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An Agenda for NATO

Toward a Global Security Web

A worker sets up banners with the flags of the member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) outside Strasbourg's Congress Center April 2, 2009. Christian Hartmann / Reuters

NATO's 60th anniversary, celebrated in April with pomp and circumstance by the leaders of nearly 30 allied states, generated little public interest. NATO's historical role was treated as a bore. In the opinion-shaping media, there were frequent derisive dismissals and even calls for the termination of the alliance as a dysfunctional geostrategic irrelevance. Russian spokespeople mocked it as a Cold War relic.

Even France's decision to return to full participation in NATO's integrated military structures -- after more than 40 years of abstention -- aroused relatively little positive commentary. Yet France's actions spoke louder than words. A state with a proud sense of its universal vocation sensed something about NATO -- not the NATO of the Cold War but the NATO of the twenty-first century -- that made it rejoin the world's most important military alliance at a time of far-reaching changes in the world's security dynamics. France's action underlined NATO's vital

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