Given NATO’s origins as a military alliance aimed at deterring Soviet aggression, we should ask ourselves: With the Soviets out and the Germans down, why did the United States struggle so mightily to stay in after the Cold War?
The answer is simple: NATO is, and always has been, a vehicle for maintaining the United States as the dominant security player in Europe.
That there were sharper disagreements about this idea in the 1950s than there are today speaks volumes about the lack of debate in today’s Washington.
Resource constraints are beginning to bite. The defense budget, already bloated at $847 billion, is not headed to $1 trillion and above anytime soon. Maintaining U.S. domination of the European security scene is a luxury good the United States doesn’t need in 2022.
The United States fought two wars to prevent a European hegemon from emerging in the 20th century. There is no potential European hegemon on or even over the horizon at the present. For all Russia’s bluster, it’s struggling to take even part of a much smaller, poorer neighbor—let alone hold it. It’s time to take the win.
Europe is rich and strong enough to defend itself. But the Europeans won’t do so unless. the United States stops doing it for them.
Justin Logan Senior Fellow, Cato Institute
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