Jeffrey Tayler

Jeffrey Tayler is a former contributing editor at The Atlantic and the author of seven books.
  • Yuri Maltsev / Reuters

    Putin Will Win, But the Show Must Go On

    The Russian president is poised for another term—and conflict with the West has done wonders for his popularity.

  • Carlos Garcia Rawlins / Reuters

    Why Venezuela's Opposition Has Stalled Out

    Years of failure have planted a deep sense of malaise among those seeking an end to the Maduro regime.

  • Sergei Karpukhin / Reuters

    Gentrification, Post-Soviet Style

    Moscow seeks to finally leave behind an architectural vestige of its communist past, but at a high cost to its residents.

  • The Time Is Ripe for Détente 2.0, Cont'd

    Matryoshka dolls on display at a market in St. Petersburg, Russia, in January 2009. Alexander Demianchuk / Reuters

    In a letter to, Oana Lungescu, a spokesperson for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, responds to my essay advocating a “Detente 2.0” between the NATO alliance and Russia. Spokesperson Lungescu begins by countering a figure I cited:

    The United States does not “cover 72.2 percent of NATO’s budget.” This is a very misleading statistic. In reality, the U.S. share of the NATO budget is precisely 22.1446 percent. While the United States does account for over 70 percent of total defense spending by NATO countries, this funds U.S. security commitments worldwide, not just in Europe or related to NATO.

    Jeffrey Tayler also repeats the old myth that NATO promised not to expand to the east at the time of German reunification. NATO has never made such a promise. Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev himself refuted the claim, saying “the topic of ‘NATO expansion’ was not discussed at all, and it wasn’t brought up in those years.”

    Mr. Tayler reiterates President Vladimir Putin’s claim that NATO planned to take over naval bases in Crimea—again, complete fiction. The facts are that Russia has violated sovereign borders by force—unprecedented in Europe since the end of the Second World War—and that it continues to supply weapons, equipment, and personnel to the militants in eastern Ukraine.

    Mr. Tayler’s “Détente 2.0” proposes a written renunciation of “NATO’s plans to invite Ukraine and Georgia.” Leaving aside the fact that Ukraine is not currently seeking membership, this approach embodies a worldview past its sell-by date: the idea that the large can dictate to the small. Each sovereign country has the right to choose for itself whether it joins any treaty or alliance. This is enshrined in international documents that Russia itself has signed up to.

    Throughout Mr. Tayler’s essay we see a fundamental confusion of cause and effect. It is Russia’s actions in Ukraine that have prompted NATO to increase its military presence in the eastern part of the Alliance. This was simply not on the agenda before 2014. Our response has always been defensive and proportionate, transparent and fully in line with our international obligations.

    I’ll close by rebutting the claim that absent a “Soviet-level threat or any real public debate,” NATO “has been expanding beyond its historical mandate.” In recent years, we have seen Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and destabilization of eastern Ukraine, as well as its military build-up from the Barents Sea to the Baltic, and from the Black Sea to the Mediterranean. We have also seen turmoil wrack the Middle East and North Africa, as well as other threats like cyber attacks and nuclear proliferation. At the Warsaw summit in July, NATO leaders took clear decisions to tackle all those challenges, while also keeping open political dialogue with Russia. Dialogue is even more important when tensions are high, to reduce risks and increase predictability.  

    NATO represents nearly one billion citizens, and half the world’s economic and military might. Our “historical mandate” is set out in the Washington Treaty of 1949: a commitment to “collective defense and … the preservation of peace and security.” In an unpredictable world, NATO allies remain committed to defending one another.

    Institutional blindness, and the propensity of an institution to perpetuate and aggrandize itself, are on full display in Spokesperson Lungescu’s response to my essay. Simply countering with a flurry of budgetary statistics fails to address my basic point: Why had Washington been devoting such tremendous resources to its defense (which NATO is intended to buttress) in the absence of a major foe equal to its stature? That is, after the collapse of the Soviet Union? This growth was underway long before 2014, when the current, exacerbated standoff with Russia began.   

    George Kennan’s prediction, along with the critique by George Will I also cite in my essay, speak for themselves. NATO’s enlargement has validated Russia’s historical suspicion of the West. It has fostered the very anti-Western atmosphere about which Kennan warned, and increased the chances of a “hot war.”

    The United States has long had other areas on which it could have been spending. Given the need to deal with its perpetual budget crises, to say nothing of its crumbling national infrastructure and relatively anemic economic recovery, such huge allocations for weapons constitute nothing short of an obscenity.

  • Kevin Lamarque / Reuters

    The Time Is Ripe for Détente, 2.0

    When it comes to the dangers of unchecked NATO expansion, Trump was right.

  • Maxim Smeyev / Reuters

    The World According to Russia

    A documentary on state television gives a glimpse of Vladimir Putin’s philosophy.

  • Toby Melville / Reuters

    Can Religion and Science Coexist?

    A new book by the evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne tackles arguments that the two institutions are compatible.

  • Jorge Silva / Reuters

    The Accidental Face of Venezuela's Opposition

    President Nicolas Maduro's strategy of jailing political opponents has empowered a former kite-surfing champion.

  • Fabio Sabatin/Getty

    Fyodor’s Guide

    Revisiting Dostoyevsky’s St. Petersburg haunts in the Putin era

  • Joshua Lott/Reuters

    The Seething Anger of Putin's Russia

    How U.S.-Russian relations became so dysfunctional—and dangerous

  • David Mdzinarishvili/Reuters

    Is Femen Dying?

    The radical feminist movement struggles to survive in France.

  • White House/Reuters

    The Way Out of the Ukraine Crisis

    U.S. leaders need to talk to the Russians, not threaten them.

  • Dmitry Neymyrok/Reuters

    10 Tough Questions Obama Needs to Answer on Ukraine

    The president should spell out what he is ready to do if Putin strikes again.

  • Reuters

    Topless Jihadis: Inside the World's Most Radical Feminist Movement

    “They all had masks on. One guy was waving around a huge knife. They took us into the woods and made us strip topless, and gave us a swastika poster to hold. Now they will kill us for sure, I thought.”

  • Really Listening to Atheists: Taking Nonbelief Seriously

    When Larry Alex Taunton talked to young atheists about why they left Christianity, he interpreted their objections as matters of style, not substance. That's not accurate or fair.

  • Topless Jihad: Why Femen Is Right

    The radical feminist group has ignited human-rights debates we need to have.

  • Subject of Femen's Topless Jihad Questions the Group's Tactics

    The Tunisian woman who sparked the feminist group's nude protest last week says it was the wrong approach. But was she speaking freely?

  • Tunisian Woman Sent to a Psychiatric Hospital for Posting Topless Photos on Facebook

    Amina, a 19-year-old who hoped to join the radical protest group Femen, is also threatened with death by stoning.

  • The Woman Behind Femen's Topless Protest Movement

    Whether she's railing against the Catholic hierarchy or battling social conservatives, Ukrainian activist Inna Shevchenko's feminism is a contact sport.

  • Femen in Paris: Ukraine's Topless Warriors Move West

    In France, members of the protest group have been beaten and detained, but they're using the experience to train for a bigger challenge.