In 1914, America ignored a war started in Serbia, a small European country most Americans had never heard of. In 1916, Woodrow Wilson was re-elected President on the slogan “keep us out of war”. In 1917, three years into WW1, after 7 American ships were attacked by German submarines, America was forced to enter WW1. America’s entry was decisive in the outcome of WW 1, but came at great cost.
In 1939, a similar pattern emerged. America avoided a war started in Eastern Europe. In 1940, Franklin Roosevelt was elected President on promise “there would be no involvement in foreign wars”. In 1941, America entered WW2 after the Pearl Harbor attack. Once again, America’s entry was decisive, but came at great cost.
After two world wars, America recognized it would be far less costly to prevent war in Europe, rather than get dragged into another war. The strategy resulted in the formation of NATO in 1949. This strategy has kept Europe at peace for longer than any time in human history and democratization of Europe since 1945 may be America’s greatest foreign policy legacy.
Why NATO is America’s best weapon in preventing war.
Democracies do not start wars – authoritarian regimes do.
People do not vote for war – dictators use their citizens as pawns for their own personal enrichment.
Democracies are slow in responding to war – dictatorships can quickly allocate the resources for war.
Democracy’s greatest advantage over dictatorships in warfare is the ability to prevent war.
Democracies prevent war through the superior financial and technical resources of our vibrant economies. The NATO economies are 3 times larger than China and 25 times larger than Russia.
Just as important, Democracies create alliances based on the common human values of individual liberty. We should never underestimate the power of an ideal in the bond of peace.
The reason that Russia and China want to tear apart the western alliances of NATO and the EU, is that they cannot compete with them.
History only repeats itself because we forget
How do baby boomers (over 55) pass along to Millennials (under 40) the first hand lessons from war in our family history ?
Retired US General Ben Hodges and the Center for European Policy and Analysis are leaders in an effort help American’s understand what NATO does for America. Here are three videos with facts we rarely hear.