NATO’s Obsolescence Never Happened
Very soon after NATO was created in 1949, Washington programmed its obsolescence. As early as 1951, Dwight Eisenhower, the first Supreme Allied Commander in Europe, said that if U.S. troops were to be stationed in Europe for more than ten years, then the whole project would be a failure. The NATO project was indeed supposed to be temporary, and last only until Western Europe was capable of ensuring its own defense. President Harry Truman was convinced European defense integration was the only way for Europe to protect itself from nationalism, preserve its independence from the Soviet threat, and strengthen its cooperation with the United States.
Seventy years down the road, the U.S. perspective on NATO has changed radically: President Donald Trump is leading a global revival of nationalism in Europe, he is questioning the U.S. security guarantee in a context of a resurgence of the Russian threat, and he is describing European defense initiatives as "protectionist." The future of the transatlantic bond will therefore depend, to a large extent, on Europeans themselves, and on their ability to reinvest in the strategic debate on the future of the European defense and security architecture—all in the difficult context of great-power rivalry.