possibly the last, when the West stood shoulder to shoulder in defense of liberal democracy and against tyranny. Still, I look back on the Soviets and then look at al Qaeda and I miss the Soviets. I understood them in a way I can never understand al Qaeda.
So I will be asked to speak about U.S-European relations. I will have to tell the Europeans two things. The first is that there is no American relationship with Europe because Europe is no longer an idea but a continent made up of states with diverse interests. There are U.S.-French relations and U.S.-Russian relations and so on. The second thing I will tell them is that there can be no confederation without a common foreign and defense policy. You can have different tax rates, but if when one goes to war they don’t all go to war, they are just nations cooperating as they see fit.
I remember the camaraderie of young enlisted Americans and Europeans, and the solidarity of planning teams. This was the glue that held Europe together. It was not just the commanders and politicians, but the men who would have to cover each other’s movement that created the foundations of NATO’s solidarity. My recollections are undoubtedly colored with sentimentality, but I do not think I’ve done the idea an injustice. NATO bound Europe together because it made the nations into comrades. They were able to face Armageddon together. Europe without NATO’s solidarity has difficulty figuring out a tax policy. In the end, Europe lost more when NATO fell into disuse than it imagined.
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I don’t know that NATO can exist without a Cold War. Probably not. What is gone is gone. But I know my nostalgia for Europe is not just for my youth; it is for a time when Western civilization was united. I doubt we will see that again.
“Geopolitical Journey: Nostalgia for NATO is republished with permission of Stratfor.”