The abhorrent beheading of two American journalists and a British aid worker shocked the world. So did the tragic downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine. The deaths of these innocents show the global consequences of two major crises on Europe’s doorstep: the advance of the so-called Islamic State terrorist group across Iraq and Syria, and Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. The peace and security we enjoy in Europe and North America are under threat like never before.
These challenges will last for years, and we need to face that reality. . . .
As we approach the end of over a decade of fighting in Afghanistan, there is a temptation to turn inward. But the world will not become less dangerous just because we wish it to be. Threats will not go away just because we want to look away. We must keep a global perspective and counter isolationism and retreat.
If we fail to defend democracy, forces of oppression will seize the opportunity. Because appeasement does not lead to peace. It just incites the tyrants. Failure to counter oppression will only invite further oppression. Military action will always be the last resort, but we must be able to use it when we need to. Not to wage war, but to build peace.
This is a time when our values are being challenged and our will is being tested. Keeping NATO strong and North America and Europe united has never been more important. It is the only way to preserve our freedom, protect our people, and promote our values.
Mr. Rasmussen is the secretary general of NATO.