Oh, I think NATO is more important than ever. I really do. It inevitably had to go through a real transition because it was created as a collective security alliance against a specific threat. The origins of NATO were, as you know, based on the idea that if the Soviet Union attacked any member of NATO it was to be deemed an attack on all. Or if any other nation did, but it was the Soviet Union through the Cold War.
So first you have NATO expansion through the 1990s. Then after the attack on 9/11, NATO did respond as a collective security alliance and NATO members fought and are still fighting side by side in Afghanistan.
Today NATO is the central hub of a global security network with [28 member countries and] over 40 partners around the world. And the way to think about that is that problems arising in Southeast Asia, in Central Africa, in Central Asia, even in Central or South America can directly affect the United States and other NATO members, whether by creating a haven for terrorists, pirates, and other criminals or facilitating the proliferation of nuclear weapons material. But those are threats that you’re not going to fight by mobilizing the alliance as a whole. What’s going to happen is that some NATO members, working with members of other regional organizations, are going to take on specific crises and specific conflicts and specific challenges as they arise.
But if we didn’t have NATO, we’d have a kind of hodgepodge of regional organizations and small alliances and individual military powers without a center. And NATO is brilliantly placed as a transatlantic alliance of 28 countries with, as I said, over 40 partners around the world to really provide centralized resources, guidance, and expertise to meet a century of global threats and challenges.