Nato's new doctrine appears to sit uneasily with its core defensive purpose. Even getting to age 60 may have been a challenge. But there are more ahead. Nato's "out of area" doctrine allowed it to send troops to Afghanistan.....
As NATO celebrates its 60th anniversary, it is in greater demand than ever before.
The Alliance is keeping the peace in Kosovo, it is engaged in both stabilisation tasks and combat operations in Afghanistan, runs an anti-terrorist naval operation in the Mediterranean, assists defence reform in Bosnia and Herzegovina, trains Iraqi security forces, and provides support to the African Union.
NATO is at the heart of a vast and expanding network of partnerships with countries from across the globe and is developing closer cooperation with key civilian institutions. And the Alliance’s enlargement process remains a strong incentive for aspirant countries to get their house in order.
NATO enters its seventh decade, it needs to overcome a series of challenges that are more difficult and complex than anything it has ever faced before.
In short, at age 60, NATO has become such an indispensable part of the international security environment that it is hard to imagine that it ever could have been otherwise. And yet it was. The initial duration of the 1949 Washington Treaty was modestly set at 20 years, by which time, it was assumed, the post-war recovery of Western Europe would have been completed and the transatlantic defence pact become obsolete.
Few of the people who were present at NATO’s creation would have dared to hope that this Alliance would not only outlast the Cold War conditions that brought it into being, but indeed thrive in a radically different security environment.
The reason why NATO turned from a temporary project into a permanent one is not difficult to fathom. It is because the logic of transatlantic security cooperation is timeless. The need for Europe and North America to tackle security challenges together remains as pressing today as it was 60 years ago.
So does the need for a transatlantic institutional framework which allows for political consultation, joint decisions, and common action. Only NATO can provide this framework.