America Needs a Strong NATO Alliance

Senator Kelly Ayotte, Dec. 10, 2013Despite the shortcomings of many of our allies, in light of Russian aggression and growing transnational cyber and Islamist terrorist threats, a strong and unified NATO alliance remains vital to American national security interests….

America’s investments in NATO do not represent an example of naïve international charity. While our European allies certainly benefit from a strong American military presence in Europe, the foremost beneficiary of our military presence in Europe is the United States. America benefits when Europe is peaceful, prosperous, and free, and the best way to facilitate that outcome is by maintaining a capable and credible American-led NATO military deterrent forward-stationed in Europe.

The last century’s world wars began in Europe, and America initially tried to avoid becoming involved. Yet, in both cases, our core democratic principles, as well as our security and economic interests, compelled the United States to intervene. After more than a half million Americans gave their lives, America’s leaders searched for a way to prevent such wars in the future….

In addition to deterring further Russian aggression in Europe, the NATO alliance and the presence of U.S. forces in Europe help build the capabilities and interoperability of our allies enabling them to operate more effectively with U.S. forces and to carry a larger share of the burden in conflicts outside of Europe. A strong NATO facilitates the projection of military power around Europe’s troubled periphery—including in the fight against ISIS.

It is worth remembering that the only time that NATO has invoked Article Five was after the terrorist attacks on our country on 9/11. While the U.S—and not Europe—was attacked on 9/11, more than 1000 of our European allies have laid down their lives to ensure Afghanistan does not once again become a launching pad for international terrorism. It is difficult to imagine a more tangible or significant demonstration of the willingness of our NATO allies to honor their obligations to us.

In a speech in Wisconsin recently, after an eight-year retrenchment in American international leadership and power, President-Elect Trump emphasized the importance of strengthening vital alliances and achieving peace through strength. At a time of increasing transnational threats and escalating Russian aggression, one of the best ways to accomplish those objectives is for the new administration to demonstrate in word and deed that the United States remains unalterably committed to a strong and credible NATO alliance that is prepared to defend all of its members.

Kelly Ayotte represented New Hampshire on the Senate Armed Forces Committee.

Image: Senator Kelly Ayotte, Dec. 10, 2013 (photo: US Naval Institute)