Lord Salisbury pointed out that the most common mistake in politics is sticking to the carcass of dead policies. It is certainly prudent to revisit long-standing ones. Inertia and sentimentality are no justifications for policies that risk American lives and wealth. But U.S. alliances do meet the searching scrutiny that should be applied to them. They surely involve costs, risks and inequities, but they also yield great benefits, and their realistic alternatives entail even greater hazards and uncertainties. Better to cultivate and adapt them than to cavalierly toss them away.
Elbridge Colby is the Robert M. Gates Senior Fellow at the Center for a New American Security. Jim Thomas is a principal with the Telemus Group and former deputy assistant secretary of defense for resources and plans.
Image: Polish army military police soldiers during exercise Steadfast Jazz 2013. Flickr/U.S. Army Europe