“Andy Goodpaster,” as everyone called him during his two decades as a military elder-statesman in Washington, would counsel that in any enterprise – especially military ones – it was invariably tempting but always fatal to confuse rhetoric and reality. He had personal experience. In the aftermath of World War II, as the formidable Colonel Andrew Goodpaster, engineer and soldier-scholar with a war record of some bravery, he was picked by Eisenhower to help transform NATO from rhetoric into a functioning military alliance.
Perhaps it is the new speed of communications in this era of America's first internet president that impels Barack Obama and some of his closest foreign policy aides and advisors to produce memoir style defenses of the administration's foreign policies even before they are out the door.
NATO’s 28 heads of state and government meet in Warsaw this Friday and Saturday in what has become a biannual event, whether or not the times demand it. Until Britain on June 23 voted to leave the European Union—the so-called Brexit—the NATO summit would have been pretty routine. It would have been limited to building on past decisions, though some with major consequences for European security, but it wouldn’t have set out in new directions. But now the summit will of necessity be anything but routine—or it will fail the test of history.
Who knew that the monumental Christmas tree glittering in front of Notre Dame of Paris last winter was funded by the Embassy of Russia? This allowed the leading public television channel in Russia to say: “This year, Parisians do not have enough money any more for their Christmas tree.” In spite of increasing Russian presence on the banks of the Seine, almost nobody in Paris heard about it.
Brexit, the wholly unpredicted vote of the British electorate to leave the European Union, faces Europe with its greatest political challenge in half a century. Less headlined is that Europe looks to be facing the biggest threat to its security over a like period. The NATO summit opening tomorrow (July 8) will be dominated by a single topic: how to defend the alliance’s Baltic members against Russian attack. The gathering in Warsaw will be the most consequential for NATO since the ending of the Cold War.
© COPYRIGHT THE EUROPEAN INSTITUTE 2009
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