The world still needs NATO after 70 years
The 70th birthday of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization this week deserved far more attention and celebration than it received.
There were no parades, no fireworks, no self-congratulatory gatherings of presidents and prime ministers clinking champagne flutes to recognize an alliance that has done so much for global peace and security.
Instead, and in marked contrast to the three-day extravaganza that saluted NATO’s accomplishments on its 50th anniversary in 1999, there was only a low-key ministerial meeting Thursday for the organization’s members in Washington, D.C.
This was likely because an ambitious, A-list gathering of NATO-nation leaders would have had to include the volatile, NATO-bashing American President Donald Trump. Having no party was preferable to having one he’d ruin.
Yet NATO was worthy of better. Whatever challenges it faces today — and some coming from disaffected members like Turkey are urgent — NATO must be judged a rousing success.
According to the Brookings Institution research group, NATO is one of the most enduring military alliances in the past 500 years. It rose from the wreckage of the Second World War, when European nations so recently freed from the scourge of Nazi Germany were confronted by an aggressively expansionist Soviet Union.
Some critics insisted NATO had passed its best-before date. Russian President Vladimir Putin showed how wrong they were. Today, and with support from Canada’s Armed Forces, the 29-member alliance has deployed troops in the Baltic States, Ukraine and Poland to halt Putin’s territorial ambitions. When the Russians annexed Crimea and destabilized eastern Ukraine, an impotent United Nations watched. NATO acted.
Despite Trump’s rants and threats, Congress and the American people are largely supportive of NATO. They know the alliance helped them in Afghanistan and how much the friendship of so many nations counts in a changing, uncertain world just awakening to the rise of a headstrong, authoritarian China.
Today’s world is very different from what it was in 1949. But for seven decades NATO has helped guide it through seas both calm and rough. Change it must and will. But NATO is still needed and we hope it lasts at least seven decades more. (Source: Hamilton Spectator)