Contributor Perspectives

As NATO Turns 70, Strategic Questions Await American Answers

Ian Morris
Board of Contributors
Mar 14, 2019 | 16:56 GMT
This photo shows Rose Gottemoeller, deputy secretary-general of NATO, delivering a speech in Prague, Czech Republic, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the military alliance's eastward expansion.

NATO Deputy Secretary-General Rose Gottemoeller delivers a speech during a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of the eastward expansion of the NATO military alliance on March 12, 2019, at the Prague Castle, Czech Republic.


The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was founded in April 1949. Its first secretary-general, Hastings Ismay, was brutally clear about what it was for: "to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down." With just three weeks to go to NATO's 70th birthday, however, its efforts appear to have produced precisely the opposite results. In ways that were unimaginable just a generation ago, Europe seems to be entering an era in which the Russians are in, the Americans out and the Germans up. This is one of the greatest geostrategic shakeups of modern times, but explaining it requires us to look back well beyond NATO's birth to identify the long-term trends that have driven NATO's history. Once we do this, we gain a new perspective on the questions American strategists will need to answer in the 2020s....

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