“Neither can the U.S. be expected to sustain an expensive role in an alliance [the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, or NATO] whose chief role is to diminish European fear of a resurgent Germany.”

These may be the sentiments, though not the words of President-elect Donald Trump, who has called NATO “obsolete.” The words are those of the late Jeanne Kirkpatrick, who served as ambassador to the United Nations for President Ronald Reagan. In an article she wrote for the National Interest in the fall of 1990, it would appear that Kirkpatrick would have agreed with Trump’s bold assertion: “I said a long time ago — that NATO had problems. Number one it was obsolete, because it was, you know, designed many, many years ago.”

In her National Interest article, Kirkpatrck stated almost the same thing: “Many of the international military obligations that we assumed were once important are now outdated,” she observed, adding that it was “time to give up the dubious benefits of superpower status and become again an usually successful, open American republic.”

NATO was formed in a different era, in the aftermath of World War I, as the Stalin-led Soviet Union brought many countries in eastern Europe behind the tyranny of the “Iron Curtain” — nations such as Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Hungary, and Yugoslavia. The Russian war machine appeared to many in the West poised to sweep across western Europe as well, taking over the western part of Germany, France, and perhaps even Great Britain.

Certainly, that was the stated reason given that this extraordinary NATO alliance was necessary: that an attack upon one of its members was an attack upon all of its members, thus telling Stalin that he would face the military might of the United States should he attempt to expand the Soviet Empire westward.

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