(Re-pubished from U.S. News & World Report | April 4, 2019) AS NATO MARKS ITS 70th anniversary this week, we have a good opportunity to take stock of past accomplishments, and at the same time, to look toward the future prospects for this remarkable alliance.
Strong Civilian Leadership
First, it is worth noting on this 70th anniversary that the progress made by NATO is a product of its standing as both a political and military alliance.
On the civilian side, the diplomatic work of the NATO secretary general and the senior representatives from the member nations that comprise the North Atlantic Council is every bit as important as the military dimensions of the alliance.
The civilian leadership of NATO and their policy accomplishments have been a lynchpin of global diplomatic progress, before and after resolution of the Cold War. As examples, the solid, steady diplomatic efforts of the current secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, the remarkable record of his predecessor, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, and the recent passing of the sixth secretary general, Lord Peter Carrington, are reminders of the exceptional, long-term civilian leadership and political impact of the Alliance.
Political and Military Impact
Second, constructive political and military impact beyond the borders of member states has been a hallmark of NATO since its inception in 1949, and a key factor in its success.
The alliance has continued to reach out and provide a basis for interaction with nations around the world in ways that have consistently advanced dialogue and reduced tensions, through exercises, diplomacy and constructive talks, particularly since the end of the Cold War. One only has to look at the NATO structure of Partnership for Peace, Istanbul Cooperation, and Mediterranean Dialogue countries, as well as other key global partners such as Australia and Japan, to fully understand the NATO’s irreplaceable diplomatic and military impact in advancing security.
For those of us with military careers spanning much of NATO’s history, the alliance has provided the basis for coalition tactics and procedures around the globe, and has been part and parcel of our contributions to peace and security for decades …