Nato is not “brain dead” as president Emmanuel Macron of France claimed, nor indeed is the president himself brain dead as his opposite number in Turkey, president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, suggested on Friday. The offensive language is childish, but it has served its purpose. All the members of the organisation that has since 1949 been the keystone of European defence, need to think about its future.
The event that pushed the allies into founding the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation was the blockade by the Soviet Union of West Berlin in 1948. Berlin was an island in the middle of Soviet-dominated East Germany. The land corridors to the western sections were closed and the only way its people could be supplied with food and fuel was by air. The Berlin people nearly starved and froze, and it was thanks only to the gigantic effort with what we now call the Berlin Airlift, and an unusually mild winter, that prevented the city being taken over.
America showed Russia that it would protect western Europeans as, despite Britain also contributing to the airlift, more than two-thirds of the supplies came in on US planes. Russia backed off, and while the threat from the east has receded, that protective umbrella has lasted to this day.
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