News Release

Should NATO Have a Future?


AP reports: “America’s military alliance with Europe — the cornerstone of U.S. security policy for six decades — faces a ‘dim, if not dismal’ future, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Friday in a blunt valedictory address.”

JAN OBERG, oberg at
Oberg is director of the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research. He questions the need for NATO to exist altogether and specifically questions the NATO bombing campaigns in Afghanistan and Libya, including NATO’s apparent willingness to assassinate Muammar Gaddafi.

DAVID N. GIBBS, dgibbs at
Author of First Do No Harm: Humanitarian Intervention and the Destruction of Yugoslavia, Gibbs is a professor of history and government at the University of Arizona. He said today: “NATO basically lost its reason for being in 1991 and has been struggling to find a purpose since then. The world would probably be better off if NATO simply ended. One of the problems with NATO is that it’s been a major justification for maintaining Cold War-era military budgets. Humanitarian intervention has been the main rationale for NATO actions since 1991, first with the Kosovo war and now with Libya, but such actions are at best ineffectual and quite likely make the situation worse.”

Background: “In February 1990, after talks with West Germany’s foreign minister, Secretary of State James Baker had assured Mikhail Gorbachev and [then Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard] Shevardnadze that ‘NATO’s jurisdiction would not shift one inch eastward from its present position.’ The [first] Bush administration began backing away from that pledge almost immediately. The Clinton administration reneged on that commitment altogether when it decided to expand NATO to Eastern Europe. …

“‘The issue is not just whether Czechs, Hungarians and Poles join NATO. The problem is more serious: the rejection of the strategy for a new, common European system agreed to by myself and all the Western leaders when we ended the Cold War,’ Mikhail Gorbachev wrote in March 1999. ‘I feel betrayed by the West. The opportunity we seized on behalf of peace has been lost. The whole idea of a new world order has been completely abandoned.'”

— From the book Hang Separately: Cooperative Security Between the United States and Russia, 1985-1994 by Leon V. Sigal, The Century Foundation Press, 2000