In the aftermath of World War II, the Soviets, our former allies, were as much a threat to peace in Europe as were the enemy the Allies had just defeated. The Soviets brutally dominated Eastern Europe, promoted worldwide communist revolution, and employed cells and spy networks across the U.S.
NATO’s origins were sensible. Its existence reflected a broad U.S. and Western consensus on “containment,” Christopher Roach writes in American Greatness.
Recent history had shown that the weak, fractured nations of Western Europe likely could not resist the Soviet military without an alliance that included an American security guarantee, and the recent war frequently manifested the difficulties of coordinating multinational military action in the absence of standardization and practice. Finally, the U.S. participation in NATO assuaged broader European concerns about German rearmament.
The old aristocracy was born of battle, a warrior aristocracy. Then the reins were handed off to the bourgeois, the wealthy capitalist class.
Today we have an aristocracy of opinion made up of the managerial elite. Their chief credential is their credentials, as well as their having professed the right opinions. Among this class, much of what passes for deep thinking—whether on economics, foreign policy, or anything else—is in fact a repetition of stale conventional wisdom. The managerial elite’s thoughtlessness is never more apparent than in the case of foreign policy.
This week Donald Trump, yet again, has angered and frightened the ruling class, this time by questioning one of its sacred cows: the U.S. commitment to NATO. He questioned why members don’t meet their obligations, and he did so in an abrasive way. He also noted the absurdity of their very publicly expressed fears of Russia, in light of the great amount of hard currency they send Russia’s way in order to buy natural gas. Most important, he asked the ultimate question, “What good is NATO?”
Trump is asking the right questions and making the right criticisms. As a successful businessman, and not a credential amateur, he rightly asks, “What’s in it for us?” The answer is not satisfactory. U.S. investment in NATO has provided diminishing returns to the United States after the end of the Cold War, and increasingly functions as an economic subsidy to Western European nations unserious about their own defense
U.S. ties with NATO need to be revamped, including diminishing our financial burdens and freeing up our military forces for more significant threats.
As Mr. Roach notes, George Washington recognized in his Farewell Address that while we may have “temporary alliances for extraordinary emergencies,” it “is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world.”
Read more from American Greatness here.