Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 08/2014

NATO, Terrorism and Irregular Threats

Sebastian Gorka, Julian Lindley-French

June 2010

Atlantic Council


In the latest Issue Brief, Strategic Advisors Group (SAG) members Sebastian Gorka and Julian Lindley-French discuss NATO's role in 21st Century warfare as it moves to address non-traditional threats.

Today’s NATO is not the NATO of the Cold War. Nor is it even the NATO of just a decade ago. If the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact and then the USSR were not enough to fundamentally alter the geopolitical reality the Alliance found itself in, then the events of September 11, 2001 should be considered an evolutionarymarker in the development of modern history’s “most successful” alliance.

It bears remembering what NATO’s primary mission was between 1949 and 1990, and what scenario the drafters and eventual signers of the Washington Treaty had in mind all those years ago. As Lord Ismay, the first Secretary General of the Alliance is supposed to have famously summarized it, the simple explanation was that the nations of the transatlantic community needed an institutional instrument to deter a Soviet invasion of Western Europe, to keep U.S. forces on the continent and to keep West Germany on the path of democratic development following World War II.