From Philip Ewing, DoDBuzzAlexis Crow of London’s Chatham House argues, “NATO will of course continue … but it will move away from a collective defense organization to a loosely based alliance and a talking shop.”

Which quickly raises the next question — at what point does an inactive NATO become no NATO? If the alliance is just going to be a forum for uniformed officers to eat tea sandwiches and play croquet, will that mean its member governments must continue footing the bill? We’ve seen others make the case before that NATO must continue as a force for moral suasion in the 21st century, a group charged with “upholding the values of human decency and dignity.” Fine, fine — how many wings of bombers does that take? If the alliance agrees it doesn’t take any, it will have many members and a long future, but wind up as influential as the League of Nations.

NATO’s critics, especially in the United States, might not shed a tear if this happens — or, in fact, they might raise a toast. But a toothless NATO could mean more world problems default back to the inbox of the United States, even as dwindling military budgets and a resurgent strain of isolationism make it ill equipped to handle them. Because the big European powers, including Great Britain, France and Germany, will not increase their own military commitments to be able to act themselves where NATO might before had enabled Europe to act collectively. In the event of another Libya-type situation, it might become even more difficult for the world to do anything.  (Photo: