The United States should never expect to achieve full burden-sharing with the European members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Even in the most balanced alliances, the most powerful member will pay some premium for ensuring its credibility and effectiveness. The United States can strive plausibly to minimize but not eliminate the massive degree of free riding and strategic incoherence that has become politically untenable and strategically unwise.
Clio, the muse of history, has a fabulous sense of irony: As the human pageant unfolds, she delights in confounding our intentions and expectations. Thus, two public enemies of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (whose acronym, NATO, sounds like another Greek deity) promise to be the unwitting saviors of the alliance, rescuing it from complacency, lethargy, and diminishing relevance.
Europe was never a full partner in its own defense. The very question—Will Europe ever fully partner with the U.S., or will the European Union and NATO continue to downplay the necessity of military readiness?—is no longer meaningful as posed, because the political energies of Europe’s elites are absorbed as they try to fend off attacks on their legitimacy by broad sectors of their population.
Military History is rarely out of the news in Russia, and this month it was announced that a new Army Cathedral there will have its front steps made out of melted-down tanks seized from the Germans in the Great Patriotic War of 1941–45. President Vladimir Putin, whose pet project this is, has raised 1.8 billion roubles (£20.9 million, $26.8 million) for a three hundred-foot high brand-new Main Cathedral of the Armed Forces in Patriot Park, a military theme park 40 miles from Moscow.
“The Second World Wars” by Hoover Institution Senior Fellow and historian Victor Davis Hanson is a must read for anyone interested in military history. His book goes well beyond the dramatic storytelling that can so often overwhelm the rest of a text about this most heroic hour in our nation’s history. Instead, Hanson takes the reader on a deep dive to answer—using a voluminous yet quite lucid level of detail—the practical questions of the war(s) that continue to shape the politics, economics, and social fabric of the world to this day.
Simcha Rotem, one of the last-known surviving fighters in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising of April-May 1943, died in Jerusalem on December 23, 2018, aged 94. His death prompted a good deal of global coverage, since the story of the Ghetto Uprising—not to be confused with the Warsaw Home Army Uprising of August-October 1944—is an integral one to the story of Jewish resistance to the Nazis during the Second World War.
“Fog in the Channel,” headlined the October 22, 1957 Times of London, “Continent cut off.” This famous-but-perhaps-apocryphal bit of journalism is particularly apropos of the dank “Brexit” shroud that has settled over northwest Europe. With 100 days to go until the supposed March 29 deadline for Great Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union, the fog is only getting thicker. No proposed solution seems palatable to all parties, Prime Minister Theresa May has a tenuous hold on power and no grip whatsoever on policy, and the continentals are blithely but foolishly relishing Britain’s distress.
One of the greatest temptations for recent American presidents has been the insidious thought that the balance of power in the Middle East is of diminishing strategic importance to the United States. This would appear to be the logic behind Donald Trump’s order to withdraw U.S. ground forces from Syria. Like Barack Obama before him, the president looks through the smaller, counterterrorism lens—fighting the Islamic State was his “only reason for being there”—rather than the regional (or global) balance-of-power lens.