Skip to main content

Cookies and Privacy

We use cookies to improve your experience on our website. To find out more, read our updated Cookie policy, Privacy policy and Terms & Conditions

afrasmussen14_SERGEI SUPINSKYAFPGetty Images_nato Sergei Supinsky/AFP/Getty Images

NATO’s Duty at 70

As NATO marks the 70th anniversary of its founding and the 20th anniversary of its expansion into formerly communist countries, it must do more than reflect on the past. To continue fulfilling its mission into the future, the Alliance must no longer allow the Kremlin to wield an effective veto over aspiring members' accession.

COPENHAGEN – NATO marks two anniversaries this year: the 70th anniversary of its founding, and the 20th anniversary of its first expansion behind the former Iron Curtain. Looking back, NATO’s status as the most successful peace project in history reflects not just its military might, but also its ability to provide hope to aspiring members. There is no doubt that the prospect of NATO (and European Union) membership has served as a driving force for democratization and liberalization in the ex-communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe.

With an “open door policy,” NATO continues to accept new allies. And though the zeal for enlargement 20 years ago has given way to wariness about antagonizing Russia, such reticence is ill-advised. Recent history shows that every time NATO has dithered, Russia has moved in.

For example, in April 2008, NATO allies met in Bucharest to discuss offering a Membership Action Plan (MAP) to Georgia and Ukraine. At the insistence of Germany and France, we decided to postpone that decision until the end of the year. In my view, that was a mistake. Just months after our summit, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the invasion of Georgia, and Russia has occupied Abkhazia and South Ossetia ever since.

We hope you're enjoying Project Syndicate.

To continue reading, subscribe now.


Get unlimited access to PS premium content, including in-depth commentaries, book reviews, exclusive interviews, On Point, the Big Picture, the PS Archive, and our annual year-ahead magazine.;
  1. lhatheway7_Claudio Santistebanpicture alliance via Getty Images_ECBFedLagardePowell Claudio Santisteban/picture alliance via Getty Images

    Restoring Central Banks’ Credibility

    Larry Hatheway

    The old central-bank playbook of slashing interest rates to spur consumption, investment, and employment has become less effective since the 2008 financial crisis. Yet without effective tools and the public's confidence, central banks will be unable to rise to the occasion when the next recession arrives.

  2. fischer163_action press-PoolGetty Images_natoflagsoldiers Action Press-Pool/Getty Images

    The Day After NATO

    Joschka Fischer

    French President Emmanuel Macron has drawn criticism for describing NATO as brain dead and pursuing a rapprochement with Russian President Vladimir Putin. But now that a wayward America could abandon the continent at any moment, Macron's argument for European defense autonomy is difficult to refute.