The world today without NATO

On the drive to work today I was listening to NPR and some congressman (I forget who) was speechifying that without NATO and in particular the United States we’d see all of Europe today as provinces of the USSR (visons of Kevin Kline in A Fish Called Wanda ranting at John Cleese’s wife spring to mind).

Certainly the United States has had a large hand in keeping the peace in Europe for the past 50 years. However, I have a problem thinking that without the good ol’ U.S. of A. that it would have been a foregone conclusion that Europe would today be praising the all wise and knowing Joseph Stalin.

So try and imagine a world where NATO never came to be and guess what he result might have been. Even more specifically, imagine a world where the United States withdrew itself from world affairs, became isolationist and generally avoided involving itself in European affairs. Put even more succinctly: Does Europe owe the US a debt of gratitude for its role over the last 50 or so years or would they consider themselves as having been better off if the US just butted out and minded its own business?

[sub]I realize this calls for mostly speculation but I think this is more appropriately put on GD rather than IMHO goven the subject matter and current world events. Still, if it needs moving in the infinite wisdom of the Moderator’s then so be it.[/sub]

I think Germany would have been re-unified a whole lot earlier without NATO, or some equivalent Western European alliance. Further steps would have been more difficult though.

How do you figure? Re-united under Soviet domination? Or are you speculating that without NATO as a perceived threat to the USSR that the USSR itself would have collapsed sooner of its own accord?