Thursday, 11 May 2017

New Atlanticist: The West’s Future Depends on the Political Center

New Atlanticist: The West’s Future Depends on the Political Center

by Stanley R. Sloan

"NATO has served US and European interests well since it was founded sixty-eight years ago.

For Europe, it provided a security blanket under which European democracies could stabilize, while rebuilding their economies aided by the construction of a “community” system that became today’s EU. The Alliance served its primary purpose of deterring aggression by the Soviet Union while balancing Soviet power and helping maintain the peace.

Since the end of the Cold War, NATO has proven to be the most important instrument in dealing with threats to international stability—starting with the Balkan conflicts of the 1990s and continuing today with responses to the dual threats of Russian revisionism and terrorism fomented by the Islamic State and al Qaeda.

For the United States, the Alliance has ensured that no hostile power would control the European continent—a longstanding component of American grand strategy—and stimulated the emergence of a Europe that shares American values and has become an important trade and financial partner. Despite persistent European shortfalls in defense spending, the allies have generally supported the United States in responding to international security challenges, particularly coming to its aid following the 9/11 attacks—the only time that NATO’s collective defense provision has been invoked. The allies then sent tens of thousands of soldiers to support the US military effort in Afghanistan, while providing overall management of the military effort by leading the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

Today, while the transatlantic community faces serious external threats, it also has to deal with internal political challenges to the values on which “the West” is based. NATO and EU members must also deal with the factors that are giving rise to illiberal political tendencies that are eroding democratic institutions and processes, even after the defeat of Le Pen."

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