What is the point of NATO?

The protests do not go near the central problem: NATO does not know what it is for. Its member governments are unable to formulate a common purpose. Its use as a flag of convenience, for exotic foreign adventures that may be popular for a brief time, subverts its function as a military alliance. It has lost the luxury of a common, public enemy.

Which is not to say the West has no enemies. But they cannot be named. One thinks of Islamism at large, of Iran in particular, of Putinesque Russia for that matter, certainly of China, and its North Korean client. None of these powers means us well.

Yet unless we can name them, and dispose allied forces in a rational way to contain them, we are operating in a pseudo-humanitarian fog. We have allies who may or may not come running, when one of our members bumps up against a real enemy in the fog. We have a pretend alliance — another international bureaucracy whose purpose has expired. And it fools only us.