The Foreign Service Journal - April 2017
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APRIL 2017


nonetheless, was the wrong

one. The postwar settlement,

which included NATO, was

predicated on the lessons of

two World Wars and a lost

peace during the 1930s. NATO

provides the United States

with an important multiplier

for defense and strategic influ-

ence. But don’t be too hard on

poor Richard—he at least waited until the Cold War was over to

make the pronouncement. I remember well a high-level meet-

ing in the Secretary of State’s conference room in 1975, where

not one of the very senior participants could tell us why the

United States still had troops in divided Berlin.

U.S.-European Security Is Indivisible

Yet the reason is rather obvious. Better to unify and remain

vigilant than to be forced to come in to clean up after a crisis

has broken out. And better to

remain closely integrated with

the rest of the world’s great

democracies than to believe

that deals with authoritarian

states can better serve Ameri-

can interests.

I participated in one such

clean-up in the Balkans in

the 1990s. During a visit to

Belgrade in June 1990, Secretary of State James Baker replied

to a question about possible war in the Balkans with a classic

piece of Texas wisdom. “We ain’t got no dog in this fight,” the

Secretary said. Serbian President Milosevic later told me that

those words had electrified him. “That was my go-ahead to

start a war.” One could argue that President Obama’s silence on

Syria had the same disastrous effect.

In other words, we and Europe cannot escape each other.

Bosnia and Syria and the fight against terrorism have demon-

The “normality” of Europe

was to be deeply divided and

strategically paralyzed. This

remains the case today.