PRINCETON – Next week, NATO’s 28 members will meet in Chicago for their annual summit. Sixty-two years after the North Atlantic Treaty was signed, binding the United States, Canada, and ten European states to consider an attack on one an attack on all, NATO is transforming itself into a twenty-first-century global security organization. The result will be a safer world.
In 1949, the world was rapidly dividing into two principle political-military blocs, East and West, alongside a large “non-aligned movement.” NATO faced off against the Warsaw Pact, created by the Soviet Union and its allies in 1955. Within both blocs, smaller powers clustered around the superpower. No flexibility existed within either bloc for smaller groups of members to deploy alliance assets.
Today, NATO is becoming, in the words of its secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, “a hub of a network of security partnerships and a center for consultation on global security issues.” It is a “globally connected institution,” with more than 40 individual country partners and growing ties to other international organizations.
Indeed, the country partners include all of Europe’s non-NATO countries, such as Austria, Switzerland, Finland, and Sweden, and aspiring and possible NATO members such as Bosnia, Serbia, Macedonia, Ukraine, Belarus, and even Russia. Virtually all of the Central Asian countries – from Turkmenistan to Kazakhstan, as well as Armenia, Azerbaijan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan – are partners, as is the entire Maghreb, from Morocco to Egypt, as well as Israel, Jordan, Iraq, Bahrain, Qatar, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates. Finally, Pacific partners include Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and Mongolia.