You don’t have to study European history for very long to realize that the countries of the region just can’t seem to stay out of war. They have had a big war in just about every century for the last 2,000 years. Twelve million lives were lost in World War I and 55 million in World War II I suspect that when World War III comes, with nuclear weapons, the numbers may be in the billions. I personally think humanity will be very lucky to last another 250 years. Call it the end of the primates (sort of like the dinosaurs). Male egotism and nuclear weapons are a devastating mix.
Right now I am most concerned with our participation in NATO. Article 5 of the NATO agreement requires all NATO countries to come to the defense of any member country that is attacked. For example, if Russia were to claim eastern Latvia (where Russian is spoken fluently), then we would be obliged to contribute to a NATO effort to stop the Russians.
That’s a direct conflict between nuclear powers. NATO has had over six decades to develop it’s defenses. I seriously question participation by the U.S. The European economy is as large as that of the U.S. Unfortunately, Europeans spend about half as much of their GDP on defense as the U.S. They are big boys now, and they need to defend themselves from aggression by authoritarian regimes.
From a pragmatic point of view, we are simply not going to be able to afford protecting Europe and other places on the planet in decades to come. I’m not suggesting an immediate withdrawal from NATO, but rather a staged withdrawal over the next 10 years. I am also not an isolationist, but it just doesn’t make sense to spend our treasure on people who can take care of themselves, and to carry the burden of risk associated with that protection. Isolated by two oceans, with rising energy production, the U.S. doesn’t need to have its fingers in every troubling spot in the world.
William A. Johnson