The Future of NATO: A New Organization for New Threats?
Robertson, Lord, Harvard International Review
NATO's future is intimately connected to both its past and present. It has, after all, survived half a century of extraordinary change in very good order. It spectacularly proved its enduring relevance on September 12, 2001, when Article 5, the collective defense clause designed to save Europe from the Soviet Union, was invoked to help the United States from the new and evil scourge of mass terror.
As the organization's tenth Secretary General, in 2002 I saw the final divisions and stereotypes of the Cold War smashed around the NATO-Russia Council table at its first meeting in Rome and NATO's largest ever enlargement in Prague. In the rubble of the World Trade Center, I saw what the terrorists could do as well as how NATO could regroup to help defeat them. I saw NATO troops bringing hope to the streets of Kabul, a continent and a half away from the old Iron Curtain. Most of all, I saw a transformed Atlantic Alliance doing what it has done best since 1949: delivering safety and security where it matters and when it matters.
In 1949, the Washington Treaty, on which the Atlantic Alliance is based, was written. The authors wanted the language to be as clear and concise as possible. Most writers claim this as the goal, but few deliver. However, one of the authors had a benchmark: that the Treaty should be written so that it could be understood by a milkman from Omaha. That Nebraskan dairyman turned out to be an excellent editor, because the Washington Treaty is a model of clarity and brevity.
How would the Alliance's first editorial influence react to the new NATO, 55 years on? What would he understand? Or, indeed, completely fail to comprehend? First of all, our milkman would be surprised to find that the Alliance is still in business. Based on his own experience, he would have expected the Yanks to come home and the Europeans to fall out, but neither happened. More recently, historians told us that alliances between free nations do not survive the disappearance of the threat that first brought them together.
NATO has disproved that argument. The Warsaw Pact disintegrated and NATO modernized. The first reason was to help spread security and stability eastwards across Europe. Then NATO went on to use its unique multinational military capabilities to bring peace to Europe's bloody and chaotic Balkan backyard. Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia are no longer in the headlines because NATO acted, learned lessons, and put them into practice. NATO …
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Publication information: Article title: The Future of NATO: A New Organization for New Threats?. Contributors: Robertson, Lord - Author. Journal title: Harvard International Review. Volume: 26. Issue: 3 Publication date: Fall 2004. Page number: 44+. © 1999 Harvard International Relations Council, Inc. COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group.
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