Has NATO outlived its usefulness?

If the Atlantic alliance were disbanded, European defense policies could be renationalized and the United States would lose its close interaction with highly capable like-minded European countries. Particularly at a time of the European Union’s restructuring, this would create tension and turbulence in that part of the world.

Instead, the Atlantic alliance needs to be renewed with an effective trans-Atlantic rebalancing.

An economically and politically more integrated Europe, which is a likely outcome of the present crisis, should be able to become a full-fledged security partner to the United States. A renewed Atlantic alliance should be based on an agreement among the United States, a new military arm of the European Union composed of current NATO members and NATO countries outside the E.U., like Canada, Norway, Turkey and others.

This revamped NATO would create joint forces supported by a common industrial, research and development base.

This would be a real breakthrough in the process of European integration, making the E.U. ever more united in an area until now jealously protected as the ultimate symbol of national sovereignty.

Creating a defense community within the E.U. -- and turning it into NATO’s European pillar -- would also help to better balance the European Union itself. Germany, which will have to take the lead on economics and finance, will be flanked by France and Britain, which would be in the forefront of joint defense and security effort.

A reform on such a scale will need a new treaty, and the organization which will emerge from it will probably need a new name, but both will be based on more than six decades of close trans-Atlantic relations. NATO may eventually be allowed to become history; the Atlantic alliance should find a way to live on.

This article originally appeared in the New York Times.