NATO expansion is a dangerous and unnecessary distraction from U.S. interests

Finland and Sweden are in no real danger of any invasion, and neutrality worked well for them. Russia is a shadow of its former self, with a broken military and damaged economy due to an attritional war of choice, and collectively, Europe massively outspends Russia. In fact, Germany, France, and Britain combined are more than capable of providing deterrent forces in the Baltics, and have their own nuclear umbrella. Neither Finland nor Sweden adds enough to the security of the alliance to justify the additional costs. Adding them would mean two more states as protectorates for whom the US would be treaty bound to go to a nuclear war.

Neither war hysteria, nor a desire to punish Russia, nor sympathy for democratic values and human rights should affect narrow strategic calculations in such a permanent way. Instead, the Russian debacle in Ukraine demonstrates that it is increasingly time for the US to reorient away from Europe and focus on more pressing issues such as the southern border, inflation, and the rise of China.

Americans are already familiar with George Washington’s warnings about avoiding “passionate attachments” and interweaving destinies with any parts of Europe. The emerging global order encourages everyone to pay heed to another George. In 1822, after the collapse of Napoleonic France and resulting multipolarity in which Great Britain enjoyed overwhelming preponderance and faced no long-term hegemonic threat from Europe, the British conservative foreign minister George Canning coined the guiding principles of “non-intervention and every nation for itself…in a balance of power; respect for facts, not for abstract theories; respect for treaty rights, but caution in extending them.” Those principles underscored a certain conservative realism that served Britain well for over a century. While unfashionable in the post-modern world, now is the time for America to look back to the wisdom of an era functionally similar to ours.

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