NATO is best when it is doing nothing,

Anatol Lieven, professor in Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Qatar

NATO is an organization that is very good at not actually doing anything —and it should stay that way. It is when NATO tries to do things that it causes endless amounts of trouble.

For when NATO likes to boast that it is “the most successful alliance in history” because it deterred a Soviet attack on Western Europe and so never had to fight a war, that is true, but it obscures another historical truth that NATO has forgotten.

This truth is that in the late 1940s and early 1950s, both the USSR and the United States decided independently that they would not seek to expand their political systems and alliances in Europe using military force or the threat of it — for the obvious reason that any such move would be likely to lead to a catastrophic nuclear war. This is something that we urgently need to remember, as NATO squares up to Russia (or pretends to) in Ukraine.

Thus, even before the introduction of the Truman Doctrine and of U.S. support for Greece and Turkey in 1947 — and three years before the creation of NATO — Josef Stalin had already decided not to support the Greek communists in the civil war there. Furthermore, he had also pressured the Yugoslav communist government not to do so, contributing to the Soviet-Yugoslav split. […]

From this point of view, the Cold War was not won between 1989 and 1991. It was won between 1956, when the Hungarian masses revolted against communism, and 1961, when the East German communist state confessed that the only way it could stop its population from running away to a better life in West Germany was by building a giant prison wall to keep them in. From that moment, Soviet communism as an ideological model in Europe was dead. Läs artikel