Alliances for mutual protection are as old as humanity; like-minded nations have always banded together to preserve their security and extend their power. In recent times, the two most important alliances have been NATO and SEATO. These two organizations sought to combine the economic power of their constituent countries with the military power of their armies. By boxing in what was essentially communist military expansion, they both made the other side think twice about using force.
They seem to have worked. While Russia continually put down rebellions in the territories under its control, NATO deterred any Russian ambitions to invade a member state. SEATO was arguably much less effective, yet it still brought together very disparate nations that shared the goal of resisting communist China's expansion. Through high-level political and military contacts and joint training, a shared sense of values and goals were forged among a great many people.
That was then. Now, except for the frankly small skirmishes in Ukraine, Georgia and Moldavia, the Russian bear has been declawed. France, Poland and Germany are quite confident that Russian troops are not going to cross their borders. China now holds more U.S. treasury bills than any other nation, and export volumes to Wal-Mart are arguably more important to China's well-being than any other geopolitical factor.
Thus the relevance of these military treaty organizations has come and gone.
The world of at least the last 15 years demonstrates that new threats are going to come from smaller, non-state actors that pose no strategic threat to the world, just a nasty thorn in the side of humanity. Yet it is a thorn that -- due to the thousands of instantaneous news outlets -- has the ability to disrupt our conscience. Specifically, the thorns of ISIS, Boko Haram, al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, FARC, the African rebel groups in Sudan and several even smaller groups interrupt our more placid thoughts and give us the sense we are not living in rational times.
Mass kidnappings, sexual slavery, beheadings, target-less rockets, car bombs, repression of women and the slaughter of civilians are the stuff of these actors. This is not World War I or II. These are small pockets of violence and war, rather than fronts extending hundreds of thousands of miles and involving millions of men and billions of tons of materials.
To confront these metastasizing horrors a new treaty organization is needed: RNTO -- the Rational Nations Treaty Organization.
With each and every outrage from the above violent groups (I will not label them terrorists as they are often not) the need for a fresh coalition of the willing becomes more pronounced. The alternative is more situations such as the French invasion of Mali: a rational nation just goes it alone. The drama of waiting to see whether Obama or Cameron (or another leader of a powerful country) intervenes militarily is good for selling newspapers and boosting cable ratings but not that helpful in maintaining the rational world's sanity.
How would RNTO work? It would work as follows: all the nations that self-identify as rational would contribute a proportional percentage of their GDP to RNTO. In advance they would all agree that civilian slaughter and beheadings, kidnappings, mass rape and aimless missiles are triggers for intervention. Therefore, there would not be a need to assess each emerging situation and debate a response. If any nasty group engaged in the above actions, it would be met with instantaneous RNTO action.
Of course that response should be proportional to the threat. RNTO would not use B-52s against the FARC, but a lesser lethal response would be in order. This was what the UN was supposed to do before it became hijacked by large non-rational countries that sought geopolitical leverage in stymying rational responses to global mayhem. RNTO would set up its own governing body. Anyone could drop out at any time if they came to feel the organization no longer represents them.
This would almost certainly be a more efficient way to make decisions than the constant round of sounding out Obama, Merkel, Cameron, Hollande, Abe, etc. on what action(s) to take.
There is also potential room here for international volunteers like the Abraham Lincoln Brigade of the Spanish Civil War. This would be a place for the sons and daughters of American interventionists so intent on asserting American power to show their mettle. There could also be a peace corp aspect to RNTO as nation building would be the next task after the military intervention.
Many astute commentators will point out that RNTO nations are not that rational. They will argue that their levels of incarceration, military responses to small community disturbances and levels of armament are actually quite irrational. While that is true, the non-RNTO players are even worse - at least in the daily depravity categories.
RNTO. After a while, the acronym even has a nice ring to it.