“Treaties are like roses and young girls. They last while they last.”
So said President Charles De Gaulle, who in 1966 ordered NATO to vacate its Paris headquarters and get out of France.
NATO this year celebrates a major birthday. The young girl of 1966 is no longer young. The alliance is 70 years old.
And under this aging NATO today, the U.S. is committed to treat an attack on any one of 28 nations from Estonia to Montenegro to Romania to Albania as an attack on the United States.
The time is ripe for a strategic review of these war guarantees to fight a nuclear-armed Russia in defense of countries across the length of Europe that few could find on a map.
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Apparently, President Donald Trump, on trips to Europe, raised questions as to whether these war guarantees comport with vital U.S. interests and whether they could pass a rigorous cost-benefit analysis.
The shock of our establishment that Trump even raised this issue in front of Europeans suggests that the establishment, frozen in the realities of yesterday, ought to be made to justify these sweeping war guarantees.
Celebrated as “the most successful alliance in history,” NATO has had two histories. Some of us can yet recall its beginnings.
In 1948, Soviet troops, occupying eastern Germany all the way to the Elbe and surrounding Berlin, imposed a blockade on the city.
The regime in Prague was overthrown in a Communist coup. Foreign minister Jan Masaryk fell, or was thrown, from a third-story window to his death. In 1949, Stalin exploded an atomic bomb.
As the U.S. Army had gone home after V-E Day, the U.S. formed a new alliance to protect the crucial European powers…