Critical Documents: NATO

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)
Jonathan Masters, Council on Foreign Relations

Although NATO was originally founded to prevent Soviet Union aggression, the present day alliance now addresses a broad spectrum of global threats. Masters not only explains this transition, but also the decision making components and structure that led to interventions including Afghanistan and Libya. A discussion of the future of NATO in maintaining international security concludes this selection.

Anchoring the Alliance
R. Nicholas Burns, Damon. M. Wilson, Jeff Lightfoot; the Atlantic Council

The significance of NATO, often contested in international dialogue, is defended by the Atlantic Council. In order to maintain the influence of the union, “the responsibility for NATO’s future vitality fall disproportionately heavily on the United States, Germany, France, the United Kingdom, and Turkey, and the steps they now take toward recommitting to the Alliance.”

Keeping NATO Relevant
Jamie Shea, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

The mission of NATO has changed from defending a defined region to providing global security. At the same time, both NATO’s support and budget has decreased, forcing operational efficiency and economic prudence. The primary objective of NATO in the coming years will be to, “slim down while retaining the capability to handle the global security agenda of its members.”

NATO’s Sea of Troubles
The Economist

Despite recent success, the future of NATO is arguably weak. The United States is shifting its attentions towards the Western Pacific, leaving increased security responsibility in the hands of a financially weakened Europe. NATO is now navigating the challenges of “doing more with less.”

Why the NATO Summit was Mostly Meaningless
Stephen M. Walt, Foreign Policy

Three major announcements were made at the most recent NATO summit in Chicago: The Afghan war will be ended by summer 2013, military capabilities will be improved with intra-alliance cooperation, and commitment to missile defense was reaffirmed. Waltz believes these measures to be essentially useless, as they are repetitive and insufficient.