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NATO’s summit shows the alliance is strong. But it must be much stronger.

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This week’s NATO summit in Madrid shows that the transatlantic alliance remains a powerful force for good. It also shows how much further most European members must go for it not to become a strain on U.S. resources.

NATO has been floundering in recent years for an obvious reason: Its primary rationale had disappeared. It was created in 1949 to counter the aggressive designs of a Soviet Union that remained openly committed to global communist revolution. Its membership was restricted to Western powers whose aim was to contain the Soviets within Europe and prevent it from conquering more of the then-globally dominant continent.

That rationale largely disappeared after the Soviet Union’s collapse and dissolution in 1991. European members naturally cut back on their military investments, reasonably thinking that the chances of a major war in their backyard were low. European powers such as Germany and France continued to believe this even as Russian President Vladimir Putin rebuilt his country’s military and invaded Georgia and annexed part of Ukraine. Their last-minute diplomacy to try to convince Putin not to invade Ukraine was the final example of this belief.

Russia’s invasion has cast aside this false sense of security, leading most European allies to commit to significant rearmament. The........

© Washington Post

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