In 1877, Lord Salisbury, commenting on Great Britain's policy on the Eastern Question, noted that the commonest error in politics is sticking to the carcass of dead policies. Salisbury was bemoaning the fact that many influential members of the British ruling class could not recognize that history had moved on; they continued to cling to policies and institutions that were relics of another era. Salisbury went on to note that the cost was enormous because this preoccupation with anachronism damaged Britain's real interests. Despite Salisbury's clever words, his observation is nothing new. Throughout Western history, policymakers often have relied on past realities, policies, and institutions to assess and deal with contemporary and future situations. Post-Cold War American policymakers have not been immune from falling into this trap. Indeed, this inertial approach, characterized by Washington's unbending support for NATO and its expansion, has defined American foreign and security policy since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the bipolar world. During the Cold War, NATO provided the proper linchpin of American -- and West European -- security policy, and served as a useful, even fundamental deterrent to Soviet military might and expansionism. However, NATO's time has come and gone, and today there is no legitimate reason for it to exist. Although the strong differences exhibited in the Alliance over the war against Iraq have accelerated NATO's irrelevancy, the root causes of its problems go much deeper. Consequently, for both the United States and Europe, NATO is at best an irrelevant distraction and at worst toxic to their respective contemporary security needs.