On April 4, 1949, representatives of twelve nations came together in Washington, D.C. to establish a remarkable and enduring alliance, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Since its foundation, NATO has been dedicated to freedom for its member states, deterring would-be adversaries and European security.
Central to this alliance is the principle that an attack on any ally is considered an attack on all.
In my role as a member of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly, I have had the privilege of working with my colleagues from other allied legislatures to address security issues. In these conversations, I have consistently heard leaders question America’s commitment to the alliance.
My view is straightforward: I support the alliance because NATO is vital for American security.
Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the United States called for support from our NATO allies. They stood with us in Afghanistan and in the fight against terrorism.
NATO was founded as a counterweight to the threats posed by the Soviet Union.
Today, the alliance remains just as important.
An increasingly hostile Russia shows how a strong alliance is a strategic imperative advantage. The list of recent Russian provocations is long, including illegal annexations of Georgian and Ukrainian territory, cyber-attacks, aggressive information warfare, meddling in domestic politics to promote sympathetic candidates, shooting down MH-17 and the Skripal attack.
The United States is better able to respond to hostile actions when acting as the leader of a unified alliance. In addition to moral leadership, the alliance brings important military capabilities to the fight.
Norway possesses unsurpassed knowledge in Arctic warfare.
Estonia is a world leader in cyber security and cyber doctrine.
The Netherlands is a world leader in reducing the use of weapons-grade uranium, lowering the risk of nuclear terrorism.
Europe boasts a burgeoning and innovative commercial space industry.
These are good friends to have, in conflict and in peace.
I do not stand alone in holding this view. Support for NATO in Congress is strong. Earlier this year, the House overwhelmingly passed bipartisan legislation in strong support of NATO and in opposition to the president’s continued anti-NATO agenda. Last year, Congress also included significant funding for projects to enhance European defense capabilities.
NATO still faces challenges, including spending, Russian gray zone tactics, instability in Africa and terrorism.
I expect Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg will address these when he speaks to Congress.
As Congress recognizes NATO’s 70th anniversary one principle is clear: the United States is stronger and safer when leading an alliance, rather than acting alone.
Rep. Larsen represents Washington’s 2nd District, which stretches from Mountlake Terrace to Bellingham and includes all of Island and San Juan Counties. He is a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee.