“Nado alert! Nado alert!” people were screaming about 1 am outside my room at Michaels Barracks in Hoechst, West Germany, a couple of days after I was posted there on Sept. 12, 1979.

My roommate said it likely was just a drill, sending us out in our jeeps and trucks into the Fulda Gap to listen to other American troops in maneuvers. Either that or it was a real war and Soviet nuclear tipped SCUDs soon would be atomizing us.

We were Russian linguists and during a war, assuming we dodged the SCUDS, our mobile unit was supposed to listen to Red Army communications and report to Gen. Walter F. Ulmer. The unit was the 856th Army Security Agency Co. It later was enlarged to the 533rd Combat Electronic Warfare Battalion; or CEWI, which we always called KIWI.

During maneuvers, we practiced by listening to other American units. Yes, we were part of the now-dreaded NSA. But they told us never to listen to civilians.

“Why are they screaming ‘Nado?’” I asked my barracks mate as we ran out to our vehicles.

“Oh, Sgt. Nadowski went back to The World last week. For NATO alerts, he always ran around screaming, ‘Nado alert! Nado alert!’”

Those memories returned when I read a new article in Foreign Affairs, the journal of the ultra-establishment Council on Foreign Relations, “NATO’s Biggest Mistake: The Alliance Drifted from Its Core Mission – and the World Is Paying the Price,” by Michael E. Brown. According to his bio – excuse the long quotations, I usually write short – he “has served as Dean of the Elliott School of International Affairs and Professor of International Affairs and Political Science at The George Washington University since 2005.”

The school name is ironic because the father of our country in his Farewell Address famously cautioned his countrymen, “It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world….”

It’s hard to think of any alliance in history more “permanent” than NATO, which has existed since 1949 – 65 years. NATO’s own website explains:

“It is often said that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was founded in response to the threat posed by the Soviet Union. This is only partially true. In fact, the Alliance’s creation was part of a broader effort to serve three purposes: deterring Soviet expansionism, forbidding the revival of nationalist militarism in Europe through a strong North American presence on the continent, and encouraging European political integration.”

That’s a diplomatic way of putting the quip of Gen. Lord Ismay, NATO’s first secretary general, that the organization exists “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in and the Germans down.” And, I would add, U.S. taxpayers paying for its global military-industrial complex.

Yet President Eisenhower wanted to bring U.S. troops home in the early 1950s, after Western Europe’s economy was recovering. Politics prevented that. I didn’t know that in 1979.

But Army buddies and I believed the troops would go home, at the latest, when the Soviet threat ended. That’s also what most Americans believed. I always thought that, when the Soviet Union finally collapsed – a event I did not predict – Johnny finally would come marching home and we would enjoy a “peace dividend.”

Naïve me. As Country Joe warbled, “There’s plenty good money to be made, supplying the Army with the tools of the trade.” When the Soviet threat ended with the abolition of the Communist Party of the USSR in 1991, any reasonable excuse for keeping NATO around evaporated. But then after 9/11, conveniently came the Global War On Terror, the GWOT, a tongue-twisting acronym proclaimed in 2003 by the notoriously malaprop President GWOT Bush. And today the Russkies supposedly are starting a “New Cold War.

Brown’s article says NATO made a mistake…

“in carrying out military and stabilization missions in far-off places such as Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya.

“In 2014, Western officials are learning about their strategic errors the hard way. They have come to realize that NATO’s collective defense mission in Europe is still vital because Russia is in the business of changing international borders by force, that NATO never had to go ‘out of area’ for a compelling mission, that the Kremlin didn’t see NATO expansion to Russia’s borders as benign, and that NATO missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya cost a great deal in lives and money but they only achieved mixed results.”

Except: There’s no more communism (beside, for a few more years, in Cuba and North Korea). And there’s no more Cold War, despite attempts to describe the new tensions that way. There’s just a reversion to the usual problems countries have with one another.

But Brown insists:

“As President Toomas Hendrik Ilves of Estonia recently observed: ‘The fundamental understanding of security in Europe has now collapsed. Everything that has happened since 1989 has been predicted on the fundamental assumption that you don’t change borders by force, and that’s now out the window.’ General Philip Breedlove, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe, put it succinctly, ‘It’s a paradigm shift.’”

Is he kidding? It was NATO, led by the United States, that broke Serbia’s ancient homeland of Kosovo away from it in 1999. NATO murdered 5,000 Serb Christians to put the KLA terrorists in charge. NATO’s air attacks were the first on Belgrade since those of the Luftwaffe in World War II, even though the Serbs were allies of the United States in both world wars, rescuing scores of U.S. pilots downed by German anti-aircraft guns. (See Justin Raimondo’s article of a year ago for details and links.)

And was 70 percent Russian Crimea re-joining Russia a border change “by force” and “a paradigm shift”? Why should Americans care about maintaining borders imposed 60 years ago by Nikita Khrushchev during a drunken revel?

Brown concludes:

“Building a Europe that is ‘whole, free, and at peace’ is still an achievable goal. It will require a renewed emphasis on European security, discarding the illusions of the past twenty years, and a clear focus on Europe’s new security challenges.”

What a farce. Western Europe in particular now has so many laws against free speech, and so many EU regulations, that it no longer is “free.”

Any violence in an area no longer any of our business won’t involve Brown, who never served in the military, nor his elitist CFR comrades with their abstractions and special interests, nor their children. It’ll be the children of my family and friends. And yours.