In his first public response to the Brexit vote that has shaken Europe and much of the world, President Obama sought to reassure Americans and others. He urged us not to give into hysteria and stressed that NATO did not disappear with Brexit. The Trans-Atlantic alliance, he reminded the world, endures.1 In the face of what may be the slow motion breakup of the European Union under pressure from Euro skeptics, look for U.S. and allied European elites to increase their commitments to the sixty-seven year NATO alliance. The hysteria that was manufactured in the wake of Russia’s seizure of Crimea and intervention in eastern Ukraine and fears of the fallout from the continuing wars and catastrophes in the Middle East will serve as NATO’s selling points.
As we face the future, either/or thinking and NATO need to be left behind.
But, as we face the future, either/or thinking and NATO need to be left behind. As even President Carter’s National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski taught, since its inception NATO has been an imperial project.2 Rather than creating a new, full-blown and extremely dangerous Cold War, our interests and survival depend on Common Security diplomacy3 rather than the repeated and deadly failures of militarism.
This does not mean turning blind eyes to Putin’s assault on free speech and democracy, or to Moscow’s nuclear saber rattling and cyberattacks.4 But it does mean that we should be mindful that Common Security diplomacy ended the Cold War, that repressive and brutal though Putin may be, he arrested Russia’s calamitous Yeltsin-era freefall, and he played critical roles in the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons and the P-5+1 nuclear deal with Iran. We also need to acknowledge that with two million people in U.S. prisons, including Guantanamo, the embrace of the Poland’s autocratic government and Saudi monarchy, and the militarized “Pivot to Asia” the U.S. leads a not-so-free world.