No matter whether the crisis in Ukraine begins to de-escalate in the coming days, Vladimir Putin, with his 19th century outlook, has demonstrated the hollowness of the West’s 21st century approach to Euro-Atlantic security. The twin pillars of the European security establishment—NATO and the EU—have been unable to respond effectively because their assumptions about the nature of conflict and the burdens that members ought to bear to provide for the common defense, formed out of the experiences of the mid-to-late 20th century, have not been updated.
For all the exalted talk about NATO as the mailed fist of the West, prepared not only to defend the European heartland but also to expand the zone of peace and prosperity into Eurasia and to stand guard on the front lines of the Western world from Afghanistan to the waters off Somalia, NATO remains, at heart, a trip-wire defense alliance, triggered when an outside adversary aggressively crosses the line. However, operations such as the 1999 Kosovo air war, launched even though no NATO member had been attacked by Serbia, made it unclear what would trigger alliance military action. ...
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