For most of the last twenty years, NATO has functioned as the vehicle and the pretext for continued U.S. involvement in European affairs despite the obsolescence of the alliance after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Hawks and interventionists have been enthusiastic supporters of the alliance, they defended NATO’s Balkan interventions that had nothing to do with mutual defense, and they were glad to support the use of NATO for “out-of-area” operations that had even less to do with the alliance’s original purpose. For nearly twenty years, U.S. hawks have championed each round of NATO expansion, they dismissed and mocked Russian complaints about expansion, they vehemently demanded the inclusion of Ukraine and Georgia, and they have damned Obama for effectively yielding to the reality that neither Ukraine nor Georgia will ever be part of the alliance. As recently as last month, American hawks were moaning about the supposed lack of Atlanticism of the leaders of the new British coalition government, but if Atlanticism means tolerating allies that do not function as nothing more than U.S. lackeys it seems that some hawks here want nothing to do with it.

All of a sudden, some hawks have determined that NATO is a dangerous relic, and the main split among hawks on the American right seems to be between those who want to throw Turkey out of NATO and those who want the U.S. to leave NATO first. Of course, dissolving or leaving NATO would be the right thing to do, but it is telling that this thought never occurred to these people when they were urging the U.S. to be willing to go to war with Russia for the sake of Georgian control of South Ossetia. Hawks find NATO dangerous and outdated only when NATO allies act with any measure of independence and according to their national interests.