Op-ed in The New York Times: Trump aside, what’s the U.S. role in NATO?

March 11, 2019
Contact: press@defensepriorities.org

WASHINGTON, DC—On Sunday, The New York Times published an opinion editorial by Barry R. Posen, Ford International Professor of Political Science and Director of Security Studies Program at MIT and author of Restraint: A New Foundation for U.S. Grand Strategy.

In this piece, Posen argues for a reappraisal of the U.S. role in NATO, a military alliance formed during the Cold War to defend Europe from the Soviet Union.

President Trump has many bad ideas. Reconsidering America’s role in NATO isn’t one of them.

NATO, a military alliance, was formed specifically to prevent the Soviet Union from dominating Europe, whose principal powers—Germany, France, Italy and Britain—had been so devastated by World War II that they were vulnerable to Soviet coercion, subversion or conquest. NATO also became a vehicle for rehabilitating the Axis powers—Germany and Italy—under the victors’ tutelage.

America had an enduring interest in ensuring that the Continent not fall under the domination of a single, capable, hostile power: That could pose a serious threat to America. The Truman administration was clear on this point: The main purpose of stationing American military forces in Europe in the early 1950s was to stay long enough to right the balance of power, not to stay forever...

...The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 removed the last vestiges of a major security threat to NATO, and with it, the rationale for the American military presence in Europe.

...NATO’s founding mission has been achieved and replaced with unsuccessful misadventures. The United States has urgent business at home, and arguably in Asia. Though President Trump has no strategy for returning the European allies to full responsibility for their own futures, the American foreign policy establishment could better spend its time devising such a strategy than defending the counterproductive trans-Atlantic status quo.

A reappraisal is long overdue.

Read the entire op-ed in The New York Times.