gabriel5_JANEK SKARZYNSKIAFPGetty Images_nato germany Janek Skarzynski/AFP/Getty Images

Germany Must Bet on NATO

With NATO marking the 70th anniversary of its founding, there is no better time for Germans to reflect on their own contributions to the Alliance. When it comes to ensuring European – and German – security, NATO is the only option.

BERLIN – NATO was founded 70 years ago to prevent war between the liberal-democratic West and the Soviet East. The fact that the Cold War never turned hot is a testament to its success. Moreover, whenever NATO has deployed troops, it has been authorized to do so by the United Nations Security Council or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The oft-criticized exception was its intervention in the Kosovo War; but in that instance, it put an end to an ethnic cleansing that was already underway.

NATO’s primary purpose is collective defense. Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty – which holds that an attack on one member is an attack on all – is as necessary today as ever before. It is why West Berlin remained free throughout the Cold War, and why Poles, Estonians, Lithuanians, and Latvians today can rest assured that their freedoms are secure. Those who blame NATO’s eastward expansion for Russia’s incursions in Ukraine implicitly deny that former members of the Soviet bloc have the same right to freedom and security that other NATO members enjoy.

Historically, NATO’s strength rested on its ability to reach consensus despite partners’ differing starting positions. The organization has proven its capability to adapt to changing global contexts and face new challenges successfully. The unity that so greatly strengthened it politically was not a precondition, but was fought for in countless, often difficult negotiations among member states.

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