May 23, 2019

NATO Is Dead. Long Live NATO.

“NATO is celebrating its 70th birthday next week, but rather than blowing out 70 candles, the foreign-policy establishment is pondering whether it should still exist. In truth, we’ve been having this argument since 1992, after the Soviet collapse, and maybe since France pulled its military out of the alliance in 1966, a ruckus I followed closely from my crib.The short answer is that of course it needs to exist, and even flourish. If only because it makes Vladimir Putin almost as mad as when the Kremlin runs out of pistachio ice cream. But I will concede that the alliance needs some serious tweaking, if not a total reboot – to deal not just with Russian belligerence, but also with other longstanding quandaries like keeping the Balkan states from sparking another world war, and new ones such as African refugees on the Mediterranean and Chinese icebreakers in the Arctic. (Not making that up.)

As always, I talked to somebody who knows more about this than me: Jeremy Shapiro, the research director of the European Council on Foreign Relations in London. Shapiro served in the Obama State Department as a member of the policy planning staff and as an adviser to Philip Gordon, who handled the Eurasian Affairs shop there. He and Gordon recently published an article in Foreign Affairs titled “How Trump Killed the Atlantic Alliance,” and we had a short spat on Twitter over whether that title was more clickbait than honest analysis (which he won handily). This week we had a more friendly exchange…”

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