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NATO: A Pillar of Global Security for 75 Years



U.S. Officials Agree NATO's Worth is Unquestionable

For 75 years, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has been a cornerstone of global peace, countering threats from the Soviet Union, mitigating conflict in the Balkans, combating international terrorism, and standing firm against Russian aggression. As a testament to its enduring significance, leaders across the political spectrum in both Europe and the United States recognize NATO as one of the most successful collective defense alliances in history.

NATO emerged from the harrowing experiences of the 20th century when world wars claimed over 100 million lives. Western leaders, determined to prevent such devastation, established an international order with NATO at its core. President Joe Biden has called NATO “the greatest military alliance in the history of the world.” Since its inception, U.S. officials have credited NATO with enhancing the security, prosperity, and liberty of both Americans and the global community.

Despite its accolades, recent polling by the Pew Research Center indicates a rise in isolationist sentiment within the U.S., with one-third of Americans holding unfavorable opinions about NATO—a 4% increase since 2023. This trend concerns NATO leaders, given the alliance’s critical role in international security.

The Evolution of American Isolationism

Isolationism has deep roots in American history. President George Washington famously advised against permanent alliances in his 1796 farewell address. However, the realities of global conflicts, such as World War I and World War II, demonstrated the necessity of international partnerships. The latter war, with its unprecedented destructiveness, solidified support for collective defense mechanisms like NATO. The alliance, founded with the Washington Treaty on April 9, 1949, initially included Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the U.K., and the U.S.

The Cold War and Beyond

berlin war

NATO’s first major test came with the Berlin Airlift in 1948, where U.S. and allied forces supplied West Berlin amid a Soviet blockade. This effort underscored NATO’s commitment to collective defense, a principle enshrined in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty. This article states that an armed attack against one NATO member is considered an attack against all, prompting a collective response.

The Soviet Union’s creation of the Warsaw Pact in 1955 further solidified NATO’s role as a deterrent against Soviet expansion. Over the decades, NATO remained united through various crises, including the Hungarian uprising in 1956, the erection of the Berlin Wall in 1961, and the suppression of the Prague Spring in 1968. The alliance’s solidarity played a significant role in the eventual fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union, allowing former communist nations to join NATO.

berlin wall

NATO’s Enduring Relevance

Today, NATO continues to adapt to new threats. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022 highlighted the alliance’s critical role in maintaining European security. NATO’s European members have significantly increased their defense spending, with many now exceeding the alliance’s 2% GDP defense expenditure goal. In 2024, European NATO members are projected to invest $470 billion in defense.

NATO’s collective defense budget surpasses $1.2 trillion, with member nations sharing advanced training, tactics, and intelligence. The alliance’s combined active-duty personnel number over 3.3 million, showcasing its formidable deterrent capabilities.

Global Partnerships and Future Challenges

NATO’s scope extends beyond Europe, addressing global threats and fostering partnerships with nations like Australia, New Zealand, and Japan. The alliance also focuses on cyber threats and ethical considerations surrounding artificial intelligence.

The Cold War was not won by political parties alone but by the collective efforts of NATO nations. The alliance’s unity remains vital in facing contemporary challenges, including isolationist sentiments that call for America to “go it alone.” In an interconnected world, such isolationism is impractical and counterproductive.

The only time NATO invoked Article 5 was following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the U.S., leading to NATO personnel fighting alongside American forces in Afghanistan. As Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III noted, America’s greatest strategic advantage is its network of allies and partners, with NATO being the crown jewel of this network.


NATO stands as a testament to the power of collective defense and shared democratic values. As President Biden remarked, the alliance is integral to American interests and global security. In an era of evolving threats, NATO’s commitment to unity and cooperation continues to ensure peace and stability across the world.

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