April 07, 2019

From Truman to Trump, why Kansas City matters to NATO

By Derek Chollet and Richard Fontaine

Last week in Washington, D.C., representatives from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s 29 member states marked the 70th anniversary of the transatlantic alliance. They celebrated the stability it has fostered and the shared democratic values so important to its membership. It was a time to reflect on NATO’s successes, but also its future and the new questions that animate debate on both sides of the Atlantic.

All this might seem quite removed from Kansas City and its environs, but to conclude so would be to ignore history. Winston Churchill gave his famous “Iron Curtain” speech in Fulton, Missouri, presaging the descent of the United States and Europe into Cold War. The Kansas City suburb of Independence was home to Harry Truman, and just a two-hour drive away is the birthplace of Dwight D. Eisenhower in Abilene, Kansas. These leaders understood the dangers facing the transatlantic democracies and the need to exercise allied leadership in their defense. NATO today stands among their greatest accomplishments.

We lead two Washington-based national security think tanks keenly interested in the discussion among Americans about their country’s foreign policy. Our institutions, the Center for a New American Security and the German Marshall Fund of the United States, have teamed up to get “outside the Beltway,” to talk, in this case, with Missourians about the broad questions attending America’s role in a rapidly changing world. This week we will hold a free public session, “NATO at 70,” Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at the Truman Library. We will also have private meetings with an array of local officials and others, including several visiting European officials.

We aim to speak, to discuss and to listen. The transatlantic alliance will be among the chief topics on which we hope to focus.

Read the full article in The Kansas City Star.

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