An Alliance That Really Works

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The celebration in Prague should have been more raucous. The most successful alliance in world history has extended to corners of Europe unimaginable just a few years ago. The military capacity gained for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization from expansion is minimal but the political returns will be fantastic. More than any other institution, NATO has helped make Europe democratic, peaceful and whole. What is particularly striking about the new members -- Slovenia, Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Bulgaria, Romania and Slovakia -- is how many of them emerged from Communist rule with no democratic traditions. The pull of NATO, the desire to join this Western club, created real incentives for democratic consolidation.

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