For the Alliance.
Why America needs NATO.
As the alert Armas reader knows, Finland and Sweden will apply for NATO membership this week. Assuming the accessions come to pass — which is overwhelmingly likely — it will complete a process begun seventy-three years ago last month, with the enactment of the North Atlantic Treaty. It is worth taking a moment to reflect upon what this means.
At its inception the Alliance was a collection of a mere twelve nations, ten of them the battered victors of the wartime Western Allies, clinging to the Eurasian littoral and utterly dependent upon the inexhaustible resources and men of North America. What began as a desperate coming-together against the might and threat of a totalitarian Communist empire — one that could easily have forced its way to the English Channel before 1950, and whose dictator planned to eventually do exactly that — in time became the nucleus of much more.
It is worth spelling out how much more, because the how much is nearly a full list of the grand-strategic institutions that shape and secure our lives today. NATO provided the aegis for the grand project of European unification. NATO provided the model and the structure for American security partnerships worldwide. NATO provided the model and structure, also, for American hegemony worldwide — a hegemony unique in that its subject (but never subjected) nations desired it. NATO became the indispensable hard-power vehicle for the promulgation of soft-power mechanisms, including Western (nearly indistinguishable from American) culture, finance, trade, and values. NATO became the undergirding international institution that made possible all the others, and also provided the metric for all the others: the WTO, the WHO, the EU, and even the United Nations are all unthinkable as meaningful endeavors without it. Without NATO, they are all the League of Nations.
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