How Rigid Alliances Have Locked Us Into Unwanted Conflicts

It’s not just NATO. Plenty of treaties over the decades have limited America’s options and made war more likely.

By TED GALEN CARPENTERJanuary 22, 2018

Photograph of President Truman signing the document implementing the North Atlantic Treaty at his desk in the Oval Office, August 24, 1949. (U.S. Government/Public domain)

Wise leaders seek to maintain the maximum degree of flexibility in foreign policy. Commitments and strategies that make sense under one set of conditions can become problematic when circumstances change. It is imprudent and potentially dangerous to lock one’s country into rigid, long-term obligations. Unfortunately, U.S. leaders since World War II have repeatedly violated that principle. Often they have limited America’s policy options to “reassure” allies in Europe and Asia that the United States will incur any risk and pay any price to protect its security partners. That policy is not sustainable.


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