Three Musketeers Needed in Europe

Europe Needs ‘The Three Musketeers’: A Personal Perspective

NATO ‘s evocation of the spirit of ‘all for one and one for all’ is soiling the reputation of ‘The Three Musketeers’.[1] Alexandre Dumas’s The Three Musketeers was first published in 1844, providing a fictional account of four (not three) heroic musketeers over the 17th and 18th centuries who were dedicated to protecting the French king and his family. Their ‘all for one and one for all’ motto expressed their loyalty to one another, but not only to one another. They were the equivalent of what today would be a special forces team that went far and wide to stand up to the enemies.

It is wonderful to see increasing loyalty and unity among the NATO alliance, but their self-imposed decision to avoid direct military confrontation unless they are directly attacked has put them in a morally and politically losing position – telling Russia what they won’t do. No strategic ambiguity there, but a green light to Russia. NATO countries and the entire world are watching Russian forces attacking their neighboring country Ukraine in ways that involve the mass murder of civilians and the destruction of an independent, democratic nation. Allowing themselves to be blackmailed by Putin is inevitable – and already – it emboldens Putin to keep enlarging his demands.[2] The president of Lithuania argues that the ‘future of our world might be decided in Ukraine’.[3] That is no exaggeration. The UK’s Foreign Secretary, Liz Trust, sees this war as more consequential than 9/11 in reconfiguring international relations.[4]

The Musketeers

I am no military strategist, but neither are our leaders, unfortunately, and I have opinions like others. Where are the musketeers when we need them – our special forces or special operations? Sadly, NATO’s motto to protect only their member states, has invited Putin to attack Ukraine. It might well surpass the horrific retreat from Afghanistan as one of the greatest military blunders of the century and as consequential as 9/11. Russian forces might be floundering on the ground, but the US and NATO are also posed to lose a war and a vital, independent, democratic state in Europe, relying only on sanctions and supplies while Putin fights with no holds barred including the recruitment of foreign forces, not to mention Belarus enabling its borders to be used to stage the invasion.

What we won’t do will end up undermining NATO as soon as Putin next threatens the alliance, when he makes his next move to continue rebuilding his dream of a new empire. Watching civilians being murdered, when more help could be provided, is morally and ethically wrong. But it is even pragmatically wrong for the US and NATO as it will not be a means to a good ending.


[2] See Simon Tisdall’s argument for western leaders moving to employ ‘all possible levers’ including the ‘threat of military action’.

[3] Gitanas Neuseda, ‘Europe and the US cannot falter over Ukraine, Financial Times, 14 March 2022, p. 25.


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