June 18, 2024


IMMEDIATE RELEASE 22 April 2022WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUNDToday’s Events in Historical PerspectiveAmerica’s Longest-Running Column Founded 1932NATO victoriousBy Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift          WASHINGTON — One entity is certain to be the victor in Ukraine: NATO. It is the most durable military alliance ever created, and thanks to Mr. Putin it is stronger than ever and growing with Finland and Sweden on the cusp of joining.          At a time when democracy is being challenged and the Western world is facing autocrats and surging right-wing populists, the NATO structure and alliance has displayed leadership, surpassing any individual leader with its collective strength. Not unlike the United States, it has a life of its own based upon shared values rather than ephemeral leaders who come and go.          President Biden gets credit for assembling NATO’s 30 countries into a unified force against Russia’s autocrat, Vladimir Putin. Biden’s predecessor had done much to denigrate the alliance that Biden, an institutional loyalist by experience and temperament, worked hard to rebuild under the threat of a war he knew was coming.          Even if the worst happens and Ukraine loses the war to Russia, NATO will emerge stronger than ever – a Putin nightmare. His goal is to weaken NATO, and he made headway when Trump was in the White House. Now, whatever the outcome of the war, NATO comes out on top, more unified and stronger than when Russia initiated the brutal war Putin euphemistically sold to his people as a limited operation.          NATO was founded 73 years ago this month on April 4, 1949, part of the Cold War infrastructure put in place by President Harry Truman and Secretary of State George C. Marshall, whose plan to rebuild Europe bears his name.          Senator Arthur Vandenberg, R-Mich., broke with the isolationists in his party to support the Truman’s Doctrine to contain communism, the Marshall Plan, and the creation of NATO. The Michigan senator secured his place in the history books when he said, “Politics stops at the water’s edge,” meaning partisanship is set aside when foreign policy is considered. He lived those words.          Article 5 of the NATO treaty is the cornerstone, declaring that an attack on one is an attack on all. Ukraine is not a member of NATO. If it were, we would be seeing a different war. As it is, NATO has come as close as possible without technically joining forces with Ukraine, and to the extent that Ukraine has so far prevailed, NATO-supplied weapons have made the difference.          After World War I, the League of Nations failed in its goal to prevent war through collective security. It collapsed despite President Wilson’s strong support. The United Nations followed in 1945 and endures, but its ability to act is severely constrained by the veto power of the major powers, Russia and China among them.          Enter NATO an alliance of like-minded democracies, and it is showing us every day that it can act in the face of evil.          When this war ends, Russia will be isolated. Its economy will be decimated, the ruble already having lost much of its value, foreign corporations are fleeing the country, and a brain drain is taking its lifeblood and its youth.          Ukraine emerges win or lose with its president as an inspirational figure, a modern-day Churchill with battlefield valor and communications skills that secure his place in the modern era. Ukrainian children in future generations will read about their parents and grandparents and understand love of country and love of freedom.          But without taking one iota of credit away from the Ukrainian people and their president, they could not have come this far without NATO. The war in Ukraine has turned NATO into a bright beacon of hope in a turbulent world.           See Eleanor Clift’s latest book Selecting a President, and Douglas Cohn’s latest books The President’s First Year: The Only School for Presidents Is the Presidency and World War 4: Nine Scenarios (endorsed by seven flag officers).          Twitter:  @douglas_cohn          © 2021 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.          Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.          END WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND  


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