NATO has kept the peace for 75 years, now is not the time for threats

NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, has been one of the most successful alliances in history.  

It’s never been perfect, but European wars used to become world wars; NATO brought peace to the continent despite the global Cold War — and ushered in an era of worldwide declining war.

Indeed, the NATO treaty’s Article 5 was first invoked after the 9/11 attack on America.

Our allies joined us in fighting back and stood with us in Afghanistan for two decades, until Washington decided to leave.

Yes, the Western Europeans got too comfy in recent decades, stinting on their promised-to-the-alliance defense spending.

As president, Donald Trump was entirely right to zing them for that failure.

But he’s horribly off-base now in his recent talk of “encouraging” Russia to attack delinquent NATO members, those failing to make good on the target of spending at least 2% of GDP on defense.

Some will claim that he was just making a blustering point about funding as he replays his greatest hits at a rally, and they’re probably right.

But there are many on the increasingly isolationist right who are very happy to take his rhetoric seriously for their own myopic ends.

Fact is, Europe has spent more than the United States on helping (non-NATO-member) Ukraine in its defense against Vladimir Putin’s war of conquest, with frontline nations like Poland and the Baltic Republics digging especially deep.

Yet helping Kyiv serves the entire alliance, since Putin has declared himself an adversary of the entire West.

China’s rulers, and Iran’s, are only a bit more discreet.

All America’s enemies would like nothing more than to see NATO crumble, as it would trigger a larger collapse of the civilized world order.

Ukraine is the obvious issue now, but the Iranian-led Axis of Resistance is threatening Israel, Red Sea shipping and the entire Middle East, while China’s Xi Jingping is saber-rattling in the Strait of Taiwan and across the South China Sea.

Without NATO, the West would be far easier to divide, with every nation considering only its immediate short-term interests.

It’ll be far easier to play off Washington against Paris, Berlin against London in future crises, and Putin, China’s Xi and every other ambitious power knows it.

“Any suggestion that allies will not defend each other undermines all of our security, including that of the US, and puts American and European soldiers at increased risk,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg rightly commented on Trump’s brag.

Like it or not, America’s interests entangle us across the globe; our nation has prospered more than any other NATO member in the 75 years since the alliance’s founding.

NATO remains the world’s biggest guarantor of peace and civilization — peace through strength, in fact.

And with the challenges to civilization rising, the United States is best served by strengthening NATO, not letting the alliance decay because we’re too focused on the short-term costs of confronting evil.

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