Is NATO Now Endangering Europe?

Arguing that NATO is obsolete and European countries should take responsibility for their own security again, Justin Logan highlights how the alliance’s post-Cold War expansion may be exacerbating the very Russian aggression it’s supposed to prevent:

The cost of surrounding Russia militarily is that Russia feels surrounded militarily. Allowing NATO to die after it achieved its mission after the Cold War would have left Moscow with a freer hand in Eastern Europe — and some current NATO member states Russian President Vladimir Putin Attends Military Exercise Near Saint Petersburgwould have faced negative consequences. Their relations with Russia would have reflected relative power and geography, and they would have had to defer to Russian prerogatives more than at present.

At the same time, other states, such as Ukraine, have arguably been worse off as a result of NATO’s persistence. Its internal politics have been more consequential to Moscow because not only of its economic orientation, but also because of the threat that it may someday become a NATO member. The downside of drawing lines across Europe, as NATO has, is that lines have two sides. And being on the non-NATO side of the line makes one a particularly appetizing target for predation, incentivizing the Kremlin to act before it’s too late. The choice facing, say, the Baltic states becomes even starker.

NATO expansion has validated the narratives of Russian nationalists and made Russian liberals look like suckers, a nuance that is lost on many in the West.

Once again, the desire to transpose a structure that made sense in the Cold War to a thoroughly different era has led to unintended consequences. The desire to spike the ball came back to haunt us, and the hubris of the neocon and liberal internationalist visions after 1989 eventually blew back, with a vengeance. We either learn this ourselves and adjust or have history teach us this more forcefully. “Creating reality” is a rather elegant term for “denying reality”. And those who in fields Elysian would dwell do but extend the boundaries of Hell.

(Photo: Russian President Vladimir Putin watches a military exericises at Kamenka polygon on March 3, 2014 near Saint Petersburg, Russia. Ukrainian forces in Crimea had been issued with a deadline for surrender by the Russian military as it continued to mass equipment and personnel along the border. By Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images)