NATO used to worry about a loss of purpose. Indeed, had Russia not antagonised its former empire in the 1990s, NATO might have shut up shop by now.
This is misleading revisionism pure and simple. Perhaps the most misleading part of the editorial’s argument is the claim that NATO has been “wooing” Russia for twenty years. A more accurate description would note that it has been gratuitously poking Russia in the eye far more often than it has made goodwill gestures.
NATO could and should have “shut up shop” twenty years ago, but it insisted on expanding eastwards. Russia hardly did much to antagonize its “former empire” during the ’90s. The U.S. and NATO went out of their way to antagonize Russia. It was Moscow’s former satellites that were clamoring to join the alliance. This wasn’t because of anything the Russians were doing at the time, but because of a fear of what they might one day attempt. NATO expansion has fueled Russian fears about the alliance that shouldn’t exist. The Economist‘s answer is to continue fueling those fears and souring relations between NATO and Russia that had only recently been improving.