Bret Stephens makes a number of absurd claims in his latest column, but this may be the most ridiculous:
NATO is a defensive alliance.
If Stephens had written this twenty years ago, he would have been right. Unfortunately, NATO hasn’t been a purely defensive alliance in a long time. Between its unnecessary “out of area” missions, its unlawful military intervention in Kosovo, and its latest unwise adventure in Libya, NATO has been much more than a “defensive” alliance for most of the last two decades. It has also been an anti-Russian alliance by design, no matter what alliance officials and Western politicians have said about this since the end of the Cold War. Had NATO stayed as nothing more than a defensive alliance to protect its members against attack, it probably wouldn’t have seemed all that threatening. Instead, it has fought offensive wars for reasons that have nothing to do with allied security, and it has attacked governments that have not threatened any of its members. If NATO had not made a point of incorporating almost all of Russia’s neighbors as new members, its historically anti-Russian character might have been less provocative. Taken together, NATO’s unnecessary wars and its constant push to expand into eastern Europe were bound to alarm Moscow, and so they have. If NATO had at least remained as the defensive alliance that it was supposed to be, the U.S. and Russia would probably not be in the positions they are now.