NATO Is a Good Investment in Security for Europe | Opinion

The following is a lightly edited transcript of remarks made by Charles Kupchan during a Newsweek podcast debate about when the United States should get involved in foreign conflicts. You can listen to the podcast here:

It's important to keep in mind that we do live in an America in which there was a sea change in 1941. And from the beginning of the nation's founding until after World War II, the United States shunned alliances. We were very leery about hitching our wagon to everyone else. In fact, we reneged on an alliance that we had fashioned with the French in 1778 to help us win the Revolutionary War. We pulled out of that alliance, even though the French were at war in 1793, and did not fashion another alliance until after World War II. And then under Roosevelt and during World War II, we decide, you know what? We live in a world that is more interdependent. We cannot afford to stand back and watch Nazi Germany or Imperial Japan carve up Europe and Asia.

Kyiv rubble
Ukraine militaries stand by the rubble of a destroyed apartment building in Kyiv on March 15, after strikes on residential areas killed at least two people, Ukraine emergency services said as Russian troops intensified their attacks on the Ukrainian capital. Fadel Senna/AFP via Getty Images

And as a consequence, we began to be a country that projected power abroad in peacetime, as a way of preventing finding ourselves in wartime. I'm someone who thinks that NATO, which took shape in 1949 after the close of World War II, is a very good investment in stability in Europe. It effectively maintained peace in Europe during the Cold War. It has continued to exist, right through the end of the Cold War to this day. And right now, thank goodness that NATO exists while Russia is trying to carve up Ukraine, because if it did not, I think we would be very concerned that Putin may try to go further, and go after Poland or Germany or other countries that would confront us with the prospect of a wider war. What about Ukraine? Why aren't we intervening there? And I think that it may come to that. It may be that Putin decides to take a strike against convoys that are going through Poland to get into Ukraine. It may be that Putin decides to go to the Baltics and try to reintegrate them into a Russian sphere of influence. If so, we have NATO, an Article V security guarantee, one-against-all collective defense — that would mean that we would be fighting alongside our allies, were that to happen.

Charles Kupchan is a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, and a Professor at Georgetown University.

The views expressed in this article are the writers own.