Special to Foreign Policy
At the 1949 signing ceremony for the Washington Treaty that created NATO, a band played show tune selections from George Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, including “I Got Plenty O’ Nuttin’” and “It Ain’t Necessarily So.”
Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, what NATO itself calls the cornerstone of the alliance, commits members to come to each other’s defense. Sixty-six years after NATO’s creation, a recent Pew Research Center survey of people in nine NATO nations, representing the lion’s share of NATO defense spending, suggests public commitment to Article 5 “ain’t necessarily so.”
At a time of tensions with Russia not seen since the Cold War, many publics in the Western alliance are divided in their support for a potential military confrontation with Moscow over its territorial ambitions. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, NATO’s challenges are now not just “from Stettin in the Baltic to Trieste in the Adriatic,” but at home.
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