Where is NATO Going?

  • Mark Webber
  • James Sperling
  • Martin A. Smith
Part of the New Security Challenges Series book series (NSECH)


The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) has been described and occasionally eulogized as the ‘most successful alliance in history’.1 To its supporters, NATO was instrumental in bringing about the end of the Cold War and, having faced down the Soviet threat, in undertaking a far-reaching process of adaptation to the post-Cold War security environment.2 The Alliance, according to its former Secretary General Lord Robertson, has ‘retooled first to help spread security and stability Eastwards across Europe, then to use its unique multinational military capabilities to bring peace to Europe’s bloody and chaotic Balkan backyard, and [then] to confront the new threats of our post-9/11 world’.3 NATO, the US Ambassador to the Alliance noted in July 2010, ‘is busier than ever’ — undertaking missions in Afghanistan, the Balkans and off the coast of Somalia.4 In conjunction with a significant enlargement of its membership and the fashioning of a variety of partnerships, it would be easy to take the view that NATO has demonstrated its staying power and continuing relevance: its security ‘umbrella’ is, according to Robertson’s successor Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, ‘needed more than ever in this very challenging new century’.5


European Union Security Council Secretary General North Atlantic Treaty Organization Security Council Resolution 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes and References

  1. 1.
    This is a common refrain among politicians in NATO states. See, for instance, remarks of US President G. W. Bush at ‘Presentation of the Medal of Freedom to Lord Robertson’, 12 November 2003, at; and B. Obama, ‘Europe and America, Aligned for the Future’, International Herald Tribune, 19 November 2010.
  2. 2.
    ‘60 Years of NATO’ (North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Public Diplomacy Division, 2009), at See also J. Joffe, ‘Soldiering On’, Time, 30 March 2009, pp. 26–7.
  3. 3.
    ‘Change and Continuity’, NATO Review, Winter 2003, at
  4. 4.
    I. Daalder, ‘NATO’s Economy of Scale’, International Herald Tribune, 23 July 2010.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Speech to Lloyd’s City Dinner, London, 5 September 2007, at
  6. 6.
    NATO 2020: Assured Security; Dynamic Engagement — Analysis and Recommendations of the Group of Experts on a New Strategic Concept for NATO (Brussels: NATO Public Affairs Division, 2010), p. 5.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Schröder cited in Financial Times, 14 February 2005.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Cited in The New York Times, 10 June 2011.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    J. L. Granatstein, ‘NATO is a Shell of its former Self’, The Ottawa Citizen, 22 November 2011; N. Whitney, ‘The Death of NATO’, Europe’s World, Autumn 2008; J. Bolton, ‘The End of NATO’, The World Today, June 2000, pp. 12–14.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    The Times, 5 July 1990.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    A. Forster and R. Niblett, ‘Concepts of European Order after the Cold War: In with the Old, Out with the New’, in R. Niblett and W. Wallace (eds), Rethinking European Order: West European Responses, 1989–97 (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2001), pp. 28–9.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    F. Bozo, ‘The Failure of a Grand Design: Mitterand’s European Confederation, 1989–1991’, Contemporary European History, Vol. 17(3), 2008, pp. 391–412.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    K. Schake, ‘NATO after the Cold War, 1991–1995: Institutional Competition and the Collapse of the French Alternative’, Contemporary European History, Vol. 7 (3), 1998, p. 381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    The Alliance’s New Strategic Concept, adopted by the North Atlantic Council meeting in Rome, November 1991, at
  15. 15.
    NATO Secretary General M. Wörner, ‘NATO Transformed: The Significance of the Rome Summit’, NATO Review, No. 6, 1991.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    D. Fried, Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, Testimony before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, Washington, DC, 22 June 2007, at
  17. 17.
    Statement of Gen. J. L. Jones, Hearing before the Committee on Foreign Relations, United States Senate, 7 February 2006, ‘NATO: From Common Defense to Common Security’ (Washington D.C.: US Government Printing Office, 2006), p. 4.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    N. Ameline (rapportuer), ‘NATO Operations under a New Strategic Concept and the EU as an Operational Partner’, NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Sub-committee on Transatlantic Defence and Security Cooperation, 5 September 2011, p. 2, at
  19. 19.
    Financial Times, 31 August 1993.Google Scholar
  20. 20.
    The Economist, 15 July 1995.Google Scholar
  21. 21.
    Secretary General’s Speech at the Wehrkunde Conference Munich 3–4 February 1996, at
  22. 22.
    B. Crawford, ‘The Bosnian Road to NATO Enlargement’, in R. W. Rauchhaus (ed.), Explaining NATO Enlargement (London: Frank Cass, 2001), p. 55.Google Scholar
  23. 23.
    J. Solana, ‘NATO’s Success in Kosovo’, Foreign Affairs, Vol. 78(6), 1999, pp. 114–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. 24.
    W. K. Clark, Waging Modern War: Bosnia, Kosovo and the Future of Conflict (New York: Public Affairs, 2002), pp. 422, 430.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    C. J. Dick, ‘Kosovo’s Legacy for the Future of NATO’, Jane’s Intelligence ReviewM, July 1999, pp. 14–15.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    J. Hoekema (general rapporteur), ‘NATO Policy and NATO Strategy in Light of the Kosovo Conflict’, NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Defence and Security Committee, 6 October 1999, para. 5, at
  27. 27.
    Remarks to the Overseas Writers’ Club, 23 June 1993 cited in C. Barry, ‘Combined Joint Task Forces in Theory and Practice’, in P. H. Gordon (ed.), NATO’s Transformation: The Changing Shape of the Atlantic Alliance (Lanham etc.: Rowman and Littlefield, 1997), p. 204.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    On the circumstances surrounding this action, see R. C. Hendrickson, Diplomacy and War at NATO: The Secretary General and Military Action after the Cold War (Colombia and London: University of Missouri Press, 2006), pp. 120–21.Google Scholar
  29. 29.
    Lord Robertson, ‘The Evolution of NATO’, Financial Times, 23 September 2001.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    F. Heisbourg, ‘Europe and the Transformation of the World Order’, Survival, Vol. 43 (4), 2001, pp. 144–5.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    A. Deighton, ‘The Eleventh of September and Beyond: NATO’, Political Quarterly, Vol. 73 (special issue), 2002, p. 121.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    A. Lieven, ‘Growing Up: The EU and European Security’, Prospect, No. 69, December 2001.Google Scholar
  33. 33.
    M. Meckel (general rapportuer), ‘Security Policy Challenges after the Attacks of September 11, 2001 and the Future Role of NATO’, NATO Parliamentary Assembly, November 2002, paras 67–74, at
  34. 34.
    House of Commons, Defence Committee, The Future of NATO (London: The Stationary Office, 2002), paras 23 and 39.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Speech at the NATO/GMFUS conference, Brussels, 3 October 2002, at
  36. 36.
    ISAF is covered in detail in Chapter 3.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Speech of NATO Secretary General J. de Hoop Scheffer, Lloyd’s City Dinner, London, 5 September 2007, at
  38. 38.
    Speech at the Conference of European Armies, Heidelberg, Germany, October 2007, cited in Senlis Afghanistan, Stumbling into Chaos: Afghanistan on the Brink (London: MF Publishing, 2007), p. 12.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Cited in the National Post, 30 November 2007.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Cited in B. Woodward, Obama’s Wars: the Inside Story (London etc.: Simon and Schuster, 2010), photo insert 3.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    A. Roberts, ‘Doctrine and Reality in Afghanistan’, Survival, Vol. 51(1), 2009, p. 49.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. 42.
    R. Asmus, S. Czmur, C. Donnelly, A. Ronis, T. Valasek and K. Wittmann, ‘NATO, New Allies and Reassurance’, Policy Brief (London: Centre for European Reform, May 2010).Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    M. Berdal and D. Ucko, ‘NATO at 60’, Survival, Vol. 51(2), 2009, p. 57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. 44.
    N. Ameline, ‘NATO Operations under a New Strategic Concept and the EU as an Operational Partner’, NATO Parliamentary Assembly, Sub-committee on Transatlantic Defence and Security Cooperation, 5 September 2011, p. 5, at; D. M. Wilson, ‘Learning from Libya: The Right Lessons for NATO’, Atlantic Council, Issue Brief, October 2011, at
  45. 45.
    Wilson, ‘Learning from Libya’, p. 2.Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    M. Clarke, ‘Curious Victory for NATO in Libya’, Royal United Services Institute, September 2011, at
  47. 47.
    I. Davis, ‘How Good is NATO after Libya’, NATO Watch Briefing Paper, No. 20, September 2011, at
  48. 48.
    L. S. Kaplan, NATO Divided, NATO United: The Evolution of an Alliance (New York: Praeger, 2004), p. 118.Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    H. Young, ‘All Passion Spent as Victory Fatigue Grips the Alliance’, The Guardian, 8 June 1999.Google Scholar
  50. 50.
    T. Noetzel and B. Schreer, ‘Alliance Divided’, The World Today, October 2008, p. 18.Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    The best accounts focussing on NATO are P. H. Gordon and J. Shapiro, Allies at War: America, Europe and the Crisis over Iraq (New York etc.: McGraw-Hill, 2004);Google Scholar
  52. E. Pond, Friendly Fire: The Near Death of the Transatlantic Alliance (Washington, DC: Brookings Institution Press, 2004).Google Scholar
  53. 52.
    For details see Pond, Friendly Fire, p. 65.Google Scholar
  54. 53.
    Article 4 provides for consultations within NATO in the event that ‘the territorial integrity, political independence or security’ of an ally is threatened. For the US move, see Gordon and Shapiro, Allies at War, p. 139.Google Scholar
  55. 54.
    ‘United We Stand’, The Wall Street Journal, 20 January 2003.Google Scholar
  56. 55.
    The Washington Post, 9 February 2003.Google Scholar
  57. 56.
    Financial Times, 9 April 2003.Google Scholar
  58. 57.
    International Herald Tribune, 3 May 2003.Google Scholar
  59. 58.
    Cited in The New York Times, 11 February 2003.Google Scholar
  60. 59.
    Cited in International Herald Tribune, 12 February 2003.Google Scholar
  61. 60.
    Cited in The New York Times, 20 February 2003.Google Scholar
  62. 61.
    See the accounts in Hendrickson, Diplomacy and War at NATO, pp. 130–6; J. Dempsey, ‘First Lord of NATO Trips on the Lines of Command’, Financial Times, 14 February 2003; and M. R. Gordon, ‘NATO: The Inside Story’, The New York Times, 25 February 2003.Google Scholar
  63. 62.,,2-10-1462_1410833,00.html.
  64. 63.
    D. M. Andrews, ‘The United States and its Atlantic Partners’, in D. M. Andrews (ed.), The Atlantic Alliance Under Stress: US-European Relations after Iraq (Cambridge etc.: Cambridge University Press, 2005), pp. 69–78;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. C. Antonopoulos, ‘Some Thoughts on the NATO Position in Relation to the Iraqi Crisis’, Leiden Journal of International Law, Vol. 17, 2004, pp. 171–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. 64.
    A point made by Colin Powell among others.Google Scholar
  67. 65.
    Opening statement to a Meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Defence Ministers session, 12 June 2003, at
  68. 66.
    Donald Rumsfeld, press conference, NATO HQ, 12 June 2003, at
  69. 67.
    Testimony before the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Hearings on ‘An Enlarged NATO: Mending Fences and Moving Forward on Iraq’, 29 April 2003, at
  70. 68.
    Die Welt, 4 June 2003.Google Scholar
  71. 69.
    The New York Times, 30 March 2003.Google Scholar
  72. 70.
    R. Menon, The End of Alliances (Oxford etc.: Oxford University Press, 2007), p. 97.Google Scholar
  73. 71.
    W. J. Thies, ‘Was the US Invasion of Iraq NATO’s Worst Crisis Ever? How Would We Know? Why Should We Care?’ European Security, Vol. 16(1), 2007, p. 39.Google Scholar
  74. 72.
    Thus, reflecting on his time in office between 1971 and 1984, Secrerary General Joseph Luns noted that ‘throughout the whole existence of NATO, prominent academics and members of the press have predicted the imminent collapse and dissolution of the Western Alliance’. Cited in a speech by Secretary General Lord Robertson at IRIS, Paris, 12 March 2002, at
  75. 73.
    W. J. Thies, Why NATO Endures (Cambridge etc.: Cambridge University Press, 2009), p. 15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  76. 74.
    E. Newman, A Crisis of Global Institutions? Multilateralism and International Security (Oxford and New York: Routledge, 2007), p. 27.Google Scholar
  77. 75.
    Thies, ‘Was the US Invasion of Iraq NATO’s Worst Crisis Ever?’ p. 39.Google Scholar
  78. 76.
    C. Tuschhoff, ‘NATO Cohesion from Afghanistan to Iraq’, in H. Gärtner and I. M. Cuthbertson (eds), European Security and Transatlantic Relations after 9/11 and the Iraq War (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005), pp. 149–66;Google Scholar
  79. R. Moore, NATO’s New Mission: Projecting Stability in a Post-Cold War World (Westport, CO and London: Praeger, 2007), passim.Google Scholar
  80. 77.
    See, for instance, T. Bird and A. Marshall, Afghanistan: How the West Lost its Way (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2011).Google Scholar
  81. 78.
    A. Mattelaer, ‘How Afghanistan has Strengthened NATO’, Survival, Vol. 53(6), 2011–12.Google Scholar
  82. 79.
    For this charge, see H. Mueler, ‘A Theory of Decay of Security Communities with an Application to the Present State of the Atlantic Alliance’, Institute of European Studies, University of California, Berkeley, Paper 060409, 2006, pp. 1–2.Google Scholar
  83. 80.
    Moore, NATO’s New Mission, pp. 142–8.Google Scholar
  84. 81.
    D. Scott Bennett, ‘Testing Alternative Models of Alliance Duration, 1816–1984’, American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 41(3), 1997, p. 870.Google Scholar
  85. 82.
    O. Holsti, P. T. Hopmann and J. D. Sullivan, Unity and Disintegration in International Alliances: Comparative Studies (New York etc.: John Wiley and Sons, 1973), pp. 93–4, 101–2.Google Scholar
  86. 83.
    B. M. Russett, ‘An Empirical Typology of International Military Alliances’, Midwest Journal of Political Science, Vol. 15(2), 1971, pp. 265–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  87. 84.
    O. Holsti, ‘Regional Associations: Alliances’, in M. Hawkesworth and M. Kogan (eds), Encyclopedia of Government and Politics, Volume 2 (London: Routledge, 1992), p. 1002.Google Scholar
  88. 85.
    S. Walt, The Origins of Alliances (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1987);Google Scholar
  89. G. H. Snyder, Alliance Politics (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1997).Google Scholar
  90. 86.
    Snyder, Alliance Politics, p. 3.Google Scholar
  91. 87.
    This definition is derived from Oran Young’s discussion of regime effectiveness in Governance and World Affairs (Ithaca and London: Cornell University Press, 1999), pp. 110–12.Google Scholar
  92. 88.
    Adapted from E. Haas, When Knowledge is Power: Three Models of Change in International Organizations (Berkeley etc.: University of California Press, 1990), pp. 89–92.Google Scholar
  93. 89.
    See, for instance, S. R. Sloan, Permanent Alliance? NATO and the Transatlantic Bargain from Truman to Obama (New York: Continuum, 2010).Google Scholar
  94. 90.
    S. Walt, ‘The Relationship between Theory and Policy in International Relations’, Annual Review of Political Science, Vol. 8, 2005, pp. 23–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  95. 91.
    Lord Robertson, speech at the German Atlantic Treaty Association, 24 June 2003, at

Copyright information

© Mark Webber, James Sperling and Martin A. Smith 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark Webber
    • 1
  • James Sperling
    • 2
  • Martin A. Smith
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Government and SocietyUniversity of BirminghamUK
  2. 2.University of AkronUSA
  3. 3.Defence and International AffairsRoyal Military AcademySandhurstUK

Personalised recommendations