History Repeating The Greatest Threat to Security Since WWII

NATO is in danger and the West is losing its cohesion. Lessons of the past warn us to stand tall against those seeking to unravel a global security framework that has kept us safe since World War II.

"We must stand up for our values!"

"We must stand up for our values!"

A Commentary By John Kasich, Governor of Ohio

The United States and our international allies, which for so long has been the centerpiece of what is rightly called "The Free World," are facing the greatest threat to global stability since the end of World War II. Security arrangements, like the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), which for more than seven decades have kept us safe from yet another global conflict, are quickly coming unraveled. These are the deep concerns I am bringing to the Munich Security Conference.

Here in America, I see the erosion of our alliances caused by growing tensions across the world and fed by angry voices at home. These forces threaten the future of an international security framework that has long ensured the United States and its partner nations of a stable world and the free flow of ideas and trade. Hearing those voices, many here are second-guessing the alliances and relationships that have served us so well in the post-war era.

Too many of my countrymen prefer that we stay at home instead of support our longstanding allies. And in many of those allied nations, similar doubts are taking root.

A Secure and Stable World Order

Why am I alarmed, as an American state governor who is otherwise focused on domestic policies and the delivery of public services to 11.7 million Ohioans? It is because my state has been restoring our economy and creating jobs for Ohio workers by keeping pace with the demands and rewards of a global economy. A secure and stable world order, open to the free exchange of goods and technology, is essential to my state's well-being.

These are not new concerns for me, having served nine terms as a member of Congress, including 18 years on the U.S. House Armed Services Committee. From those perspectives I have feared this unraveling for some time, but my concerns are redoubled by the most recent threats to our alliances, both in the United States and abroad.

Why are these alliances essential for Ohio and for all of America? It's more than a matter of protecting our own borders and preserving our national identity, important as those goals may be. It's also about protecting the collective human values that have for so long sustained the United States -- values such as freedom of speech, universal respect for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion, and a world open to free enterprise, travel and trade.

These are the shared values that we and our allied nations believe in; the same values others scorn and deny to those they rule.

History Repeating

Through seven stressful decades since the end of World War II, these values and the moral standards they embrace have been the foundation of an international security framework, including NATO, which has helped us avoid global war and provided its partners widespread economic opportunity with free trade. The world has been down this road before, and it didn't end well. Twice before, on the eve of World War I and again in the dark days before World War II, we witnessed regional instability that quickly led to global conflict -- leaving tens of millions dead and large swaths of the world in ruin.

Chinese soldiers in the South China Sea

Chinese soldiers in the South China Sea

Now history threatens to repeat itself and we can see some of the same erosive forces at work: a weakening NATO and growing conflict in regions such as Georgia, Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. Perennial tensions and bloody conflict in the Middle East are joined by gathering storm clouds in North Korea and the South China Sea -- and overhanging it all, international terrorism. Calls for disengagement, isolation and shuttered trade add to the sense that our world is coming undone.

Each of our allied nations is safer when freedom, democracy and the rule of law are embraced around the world. In places like Ukraine, there is a deep yearning for these values and we must encourage that desire, not dismiss it.

The notion that it somehow makes Americans safer at home to sacrifice support for a free Ukraine in exchange for a better relationship with Russia -- which continues to deny its unacceptable interference in our presidential election -- is wrong and naïve. It's inconsistent with our shared ideals and leads other allies to doubt American resolve. Putin only respects strength, which is one reason why I support tougher sanctions against Russia and Putin's inner circle.

We Won't Get a Second Chance

A further cause for concern is that our once-vigilant alliances have failed to deal with the most urgent issues facing them -- challenges such as the refugee crisis, secure borders, cybersecurity and intelligence sharing in the face of terrorism. We need to fix those weaknesses, but in ways that help our alliances evolve, not throwing away the underlying values that have held us together and kept the peace for so many decades.

Refugees in the Mediterranean

Refugees in the Mediterranean

Rather than allowing history to replay its sad lessons, now is the time for us to rediscover the spirit of unity and social solidarity we need to restore the functioning of our own democracies. We must also find in ourselves once again the courage to stand up for our values internationally -- the values on which our shared system of security was built and that have become too easy for us to take for granted.

History teaches that it takes courageous resolve to preserve the values-based alliances that have kept us safe for seven decades. Without a shared commitment to freedom, how can we expect it to survive?

U.S. and NATO flags in Lithuania

U.S. and NATO flags in Lithuania

That is why we must reassure the Baltics and Ukraine -- who live in the very shadow of Russia -- that the United States will be there for them if trouble arises. Russian intimidation of our NATO allies or other free nations cannot be tolerated.

Instead of listening to the siren song of false prophets, we must relearn to work together with respect for opposing points of views in a search for the common ground and a recommitment to shared values that will help us together reaffirm our common humanity.

About John Kasich
    John Kasich, 64, is the governor of the U.S. state of Ohio and a member of the Republican Party. During the recent presidential election campaign, he was one of Donald Trump's strongest challengers, presenting himself as the alternative to the billionaire. Today, he remains one of Trump's biggest critics. Many observers in the United States believe he will launch another bid for the presidency in next four or eight years.

The Munich Security Conference 2017 gives leaders of our partner nations an exceptional opportunity to work toward strengthening our alliances and rededicating ourselves to the values on which those bonds of trust are built.

Unless we can find the courage and unity to defend our values, we will not succeed. And succeed we must.

Discuss this issue with other readers!
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Inglenda2 02/17/2017
1. Rubbish!
In theory, NATO was founded as a defence organisation. In fact it is little more than a foreign legion for the USA and in the last twenty years, has caused more trouble than it has cured. A European army which co-operates with others forces when necessary would be a far better alternative and certainly more affordable and efficient than the national armies Europe now has.
huguenot1566 02/17/2017
2. Stop blaming the U.S. for Europe's disinterest
Kasich keeps missing the point. NATO is supposed to be a coalition where everyone contributes equally to their GDP. It's not, "Let America do 75% of it while we in Europe live off the American taxpayer." It pisses us off because Europe is perfectly capable of doing their fair share to contribute and protect their citizens and their continent but they would rather have someone else do it. Must be nice. As if we don't need that money for our own country. Europe can't complain about the U.S. not wanting to be in NATO when they refuse to contribute their part. Another issue is national sovereignty. NATO was founded after a world war and to keep the Soviets and communism from expanding westward. It succeeded in doing that. Americans don't see Russia as an enemy or mortal threat to us anymore. Not that we're friends either. NATO was not meant to be a contract to last for eternity that strips the United States of its national sovereignty by telling us we are responsible for every country's existence and safety because we won that last big world war. We were not founded to be a war-mongering nation and that's what we've turned into. So to tell Americans that they are supposed to be thrown into a constant state of war that doesn't directly threaten their national sovereignty is crazy. It never ends. We have our own politicians starting wars that never should have been as well. We can't do it all. This isn't the 1940's. Europe is not in ruins. Europe should be a huge superpower with their own military paid for entirely by themselves to protect themselves and have global influence & teeth without bringing us into regional European conflicts. And the same goes for the U.S. If our stupid leaders start stupid wars, it's on us to clean it up (Middle East). WW2 and the Cold War are over. Step up & be responsible for your own continent. Terrorism is a different matter. But historical European regional conflicts that go back centuries are not America's problem. They never go away it seems.
distrak 02/17/2017
3. Greatest threat to security..
Mr. Kasich, your article is a bit disingenuous. It says very little. Let me point out some very REAL threats that the EU (and NATO) have not even begun to deal with. As a European, the most fearful I have been in the past 10 years were 2015-2016, when million of illegal migrants totally ignored laws, borders, conventions and just walked into Europe. And the governments (or phony governments) that we, as citizens, entrusted with the job of either stopping this, or somehow controlling it were totally incapable of any action--until Hungary stood up. We were looking at no end to this parade of illegal migration. And the EU had no answers, save for an idiotic deal with Turkey (who intentionally caused this problem) that would have allowed half of Turkey to move to the EU. And this was done after the fact, when it was actually too late. Is it any wonder that "populists" have become more powerful. The "progressive liberals" or whatever vacuous name these people call themselves in Europe, or the US, have proven to be utterly useless, feckless, an incompetent in protecting European society and its citizens.
magnaseal14 02/17/2017
4. John Kasich
That is most naive article I have read in a long time . The usual US rhetoric , the dangers of an aggressive Russia . Nothing of course about NATO expasionism. Nothing of course about the US illegally invading other countries , making chaos , producing million s of refugees , widows, cripples , orphans . Nothing of course about the vast amounts of money the US military industrial complex has made since WW2. And , dont forget the US charity 'lend lease' that had to be paid back. The whole thing with the EU and the US is sick. Russia is not aggressive and you Germans know it . Merkel is just a puppet of the US . she has now created a situation with refugees that Germans will come to rue in the future. Now , driven by the US and the paranoa of the Baltics , Germans once 'again' are on the Russian border.
Jack Howarth 02/17/2017
5. typical platitudes
The editorial from Kasich is a perfect example of why he lost out to Trump. A long winded exposition with no emphasis on the need for Germany to step up to its obligations and re-arm for the 21st century. As for the absurdity of "Many observers in the United States believe he will launch another bid for the presidency in next four or eight years.", I guess the editors haven't noticed that Trump seized control of the Ohio Republican party leadership from Kasich shortly after the election. Good luck in 2020 when you don't even control your own state's party apparatus anymore.
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