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Argument: NATO has changed and advanced greatly in post-Cold War era

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Daniel Fried, Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs. "NATO: Enlargement and Effectiveness". State Department, Testimony Before the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. 11 Mar. 2008 - On September 12, 2001, a day after the attacks on New York and Washington, NATO invoked for the first time the Washington Treaty’s critical Article Five clause of collective defense. In the 52 years of NATO’s existence prior to that date, no one ever expected that Article Five would be invoked in response to a terrorist attack; an attack on the United States rather than Europe; and an attack plotted in Afghanistan, planned in Pakistan, Malaysia, and Germany, carried out inside the United States, and financed through Al Qaeda’s fund-raising network.

I was in the White House on September 11 and 12; I remember and greatly appreciate NATO’s act of solidarity. That decision, and its implications, eventually brought an end to NATO’s now seemingly “quaint” debate about going “out of area.”

But let me be frank: in 2001, despite this decision, NATO lacked the capability of responding to the challenge of September 11. And, to be even franker, at that time the United States had not thought through how to work within NATO so far afield as Afghanistan. But within months, several individual Allies had joined us in Afghanistan, and on August 11, 2003, NATO took over the UN-mandated International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) mission in Kabul. From that moment, NATO had crossed into a new world, and transformation became an operational as well as a strategic necessity.

NATO has come far since the Cold War. In the early 1990s, NATO was an alliance of 16 countries, which had never conducted a military operation and had no partner relationships. By the middle of this decade, NATO had become an alliance of 26 members. And its soldiers and sailors had experienced:

  • bringing security and stability to Afghanistan,
  • maintaining security in Kosovo and Bosnia,
  • supporting and training peace-keepers in Africa,
  • training the Iraqi security forces,
  • delivering humanitarian aid in Pakistan after the earthquake and in Louisiana after Katrina, and
  • patrolling shipping in the Mediterranean to prevent terrorism.

NATO also has established partner relationships with over 20 countries in Europe and Eurasia, seven in North Africa and the Middle East, four in the Persian Gulf, and has global partners such as Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and Singapore, which are working with NATO in Afghanistan.

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