Why the United States Needs NATO – 3 Things to Know

Yves here. I thought readers might enjoy a bit of sport to mix up their informational diet a bit. Behold this piece on the virtues of NATO from the US perspective. I hope members of the commentariat will sharpen their critical thinking and rhetorical skills on it. Let me start with the observation that the author does not consider the fully-loaded costs of NATO, such as the costs of maintaining its bases, and whether there might be higher and better uses for those funds.

By Klaus W. Larres, Professor of History and International Affairs, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Originally published at The Conversation

Former President Donald Trump has long made it clear that he deeply resents NATO, a 75-year-old military alliance that is composed of the United States and 30 other countries, including Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany and France.

Trump escalated his criticism of NATO on Feb. 10, 2024, when he said that, if he is elected president again in November 2024, the U.S. would not defend any member country that had not “paid up.”

Trump also said that he would encourage Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin, “to do whatever the hell they want” with a NATO member that was “delinquent” in paying for its defense.

NATO is the Western world’s foremost defense organization. It is headquartered in Brussels. The central idea behind NATO’s existence, as explained in Article 5 of NATO’s 1949 treaty, is that all NATO countries agree to defend any other NATO country in case of an attack.

NATO has no standing army and relies on member countries to volunteer their military forces to carry out any operation. So all NATO countries agree to spend 2% of their annual gross domestic product on military defense in order to support NATO.

Some countries, like the U.S., the U.K., Poland, Finland, Greece and the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, devote more than 2% of their GDP to military defense. About half of NATO’s members, including Germany, France, Norway, Spain and Turkey, spend less.

NATO leader Jens Stoltenberg said in a written statement on Feb. 11 that Trump’s suggestion “undermines all of our security, including that of the U.S., and puts American and European soldiers at increased risk.” Other political leaders also criticized Trump’s comments as highly dangerous.

As a scholar of history and international affairs, it is clear to me that Trump does not seem to understand the many advantages the U.S. gets from being part of NATO. Here are three major benefits for the U.S. that come with NATO membership:

1. NATO Gives the US Reliable Allies

Militarily and economically, the U.S. is a hugely formidable power. It has the largest nuclear arsenal on earth and continues to be the largest economy in the world.

Yet, without its allies in Asia, and above all without those in Europe, the U.S would be a much diminished superpower.

NATO provides the U.S. with a leadership position in one of the strongest military alliance networks in the world. This leadership goes well beyond the security realm – it has profound and very positive political and economic ripple effects. For instance, most Western countries purchase their arms and military equipment from the U.S.

Russia counts controversial regimes known for human rights violations such as Iran, North Korea and, to some extent, China, among its most important allies. The U.S. considers economically strong countries like Canada, Germany, France, Italy and many other established democracies as its friends and allies.

NATO has invoked Article 5 only once – immediately after the U.S. was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001. America’s NATO allies were ready to come to the aid of the U.S. – and, for good or for bad, many subsequently participated in the United States’ war in Afghanistan.

2. NATO Provides Peace and Stability

NATO provides a blanket of protection and mutual security for all its members, helping explain why the vast majority of countries in central and eastern Europe clamored to join NATO after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Today, Ukraine continues to push for NATO membership – though its application to join appears unlikely to be granted anytime soon, given the military commitment this would create for the alliance.

Russia fought short wars in recent years with Moldova, Georgia and also with Ukraine prior to 2022, but Putin has not invaded neighboring countries that are NATO members. Invading a NATO country would bring the entire alliance into a war with Russia, which would be a risky gamble for Moscow.

Despite international concern that Russia’s war in Ukraine could spill over into neighboring NATO countries, like Poland and the three Baltic nations, it has not yet happened.

3. NATO Has Helped the US Get Stronger

The Soviet Union’s military alliance, called the Warsaw Pact, required the USSR and its satellite states in central and eastern Europe, including East Germany, Poland and Hungary, to join. NATO, on the other hand, is a voluntary military alliance, and countries must go through a demanding application process before they are accepted.

The United States’ current presence in Europe – and Asia – has not been imposed by force. Instead, U.S. troops and influence in Europe are generally welcomed by its allies.

By joining NATO and accepting the military leadership of Washington, the other NATO countries give the U.S. unprecedented influence and power. Norwegian scholar Geir Lundestad called this an “empire by invitation.” This informal empire has deeply anchored the U.S. and its influence in Europe.

A Split in Opinion

President Joe Biden has repeatedly said that under his leadership the U.S. would “defend every inch of NATO territory,” speaking primarily in the context of Russia’s war on Ukraine.

Biden has repeatedly warned Putin that he would face the consequences if Russia attacks a NATO member.

For Trump, however, transatlantic solidarity and mutual defense appear to count for nothing. For him, it seems to be all about the money and whether or not NATO countries spend 2% of their GDP on defense. And despite Putin having begun a terrible war of aggression against Ukraine in February 2022, Trump has continued to voice his admiration of the Russian leader.

Trump does not view Putin’s Russia as an existential threat to the U.S.-led global order. And thus he does not seem to realize that the U.S. and its European allies need protection from Putin’s Russia, the kind of protection offered by NATO. NATO’s existence gives the U.S. strong and reliable allies, provides Washington with great influence in Europe and makes sure that most of Europe remains stable and peaceful.

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  1. Tatyana Kopyl

    What a pile of lame garbage. The most laughable one – how NATO provides peace and stability.
    Yeah, sure, how is the Nordstream doing today?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Wellie, it is more stable for the US to have Europe more dependent on us for energy. And Germany and Europe meekly accepted this destruction, so it didn’t hurt the peace…

  2. marcel

    At his level, his ignorance is willful ignorance. And I don’t fight willful ignorance.
    1. The US has no friends and no allies, only vassals and victims.
    2. NATO doesn’t bring peace. There is no example of peace, while Yougoslavia & Libya are proof to the contrary
    3. NATO didn’t help the US get stronger, only the MIC got richer.

    1. Es s Ce tera

      4. NATO is anti-peace, pro-war, never pursues/adopts the diplomatic solution.
      5. The US wouldn’t let Russia join NATO. Therefore any threat from Russia is of its own making and it chose to forego world peace.

    2. Randall Flagg

      >NATO didn’t help the US get stronger, only the MIC got richer

      That’s the thing I’ll never understand. Maybe we’re stronger militarily ( and that’s debatable), but really we are just collapsing from the inside out.
      The infrastructure of this nation falling apart. The general health of our population declining. Our borders as secure as a broken screen door. It’s like a cancer patient looking good with a new tan yet dying on the inside. You know the litany of problems.
      How does NATO help us with that?
      Yves really made a great decision getting out of Dodge..,

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Once you replace “United States” in the title with “inhuman merchants of death”, the article makes somewhat more sense.

    3. Random

      Consider the alternative.

      1. Without NATO, it would be more difficult to control those vassals.
      2. Peace is irrelevant, the only thing that matters is power. And NATO serves that purpose.
      3. It’s complicated.
      On one hand having all of Europe dependent on you does provide massive advantages.
      On the other hand it makes it easier to do things that might be counterproductive because you believe you have unlimited power.

    4. Feral Finster

      The sociopaths who run the West would destroy 99% of life on earth without a moment’s hesitation, if that were the price of dominion over whatever was left.

  3. pugilist

    Again, Trump’s sin is he said the quiet part out loud – NATO is a tributary system masquerading as a military alliance – he merely wants to formalize it. To rephrase what Trump said: “those who skimp on the tributes to their suzerain will not get our help”

    But I will do the homework for Mr Professor’s of History and International Affairs, and lay out *real* case for NATO (from American point of view):

    Advantage no 1: extracting tributes
    in the name of “compatibility” and “seamless cooperation”, we destroy their military industry and then force them to procure our hardware for ridiculously inflated prices

    Advantage no 2: aura of legitimacy
    by arm-twisting the member nations, we can go on pretending uni-lateral actions of the US are in fact a concern for a much wider international community

    Advantage no 3: prevention of state-building in member states
    by controlling their intelligence agencies, we have advance warnings and sabotage opportunities, in case some member states try to develop indigenous capabilities in sectors where the US has monopoly within NATO – aerospace, software, semiconductors, missiles,…

    Advantage no 4: media control and capital flows
    by controlling their intelligence agencies, we’re able to infiltrate their media ecosystems; keep pushing the message that the US is modern and innovative, while Europe is sclerotic, eventually leading to capital outflows from Europe to the US, greatly boosting asset valuations here

    1. david mcn

      Athens and the Delian League? At least we got the Parthenon first time around.
      ….’second time as farce’. Marx would chuckle.

  4. ALM

    I particularly like “NATO gives the US reliable allies.” It’s also giving Russia reliable allies. A twofer!

  5. ilsm

    NATO peace and stability: see the bombings over several years in greater Serbia.

    Stalin wanted his buffer to end at the Rhein.

    NATO was formed because Churchill and Truman’s handlers decided that Germany should rise again! Early thoughts on post war included Germany sundered forever to four zones, with no military and minimum hevay industry. That utopian view of an agrarian reich was sundered at Potsdam, western propaganda that Stalin reneged, a different outcome had Roosevelt survive to shape the peace.

    NATO is trending toward having US nukes 400 miles from Moscow!

    NATO represents the 1.0 war in the pentagons 2.5 perma war budget. A large part of that 40% or war largesse is wasted. New tactics and weapons for those have been invested in to wear out and be replaced by more expensive stuff…… A rolling welfare for armaments “investors”. Ike said “how many schools etc could we have….”

    NATO born out of hate for Stalin and disdain for Russia’s security concerns….

  6. Cristobal

    I’m with Marcel. There are few people of whom one can say: Everything you know is wrong. With this gentleman I just wouldn’t know where to start.

    1. Lee

      At least one true statement in the piece: “Yet, without its allies in Asia, and above all without those in Europe, the U.S would be a much diminished superpower.” But it is presented as if that were a bad thing.

    2. zach

      Don’t think of it as a statement of facts, think of it as a sales pitch.

      Pitches like this one, coupled with what Mr. Putin characterized as an enormous opinion shaping overmatch, can produce/have produced results in NATO’s favor in terms of convincing the leadership of many European countries to join.

      One trick to get someone to agree with you in conversation, make unthreatening eye contact and just start nodding your head affirmatively. This whole article reads like my uncle trying to convince me it’s safe to jump in the lake even though there are snapping turtles visible from the dock…

      There is plenty to push back on in this article, but to say that this gentleman is wrong is missing the target a bit.

    3. zach

      The author also informs us of his target audience – Trump supporters, and (I infer) people that might become Trump supporters. This article reads as though written from a position of if not weakness, then at least concern.

  7. KD


    1. The US needs a reliable enemy.

    With an assembly of states with significant military power, some nuclear powers, NATO is a loaded gun pointed against the head of Russia. Russia, threatened and encircled by NATO, behaves like any state would, antagonistically. This can then be portrayed in the MSM as Russian aggression, manufacturing an enemy in the post-Soviet period, and providing a modicum of social cohesion and an excuse for national intelligence agencies to interfere in elections. Who can make it through their day without 5 minutes of hate against Vladimir Putin? In the absence of an enemy, what do you have? An industrially hollowed out country controlled by oligarchs and monopolists with crumbling infrastructure and ungodly expensive health care, housing, and education, in a state of prolonged geopolitical decline.

    2. NATO provides a fig-leaf of legitimacy for US wars of aggression.

    The US in the post-war era has a history of fighting elective wars of aggression, for example, manufacturing evidence of WMD in Iraq and invading with the help of our NATO allies. By having a stable of allies we can draw upon, NATO gives the appearance that the US is engaging in some form of universal moral crusade, like the Popes of olden times, each time it lights up a dumpster fire in the Middle East. When the Medieval Popes could no longer call up Christendom for Crusades, the Reformation transpired. Without NATO providing a fig-leaf to US wars of aggression, the world might witness a new Reformation of the “Rules-Based Order”.

    3. NATO is essential to the US Empire and neocolonial projects worldwide.

    While the US is the indisputable champions of disinformation, propaganda, and interference in the internal affairs of other countries worldwide, as well as possessing some of the most sophisticated operatives in the world as far as overthrowing democracies (when the voters get it wrong), interfering in elections to insure voters get it “right” as well as using sanctions, economic coercion and other tools in the tool box to obtain the results it seeks through “soft power”–the fact remains that outright violence is necessary. Without NATO, it would be far harder for the US to exercise soft power in Europe, and without NATO it would be far harder for the US to exercise hard power in the Middle East and Africa, for reasons above. This also holds true domestically. As we have seen with the latest revelations concerning Russiagate, how can America spy on its own citizens without its reliable allies? That would be unconstitutional if you remove the fig leaf. Without NATO, how can the US be sure that US voters get it right?

    The problem is not NATO, the problem is US primacy. Russia cannot have a sphere of influence in Eurasia. Iran cannot have a sphere of influence in the Middle East. China cannot even bring a rebellious province to heel. America must oppose any power anywhere that seeks to function autonomously or exert regional influence without permission, yet America has only a limited population (a fourth of China), lacks sufficient military industrial base to even compete with the Russians (with a GDP the size of Texas), let alone China, and lacks a sufficient productive economy to ever compete with say China even if the US adopted a command economy in a time of war.

    There are a number of nuclear powers in the world with red lines who want some kind of autonomy, and that number is growing each year. The bluff will be called, and its unclear how NATO will significantly assist when that time comes, it will probably just break asunder.

  8. Aurelien

    Some of this is clearly wrong, and shows a surprising misunderstanding of how the world works. There have been attempts within NATO since the 1970s to agree or impose voluntary targets for defence spending as a percentage of GDP. These are largely meaningless, since they depend not only on definitions, but also on currency fluctuations, inflation and many other things. But NATO members defence budgets are not a “subscription” to NATO, nor do they “support” it. The great majority of the US defence budget is spent on other things than NATO, as is a considerable part of the defence budget of France and the UK, and parts of the defence budgets of other nations. There’s a NATO Infrastructure Fund, but that’s a different question.

    NATO is not particularly useful to the US as an arms market: most western European nations make their own military equipment, and increasingly the newer members are doing so as well. High-end combat aircraft are really the only major example. The largest markets for the US defence industry are outside Europe.

    And if he’s really a Professor of History and International Affairs, he might at least have read the Washington Treaty, and discovered that the signatories never did agree “to defend any other NATO country in case of an attack.”

    He’s right, though, for the wrong reasons. NATO has two useful, linked, functions for the US. One is that it gives it an important voice in all matters affecting European security. The US would still have allies in the absence of NATO, notably countries like Britain and France which share many of the same objectives and see advantages in cooperation, but NATO institutionalises and perpetuates this. Without NATO, the US influence in Europe, and on security issues generally, would be much less strong. Secondly, and linked, NATO provided a way of managing the tensions unleashed by the end of the Cold War in the newly independent states. Some people have only just discovered that most Eastern European states have long historical border disputes with others, but in fact this was one of the things that most worried western decision-makers in the early 1990s. The incorporation of these states into NATO was contingent on these problems being shelved. Now of course you can argue that the eastward expansion of NATO, as it was handled, created instability that led to the current war in Ukraine, and I wouldn’t disagree, though it could, and should, have been handled much more intelligently and less aggressively. But, as US officials said repeatedly at the time, ending NATO, or replacing it with a European defence organisation, wouldn’t of itself eliminate the US interest in European security, nor the European desire to have the US involved in some way. After all, they argued, we had to come to your aid across the Atlantic in 1917 and in 1944: this time we are there already. If you accept the premise that the US has an interest in European security, this is a valid argument.

    But altogether, a disappointing essay. If Professor Larres were my student, he’d get a fail.

    1. bertl

      “Trump does not view Putin’s Russia as an existential threat to the U.S.-led global order”, whereas Larres does. Most of us do not talk to long dead casual acquaintances either

      “And thus he (Trump) does not seem to realize that the U.S. and its European allies need protection from Putin’s Russia, the kind of protection offered by NATO.” As in the loss of cheap energy to industry and the European consumer collapsing GDP, social unrest, with the NATO élite hawking the rope on which their populations will hang. Neat.

    2. JohnnyGL

      Aurelian, I think you’re on target, here.

      I also think there’s a new reason that has emerged in the last couple of decades that’s gone underappreciated.

      When the US wants to blow up some country somewhere and the rest of the world has objections (Libya, Afghanistan, Kosovo) and the US cannot get a UN vote to provide the international consensus and legitimacy that it craves, NATO serves as a kind of back up option to give this veneer. Once you throw in a couple of North Pacific vassal states like S. Korea and Japan, well, now you can say you’ve got a kind of globe-spanning consensus, just as long as you don’t look too closely.

      So, NATO gives the US a rump United Nations to boss around for when it’s not able to boss around the real United Nations.

    3. vao

      […] voluntary targets for defence spending as a percentage of GDP […] are largely meaningless, since they depend not only on definitions, but also on currency fluctuations, inflation and many other things.

      Recently, a contract of €1.2G for 220000 155mm shells was announced. This puts the shell at €5455 a piece.

      When Rheinmetall signed a €33M contract for 10000 155mm shells a year ago, that put the unit price at €3300.

      And in 2020-2021, the price of a standard 155mm shell was about €2000.

      Under these circumstances, I am puzzling about what that defence spending of 2% of GDP concretely means.

      It is also interesting that the objectives are always set in macro-economic terms, and never in tangible measures (e.g. setting an objective of X riflemen brigades of 6000 men per million of male population aged 20-40, for instance). Obviously, current governmental elites prefer to play with abstract figures on paper, not elaborate plans based on flesh and steel — which would immediately highlight the obstacles to face in the real world.

      1. Aurelien

        Back in the Cold War there actually were things called NATO Force Goals, which were specific challenges to states to improve their forces by deploying equipment, forming units etc. It was all a bit of a joke, not least because one of the nations that most often failed to meet its goals was the US.

      2. eg

        “Obviously, current governmental elites prefer to play with abstract figures on paper, not elaborate plans based on flesh and steel — which would immediately highlight the obstacles to face in the real world.”

        This is what happens when you confuse “spreadsheet land” with “real resource land.”

        The molecules and joules matter.

    4. Kouros

      “Some people have only just discovered that most Eastern European states have long historical border disputes with others.”

      I don’t think this is accurate.

      And in former Yugoslavia the disputes are not over the borders ut on where different ethnic groups within a border would go too. Kind of what is happening now in the present Russian Civil War…

    5. zach

      Responding to your dig about his credentials and education, he’s actually got a pretty impressive biography, or impressive to those who are impressed by the sorts of things he’s been involved in. My reading is he’s some kind of Merkelite, seems he’s been out of politics since the new regime, though sitting on councils and holding distinguished chairs appears to be his calling card.

      It shouldn’t be surprising that a German, who grew up in Western Germany (Cologne area) during some amount of the Cold War, would find NATO to be an absolutely necessary institution to keep around, and would flub certain finer details of the Washington Treaty in deference to “the big picture.”

  9. timbers

    IMO, NATO presently enjoys a measure of unearned prestige. This is because it’s only credible challenger is currently attention diverted in liberating it’s people in Ukraine. Russia has been unduly tolerate of NATO/US aggression because it has it hands full, and has chosen a deliberate policy to not engage NATO/US. At least not until the SMO is completed successfully.

    The SMO will not last forever. What happens when Russia concludes it’s operations, begins to consolidate her peace and new territory, and Ukraine devolves into some form of rogue mercenary funded terrorist state that launches Himars, Storm Shadows, Patriot, Taurus missiles into civilian areas in Russia? And this is done by Western design?

    This is clearly a subject of concern in the Kremlin, because talk of large de-militarized zones have been floated. IMO de-militarized zones is the wrong approach.

    The military balance of power has changed for not only NATO but the US since 1990 or whenever. We no longer live in a world were Washington issue orders to the world. If current treads continue, it is Washington that needs to learn to take orders from Moscow on military disagreements. That is an exaggeration now, but that is the direction we are moving towards. The point is next to Russia, NATO is a approaching paper tiger status.

    Rather than encouraging NATO/US aggression on Russian civilians with talk of de-militarized zones, after the conclusion of the SMO, Russia needs to draw redlines and enforce them. If a Himar or Patriot hits Russia, Russia must target and destroy US Himar and Patriot factories. If a Taurus hits Russia, German Taurus factories must be destroyed. If a Storm Shadow hits Russia, British Storm Shadow factories should be destroyed.

    This may sound unthinkable but that is the world we are moving towards based on the balance of military power.

    The world has changed. Russia is militarily superior to NATO and the US. At some point after the SMO if what remains of Ukraine she finds her civilians being bombed, she should act like it when it comes to defending her people and make it clear NATO/US aggression will not be tolerated.

  10. The Rev Kev

    Many years ago I heard NATO described as the military wing of the West and that is a fair description. But instead of NATO concentrating on defence in Europe, they have gone off in search of dragons to destroy in the Balkans, North Africa, Afghanistan and now the Ukraine. But certainly it is not the organization that it was back in the 80s but is a far less effective organization that is now capable of only a few days of modern warfare before collapsing. The weird thing is that they are constantly expanding and I think that it is only a matter of time before they take in members that are not even in Europe. It is the nature of the beast. But does the US need NATO? Well, kinda. What they need is Europe as a place to station nukes to threaten Russia with and a conglomerate army to constantly rile up their borders which is the opposite of providing peace and security. So if those NATO countries let the US do all that, then they are “reliable” – I guess. But now this organization has grown so large that they need to generate enemies in order to justify their budget. Under no circumstance will they tolerate a peaceful state, even if they have to go to the coast of China to find a new enemy.

  11. eg

    Feh. That old Brit had it sussed from the start — NATO was established to keep the US in, the Russians out and the Germans down. To a greater or lesser degree, it’s still doing those things.

    But I suspect it mostly continues because rice bowls.

    And this notion that US security is remotely threatened by any external threat from beyond its ocean moats is laughable. It’s engaged overseas to protect the interests of its commercial class and their lackeys among the foreign comprador elites. The greatest threats to the security and wellbeing of US citizens is right inside their own country, and always has been.

    As for this professor, I pity his students.

  12. Paris

    I’m sorry, discuss what? And the guy is a professor at a supposedly good U.S. university, even though his essay is barely better than a 5th grader’s… There’s really nothing to discuss here, the arguments are pathetic. “Look daddy, I’m a super power”.

  13. carolina concerned

    I like NATO – minus the US. It appears to me that the best future course for NATO members, minus the US, is to aggressively strengthen their economic, trade alliances with Russia and China, while maintaining a dependable, defensive military. The best defense is competitors whose leaders are addicted to their wealthy lifestyle. Also, Russia and China seem to be the future if they can avoid open conflict with the US.

    At the same time, I wonder what the consequences would be for the US economy if their overseas bases were closed down. What would happen to the profits for the MIC. I especially wonder what would happen to the make-work employment opportunities for American young adults with minimal vocational skills.

    1. Eclair

      Good thoughts, carolina concerned: ” … I wonder what the consequences would be for the US economy … (and) especially wonder what would happen to the make-work employment opportunities for American young adults with minimal vocational skills.”

      Gee, the government policy makers (do they still exist?) might have to devise and implement a real industrial policy. And think about what kind of (government subsidized) education programs would be necessary to support such a policy.

      The money is there: we just have to divert it from destructive to constructive endeavors. (I like to think of three impossible things before breakfast. Working my way up to believing six impossible things!)

  14. KLG

    That was something! It does read like a middle school student’s book report: “The Soviet Union’s military alliance, called the Warsaw Pact…” When the Warsaw Pact dissolved, the reason for NATO disappeared. Period. Even Dick Cheney talked about a “peace dividend” until the war industry jerked his chain and he subsequently made bank with Halliburton. The expansion of NATO to the east will be viewed as the biggest diplomatic/strategic blunder in history, one of these days. Probably sooner rather than later. These people look at Russia and can see only the Soviet Union.

  15. Mikel

    The USA can’t go five years (maybe less) without military incursions and/or bombing some other country. And it’s paired with a continent that blew itself up twice within half a century.
    I’ll be impressed if it doesn’t happen again before 2045.

  16. JohnM_inMN

    When I read the heading the first thing that came to mind was this NATO heavy discussion Glenn Diesen and Alexander Mercouris had with former ambassador Chas Freeman. I remembered distinctly that at one point Chas spends a couple of minutes laying out an argument for NATO’s existence. At the top is one that Aurelian mentioned as coming from U.S. officials.

    Just before the 15:00 mark:

    “I think it’s important to
    remember that from at least from an American point of view NATO has a
    number of merits which which argue for its
    perpetuation one is that to be honest from an American point of view left
    on to their own devices Europeans in the 20th century on three different occasions messed things up to the extent
    that we had to cross the Atlantic to rectify the balance that was the case in World War I it was the case in world War
    II and arguably it was the case in the Cold War although we had a good deal to do with the imbalance in that case so
    the lesson is that from an American point of view that Europe and America are part of a single GE geopolitical
    Zone and we need to keep our hand in in Europe that’s point one…”

    Chas lists a few others, such as the thousands of standardization agreements that enable cooperation. Overall the discussion was a bit more substantive that the articles above, such I realize isn’t saying much.


  17. JohnA

    “NATO has invoked Article 5 only once – immediately after the U.S. was attacked on Sept. 11, 2001.”

    And Putin was one of the first leaders to call G W Bush to offer whatever support and assistance from Russia he could ask for.

    From the start, Putin never saw the west as an enemy and even politely enquired of Bill Clinton if Russia could join Nato. The answer was no, the US needs an enemy to justify its massive military budgets.

  18. britzklieg

    Adding insult to the injury of Larres’ feeble essay is the “editorial charter” of the site that published it, https://theconversation.com/us/charter:

    We will:
    * Inform public debate with knowledge-based journalism that is responsible, ethical and supported by evidence.
    * Unlock the knowledge of researchers and academics to provide the public with clarity and insight into society’s biggest problems.
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    * Provide a fact-based and editorially independent forum, free of commercial or political bias.
    * Support and foster academic freedom to conduct research, teach, write and publish.
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    * Protect editorial freedom in all commercial agreements.
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    * Set the standard in journalism best practice. Be open, transparent and accountable. Where errors occur correct them expeditiously.
    * Work with our academic, business and government partners and our advisory board to ensure we are operating for the public good.

  19. Gregory Etchason

    NATO first and foremost is a client of the US Military Industrial Complex. In the 4th Quarter of 2023 the US signed $80 billion in arms deals. $50 billion was with NATO.

  20. Screwball

    We need someone to convince Trump to fall in love with NATO, then offer to expand it more. Then the bloodthirsty war loving liberal democrats would want to defund it and shut it down. Might work for the border too.

    1. Amfortas the Hippie

      ive tried reverse psychology with my captive PMC proxy/specimen.(increasing dementia on top of unconscious covert narcissism).
      didnt work…she just immediately turned to a different obsession.
      after which it was “we’ve always been at war with Eastasia”.
      you cannot win with such people, save by their utter defeat and delegitimisation.

  21. Susan the other

    Larres’ analysis of the benefits of NATO are a little ossified. Maybe obsessed. If Europe practiced a messier and more contentious form of confederation, instead of imposing their “shared sovereignty” on all applicants to the EU from Brussels down, their differences would be worked out to the degree that they might never go to war at all. Something like Ukraine would never have happened. With NATO superimposed on EU democratic tendencies, everything seems like they are fighting the last war, perpetually. So are we, regardless of the fact that we are misspending our money and resources catastrophically. The world has changed but NATO remains as stubborn as a two-year-old. The worst sin that NATO commits is the sin of obstruction. The world should put its resources to much better use. NATO could still exist as a cooperative organization. That would be a good thing. Write up a new contract of rights and responsibilities. Ditch the nukes.

  22. Victor Sciamarelli

    A grade school exercise explained the value of persistence with a blade of grass. No matter how often you cut the grass it always grows back. The question becomes, however, does the grass really have a choice.
    Back in 2001, Bush the Younger said the disturbing part out loud when he told the world, “Either you are with us or you are with the terrorists.” The freedom loving prez defined freedom of choice in case you didn’t get it earlier.
    The Baltic nations, for example, didn’t have to join NATO but they likely saw the hand writing on the wall. On top of wars and coups, the US has active sanctions against 26 countries, their companies and individuals, according to Investopedia from June 2023. And, “For the country being sanctioned, the results can be enormous and long lasting.”
    Thus, they supported the empire when they did join. Even if you’re not doing much for us, we don’t want you doing anything for the other side either. Once again the question becomes, did they really have a choice.

  23. les online

    I read somewhere that the US president cant just declare War,
    (he) has to get congress’s approval (aka – rubber stamp)…
    Whereas, being in NATO, the US president can go to War,
    via NATO, without congress’s approval (aka – “work around the law”)…
    Recall Biden’s ‘covid’ mandates – obtained by “working around (the
    restrictions of) the law…

  24. les online

    The ANZAS Treaty between Australia, New Zealand, United States,
    requires of each that they consult with any member being aggressed…
    It does not commit any member to automatically assisting the aggressed
    member…It’s negotiable…
    Thus, if the US & NZ decides it’s not in their interests to help OZ
    should it be under attack by the Yellow Hordes of Asia*, OZ will have
    to fight on alone…
    I also read somewhere that NATO’s Article 5 is similar: that if, say,
    Poland is attacked by the Hordes from The East, there’s no obligation
    on any NATO member to automatically involve itself in Poland’s
    defense…It’s negotiable…

    * aka – The Yellow Peril (from Asia)…

  25. Kouros

    “Militarily and economically, the U.S. is a hugely formidable power. It has the largest nuclear arsenal on earth and continues to be the largest economy in the world.”

    He is not even looking in the Magic Mirror to tell him who’s the preties and fairest of them all. If he were, he would find out that – Russia has the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, consisting of very modern delivery systems (Sarmat, Avangard, Poseidon, etc.) and coupled with the best integrated AD systems in the world.
    – China’s real economy is the biggest in the world and its manufacturing capacity dwarfs not only the US, but the combined west.

    NATO countries in Europe are under the wrong umbrella if they truly would like to have protection and security.

  26. Fireminer

    Is this guy really that pro-NATO in real life, or is this just a punch-clock article? In which I mean this is just low-effort. I’ve read defenses of NATO on X with more effort and passion. It sounds like the guy were just trying to write the “right thing” to get into favor with his superior, but just couldn’t eke out the energy to do it properly. Like, just be honest and say upfront that NATO is the mechanism to which America uses to control West Europe, and well as the sword of Damocles which they can dangle over third-world countries.

  27. Synoia

    How many wars has Europe had since NATO was was established?

    That is the measure for NATO. Compare the last 70 years with other seventy years over European history.

    Is it perfect? Most probably not.

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