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NATO at 75

Thanks for everything you’ve done; now it is time to wind down.

Government Heads Attending Conference

On July 9, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization will celebrate its 75th anniversary. To mark the occasion, a summit will be held in Washington, D.C. Some of the embassies in town (looking at you, Baltic states) are already decked out in anticipation. Oddly, the size of the placards out front seem to be inversely proportional to the number of years the country has actually been in NATO. The Lithuanian embassy has multiple signs out front trumpeting “20 years of alliance.” What anniversary are we celebrating again?

If you were holding a 75th birthday party for a human being, you would expect it inevitably to take on the character of a living wake: Let us celebrate your accomplishments, for soon you will be gone.


That is the kind of party TAC is throwing NATO. Thanks for everything you’ve done; now it is time to wind down.

We would not abolish NATO entirely. Sumantra Maitra outlines a vision for a “dormant NATO” in his feature essay for this issue. NATO should be a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency pact, not a crusading force for global democratization. Justin Logan and Reid Smith explain why this minimalist vision has been so hard to implement in practice and how a committed realist president—perhaps a Trump Two—could overcome those obstacles.

If this urgently needed downsizing is not accomplished, then the United States will continue to slide closer to armed confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia. Nuclear war is a concept that has lost some of its frisson since the end of the Cold War, but as Jude Russo reminds us in his piece for this issue, it is precisely when a nation relaxes that the threat of nuclear war is greatest. Fear of the Bomb is a highly salutary sentiment.

Overextension of American power has more prosaic costs, too. Consider the story of “Fat Leonard,” which is almost too ridiculous to be true: a freakishly tall Malaysian high-school dropout bilked millions if not billions out of the U.S. Navy by bribing officers with food, drink, and prostitutes. Reporter Craig Whitlock has assembled the incredible facts in a new book, which Nic Rowan reviews for TAC in the Arts & Letters sections.

Anastasia Kaliabakos has been TAC’s ISI Collegiate Network editorial fellow for the past year. She is getting ready to leave us this summer, and as a send-off she has written a fabulous reported essay on the woke-ification of the classics department at her alma mater, the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. A classics department with no Greek and Latin requirement sounds like a contradiction in terms, but that is the kind of decline in standards that professors are embracing in the name of inclusivity. Great piece, Stacey. Good luck out there.