Can NATO survive?
Inside Story Americas
Last Modified: 22 May 2012 08:57The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) has
announced that its troops will shift to a support role in Afghanistan by
2013, with local forces taking the lead role.
- Ann Wright, a retired US army colonel
The announcement came following a two-day summit in Chicago, in which
leaders sought an exit strategy from the unpopular and draining war in
Afghanistan, where the Taliban remains a powerful force 11 years after
the US-led invasion.
Nearly seven out of 10 Americans now believe the US should get out of
Afghanistan and European allies have also been expressing war fatigue.
Francois Hollande, the new French president, says his country's troops
will be withdrawn by the end of the year.
Thousands protested outside the summit, calling for NATO's dissolution amid economic anxiety and rising anti-war sentiment.
But during his closing statement at the summit on Monday, Barack
Obama, the US president, emphasised what he described as the alliance's
greatest accomplishments, saying: "NATO has been the bedrock of common
security, freedom and prosperity for nearly 65 years. It hasn't just
endured; it has thrived because our nations are stronger when we stand
- Kurt Volker, the former US ambassador to NATO
NATO was founded more than 60 years ago to counter the Soviet bloc.
But the alliance's mutual defence clause had never been used until the
September 11 attacks. The war in Afghanistan has been the only instance
in which NATO has done so.
Last year, NATO forces intervened in
Libya under a UN mandate to protect the people. But some countries later
accused it of going far beyond that mandate by actively assisting in
the toppling of Muammar Gaddafi.
NATO also has its internal woes.
European governments are slashing defence budgets to cope with economic
turmoil. And with the US already paying a disproportionate part of
NATO's budget, there is concern in Washington over shouldering this
So can, and should, the NATO alliance survive?
Joining presenter Anand Naidoo on Inside Story Americas
to discuss this are guests: Ann Wright, a retired US army colonel and
one of the leaders of the anti-NATO protests; Kurt Volker, the former US
ambassador to NATO; and Heather Conley, the director of the Europe
Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
"We have to really examine NATO's list of emerging challenges and
Heather Conley, the director of the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies
- The treaty was signed on April 4, 1949.
- NATO was initially conceived as a defence against Soviet expansion.
- It has 28 member states in North America and Europe.
- Its first intervention was in the Balkans in the 1990s.
- It invoked the mutual defence clause in Article 5 of the treaty for
the first time to invade Afghanistan after the 9/11 attacks in the US.
- About 130,000 international troops operating in Afghanistan are under NATO command.
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