"Two years ago," goes a story which Western diplomats tell on themselves, "nothing stood between the Russians and the Channel. Now they would have to struggle past committee after committee."

In a spacious modern school in Lisbon, cleared of students for the occasion, the diplomatic, military and economic brains of the North Atlantic Alliance gathered this week with their full panoply of committees, subcommittees and commissions. One of their big objectives was to take the sting out of that joke.

NATO's complex cumbersomeness is chiefly on the political and economic side. On...

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