have to be willing to uphold democratic values and a market economy and must be voted in unanimously by participating countries. But once countries are in they have access to the collective defense of participating countries. When Russia began escalating as a threat that’s when Finland and Sweden decided to join. Ukraine, Georgia, Bosnia, and Herzegovina are now trying to join for similar reasons. 

What’s interesting is that the more countries join NATO, the more beneficial it is to join NATO. If you are a tiny country without the ability to defend yourself from external threats, as long as you could become enough of a democracy with a strong enough economy to get in, you could suddenly be granted protection by all of North America and Europe and be safe. And the more countries that join, the more safe everyone becomes.

Perhaps that’s why NATO is expanding into Asia. If countries face external threats in South America and Africa, might they want to join too? 

Is there a future where eventually the whole world is part of NATO?

If so, then all countries would be joined in a pact of not harming each other and defending one another. If one country decided to break the pact and attack another country they’d have the military might of the entire world against them. 

In this case, NATO would become a “world government” that protects world peace.

There are a couple of problems with this plan: for starters, all member countries would have to actually invest 2 percent in their militaries (or more) for the pact to be a valid deterrent. Right now most member countries are delinquent, meaning they are not holding up their end of the bargain. And they should be! 



There’s also the fact that the US has a way larger economy than all other member countries. Even though we’re spending only 3.5 percent of our GDP on defense, in line with the spending of other countries, our economy is so big that we’re spending $860 billion on our defense budget, more than double that of all NATO countries combined. Even if all of South America and Africa joined, it would barely make a dent in the additional defense they would bring.

The result is that there is a major power imbalance. Right now, NATO is basically the US and one erratic US president who decides he doesn’t want to protect another member of the treaty could screw over all the other countries in it and end it all together. (As was recently threatened by Trump.)

To fix these two issues, it would be in NATO’s best interest to ensure that every participating country, 1) has a very strong economy, and 2) is holding up their end of the 2 percent bargain. Maybe countries would have to maintain a certain GDP-per-capita as well as their 2 percent in defense spending to qualify or risk being removed from the pact. (Encouraging member countries to stick to it.) After all, other parts of the world are much more populous, if they were more economically developed that would be a good thing for them, but also for the power balance of the world which would be more evenly shared. (Instead of concentrated in the US and China.)

If we can somehow use NATO as a motivator to economically develop member countries and ensure their participation, eventually that 2 percent invested in defense could go down to 1 percent or 0.5 percent. After all, the combined military only needs to be large enough to deter whatever country is the largest threat. If the whole world is part of NATO except for South America, for example, the combined global military would only need to be large enough to stave off any threats there, and that might be close to zero. If South America joins, maybe we can start to dismantle much of the military altogether except the bare minimum needed to be able to guard against any one defector. 

(And if one country decided to try to start a secret side military, we’d know.)

The result is a world government that holds the peace. 

Ideally, this world government would remain one federal layer focused on defense with the rest of governing power remaining with smaller individual countries. But we could make a case for increasing its power to include other things that might affect the whole globe. For instance, NATO has already branched into worldwide disaster relief, which is something military equipment is good for helping with and that all countries need.

Most of our governance can and should remain as local to us as possible. But if NATO became a world government that ensures the peace and wellbeing of the world, well that could end war worldwide and maybe even create world peace.

But I’d love to know your thoughts!


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