In advance of the May 20-21 summit of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in Chicago, Foreign Policy and the Atlantic Council asked dozens of experts about the role of the alliance today. Heads of state, ministers of defense and foreign affairs, intelligence officers, and current and former members of U.S. Congress were among the respondents who answered our call. Although none of them thought NATO should cease to exist or that the United States would be better off leaving the alliance, they were less certain about whether NATO can adapt to a changing geopolitical and military landscape -- and just who will foot the bill for future operations.
They rated Greece, currently struggling to repay its crushing debt load, the top candidate to be kicked out of the alliance, exhibited deep divides on how to handle a troubled relationship with Russia, predicted that NATO would be unable to pull off another Libya-style intervention three years from now, and overwhelmingly viewed the Afghan mission as a failure.
Unless otherwise noted, figures indicate number of responses.
1. Should NATO exist?
"If it did not exist, we would have to invent it."
"But the Europeans must get their act together if they are to be worthy partners in the alliance."
"But in a redefined form, with broader alliances and links to regional groups."
2. If so, what should be its primary purpose?
Collective defense of Europe: 14
Out-of-area military operations: 2
Policy coordination: 1
Global peacekeeping: 0
Keeping Russia in check: 0
"Both A and B. The former as the core task, the latter as the useful add-on."
"All of the above, plus crisis response."
"Promotion of a common political agenda."
"All of the above, plus coordination of intelligence regarding global fundamentalism/terrorism."
3. In 1993, Sen. Richard Lugar argued that NATO has to "go out of area or out of business." Since then, NATO forces have deployed in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq, the Gulf of Aden, and Libya. Do you think NATO should continue to support deployable forces for operations outside Europe and the United States?
"But with strict limits and, ideally, as part of a U.N. mission."
"Only as there is a clear relevance for European security."
"Only in case such deployment contributes to strengthening of members' security. No role as a global policeman."
"In a globalizing world there is no more 'out-of-area.' The world is our area now."
"Only on a very highly selective, case-by-case basis; as a rule, no."
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