Opinion | Reports of NATO’s death are greatly exaggerated (for now) (2024)

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In today’s edition:

  • NATO, always under threat — but now, maybe from Biden? Plus Belarus’s perspective on the alliance, and Sweden’s, too.
  • Adults should try forest bathing. College kids should try (duh) partying.
  • Postcards from five states with the election sweats

NATO slides into D.C.

It’s NATO Week in Washington — like Carnival for hyper-competent, policy-minded nerds. See: Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s opening pitch at Nats Park that looked more like a grenade toss than a heater.

The treaty organization marks 75 years at this summit, a triumph that is nevertheless tempered by doubts about the alliance’s durability. David Ignatius writes that those concerns might as well be written into the NATO charter.

“Europeans are always fretting about America’s reliability,” David says, “just as Americans are always peeved that the Europeans aren’t pulling their weight in providing for the common defense.” He presents a quick history of this problem and explains why its permanence is “oddly reassuring.”

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In fact, the Editorial Board writes that NATO is particularly well shored up at the moment thanks to President Biden’s leadership over the past few years. Biden has increasingly made this accomplishment a centerpiece of his argument for reelection. The board, however, writes that Biden’s continued campaign could ironically endanger NATO — by increasing the electoral chances of former president Donald Trump, who would undermine the alliance’s work should he win this fall.

And what work! In a joint op-ed, former House speaker Nancy Pelosi and Belarusian democratic opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya write of NATO as a bulwark against tyranny “on the march in Eastern Europe,” especially in Belarus, governed by the so-called last dictator in Europe — unsurprisingly, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s staunchest ally.

“Our allies and partners should take steps to support the pro-democracy movement on the ground in Belarus while increasing pressure on Putin’s crony,” they exhort the organization. It’s the sort of work NATO has been doing successfully for three-quarters of a century.

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For long-neutral Sweden, though, this week in D.C. is a first; the country joined NATO only in March. But it’s caught on quick. In an interview about Russian aggression with Post associate editor Lally Weymouth, Sweden’s prime minister echoes the imperative that Europe step up and defend itself.

Chaser: Biden’s got six years on NATO, and Colby King has yet three more on Biden. He writes, from one elder to another, that there’s no shame in the president leaving the race with his head held high.

Go to a party. Go to the woods.

College students are studying less than generations past. Fine. What’s really worrying is that college students are partying less.

In his first data-driven piece for Post Opinions, summer intern Aden Barton notes that a steady decline in collegiate merrymaking (read: Fireball shots) has been accompanied by an even steeper drop in students’ general socializing. You will not be surprised that scrolling time is riding the opposite trend line.

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Newly minted grad Aden came to this realization too late to blow off homework for one more late-night dining hall run (“I was a misled curmudgeon, focusing too much on my generation’s dedication to academics,” he writes), but he hopes those still studying will realize that “quality time with friends is an antidote to the high-stakes extracurricular and preprofessional juggling act that defines modern college life.”

There’s also a great case that an effective stress remedy at any age is simply sitting in the forest. Leana Wen writes that research has increasingly borne out the benefits of the Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku — letting the woods wash over you and slowly experiencing them with all five senses.

More politics

We have another dispatch today from our quintet of talented writers situated around the country, sending updates on how their states are handling the election. This one’s got yachting on Lake Washington (and the push to tax the sorts who own the boats), the kingmaking power of Black Georgians, and an all-comers Pennsylvania potluck to save democracy.

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But my favorite is Dave Barry’s message on behalf of Florida (“yes, I speak for all of Florida”), reporting that Gov. Ron DeSantis has folks ready to crawl into their bathtubs for protection just as much as the perennial hurricanes do.

Chaser: Biden is trying to connect with the “everyday” folks all over the country by newly casting himself as an insurgent against the Democratic establishment eager to push him out, Gene Robinson writes. Will it work?

Smartest, fastest

  • Iran’s new president isn’t the liberal reformer the West implies he is, writes Karim Sadjadpour of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and he couldn’t change Iranian foreign policy even if he wanted to.
  • The United States’ best recession indicator is flashing yellow, Heather Long warns in an explainer of what the “Sahm Rule” is and why it matters.
  • Today’s Supreme Court has become a conservative mirror image of last century’s activist, progressive Warren Court, writes law professor Richard Re.

Plus: A lot of readers really responded to David Bonior’s piece about learning piano at a late age. We’d like to hear more from you. Did you ever pick up something you’d always wanted to? Write us here.

It’s a goodbye. It’s a haiku. It’s … The Bye-Ku.

All of NATO knows

What comes after November:

***

Have your own newsy haiku? Email it to me, along with any questions/comments/ambiguities. See you tomorrow!

Opinion | Reports of NATO’s death are greatly exaggerated (for now) (2024)
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