OK, comes the reply, but why should Americans care who dominates Romania? I am happy to cite the nobility of freedom, democracy, and national sovereignty, but I recognize that these concepts will be dismissed as idealistic abstractions. So I offer instead this cold-hearted and realistic principle: As the late professor Harold Rood was fond of saying, you either run the show or the show runs you.

American retreat from NATO or Europe would, like we have seen in the Middle East, create a vacuum for an alternative power to revise political, economic, and security arrangements according to its will and in its favor. It would be the very definition of idealism to suggest that those arrangements would be friendly to or consonant with American interests. If you think America is getting a bad deal now, wait until Russia is shaping European trade policy. Only the Ladas will be tariff free.

The counterargument is that other powers will rise to balance against Russia. But the voices most skeptical of NATO and happiest with American withdrawal from Europe are also the most critical of the only power with the capacity to face down the bear. That power is Germany. Is this an outcome we really wish for? I seem to be the sole conservative left who is more than happy with Germany not spending too much money on soldiers, tanks, and artillery. There’s not a really happy track record there.